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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Khinsagov Appeal Begins

TBILISI, Georgia -- A Georgian court has begun hearing Oleg Khinsagov's appeal against his conviction for attempted smuggling of highly enriched uranium, the Prosecutor General's Office announced Wednesday.

Georgia announced last week that it had arrested and imprisoned Khinsagov, a Russian citizen, last year for attempting to sell a small amount of weapons-grade uranium to an agent who was posing as a wealthy foreign buyer.

In September, a Georgian court sentenced Khinsagov to eight years in prison. Georgian officials said Khinsagov told investigators during initial questioning that the radioactive material had originated in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. (AP)

Notary Jailed for 9 Years

Moscow's Preobrazhensky District Court on Wednesday convicted on forgery and fraud charges a notary who was one of three men acquitted in the 2004 killing of American journalist Paul Klebnikov, a court official said.

The court sentenced Fail Sadretdinov to nine years in prison after finding him guilty of illegally registering an apartment.

Defense lawyer Ruslan Kolev told RIA-Novosti that he would appeal the sentence. (AP)

Litvinenko File Forwarded

LONDON -- Detectives investigating the death of Alexander Litvinenko sent a file of information from their probe to prosecutors Wednesday, a British police spokeswoman said.

London's Metropolitan Police said it could not say whether the file sent to Britain's Crown Prosecution Service made recommendations that individuals should be charged with criminal offenses over the death. (AP)

Lights Go Out in Sochi

A 24-hour blackout hit the Black Sea coast Tuesday and Wednesday, including the resort of Sochi, just weeks before International Olympic Committee officials evaluate the city's readiness to host the 2014 Winter Games.

Governor Alexander Tkachyov complained that the international media were obsessed with the issue. As a result, he said, "Our competitors in Korea and Austria will use this for their purposes," Interfax reported.

Power was cut to areas of the Krasnodar region after strong winds and snow damaged electricity lines at about 5 p.m. Tuesday. (MT)

License Plate Law Signed

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a law stripping members of parliament of the right to use special license plates giving their cars right of way, the Kremlin announced Wednesday.

The law appears aimed at soothing resentment of ordinary motorists over the special plates, flashing lights and sirens that give parking privileges to lawmakers, bureaucrats and government workers.

The plates -- adorned with a larger-than-usual Russian tricolor flag -- also allow them to ignore some of the rules of the road, muscling past other cars and zipping by traffic police untouched. (AP)

Official's Sentence Reduced

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reduced to five years the eight-year prison sentence of former Finance Ministry official Denis Mikhailov, Interfax reported.

Mikhailov, who was involved in talks on Russia's debts to the Paris Club, was convicted for accepting a $110,000 Mercedes and leaking a classified document to two businessmen who also received jail terms.

The document concerned Vietnam's sovereign debt to Russia. Trade in Soviet-era debt of developing nations and former communist satellites flourished in the 1990s. (Reuters)

Judge Supports Term Limit

Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin said Wednesday that he opposed amending the Constitution to extend presidential terms, Interfax reported.

"In my opinion, there is no need to change anything until such changes become unavoidable," Zorkin said. "If you touch one thing, something else will come crashing down. We have to learn to live by this Constitution."

The Constitutional Court's press service declined to comment on the report. (AP)

Grozny Honors Khrushchev

GROZNY -- The Chechen government on Wednesday renamed a square in Grozny after the late Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who 50 years ago allowed exiled Chechens to return to their homeland from internal exile.

Khrushchev's predecessor, Josef Stalin, virtually wiped Chechnya from the map in 1944 when he deported around 1 million ethnic Chechens to Siberia and Central Asia as punishment for suspected collaboration with the Nazis during World War II.

"For Chechens, [Khrushchev] is a hero," Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov told the regional legislature after he announced the name change. (Reuters)

Lawyer Possibly Poisoned

Luzius Wildhaber, a former president of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, said this week that he might have been poisoned on a recent visit to Russia, Swiss and Austrian newspapers reported.

The 69-year-old Swiss lawyer was quoted as saying he had become seriously ill after his trip to Russia in late October 2006. Swiss doctors diagnosed him with blood poisoning, but could not determine the exact cause of his ailment. Wildhaber said he could not rule out poisoning. (MT)

For the Record

Russia's envoy to the North Korean nuclear negotiations said Wednesday that he did not expect any concrete results from the six-nation talks scheduled for next week, Interfax reported. (AP)

U.S. lawmakers have introduced a resolution urging the U.S. government to recognize as genocide the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians at the end of World War I. (AP)

A court has ordered the confiscation of land used by Kazakhstan's Hare Krishna community, ruling in favor of local authorities in a legal dispute that Krishnas have called religious persecution, the community's spokesman said Wednesday. (AP)