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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Patriarch: Nurture Culture

Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, said Thursday that Russia must nurture its culture and religion to cement national identity in the face of globalization.

"Students should know more about our history and our traditions," Alexy told reporters after a service to mark Russian Students' Day at the Orthodox Church of Saint Tatyana in Moscow State University.

"Yes, globalization unites people but every people must preserve its identity, its own historical past, its culture, its traditions and its own beliefs," he said. (Reuters)

Tajik Traffickers Arrested

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- Tajik police have seized 90 kilograms of drugs, most of it heroin, and arrested eight suspected drug traffickers in the past several days, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The arrests and seizures were made as a result of an anti-drug operation that started last week, spokesman Khudoynazar Asoyev said.

On Wednesday, police arrested three men with 18 kilograms of heroin in an unspecified part of the country, and another man with 15 kilograms of heroin in the southern Khatlon region, Asoyev said. (AP)

Bodyguards Jumping Ship

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh state-run bodyguard service has broken off its contract with a prominent anti-government politician, the opposition said Thursday, alleging government influence behind the move.

The Kuzet service, which is run by the Interior Ministry and is the only such agency in the country whose employees are authorized to carry arms, annulled its contract with Bolat Abilov, co-chairman of the Nagyz Ak Zhol party, because of the agency's move to the capital Astana, said party spokesman Aidos Sarimov. (AP)

Opposition Party Registered

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A political party headed by a former Kazakh parliament speaker turned opposition leader said Thursday that it had been formally registered by the Justice Ministry.

Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, a losing challenger to long-ruling President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the 2005 elections, set up his National Social Democratic Party last year.

Tuyakbai resigned as parliament speaker in 2004, protesting alleged widespread irregularities during parliamentary elections that produced a legislature without a single opposition member. (AP)

Date for Klebnikov Trial Set

The retrial of two Chechen men for the murder of Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov will begin Feb. 15 in Moscow City Court, Interfax reported Thursday.

Klebnikov, who was 41, was gunned down as he left his office on the evening of July 9, 2004. It was the first high-profile murder of a Western journalist in Russia.

The two suspects, Musa Vakhayev and Kazbek Dukuzov, were acquitted by a jury in May 2006. The Supreme Court overturned the acquittal in November and ordered a new trial. (MT)

80% Support President

Eighty percent of Russians approve of President Vladimir Putin's job performance, according to a poll conducted by the independent Levada Center, Interfax reported Thursday.

Just 46 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov's performance.

A majority of respondents -- 56 percent -- rated the work of the government as a whole as ineffective. (MT)

Parliament Blocks PM Bid

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyzstan's parliament blocked for a second time President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's bid to reinstate Felix Kulov as prime minister on Thursday amid a continuing political crisis.

Lawmakers voted 38-25 against Kulov, who resigned in December over disagreements with the parliament over presidential powers. Parliament first rejected Kulov's reinstatement last week.

Political infighting has plagued Kyrgyzstan since the March 2005 ouster of longtime ruler Askar Akayev. (AP)

Multiple Parties After Bashi?

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Turkmenistan's acting president signaled Thursday that the country was considering the possibility of allowing a multiparty political system.

In a campaign statement shown on national television ahead of presidential elections that have been scheduled for next month, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said "the state should make all efforts to ensure the development of the country, which may create grounds for the emergence of political parties." (AP)