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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

United Russia Courts Putin

The pro-Kremlin United Russia party is urging President Vladimir Putin to become its new leader when he leaves office, party leader Boris Gryzlov said Tuesday, Interfax reported.

Putin has shown "strong interest" in the party's development, Gryzlov said. "Putin is actively involved" in United Russia's work and the party would be "happy" if the president chose to "formalize this relationship," he said. (Bloomberg)

Mayor Under Investigation

Prosecutors in the Primorye region have opened a criminal investigation into the activities of Vladivostok Mayor Vladimir Nikolayev.

Nikolayev is under investigation for abuse of power, including using money from the city's budget to pay for his personal security detail, Irina Nobokonova, a spokeswoman at the city prosecutor's office, said by telephone.

A court in Vladivostok was to consider suspending Nikolayev from his post Tuesday, Nobokonova said. The hearing was later rescheduled for Wednesday because Nikolayev was out of town on a business trip, RIA-Novosti reported. (Bloomberg)

Ulman Testifies in 3rd Trial

The North Caucasus District Military Court on Tuesday heard testimony from Captain Eduard Ulman, one of four members of an elite military intelligence unit charged with killing six civilians in Chechnya, Interfax reported.

Ulman told the court that when his unit opened fire on the car in which the civilians were driving, he had "no doubt that fighters were inside," because the driver had ignored three orders to stop.

The four officers were twice acquitted by juries in the Rostov region. The Constitutional Court subsequently ruled that serious crimes committed by the military in Chechynya would be heard by military tribunals. (MT)

Lavrov Has Kosovo Worries

Russia is concerned by the West's lack of willingness to take into account Serbia's interests when drafting plans for the future of Kosovo, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

"We are worried at the absence of any desire to meet the legitimate concerns of Belgrade," Lavrov told a news conference, answering a question about his attitude to the plan presented by United Nations envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

Lavrov said last week that Russia would not be part of any effort to force Serbia to recognize the independence of Kosovo, suggesting Russia was leaning toward a veto on the UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo. (Reuters)

Missiles Concern Ukraine

KIEV -- U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic could hurt Ukraine's relations with its neighbors, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych told the German newspaper Handelsblatt, his spokesman said Tuesday.

Some Ukrainian officials have condemned the initiative, saying it poses a threat to Ukraine's security because it could make Ukraine's neighbors targets. Others have asked the United States to provide more details about its plans.

U.S. military experts will visit Ukraine in early March. (AP)