From BANGKOK, December 16 (RIA Novosti):
The Kazakh and Belarusian crew of a plane caught transporting arms from North Korea may face the death penalty, a Thai paper said on Wednesday, citing police.
The Il-76 cargo plane, carrying about 40 tons of weaponry, was seized after landing for refueling at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport on December 12. Officials said the weapons included missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.
The paper quoted a senior police official as saying that the crew would be charged with the illegal possession of explosives, punishable by “from two years to death.”
The plane’s five crew members, one Belarus national and four Kazakhs, were taken to Bangkok’s Klong Prem Central Prison after their arrest.
The Bangkok Post quoted investigators as saying the crew were planning to offload part of their cargo in Sri Lanka and the Middle East. However, the suspects reportedly refused to name the buyers or locations.
The plane’s Belarusian commander earlier said that the plane had flown from Ukraine, and claimed that neither he nor the other crewmembers knew of the military nature of the cargo.
Mikhail Petukhov was earlier quoted by the Thai news agency TNA as saying the aircraft refueled in Azerbaijan, then in the United Arab Emirates, and then in Thailand while en route to Pyongyang. The plane’s commander said the aircraft was scheduled to refuel in Thailand and Sri Lanka on its way back, after which the cargo was expected to be delivered to Ukraine.
From MOSCOW, December 16 (RIA Novosti)
Yegor Gaidar, one of the leading architects of free market reforms in post-Soviet Russia, has died at the age of 53, his aide said on Wednesday.
“Yegor Gaidar has died, I cannot currently give any more details,” Gennady Volkov said.
A source told RIA Novosti that a blood clot was the cause of death.
From MOSCOW, December 15 (RIA Novosti):
The head of Russian energy giant Gazprom said on Tuesday that Russia expects no problems with Ukraine’s payment for Russian natural gas in December.
“I presume Gazprom officials will be celebrating New Year at their homes,” Alexei Miller said.
However, he said concerns remain over January payments, with the first installment for 2010 due on January 7.
From TBILISI, December 15 (RIA Novosti):
The recognition of Abkhazia’s independence by Nauru, the world’s smallest island state, is utterly irrelevant, the Georgian minister for reintegration said on Tuesday.
Nauru, an island in the South Pacific Ocean, recognized the independence of the former Georgian republic earlier on Tuesday, with both countries signing an agreement on establishing diplomatic relations.
Nauru is the fourth country to recognize Abkhazia’s independence, joining Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“The recognition of Abkhazia’s independence by Nauru is more like a comedy… it changes nothing in the international arena,” Temur Yakobashvili said.
Nauru, which has a population of about 15,000 people, is the world’s only country with no capital. It became a member of the United Nations in 1999.
Russia recognized Abkhazia and another former Georgian republic, South Ossetia, as independent states shortly after a five-day war with Georgia in August 2008 that began when Georgian forces attacked the latter in an attempt to bring it back under central control.
From MOSCOW, December 15 (RIA Novosti):
A man in southwest Russia’s Samara Region has been jailed for seven years for murdering a woman who snored too loudly, national media said on Tuesday.
Viktor Rudakov, 46, had been drinking with friends at the woman’s house on August 13 and was invited to stay the night. But he was unable to get to sleep due to her loud snoring. After failing to wake her up, he took a plank of wood and beat her around the head and body some 30 times.
The woman died the next day of her injuries.
Rudakov, who will serve his time in a maximum security jail, confessed to the murder.
Windows to Russia!
comments always welcome.