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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Ryzhkov Won't Run

Outgoing independent State Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov said Friday that he would not run in next year's presidential election.

"After serious consideration, I have decided not to participate in the presidential election in March," Ryzhkov said in a statement, reported.

Ryzhkov, a leading liberal politician, said one of the reasons he decided not to run was the fact that the Supreme Court this year ordered that his Republican Party be disbanded for failing to adhere to a law that requires parties to have at least 50,000 members and 45 regional offices. Without a party to nominate him, Ryzhkov would have to collect 2 million signatures to get onto the ballot. (MT)

Chechen Gunbattle Kills 5

Four Chechen rebels and a police officer were killed in a gunbattle in Grozny, Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said Sunday.

The group of three men and one women resisted arrest during a search of a residential district in the city on Saturday night, sparking a conflict that lasted until early Sunday, Alkhanov said.

Two of the men had been identified as "the leaders of a gang that was involved in the murders of police officers in Grozny and elsewhere in Chechnya since the summer of 2007," Alkhanov said, Interfax reported. One special forces member died and three other officers were injured. (Reuters)

Ingush Post Attacked

ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Gunmen attacked a military and police post in Ingushetia, police officials said Friday.

No casualties were reported in the assault Thursday night in the village of Malogbek, north of the regional capital of Magas.

Officials said three to four men armed with Kalashnikovs and hand grenades assaulted the post.

Ingush media also reported that bomb engineers detonated explosive shells found in the village, setting off two loud explosions early Friday. Police officials denied that there were any explosions. (AP)

Tymoshenko Vote Tuesday

KIEV -- Ukraine's parliament agreed on Friday to hold a second vote on Yulia Tymoshenko's bid to be restored as prime minister on Tuesday.

A vote on her nomination was supported by 225 deputies on Wednesday -- one short of a majority. (Reuters)

Serial Killer Suspect on Trial

KIEV -- A criminal expert has gone on trial in Ukraine accused of raping and murdering dozens of young women and girls over a period of 25 years, prosecutors said Friday.

Sergei Tkach, who is in his 50s, has been charged with multiple premeditated murders, and prosecutors have evidence that he committed at least 60 rapes, murders or both, said Yuriy Boychenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office.

Authorities say Tkach, who has training in criminal investigation, has confessed to more than 100 rapes or murders, and investigators are working to verify his claims. A court in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk began hearings Wednesday, Boychenko said. The trial, conducted behind closed doors because it involves minors, is expected to last several months. Tkach faces life in prison if convicted. (AP)

Call for Help in Caucasus

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- A grouping of eminent international politicians and statesmen have called for more intensive engagement by the European Union and others to resolve conflicts in the Caucasus-Caspian region.

The Caucasus-Caspian Commission, which includes former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, warned in a report Thursday that the conflicts had the capacity to spread over a much wider area.

"The region has the potential to confront Europe with a major source of instability on its own doorstep," it said.

The commission is chaired by Dimitrij Rupel, the foreign minister of Slovenia, which will take over the rotating EU presidency on Jan. 1. It also includes representatives from Russia, Iran and the Caucasus-Caspian region. (Reuters)

Armenia Newspaper Bomb

YEREVAN, Armenia -- A bomb exploded outside the offices of an Armenian opposition newspaper that is strongly critical of President Robert Kocharyan's administration.

No one was injured in the blast, which blew out windows and damaged the doors at the Yerevan offices of the newspaper Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, or "The Fourth Estate," early Thursday, police said. (Reuters)

Suspects Linked to Iran

TEHRAN, Iran -- Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry said Saturday that more than a dozen people convicted of treason and sedition passed information about Western interests to Iranian intelligence.

Iran on Sunday demanded that the ministry provide evidence after it said the 15 people had passed information on U.S., British and Israeli activities in the country to Iran. An Azeri court sentenced the 15 men to lengthy prison terms last week. (AP)