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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Anti-Estonia Protest

United Russia's youth group demonstrated Friday against Estonia's decision to remove a monument to Soviet soldiers who fought the Germans in World War II, saying it showed disrespect for those who died fighting Nazism.

About 100 protesters stood outside the Estonian Embassy, throwing darts at a photograph of Estonia's president. (Reuters)

Court Relocation Approved

The State Duma on Friday gave final approval to a bill that would move the Constitutional Court from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Deputies voted 369-59 with one abstention in favor of the amended version of bill, after the previous one was vetoed by the Federation Council because of the judges' reluctance to move out of the capital.

The council will now have to vote on the new text of the document, which allowed for some sessions of the court to be held in Moscow, before the president can sign it into law. The move would be completed by late 2007 or early 2008. (AP)

Turkmen Vote Monitors

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov said Turkmenistan would allow international observers to monitor next month's presidential election, state television reported Sunday.

The move will make the Feb. 11 vote to replace President Saparmurat Niyazov -- who died last month -- the Central Asian nation's first election monitored by outside observers.

Also, acting Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on Friday called for "friendly" relations with Uzbekistan after years of tough border restrictions between the two countries. (AP)

Belarus Pressed

MINSK -- A senior member of the Council of Europe called Friday for dialogue with Belarus, and said the release of jailed opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko would help break the country's isolation from the West.

Dutch Senator Rene van der Linden, who chairs the human rights watchdog's Parliamentary Assembly, spoke after a three-day visit.

Belarussian parliament Speaker Vladimir Konoplyov said the country was ready for dialogue, but that any improvement in relations with Europe would not come at the expense of ties with Russia. (AP)

Adamkus to Visit Bush

WASHINGTON -- Lithuanan President Valdas Adamkus will visit U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House on Feb. 12, Bush's press secretary said Friday.

Tony Snow said Bush and Adamkus would discuss military operations in Afghanistan and in Iraq as well as other matters. He said Lithuania "has been a close partner of the United States in advancing freedom in Belarus and elsewhere in Eastern Europe." (AP)

Armenian Teen Killed

Police are investigating the murder of an Armenian teenager, whose body was discovered Friday morning, Interfax reported.

Artur Martirosyan, born in Armenia in 1991, had been a seventh-grader in a Moscow public school. Martirosyan was registered in Timilino, a village in the Moscow region, but had been living in a rented Moscow apartment since 2003.

An unidentified law enforcement official told Interfax that the teenager had been stabbed to death. A criminal investigation is under way. (MT)

Extremism Bill Approved

The State Duma on Friday approved in a first reading a raft of amendments to a law on counteracting extremist activity, Interfax reported.

If the amendments became law, prosecutors could charge suspects not just for publishing but also for possession of extremist materials. (MT)

New Metro Tickets

The Moscow metro on Saturday introduced new "ultralight" contactless tickets for 10, 20 or 60 trips, Interfax reported.

"To pass through the turnstile you just place the ticket on the yellow circle. When the green light comes on, you can step through the turnstile," a metro spokesman told Interfax.

The spokesman said the new tickets were superior to existing tickets, which store information on a magnetic strip, because they would be more difficult to counterfeit. (MT)

Jet Overshoots Runway

Sheremetyevo Airport briefly suspended operations Friday after a business jet overshot the runway on landing, RIA-Novosti reported. No one was injured.

The plane, a Yak-40, was carrying four passengers and two crew members on a flight from Nizhny Novgorod to Moscow. An investigation has been opened. The jet belongs to Jet Air but was chartered by the airline Premier-Avia, RIA-Novosti said. (MT)

Dagestani Feared Dead

MAKHACHKALA -- A Dagestani official and election candidate has gone missing and is feared dead, authorities said Saturday.

Magomed Omarmagomedov, 45, an emergency situations official in northern Dagestan and a candidate in March elections to the regional parliament, has been missing for several days, regional Interior Ministry spokeswoman Anzhela Martirosova said.

She said Omarmagomedov's car -- damaged after an apparent explosion and fire -- was found in a local forest Thursday, and that he is feared dead.

Omarmagomedov escaped an apparent assassination attempt two years ago.

The liberal Union of Right Forces party, on whose ballot Omarmagomedov was running, said the disappearance showed that "a real war" was being waged against it in the region and called for a vigorous investigation. (AP)

FSB Ends Alert

The Federal Security Service on Friday formally ended a high alert announced earlier in the week over a threat of terror attack.

Service chief Nikolai Patrushev, who also chairs the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, ordered the end of the alert, a duty officer at the agency said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. (AP)

Teen Stabs Grandmother

A teenager stabbed and killed his grandmother in Karelia after arguing with her over which television channel to watch, a prosecutor's official said Friday.

The body of the 81-year-old grandmother was found in her home in the Karelian village of Nadvoitsy on Jan. 11, a day after the killing, said prosecutor's spokeswoman Tatyana Kordynkova.

Investigators said the woman died of multiple stab wounds and head injuries.

Her 18-year-old grandson, who was drunk at the time of the stabbing, was detained and confessed to the crime, Kordynkova said. (AP)

Gorbachev Site Hacked

Hackers on Saturday attacked the web site of a foundation run by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, accusing him of brutally suppressing a pro-independence demonstration in then-Soviet Azerbaijan in 1990.

The perpetrators posted photographs of the suppressed rally on the web site and published an open letter to the former leader, blaming him for the deaths of more than 130 people. (AP)

Tax Officials Detained

Police have detained two employees at the headquarters of the Moscow branch of the Federal Tax Service for suspected bribe taking.

"Two officials of the federal tax service in Moscow were detained on Thursday as they received a bribe while issuing a license allowing a commercial firm to buy, store and deliver consumer products containing alcohol," Prosecutor General's Office spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said Friday on Rossia television. (Reuters)

Radar Base Warning

PRAGUE -- The United States has asked the Czech Republic to host a radar base that would be part of a global missile defense system, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said Saturday, drawing a warning from Russia of retaliatory actions.

U.S. officials contend that the system could defend Europe against intercontinental missiles fired by states such as Iran and North Korea.

But the Kremlin warned that the military balance in Europe could be at stake and said the development risked a new arms race. (AP)

Moiseyev Turns 101

Legendary folk dance choreographer Igor Moiseyev celebrated his 101st birthday Sunday.

A gala performance by Moiseyev's State Academic Folk Dance Ensemble was scheduled for the Kremlin Palace concert hall. In a statement issued Sunday, President Vladimir Putin praised Moiseyev for his "talent and enormous, life-affirming energy." (MT)

For the Record

Twenty-one doctors and health officials accused of causing an HIV outbreak among 87 children went on trial in Kazakhstan on Friday. (AP)

The EU will approve on Monday a mandate for talks with Ukraine on a cooperation pact as long as member states resolve differences on how to treat the country's membership hopes. (Reuters)