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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

FSB Calls in Rights Activist

The Federal Security Service has called in human rights advocate Lev Ponomaryov for questioning on suspicion of extremism, Agence France Presse reported Saturday.

Ponomaryov, the head of For Human Rights, told the news agency that he would be questioned Monday, three days after a lawyer with For Human Rights, Yevgeny Chernousov, was questioned about a protest the organization organized in January. (Bloomberg)

Politkovskaya Street in U.S.?

New York may name one of its streets after murdered Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Ekho Moskvy reported Sunday.

The initiative, proposed by opposition figures including former chess champion Garry Kasparov and dissident and presidential hopeful Vladimir Bukovsky, calls for a street to be renamed near the Russian Consulate.

Rome has already agreed to rename a street after Politkovskaya, the radio station said. (MT)

150,000 Newspapers Seized

Police have confiscated 150,000 newspapers that were printed to promote a Dissenters' March planned for next weekend in St. Petersburg, protest organizers said Friday.

The newspapers were printed by opposition coalition The Other Russia to tie in with a June 9 protest at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"The whole print-run was confiscated by police officers right on the doorstep of the printing house," said Andrei Dmitriyev, The Other Russia's coordinator in St. Petersburg. "The police said they suspected there were extremist views in the newspaper and they would send it for checks which, according to the law, could last up to 30 days."

Police were not immediately available for comment. (Reuters)

Karabakh Talks in St. Pete

WASHINGTON -- Armenia and Azerbaijan have made substantial progress toward a settlement on control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory, the chief U.S. mediator in the talks said.

After more than a decade of efforts by international mediators to broker a deal, the Azeri and Armenian presidents are close to solving most remaining obstacles to an agreement on basic principles, Matthew Bryza, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, said late last week. The presidents are expected to focus on the sticking points during talks at a CIS conference in St. Petersburg on June 9. (AP)

Kyrgyz-Russian Union

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- A main Kyrgyz opposition party on Saturday proposed forming a confederation with Russia, a move local and Russian politicians dismissed as political campaigning.

The United Front for a Decent Future for Kyrgyzstan, headed by former Prime Minister Felix Kulov, said it wanted to hold a referendum on forming an intergovernmental union.

Kulov did not specify how the union would work, saying only that it would have the same currency and customs zone with Russia.

In Moscow, State Duma Deputy Speaker Oleg Morozov cast doubt over the proposal. "This is an issue that cannot be decided solely by one side," he said. (AP)

Arms Smugglers Thwarted

Customs officers thwarted a plan to smuggle technical documentation out of the country that could have been used to make weapons of mass destruction, the Federal Customs Service said Friday.

The documents, seized by officers in the Ural Mountains, could have been sold for $3.6 million, the agency said, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)

West Tied to Nalchik Raid

Organizers of a deadly 2005 attack on Nalchik had contacts with Western secret services, Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev said Friday.

Yedelev did not identify any countries in comments carried by Interfax.

More than 90 Islamist militants as well as 35 police and military officers and 12 civilians died in clashes after more than 200 Islamist militants raided Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, in October 2005. (MT)

Geyser Valley Destroyed

A powerful mudslide has destroyed a geyser valley in the remote Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East, RIA-Novosti reported Sunday.

"A torrent of mud, trees, snow and stones covered two-thirds of this unique nature park," an unidentified witness was quoted as as saying. Twenty-five tourists and personnel were evacuated from the area, the report said. (Reuters)

Japanese Trawler Captured

TOKYO -- Russian border guards have captured a Japanese fishing boat in waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

The Hoshin Maru 88 with 17 crew members was seized Sunday morning and being taken to a port in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the peninsula, the ministry said in a statement. The border guards had been investigating the fishing boat over discrepancies between the actual catch and declared amount, it said. (AP)

Gays Rally in Riga

RIGA, Latvia -- Gays and lesbians from Latvia and other European nations held a parade under tight security in a fenced park Sunday, ensuring there was no repeat of last year when excrement and eggs were thrown at demonstrators.

About 500 people gathered in a park in central Riga that has a high fence round it. Police were stationed on the park's perimeter. Small groups of anti-gay protesters shouted insults but there was no violence. Police said two people were arrested over the insults. (Reuters)

Crocodile Escapes Into Sea

KIEV -- An animal trainer who brought a crocodile to the beach to drum up interest in a circus got some unwelcome publicity when it broke free and made off into the Azov Sea.

The 1-meter crocodile, named Godzi, escaped from the handler in the city of Mariupol late last week, said Mykola Ranga, a spokesman for the regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry.

He said ministry workers were searching for the crocodile, whose mouth was taped shut, and that it has been seen swimming in the sea. Officials issued a warning to beachgoers, but many were undeterred and came to the shore over the weekend. (AP)

For the Record

Leaders of separatist South Ossetia are accusing Georgian authorities of cutting off the provincial capital's water supply and threatened to block pipes bringing water to ethnic Georgian villages in the region if it is not restored. (AP)

About 50 activists rallied Saturday at the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to call for the closure of a U.S. military base at the Manas airport. (AP)

A tunnel collapsed at Ukraine's Yuvileyna mine in Kryviy Rih on Saturday, killing four miners. (AP)