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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Kerimov Eyes United Russia

State Duma Deputy Suleiman Kerimov has applied to join the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, Interfax reported Friday.

Kerimov, Russia's second-richest man, more than doubled his fortune over the past year to $14.4 billion. He made headlines last fall when he crashed a Ferrari in southern France.

He was elected to the Duma on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket, but recently left the party. (MT)

3 Soldiers on Wanted List

ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Three soldiers who have not shown up for hearings in their trial on charges of killing six Chechen civilians have been placed on the national wanted list, a military court said Friday.

Captain Eduard Ulman and two subordinates have not shown up for two consecutive days of hearings, the court said. They and a fourth soldier face a retrial in the killing of six civilians in a case that has underscored persistent human rights abuses in Chechnya.

Two separate juries have acquitted Ulman and his three subordinates, who say they acted on orders from their superiors, but the acquittals have been overturned by higher courts. (AP)

Pressure Mounts on Bakiyev

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyzstan's opposition vowed to pressure President Kurmanbek Bakiyev into resigning within days, as anti-government protests in the capital entered their fifth day Sunday.

"Next week we will force Bakiyev to step down," said opposition leader Felix Kulov. Kulov's remarks did not appear to refer to using physical force, as happened during the storming of the presidential headquarters in March 2005 that drove longtime leader Askar Akayev out of the country.

The protests began Wednesday, when about 6,000 opposition supporters gathered at Bishkek's main square, setting up tents and yurts and vowing to stay until Bakiyev resigns. (AP)

Law on South Ossetia Passed

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's parliament on Friday approved a law to create a temporary administration in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, in a move likely to heighten tension with Russia.

The law, submitted to parliament by President Mikheil Saakashvili, would give a boost to politicians in South Ossetia who are loyal to Tbilisi as Georgia seeks to assert control over the region.

The law says the new administration will be responsible for holding consultations with Tbilisi over the status of the region and for cooperation with international organizations. (Reuters)

Poland Backs Missile Plan

WARSAW -- Poland's prime minister on Saturday reiterated his strong support for a U.S. proposal to build a missile defense base in his country, saying it would strengthen security and ties with Washington.

"We want the missile defense shield," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said in a speech to members of his socially conservative Law and Justice party. "We want it under certain conditions, but we are deeply convinced that by agreeing to this installation … we will strengthen our ties with the United States and by that strengthen our security."

The United States wants to put 10 missile silos in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic. (AP)

New UN Abkhazia Mandate

UNITED NATIONS -- The UN Security Council on Friday extended the mandate of a UN team in Georgia for another six months to monitor a cease-fire between the government and Abkhaz separatists, envoys said.

A United Nations mission of 142 military and police observers has monitored the situation in Abkhazia since 1993. The mission's new mandate will expire on Oct. 15. (Reuters)

Diplomat Gets 21 Years

THESSALONIKI, Greece -- A court in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Friday sentenced a diplomat to 21 years in prison for receiving bribes to issue more than 2,000 visas from Greece's consulate in Ukraine.

Constantine Bibikos, a former general-secretary at the consulate, was convicted on charges of forgery, bribery and money laundering for his activities from January 2002 to April 2002. (AP)