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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Patarkatsishvili Under Fire

TBILISI, Georgia -- The campaign manager of media magnate and presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili plotted to overthrow the government, a senior Georgian prosecutor said.

Valery Gelbakhiani, who is running Patarkatsishvili's campaign for the Jan. 5 election, was "according to information obtained in an investigation ... identified as a suspect in organizing a coup d'etat," deputy chief prosecutor Nika Gvaramia told a news conference Monday.

He did not say whether Gelbakhiani would be formally charged.

The pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili, who came to power after mass 2003 street rallies, called the election after an unprecedented protest against his presidency last month.

Six candidates are challenging Saakashvili as the opposition failed to agree on a single candidate. (Reuters)

Putin to Meet Qaddafi

President Vladimir Putin is planning to hold talks with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Putin and Qaddafi plan to sign a series of agreements on political and economic cooperation, Lavrov said Monday after a visit to Libya, Interfax reported. Military-technical cooperation, which usually refers to defense contracts, will also be on the agenda, Lavrov said.

Libya, the holder of Africa's largest oil reserves, gave state-run gas monopoly Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell permits to explore for natural gas earlier this month. (Bloomberg)

Yanukovych Ally Appointed

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has appointed an ally of former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to a top post, though Yanukovych said he opposed the appointment.

Yushchenko named Raisa Bogatyryova to the post of secretary of the National Security and Defense Council on Monday, a week after overseeing the return to government of a team linked to the 2004 protests that swept him to power.

Bogatyryova has long been linked to Yanukovych, the president's rival from the 2004 upheaval. Yanukovych stepped down as prime minister last week to be replaced by Yulia Tymoshenko, who heads a post-election Orange coalition.

Within hours of the appointment, Yanukovych said his allies could not take senior positions in the new administration. (Reuters)

Missile Test-Fired

The military on Tuesday successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads -- a weapon intended to replace aging Soviet-era missiles.

The RS-24 missile was launched from the Plesetsk launch facility in northern Russia, and its test warheads successfully hit targets on the Kura testing range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Strategic Missile Forces spokesman Alexander Vovk said. (AP)

Murder Suspect Acquitted

A Moldovan court has acquitted a citizen of the former Soviet republic of the murder of NTV journalist Ilya Zimin.

A court in the Moldovan city of Oknitsa on Tuesday acquitted Igor Velchev, 22, of killing Zimin, who was found beaten to death in his Moscow apartment in February 2006, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

Velchev testified in court that he pushed Zimin twice after the reporter undressed and tried to hug him. He said, however, that he did not attack Zimin and that he left the apartment before the reporter suffered the fatal blows.

Moldovan prosecutors, who vowed to appeal the verdict, had initially planned to extradite Velchev to stand a trial in Russia. They eventually decided, however, that he should be tried in Moldova. (MT)

Unmanned Ship Lands

An unmanned Russian cargo ship carrying 2 tons of supplies, including holiday gifts, docked Wednesday at the international space station, officials said.

The Progress M-62, which lifted off Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, docked at the orbiting outpost at 11:14 a.m., Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin said.

The ship delivered food, including fruit and vegetables, drinking water, fuel, equipment, oxygen and Christmas and New Year's gifts for the crew -- U.S. astronauts Peggy Whitson and Daniel Tani and Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko.

The gifts carried to the space station included birthday presents for Malenchenko, who turned 46 on Saturday, Lyndin said. (AP)

Kyrgyz Claim Santa's Home

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Seeking a novel remedy to revive its rickety economy, the tiny ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan has declared itself the new home of Santa Claus.

Citing a Swedish engineering firm that determined the ideal spot for Santa's global toy delivery hub, officials in this predominantly Muslim country have quickly moved to capitalize on the finding.

They named a mountain peak after Santa, to join mounts Lenin and Yeltsin, and declared 2008 "The Year of Santa Claus."

"Its slogan will be 'Kyrgyzstan is the land of Santa Clauses,'" Kyrgyz tourism authority spokeswoman Nurkhon Tajibayeva said. (Reuters)

Jet Crashes During Takeoff

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A small German-owned private jet crashed during takeoff from Almaty airport Wednesday, killing its only passenger, Kazakhstan's Emergency Ministry said.

Three crew members were hospitalized with injuries, the ministry said in a statement. It did not give the nationality of the dead passenger.

The Canadair aircraft owned by German company Jet Connection Business Flight veered off the runway, hit a wall and exploded, the statement said.

The plane had made a refueling stop in the Central Asian country on its way from Hannover to Macau, the ministry added. (Reuters)

SUV Owner Allows Egging

A St. Petersburg Hummer owner gave anti-globalists the okay to pelt his oversized vehicle with rotten eggs, news agencies reported Wednesday.

Activists from the "Anti-globalists of Piter" movement said they found a driver willing to let them express their dissatisfaction with consumerism by throwing things at his luxury sport utility vehicle, a spokesman for the movement said, RIA-Novosti reported.

The activists said throwing eggs and tomatoes at the Hummer would help draw attention to their cause.

The vehicle's owner said he would then sell it and donate the proceeds to an orphanage. (Reuters)

3 Million Soldiers Still MIA

More than 3 million Soviet soldiers who fought in World War II are still listed as missing in action, a senior general said, reflecting the enormous scope of the nation's wartime losses.

General Vladimir Isakov, a deputy defense minister, made the statement Tuesday while attending the burial of the remains of 121 Red Army soldiers who died in the Battle of Moscow in 1941, national media reported.

An estimated 27 million Soviet citizens died during the conflict, known to most Russians as the Great Patriotic War, and much of the western part of the country was ravaged during four years of epic battles. Many historians believe the actual Soviet losses were significantly higher. (AP)