- Sputnik International
The latest news and stories from Russia. Stay tuned for updates and breaking news on defense, politics, economy and more.

Main news of December 21

* The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, passed a bill in the second reading regulating the activities of non-governmental organizations

* President Vladimir Putin proposed sending a 200-strong contingent to Sudan in response to the UN Secretary General's request that Russia contribute troops to the United Nation's peacekeeping operations in the country

* The Russian Economic Development and Trade Ministry said 2005 GDP growth would reach 6.4%, inflation would total 11-11.2%, and industrial output would increase 4.1%

* Ukrainian Economics and Trade Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine would raise the rent for the Russian Black Sea Fleet's Sevastopol base in response to Russia's decision to quadruple the price of its natural gas

* Russian energy giant Gazprom won a tender to geologically prospect and develop an oil and gas field in East Siberia, the local department of the Federal Agency for Subsoil Use said

* Russian oil major Sibneft said it had purchased a 75% stake in a company licensed to prospect the Lopukhovsky section of the Sakhalin shelf in the Far East from the Russian-British joint venture TNK-BP

* Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the Bulava ballistic missile had successfully completed its test launch, hitting a dummy target at a site on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East

* The Emergency Situations Ministry said the toxic slick traveling down the Amur River from China is expected to reach the Russian city of Khabarovsk on Thursday morning

* The Russian cargo ship, the Terney, which had been held by North Korean authorities for more than a week, returned home

* Forty-one people suspected of organizing the May uprising in Andijan, a city in the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, were sentenced to 12-20 years in prison

* The Russian carrier rocket Soyuz was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 6.39 p.m. GMT Wednesday, a Mission Control source said.

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