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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Gay Detention Criticized

BERLIN -- Germany's parliamentary speaker, Norbert Lammert, expressed concern to State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov on Wednesday over the weekend detention of a German opposition lawmaker at a gay rights protest in Moscow.

Green party lawmaker Volker Beck has said police beat him and others and took away their passports Sunday.

Lammert voiced "the dismay of the Bundestag" in a letter to Gryzlov. He said he hoped a Duma working group on the protection of minorities' democratic rights would look into the case. (AP)

No Lugovoi Swap

The Prosecutor General's Office on Wednesday dismissed speculation that Russia would be willing to send to Britain a suspect in the poisoning of a former FSB agent in exchange for Britain extraditing exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

Britain has applied for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi, a businessman and former KGB officer, saying it has sufficient evidence to charge him in the fatal radioactive poisoning last year of Alexander Litvinenko, a former agent turned Kremlin critic who had been granted asylum in Britain.

Lugovoi has called a news conference for Thursday to discuss the British charges. (AP, MT)

Yanukovych Sees Problems

Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said Wednesday that new disputes were impeding the approval of legislation needed to hold a Sept. 30 election and end the country's long-running political crisis.

President Viktor Yushchenko suspended a decree disbanding the parliament to give lawmakers two days -- Tuesday and Wednesday -- to approve the legislation required for the elections. But after a first day of smooth debate, Yanukovych said a new impasse had been reached. "Problems have emerged. But I do not want to place too much emphasis on them," he said at a Cabinet meeting. "The plan that was drawn up is proceeding. But there is not enough time to examine all issues in the parliament. The idea of doing this over two days has not worked out." (AP)

Minister Has Heart Attack

KIEV -- Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko, a central figure in the political standoff between Ukraine's president and prime minister, has suffered a heart attack, a ministry official said Wednesday.

There was no immediate information about Tsushko's condition.

Tsushko's status has been shaky: the new prosecutor general appointed by President Viktor Yushchenko said the minister was being investigated for possible abuse of power. (AP)

Nazarbayev Backed

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan's most powerful businessmen threw their weight behind President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Wednesday in his dispute with his son-in-law.

Rakhat Aliyev used illegal means to conduct business and damaged "moral values," the tycoons said in a statement.

Aliyev is wanted at home on criminal charges after falling out with the veteran leader. He has berated Nazarbayev from Vienna, where he went into self-imposed exile after being fired as ambassador to Austria.

Austria's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Aliyev had officially lost his diplomatic immunity. (Reuters)