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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Ecstasy Smugglers Busted

STOCKHOLM -- A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced two Russian men to 10 years in prison and ordered them to be deported after they were caught in the largest ecstasy smuggling attempt in Sweden's history.

The pair were charged with trying to smuggle 180,236 ecstasy tablets, or more than 50 kilograms, and about 3 kilograms of amphetamine into Sweden by hiding the drugs in glue-sealed plastic bottles in the gas tanks of their cars. Both had denied the charges.

The two were traveling from Germany to Sweden when they were caught in a routine check by Swedish custom officials in Trelleborg. (AP)

Looking for Amur Leopards

Russian and Chinese conservationists began searching Thursday for signs of the last remaining Amur leopards in the Far East and adjacent Chinese border regions, as part of a triennial census of the nearly extinct cats.

The leopards are one of the most endangered species on Earth, with only around 30 remaining in the wilderness of the Primorye region and across the border in China's northeastern provinces, the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement.

The animals and their habitat face encroachment from development, poachers and logging, said Dmitry Pikunov, an ecologist with the Russian Academy of Sciences. (AP)

Karadzic Hiding in Russia?

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic is hiding in Russia, a Bosnian newspaper reported Thursday, citing an intelligence source.

"We got this information by wiretapping a telephone conversation abroad," an unidentified official of the State Investigation and Protection Agency told the daily Oslobodjenje.

The Russian embassy in Sarajevo denied the allegation. Bosnian Serb wartime leader Karadzic and his military commander, Ratko Mladic, are the two men most wanted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague for atrocities committed during Bosnia's 1992-95 war. (Reuters)

Gunfight in South Ossetia

TBILISI, Georgia -- Gunmen fired mortars and automatic weapons at a Georgian police post in South Ossetia, wounding one person, officials said Thursday. The shooting was the third in recent weeks between gunmen and police in the breakaway region.

The gunfire erupted at around 3 a.m. in the village of Ergneti and lasted about a half hour, government officials said in a statement. (AP)

Turkmen Activist Released

A Turkmen court has given a three-year suspended sentence to an environmental activist whose arrest in December drew international criticism, a rights group said.

Andrei Zatoka, a longtime environmental campaigner, was released Wednesday after a trial in the northern city of Dashoguz, the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights said in a statement posted on its web site late Wednesday.

It did not say what offenses Zatoka, who holds dual Turkmen and Russian citizenship, was convicted of. International rights groups had said Zatoka was facing charges of possession of illegal poisonous substances. (AP)

Activist's Wife Warned

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- Uzbek police released the wife of an opposition activist after holding her for several hours and warning her that her husband should not run in presidential elections later this year, a rights activist said Thursday.

Gulcherkhra Shosalimova was released on Wednesday evening after being told that, "her husband should stop doing that because it agitates the public," human rights activist Surat Ikramov said.

Her husband, Jahongir Shosalimov, who intends to challenge President Islam Karimov in the elections scheduled for December, said Wednesday that several men who identified themselves as anti-terrorism officers had forcibly taken his wife from their home Wednesday morning. (AP)

More Dubbing Ordered

KIEV -- Authorities warned film distributors Wednesday that they would face punishment if they did not abide by new guidelines stating that half of all foreign movies shown in the nation's theaters must be translated into Ukrainian.

Amid persistent disputes over language use, the state cinematographic service and film distributors signed a memorandum last week setting the rules.

Movie distributors, who mainly buy films in Russia, have complained of financial losses and many in the largely Russian-speaking east and south have not been translating movies into Ukrainian. (AP)