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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Ambassador Back to Tbilisi

Russia's ambassador to Georgia, recalled during a diplomatic dispute in September, is going back to Tbilisi as part of an effort to improve relations, Itar-Tass said Thursday.

Russia and Georgia are still reeling from last year's spat over spying charges and disagreements about the price of Russian gas. Moscow has slapped economic sanctions on Tbilisi and deported hundreds of Georgian nationals.

Georgia's pro-Western course has also angered Moscow.

"Unfortunately, in recent years we have encountered certain problems in our relations," President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying at a pre-departure meeting with the ambassador, Vyacheslav Kovalenko. (Reuters)

Communists Launch Show

Communists have launched a weekly television show, Panorama Nedeli, that runs on a regional channel, Molodaya Kultura Sibiri, in Novosibirsk, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Thursday. The show began Jan. 14.

Andrei Zhirnov, a Communist deputy in the regional legislature, is the show's anchor. (MT)

Icon Dust-Up at Airport

A U.S. citizen attempting to take two, century-old icons out of Russia without declaring them with customs agents was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport Thursday, RIA-Novosti reported.

The icons were confiscated, and a probe was opened. The name of the American was not disclosed. (MT)

Solzhenitsyn Attack

Unidentified vandals damaged the grave of Nobel Prize-winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn's mother, police officials said Thursday.

The vandals removed a marble cross from Taisia Solzhenitsyna's grave Tuesday in the town of Georgiyevsk, about 1,200 kilometers south of Moscow, an officer with the town police said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Solzhenitsyn's mother was buried in Georgiyevsk in January 1944.

Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970 and was expelled from the Soviet Union four years later. He lived in Vermont until his 1994 return to Russia. (AP)

Ship Blasts Off to Space

An unmanned Russian cargo ship blasted off Thursday for the international space station to deliver supplies to its three-person crew, officials said.

The Progress M-59 lifted off atop a Soyuz-U booster rocket at 5:12 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and entered orbit about nine minutes later, said Nikolai Kryuchkov, a spokesman for the Federal Space Agency. (AP)

Dagestan Official Sentenced

MAKHACHKALA -- The top court in Dagestan on Wednesday sentenced Abdurahman Gadzhiyev, a district administrator accused of attempting to kill a regional chief, to 18 years in prison, a court spokesman said.

In November, a jury at the Dagestani Supreme Court convicted Gadzhiyev of organizing an assassination attempt on Magomed Magomedov, head of the region's Gergebil district.

The Supreme Court confirmed the conviction Wednesday and sentenced Gadzhiyev to 18 years in prison. (AP)

Satire Alive at Art Gallery

An art gallery's exhibition near the Kremlin showed this week that biting political satire is still alive in Russia.

Works by artist Andrei Budayev at the Novy Manezh gallery include a collage depicting Putin shaking hands with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Another picture had Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov covering his ears with his hands flanked by two officials, one covering his eyes and the other his mouth. Rights groups say Ivanov has turned a blind eye to abuse of conscripts in the military. (Reuters)