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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

U.S. Expands No-Visa List

MINSK -- The United States said Tuesday that it had expanded a list of Belarussian officials barred entry in connection with human rights violations and the contested re-election last year of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The U.S. Embassy in Minsk said Washington was toughening its measures despite Belarussian moves to ease pressure on opposition activists.

"Despite some initial minor easing this spring of repressive measures, we have seen a renewed deterioration in the human rights and democracy situation in Belarus in the past few weeks," an embassy statement said.

Belarussian officials vowed to take "appropriate" measures in response to the announcement. (Reuters)

Ex-Guantanamo Pair Tried

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- Two former Tajik detainees of the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have gone on trial in their home country on charges of illegal border crossing and mercenary activity in neighboring Afghanistan, the presiding judge said.

Mukit Vokhidov and Rukhiddin Sharopov are suspected of links with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al-Qaida-connected militant group responsible for several bombings and armed incursions across Central Asia, Supreme Court Judge Masammir Urakov said Tuesday.

The two are accused of illegally crossing into Afghanistan in 2001 and serving as mercenaries, said their lawyer, Lutfullo Saidov. They were detained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan in November 2001 and taken to Guantanamo. In March, they were handed over to Tajik authorities. (AP)

Tallinn Copter Crash Report

TALLINN, Estonia -- A mechanical failure caused an Estonian helicopter to crash into the Baltic Sea two years ago, killing all 14 people on board, Estonian investigators announced Wednesday.

The fault caused a steering problem within minutes of the U.S.-made Sikorsky taking off from the Estonian capital and led to the crash.

It sank within 10 seconds of hitting the water, leaving no chance of escape.

All 14 on board the flight to the Finnish capital Helsinki -- two Finnish pilots, six Finnish passengers, four Estonians and two U.S. citizens -- drowned. (AP)