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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

2 Charged in Priest's Death

Two men have been charged with killing Father Oleg Stupichkin on the night of Orthodox Christmas and stealing nearly two dozen precious religious icons, the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement Saturday.

Stupichkin was found dead in the St. Peter and Paul Church in Alapayevsk, near Yekaterinburg, after a fire in the early hours of Jan. 7, following Christmas services.

Local prosecutors charged two unemployed men -- Sergei Dalyatshin and Roman Sukhachov -- with murder and robbery. (AP)

License-Plate Bill Passes

State Duma deputies passed a measure Friday stripping all members of the parliament of the privilege of having license plates decorated with Russian flags.

Police rarely pull over cars with the special license plates for traffic violations. (MT)

Abortion Bill Submitted

State Duma deputies Alexander Krutov and Nikolai Leonov, both of the Rodina faction, submitted a bill Friday that would ban the advertising of abortion services by health care organizations, Interfax reported.

The deputies said up to 1.8 million abortions were performed in the country yearly, which translates into 2.8 abortions for every birth.

The bill comes at a time that the government is trying to reverse Russia's declining birthrate. (MT)

Lavrov Presses Rice

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the United States on Friday to provide better protection for the Russian Embassy in Baghdad, which was shelled earlier this week.

The foreign minister also harshly criticized the detention of five Iranians by U.S. forces in Iraq. (Story, page 14.)

In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Lavrov "underlined the responsibility of the U.S. command of the multinational forces to ensure reliable security" for Russian and other diplomatic missions and "the need to prevent such incidents in the future," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. (AP)

For the Record

A Japanese fishing boat seized more than two months ago by Russian authorities near disputed waters in the Far East was released Friday after its owners paid a $7,300 fine, Japan's Foreign Ministry said. (AP)

Thousands of Turkmens participated in a ceremony Friday to plant some 16,000 trees in memory of Saparmurat Niyazov, the eccentric autocrat who died last month after ruling the Central Asian nation for two decades, state television reported. (AP)