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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Study Sees More Harassing

Government harassment of civil society increased this year, according to a new study by Agora, a Kazan-based human rights organization.

There were 106 reports of state harassment of activists in 38 regions from January to June of this year, Dmitry Kolbasin, a spokesman for Agora, told Interfax on Friday. By comparison, there were 118 such reports from 35 regions last year, Kolbasin said.

The most common form of harassment was pressure on nongovernmental organizations from the Federal Registration Service, Kolbasin said. One out of 10 reports of harassment involved actual physical attacks on activists. (MT)

Missionary Under Arrest

A Sakhalin court on Friday sanctioned the arrest of a U.S. missionary suspected of trying to bribe a local official, Interfax reported Friday.

Hio Sun Pak, a 65-year-old U.S. citizen and Pentecostal pastor, was placed under arrest on suspicion of offering a local immigration official 300,000 rubles ($11,700) to close an investigation into the use of illegal migrant workers, Tatyana Kutuzova, a spokeswoman for the Sakhalin Prosecutor's Office, told Interfax. The missionary's interpreter, who was detained along with Pak in a sting operation last week, was released on condition that she not leave the region, Kutuzova said. (MT)

Deserter Arrested

An army deserter who was on the run for four years has been arrested in northern Moscow, Interfax reported Friday.

The 24-year-old man, who was identified by his last name, Parusov, was detained Thursday night at the entrance to his home on Planernaya Ulitsa, a police source told Interfax.

He will face charges of desertion, which carry a penalty of up to five years in prison. He could escape jail time if it is determined that he fled under duress, RIA-Novosti reported.

Parusov left his army unit in the Smolensk region in 2003, Interfax reported. He has been living in Moscow for the past four years. (MT)

Fewer Work Permits Issued

The government has issued only about 1.1 million work permits so far this year to foreigners from countries that have visa-free agreements with Russia, a senior Health and Social Development Ministry official said Friday.

At the current rate, the government will likely issue around 2.5 million work permits by the end of the year, less than half of the 6 million work permits set aside for migrants from visa-free countries, Alexander Safronov, head of the ministry's department overseeing labor relations, said, Interfax reported. (MT)

Mayor Investigated

Novgorod Mayor Nikolai Grazhdankin is under investigated on suspicion of abuse of office and misuse of city funds.

Grazhdankin is suspected of misspending more than 25 million rubles (almost $1 million) from city coffers from 2004 to 2006 and illegally closing off auctions to acquire 60 apartments for the city government, the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement. Grazhdankin has denied the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Several governors and mayors have been investigated recently. (MT)

Kyrgyzstan to Watch Faiths

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyzstan will tighten regulation and surveillance of religious groups in the largely Muslim nation, a government official said, citing concerns about extremist groups.

More than 2,100 religious organizations are currently registered with authorities, Toigonbek Kalmatov, director of the State Agency for Religious Matters, said Thursday. Another 400 are believed to be operating illegally in the country and are causing "great difficulties," Kalmatov said. (AP)