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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

4 Years in Jail for Gamblers

The Moscow City Duma has approved a bill that would impose a four-year prison sentence on anyone convicted of running an illegal gambling operation.

The bill, consisting of several amendments to the Criminal Code, also stipulates fines of up to 4,000 rubles for anyone participating in unsanctioned gambling, Kommersant reported Thursday.

The City Duma approved the bill in a first reading Wednesday. The bill will go through two more readings before being submitted to the State Duma for consideration.

Under a federal law that took effect in December, all gambling establishments must shut down or move to four designated zones from July 2009. (MT)

Teen Denies Killing 37

A teenager who admitted to killing 37 immigrants from Asia and the North Caucasus has withdrawn his confession, Vremya Novostei reported Thursday.

Artur Ryno, an 18-year-old suspected skinhead from Yekaterinburg, was arrested in mid-April along with Pavel Skachayevsky, 18, on suspicion of killing Armenian businessman Karen Abramyan. Abramyan, 46, was stabbed 20 times on the evening of April 16 in southwest Moscow and died in the hospital.

Investigators have confirmed Ryno's involvement in 22 racially motivated attacks, the report said. Only one person survived the attacks.

Ryno, a student at an icon painting school, earlier told investigators that he began killing people on Aug. 21, the day a bomb killed 13 people at Moscow's Cherkizovsky market. (MT)

End to Sanctions in Georgia

Former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said Thursday that Russia would probably start easing economic sanctions against Georgia, which it implemented amid a diplomatic rift last year.

"I think those restrictions that were implemented will be gradually lifted," Primakov, head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in Tbilisi, Interfax reported.

Moscow imposed sanctions after Russian officers were detained last fall on suspicion of espionage, though they were subsequently released. (MT)

Police Shoot Vicious Dog

Police shot and killed a large dog that was attacking pedestrians on Peschanaya Ulitsa in northern Moscow, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Thursday.

The dog's owner, Vladimir Fedin, 63, was asleep on a nearby bench when the attacks occurred. The dog bit two pedestrians.

Fedin, who was intoxicated, did not respond when police ordered him to restrain the dog, prompting one of the officers to shoot the animal.

Fedin is in custody, and faces a maximum of two years in prison. Police said it was unlikely, however, that he would be charged because crimes of this nature are difficult to prove in court.

The pedestrians who were attacked received medical care, Citi FM radio reported. (MT)

Serbia Targets Milosevic Kin

BELGRADE -- Serbia will issue arrest warrants for Slobodan Milosevic's widow and son, who live in self-imposed exile in Russia, on charges of organizing a cigarette-smuggling ring in the 1990s, Serbian Justice Minister Dusan Petrovic said Thursday.

Interior Minister Dragan Jocic said the warrant would be issued through Interpol, but that it was not clear whether the "foreign country" where Mirjana Markovic and her son Marko are hiding would react positively to the demand.

The two have lived in Russia for the past several years. Both have denied the charges. (AP)

Pope May Visit Next Year

ROME -- A groundbreaking meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II could take place within a year, a senior Vatican cardinal said Thursday.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Vatican office for relations with other Christian confessions, said both the pope and the patriarch were open to the meeting, and that much depended on the "internal situation" of the Russian church.

"No one is against the meeting, even among the Orthodox," Kasper said. (AP)

Elk Lost in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg authorities are on the lookout for an elk wandering the city streets.

The animal was first spotted near a train station and later on Ulitsa Morskoi Pekhoty, reported Thursday.

Zoo personnel, along with a search and rescue team, are looking for the animal.

"He has probably already left the city," a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

This is not the first time an elk has paid a visit to St. Petersburg. Two elk walked onto the premises of a milk factory in May last year before finding their way back to the forest. Four years ago, an elk wandered into the park at Petrodvorets and enjoyed a drink from the fountains. (MT)

Kadyrov Wins Libel Suit

The Moscow City Court this week rejected an appeal by Kommersant and ordered the newspaper to pay Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov more than $4,000 for libel, Interfax reported Thursday.

Monday's ruling upheld a February decision by the Tverskoi District Court, which ruled that statements made by Vissarion Aseyev of North Ossetia in a Kommersant article last June had insulted Kadyrov. Kadyrov's lawyer, Alexei Parshin, told RIA-Novosti that in addition to the 120,000 ruble ($4,600) fine, the court ordered Kommersant to publish a retraction. (MT)

4 Guilty in African's Death

A St. Petersburg jury on Thursday convicted four men in the murder of Congolese student Roland Epassak in 2005.

The jury at the St. Petersburg City Court convicted Andrei Gerasimov, Yury Gromov, Andrei Olenev and Dmitry Orlov of beating and stabbing the 29-year-old student to death near his apartment building in September 2005, Interfax reported.

The defendants, aged 19 to 26, were acquitted of the crime last July, but prosecutors appealed, and a retrial was ordered after Governor Valentina Matviyenko intervened.

St. Petersburg deputy prosecutor Alexander Korsunov said he would insist on lengthy prison terms and praised the jury for doing its "civil duty," Interfax reported. (MT)

War Material Declassified

The Defense Ministry has declassified millions of pages of archived material from World War II, a ministry official said Thursday.

The material includes some 4 million documents from the Red Army and the Navy, as well as papers from Communist Party "commissar" units, which monitored political views among military units and medical divisions, ministry spokesman Yury Khvedchin said.

Archival chief Colonel Sergei Ilyenkov said the documents should help to determine more accurately the number of military personnel killed during the conflict. A total of 27 million people are believed to have died or been killed in the Soviet Union during the war, including more than 8 million military personnel. (AP)