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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

British Stabbing Denied

The British Embassy in Baku denied on Monday a report that a British diplomat has been hospitalized with a knife wound following an argument with a prostitute in a taxi over the price of her services.

Interfax, citing the Azeri Interior Ministry, said diplomat James Bernhop was haggling with a prostitute in the back seat of a cab Sunday when a fight broke out. The taxi driver, trying to defend the prostitute, stabbed Bernhop with a knife, Interfax said.

An embassy spokeswoman said by telephone that there was no truth to the report and that no one by that name worked for the embassy. (MT)

Putin Honors Late Spy

President Vladimir Putin has posthumously awarded Soviet intelligence officer George Koval a Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union for having obtained U.S. atomic secrets that helped the Soviet Union to build its own atomic bomb, the Kremlin said in a statement Friday.

Speaking at a ceremony at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Putin said Koval "made an immense contribution to strengthening Russia's defense capability," the Kremlin said.

Operating under the code name Delmar, Koval, who died last year at the age of 94, was the only Soviet intelligence officer to penetrate secret U.S. atomic facilities "producing the plutonium, enriched uranium and polonium used to create the atomic bomb," the statement said. Koval's identity had been a secret until this summer. (MT)

9 Men Shot in Forest

The bodies of nine men with gunshot wounds were found Sunday in a forest in the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.

The men were found near two abandoned automobiles in a wooded area near the village of Lechinkai, local police told Interfax.

The men were hunters from nearby Nalchik, Nizhny Chegem and Khasyan, police said.

A law enforcement source told Interfax that the hunters were wearing camouflage and might have been killed by insurgents who mistook them for police or military officers. (Reuters, MT)

Russian Wife Murder Trial

OAKLAND, California -- A man who authorities believe murdered his Russian-born wife was scheduled to go on trial Monday in California in a case where authorities must contend with their inability to find the woman's body, leaving them with a largely circumstantial case.

Lawyers for Hans Reiser argue that authorities have not proven that his missing wife, Nina, is even dead, let alone slain, and that she may very well be secretly living in her native Russia.

Nina Reiser vanished over the Labor Day weekend in September 2006 after going shopping and dropping off her two children at the house of her estranged husband, Hans Reiser, house in an Oakland suburb. (AP)

Malaysia Eyes Spaceship

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia is thinking of buying the Russian craft that carried the first Malaysian into space and putting it on display to stimulate scientific interest among the country's young people, an official said Monday.

Science Minister Jamaludin Jarjis said the Federal Space Agency offered to sell the Soyuz TMA-11 craft to Malaysia and that negotiations were under way. There was no mention of any possible price. (AP)

For the Record

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers on Monday rejected calls for the parliament to be dissolved and said any new government would have to be formed from current elected political parties. About 8,000 people demonstrated on Saturday against Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis. (Reuters)

Rallies by groups opposed to Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko drew a small turnout Sunday, with about 1,000 protesters marching through central Minsk. (Reuters)