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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Former Senator Charged

The Prosecutor General's Office has charged former Bashkortostan Senator Igor Izmestyev with murder, his lawyer told Interfax on Wednesday.

The lawyer, Vladimir Sementsov, said his client had been charged with a murder committed in 2001, but declined to provide further details, citing a gag order.

Sementsov insisted, however, that Izmestyev was innocent. "We are certain of his innocence. All this has been stage-managed by someone," he said. Izmestyev was arrested last week in Kyrgyzstan and transported to Moscow. (MT)

Election Rallies Ban Pulled

The authors of a much-criticized bill that would place new restrictions on public gatherings withdrew the legislation from consideration in the State Duma on Wednesday, Interfax reported.

"We have decided to remove the bill, and we have no plans to introduce a revised version anytime soon," Duma Deputy Vladimir Semago said.

The bill, drawn up by a group of United Russia and opposition deputies, originally contained a ban on public gatherings during the two weeks on either side of an election. That clause was removed Tuesday. (MT)

Murder Suspect Detained

Vladivostok police have detained a third suspect in the murder of Khabarovsk journalist Konstantin Borovko, Interfax reported.

Prosecutors on Tuesday arrested two additional suspects in the case. No charges have been filed.

Borovko was beaten to death after leaving a Vladivostok nightclub early in the morning of Jan. 20. (MT)

Court to Head North

The Federation Council on Wednesday approved a bill that would move the Constitutional Court from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Lawmakers passed the bill in a 147-0 vote, with one abstention.

Supporters of the bill, which is backed by the Kremlin-controlled United Russia party and is expected to be signed by President Vladimir Putin, say relocating the Constitutional Court will upgrade the political status of the country's second largest city.

Critics say the move will be too costly, with restoration of the building that is to house the court expected to cost tens of millions of dollars. The move is expected to be completed by late 2007 or early 2008. (AP)

Ambassador Gets the Sack

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko sacked his ambassador to Austria late Tuesday for helping process visas for several exiled opposition leaders from Turkmenistan.

Yushchenko also asked the government to consider dismissing Transport and Communications Minister Mykola Rudkovsky in connection with the visit to Kiev by the opposition leaders. (Reuters)

Azeri Reporters in Danger

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Journalists seeking to expose corruption and abuses of power by authorities in Azerbaijan face an increasing threat of politically motivated arrests and sometimes deadly reprisal attacks, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

Punishment of opposition and independent journalists in Azerbaijan has become "both more frequent and more severe" in the oil-rich South Caucasus country, the London-based rights group said in a report.

"Anyone daring to voice criticism of the authorities or to expose Azerbaijan's enduring corruption problem faces an uncertain future," Azerbaijan expert Lawrence Broers said. (AP)

5 Charged in Dink's Death

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday charged five people, including a teenaged gunman, in the killing of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin said.

The teenager, Ogun Samast, was charged with membership in an armed gang and murder, he said.

Four other suspects, including a man who has confessed to inciting the killing, were charged with membership in the armed gang and of involvement in Dink's slaying. (AP)

Love Is in the Air at Zoo

Animals at the zoo in Ivanovo have started mating earlier than usual this year because of mild temperatures in the warmest winter in a generation, zoo officials said Wednesday.

Temperatures have recently fallen to more arctic norms, but the unusual heat allowed pumas and camels to shrug off the winter blues and start frolicking early.

"Some animals have started their mating season early this year because of the warm winter," said Maxim Kozlov, the curator at Ivanovo Zoo, northeast of Moscow. (Reuters)

Bus Kills Endangered Tiger

A bus in the Primorye region hit a tiger late Tuesday, killing the animal and injuring one passenger on the bus, Interfax reported.

The bus was traveling from Dalnegorsk to Khabarovsk when it struck the tiger on the roadway. The bus swerved off the road into a ditch, injuring the passenger.

Veterinarians' efforts to save the endangered tiger were unsuccessful. (MT)