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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Khodorkovsky Punished

Prosecutors from the city of Chita on Tuesday defended a decision to move jailed former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky to solitary confinement, Ekho Moskvy radio reported Tuesday.

Khodorkovsky had been moved into the single-person cell as punishment, prosecutors said, for drinking tea outside the permitted area.

This is the third time that Khodorkovsky, now serving an eight-year sentence, has been moved to solitary confinement. The first time Khodorkovsky was forced into solitary confinement was ultimately overturned by a judge.

If he is found in violation once more -- leading to a third, judicially approved confinement -- Khodorkovsky would lose any chance of early release. (MT)

Bribery in Volgograd Region

Pavel Karev, the speaker of the Volgograd region Duma, has been sentenced to three years in a high-security prison for accepting bribes, Ekho Moskvy reported Tuesday.

Karev was arrested late last year by FSB agents after receiving a $10,000 bribe from a local businessman.

Prosecutors in the case had sought an eight-year sentence for the Volgograd speaker, but after he pleaded guilty, the court gave him a shorter term. (MT)

Terrorist Trial Wrapping Up

The trial of three men accused of killing 49 people and wounding more than 300 in 2004 bomb attacks on the metro appeared to be winding up Tuesday, as the defendants delivered final statements. reported that verdicts in the case of Maxim Ponarin, Tambiy Khubiyev and Marat Shavayev were expected Feb. 2.

Prosecutors have called for life terms for the defendants. (MT)

Casino Bill Becomes Law

President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Dec. 30 that will close casinos and slot halls across most of the country in a few years, forcing the establishments that have become a garish feature of the new Russian landscape into a limited number of legal gambling zones.

The bill sailed through the Federation Council after passing the the State Duma one week earlier.

The bill calls for the creation of four zones for legal gambling in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, the Primorsky region on the Pacific coast, the Altai region in Siberia and near the southern cities of Krasnodar and Rostov.

Casinos and slot operations elsewhere in the country would be banned as of July 1, 2009. (AP)

Collective Action on Iran

Countries taking action against Iran independent of the United Nations, as called for by Washington, would not be helpful in luring Tehran back to negotiations on its nuclear program, Russia said last week.

The collective approach, embodied in a sanctions resolution adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council last month, is the way to go, said Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin.

"It is our very strong belief that as long as we act collectively, we'd better stay this way," he said. (Reuters)

Boris Gudz, 104

Boris Gudz, a veteran of the Soviet secret police who helped track down British spy Sydney Reilly in the early 1920s, has died. He was 104.

Gudz died in Moscow on Dec. 27, said a spokesman for the Federal Security Service, or FSB. The spokesman refused to give his name, citing agency policy.

Gudz joined the Bolshevik OGPU secret police in 1923 and, in 1925, took part in its so-called Operation Trust, aimed at luring Reilly, a top British agent, to Russia to join an anti-Bolshevik organization that was in fact an OGPU trap.

Reilly was arrested after crossing the border into Russia from Finland and executed shortly afterward. (AP)

Bears Finally Nod Off

Russian bears at the Moscow Zoo have finally dropped off into their hibernation slumber despite months of insomnia caused by a record mild start to the winter, zoo officials said Tuesday.

Russia's arctic winters, which scuttled the occupation plans of both Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler, came to an end this year in European Russia with no snow and temperatures so warm that bears were left pacing around and unable to sleep.

"The bears have finally fallen asleep and they have not woken up yet," Natalya Istratova, a spokeswoman for the zoo, said by telephone. (Reuters)