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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Kremlin Reviews NGO Law

The Kremlin on Thursday began a review of restrictions imposed on nongovernmental organizations during Vladimir Putin's presidency that rights groups decried as an assault on their work.

Vladislav Surkov, Kremlin first deputy chief of staff, will oversee a group of lawmakers and NGO workers that will review the NGO law, said Ella Panfilova, head of the presidential human rights commission.

The talks will cover about a third of Russia's NGOs -- mainly groups that do not require paid membership. The group will report its findings by the end of May. (Reuters, MT)

Abkhaz Base Deal 'in Weeks'

Russia will sign a deal to open military bases in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia within the next two weeks, Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh said in Sochi on Thursday.

He also said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whom he met with Thursday, had accepted an invitation to visit Abkhazia this summer. (Reuters, MT)

Medvedev to Visit Angola

LUANDA, Angola -- President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Angola "very soon" to strengthen political and economic ties, the news agency Angop reported Thursday.

Angola and Russia are working out the "modality" of the visit, the Luanda-based agency reported, citing Foreign Minister Assuncao dos Anjos, who is on a visit to Moscow.

Russia has shown "great interest" in helping Angola's reconstruction process, Angop said.(Bloomberg)

Putin Ready to See Obama

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin answered with a "why not?" when asked if he would meet U.S. President Barack Obama during his planned visit to Russia this summer.

Obama will make his first visit to Russia as president on July 6 to 8 for talks with President Dmitry Medvedev.

"I have not spoken yet to diplomats, perhaps if they coincide in time, why not? I would be pleased to meet him, but Obama is the partner of the Russian president," Putin said Wednesday in Mongolia's capital, Ulan Bator, where he was holding talks.(Reuters)

Opium as Economic Cure

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- People in Kyrgyzstan should be allowed to farm opium poppies to help the country solve its economic problems, a presidential candidate said.

Zhenishbek Nazaraliyev, a doctor who runs a drug rehabilitation clinic in the capital, Bishkek, said he would legalize opium cultivation if he wins the July election. "It's not a crazy idea," he said. "We want to plant opium, and we have humanitarian goals. … My goal is to help my people."

Opium is legally harvested under strict supervision in some countries like India for medicinal purposes, and Nazaraliyev said it was an attractive new cash crop certain to lure investment from global pharmaceutical firms who use it to make painkillers such as morphine.(Reuters)

For the Record

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Thursday halted talks on keeping peace monitors in Georgia after Russia blocked a deployment plan, but it stood by the proposal and nudged Moscow to reconsider.(Reuters)

Several hundred opposition activists picketed Georgia's public television headquarters Thursday to demand broader coverage of their daily anti-government protests. The station's program director said the protests constituted a threat. (AP)