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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Bird Flu Outbreak in South

An outbreak of bird flu has been registered in southern Russia, officials said Monday, and news reports said the cases involved the H5N1 strain that scientists are watching for fear it could mutate into a more deadly form.

The virus killed birds at three farms or households in the Krasnodar region, the federal agricultural oversight agency announced. An agency spokeswoman said she could not give details about the particular strain involved, but RIA-Novosti news cited the agency's chief spokesman, Alexei Alexeyenko, as saying it was H5N1.

Efforts were being made to prevent the spread of the disease, Alexeyenko was quoted as saying, without giving details. (AP)

Russia to Probe Khinsagov

Russia has announced that it will open its own investigation into allegations that a North Ossetian man smuggled 100 grams of weapons-grade uranium into Georgia, a law enforcement source told Interfax on Monday.

An official request will be sent to Georgian authorities for information on the circumstances of Oleg Khinsagov's arrest and his alleged attempts to sell the highly enriched uranium.

The source told Interfax that the Russian government wants to determine if Khinsagov actually smuggled the uranium into Georgia, and if so, where he obtained it. (MT)

Putin Touts Russky Island

President Vladimir Putin pledged on Monday to spend nearly $4 billion to turn a Pacific island where sailors starved to death 15 years ago into a giant resort capable of hosting a major international conference.

Russky Island won notoriety in 1992 when four sailors from the local garrison died of hunger and dozens of others were taken to hospital suffering from starvation. Military commanders had failed for months to send sufficient rations.

Putin said a resort on Russky Island off the Pacific port of Vladivostok would provide an ideal venue for Russia to host a 2012 summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation bloc. (Reuters)

Mavrodi Could Get 5 Years

Prosecutors on Monday asked Moscow's Chertanovsky District Court to sentence Sergei Mavrodi, who masterminded the MMM financial pyramid in the early 1990s, to five years in prison for bilking thousands of investors, Interfax reported.

Prosecutor Amalia Ustinova also asked the court to fine Mavrodi 10,000 rubles ($375) and to rule in favor of the many former MMM clients who have filed civil suits against him.

Ustinova said the court should show leniency in sentencing Mavrodi because he has a young child, and some plaintiffs in the case have asked that the former tycoon be set free. (MT)

Aliyev Won't Rule Out Force

PARIS -- Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has said he prefers a peaceful solution to a dispute with Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, but is not ruling out military means, a French newspaper reported Monday.

Aliyev, in an interview in Le Monde daily before arriving in France for a three-day visit, was quoted as saying the disputed enclave is "issue No. 1" for his country, which is growing bolder as its economic strength grows.

"It's clear that our political weight will give us one day the means to liberate our lands," he was quoted as saying. "We'd prefer to do it peacefully, without going to war. But if there are no other means … we'll see." (AP)