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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Rice Rebukes Solovtsov

BERLIN -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday said General Nikolai Solovtsov's warning earlier this week that Poland and the Czech Republic risked being targeted if they hosted U.S. missile-defense installations was "extremely unfortunate."

Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, said Monday that Russia might target the two countries with missiles if they accepted the U.S. proposal.

Rice said U.S. officials had briefed Russia on their plans and made it clear that the system was aimed at a possible launch from Iran, not Russia. (AP)

Anti-Darwin Suit Dismissed

The Oktyabrsky District Court in St. Petersburg on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit filed by Maria Shraiber, a 15-year-old who argued that being taught the theory of evolution in school violated her civil rights, Interfax reported.

The court also dismissed Shraiber's request that the government provide her with a written apology for offending her religious beliefs. Shraiber's representatives vowed to appeal the ruling to St. Petersburg's City Court. (MT)

Senators Approve Visa Rules

The Federation Council on Wednesday ratified agreements with the European Union that ease visa requirements for some travelers and spell out terms for the return of illegal immigrants, Interfax reported.

The first agreement simplifies visa rules for businessmen, government officials, journalists, scholars, students, truck drivers and others visitors. The second covers the readmission of illegal immigrants, the EU's main condition for easing visa rules.

The agreements were approved by the State Duma on Feb. 14, and will now be sent to President Vladimir Putin for his signature. (MT)

No Extremist Presidents

A group of deputies submitted a bill Wednesday to the State Duma that would make it difficult for anyone convicted of extremist activities to become president, Interfax reported.

Vladimir Pligin, chairman of the Duma's Constitution and State Affairs Committee, said the bill ruled out anyone "convicted of committing acts of an extremist nature and whose sentence has not been served in full as of election day." (MT)

Armenian Dual Citizenship

YEREVAN, Armenia -- Armenia's parliament has given initial approval to a bill that gives ethnic Armenians the right to hold dual citizenship, a law that could almost quadruple the number of the country's citizens around the world.

Armenia has a population of just 3.2 million but a Diaspora of 8 million spread across the globe, mainly in the United States, Russia and France.

The new law, debated Tuesday, would allow the emigres to gain Armenian citizenship. (Reuters)

'Turkmenbashi' Dropped

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Just a week after Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov was inaugurated on pledges to continue the policies of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, the late leader's name and title Turkmenbashi, or Father of the Turkmen, was dropped from the official oath of loyalty.

Until Wednesday, all official events in the country started with the oath to "Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great" recited in chorus. The new version of the oath mentions just "the president." (Reuters)