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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Militant Killed in Dagestan

Federal forces in Dagestan said they killed a militant leader who planned and carried out attacks against the security forces Friday.

Dagestani Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky identified the dead militant as Omar Ramazanov.

"We procured evidence indicating that it was Ramazanov who masterminded and in some cases carried out attempts on the lives of law enforcement officers and other terrorist crimes in Makhachkala in the past two months," Tolchinsky told Interfax.

A second militant and a security officer died in Friday's battle, which erupted after the militants refused to surrender and opened fire on police when their car was surrounded. (Reuters)

Japan Rapped Over Kurils

The Foreign Ministry has criticized Japan for what it said was its "inappropriate and unacceptable" demand that Moscow return the disputed Kuril Islands.

A ministry statement condemned a decision Thursday by Japan's parliament to pass amendments to a law on the Northern Territories, the term Japan uses to describe the islands it claims.

"It is a bewildering fact that Tokyo has recently decided to escalate its illegitimate territorial claims on Russia," the statement said. "Any 'return' of those territories has never been, is not and cannot be considered."

The Soviet Union seized the islands at the end of World War II. (Reuters)

Hope for Iranian 'Wisdom'

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was re-elected as Iran's president in a contested vote Friday, should "show more wisdom and understanding" toward the rest of the world, particularly about his country's nuclear program, a senior State Duma deputy said.

"We hope that the newly elected president will step away from the policy of unilateral betting on military force and the development of a nuclear program and the world will receive clarity regarding Iran, [that it] is not going to boost its nuclear potential in the future," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma's International Relations Committee.

Street protests broke out in Iranian cities over the weekend after election officials gave Ahmadinejad a strong victory in the election. (MT)

Russia-U.S. Work on Terror

A Kremlin envoy said Russia was ready to expand cooperation with the United States in combating international terrorism.

Anatoly Safonov, the Kremlin's envoy on the issue, said late last week that President Barack Obama's visit to Russia in early July should help boost joint U.S.-Russian efforts to combat terrorism. Safonov also said the war in Iraq served as "Harvard for terrorists," who now might move to Chechnya and other provinces in the North Caucasus. (AP)

Kadyrov Blames U.S.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said the United States was to blame for the North Caucasus' problems.

"It is precisely from the side of America that work is being carried out aimed at the disintegration of the sovereign Russian state. It is not terrorists, not Islamists," he said, according to a transcript posted last week on his government's web site.

The Americans "are creating problems for Russia; they want to pull Russia down. ... They have such a system working -- all sorts of social organizations created to spread rumors and gossip, to agitate people; they know that in the Caucasus, the only way to create problems for Russia is on a religious basis," Kadyrov said. (AP)

Kremlin Praises U.S. Policy

A Kremlin aide said Sunday that Russia welcomes "increasingly transparent" U.S. policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan and sees new areas of cooperation with the West in settling the Afghan conflict.

"The space for cooperation with the West on Afghanistan can be broader," said Sergei Prikhodko, the aide for foreign policy.

Afghanistan is expected to become a major topic at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Yekaterinburg on Monday.

Prikhodko said President Dmitry Medvedev would meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the summit. "A three-way meeting will also take place," he added. (Reuters)

Obama Writes to Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- U.S. President Barack Obama, trying to prevent the closure of a U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan, has sent a personal appeal to the country urging it to expand cooperation, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said.

In the strongest sign yet that there might be room to reverse his decision, Bakiyev said in a statement issued by his office that he would consider Obama's proposal to expand ties.

The statement did not mention the Manas air base. The U.S. Embassy could not be reached for comment.

But a source close to the Manas talks, who asked not to be identified because the sensitivity of the matter, told Reuters that the Obama letter specifically singled out the Manas issue as an area where cooperation should be expanded. (Reuters)

Dates Set for War Games

The Defense Ministry has announced major war games to be held in the North Caucasus, just over the border from Georgia, between June 29 and July 6.

Defense Ministry spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky said last week that more than 8,000 personnel, 650 tanks and armored vehicles and hundreds of artillery units would be participating in the exercises. (AP)

Warning Over Abkhazia

TBILISI, Georgia -- Failure to extend the United Nation's monitoring presence in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region will undermine stability and leave ethnic Georgians there unprotected, the mission head said Friday.

The mission's mandate expires Monday, and the UN Security Council is split between the West and Russia over the wording of a resolution to extend it.

UN special representative Johan Verbeke did not discuss the chances of a deal, which diplomats say is on a knife-edge. But he cautioned that without the mission, "you end up having a situation where there is no longer the security regime, where there are no longer the monitors and therefore intrinsically a situation where stability is less secured than it is currently." (Reuters)

Coast Guard Fires at Ship

Coast guard officers fired a shot at a Belizean-flagged ship suspected of illegal fishing in the Pacific Ocean, RIA-Novosti reported Sunday.

The Pacific Cat refrigerator ship with a Russian crew tried to escape when it was detected by a patrolling aircraft and started communicating with the coast guard only after the cautionary shot was fired, said spokesman for the Federal Security Service, which oversees the coast guard. Fourteen tons of frozen blue crab and 3.5 tons of frozen fish were found on board, he said. (MT)

Putin Congratulates Bush

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has sent a telegram wishing former U.S. President George H.W. Bush a happy 85th birthday, saying he deserves to be considered among the "most authoritative" world leaders.

RIA-Novosti carried the text of the telegram, in which Putin told Bush how much he valued the time they spent together. Putin thanked Bush for his "sincere interest in Russia, its history and culture." He ended by wishing him good health and happiness for his "large and friendly family." (AP)