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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Dagestani Policeman Killed

MAKHACHKALA -- A police officer was shot dead and two others were killed by roadside bomb blasts in what Dagestani authorities said Sunday was an attempt to assassinate the republic's top police official.

Gunmen fatally shot a police investigator in his car outside his home in Makhachkala, and two bombs exploded as a police convoy headed to the site. The blast badly damaged regional Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov's car and fatally wounded a security guard and the driver, ministry spokeswoman Anzhela Martirosova said.

The minister was unhurt; he had traveled to the site of the shooting in a different car and was already there when the bombs exploded, Martirosova said. (AP)

5 of 6 Fishermen Returned

TOKYO -- Russia has returned five of six Japanese fishermen apprehended last month in waters disputed by both countries, Japan's Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The six were seized in mid-January along with their boat, the Zuishomaru, by Russian border guards off northern Pacific islands controlled by Moscow, but also claimed by Tokyo.

Five of the crew were transferred Saturday from Russian custody to a Japanese government vessel during an exchange at sea. The vessel and its captain, Takashi Kawabata, remain in Russian custody, and the Japanese government is pushing for their release, the statement said. (AP)

Bomb Threat Denied

PRAGUE -- Yevgeny Dagayev, a Russian citizen who reportedly claimed to have carried a bomb onto an Aeroflot jet, forcing the airliner to land in Prague in December, said Friday that he made no bomb threat and did not want to hijack the plane.

"I might have been aggressive," Dagayev told Czech television. "But I don't remember that I made a bomb threat."

Dagayev, 32, is suspected of jeopardizing an aircraft, and could face up to 15 years in prison if tried and convicted. The Airbus A321 had been flying Dec. 28 from Moscow to Geneva, Switzerland, when Dagayev allegedly tried to break into the cockpit, demanding that the plane fly to Africa, and threatening that he would set off a bomb. (AP)

442 Rescued From Ice Floes

Rescue workers on Saturday brought to safety 442 fishermen who were stranded on ice floes that had broken away from the coast in the Far East, emergency officials said.

The fishermen had ignored warnings from authorities about the safety of the ice, state television reported. Two weeks earlier, some 60 people were evacuated from the same area.

Strong winds hampered the nearly six-hour rescue operation, in which helicopters and boats took part. The ice floes broke away of the coast of Sakhalin Island. (AP)

4 Ingush Fighters Killed

Security forces killed four militants in the Ingush town of Malgobek on Saturday after an hours-long siege, police said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nazir Yevloyev said police had surrounded an apartment building where the militants were holed up and killed four of them after several hours of firing.

In Chechnya, security forces killed four suspected rebels who resisted arrest east of Grozny, the Chechen Interior Ministry said. (AP)

Election Official Kidnapped

TBILISI, Georgia -- Masked men kidnapped an election official in Abkhazia on Saturday, and Tbilisi angrily denied claims by the separatist leadership that it was responsible for the abduction.

Ruslan Kishmaria, a representative of the Abkhaz leadership, said two groups of armed men seized the head of the local electoral commission in the Gali district in a dawn raid and took him away in the direction of Georgia.

"There is no doubt that this kidnapping was organized by Georgian special services," he said in televised comments. But Temur Mzhavia, a Georgian official who heads a parliament-in-exile for Abkhazia, said the separatists had staged the abduction to discredit the Georgian government. (AP)

Blame Game in S. Ossetia

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian and separatist South Ossetian authorities traded accusations Sunday over who was to blame for several exchanges of fire in the breakaway region overnight. Separatist officials said the hostilities wounded police officers and damaged homes.

The top police official in South Ossetia's separatist government, Interior Minister Mikhail Mindzayev, said the regional capital, Tskhinvali, had come under artillery fire for about two hours from two Georgian-controlled villages nearby.

The commander of the Georgian contingent in a joint Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian peacekeeping mission said South Ossetian forces opened fire first and that Georgians returned fire. (AP)

Uzbeks Seek Investigation

BERLIN -- A group of Uzbeks has challenged a decision by German prosecutors office not to investigate a former senior Uzbek official for alleged crimes against humanity, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Friday.

The eight Uzbeks who were alleged victims of abuses, joined by Human Rights Watch, have accused former Uzbek Interior Minister Zokirjon Almatov and 11 other officials of crimes against humanity related to the 2005 government crackdown on protesters in the city of Andijan, and torture.

They sought an investigation under a German law allowing prosecution of crimes against humanity regardless of where they were committed. (AP)

Law Weakens Presidency

KIEV -- A new law that weakens the powers of Ukraine's presidency came into force Friday, the latest chapter in the struggle between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

The law limits Yushchenko's right to appoint the foreign and defense ministers and his influence over regional leaders. It came into force without the signature of Yushchenko, who has vowed to appeal to the Constitutional Court. (AP)