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Main news of April 16



* Russia's Foreign Ministry said President Vladimir Putin has instructed that measures be drawn up to provide support for the population in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

* Russia and Libya have agreed that Tripoli will repay Moscow $4.6 billion in outstanding Soviet-era debt, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said

* Russia's potential arms contracts with Libya could be worth between $2 bln and $4 bln, a Russian defense analyst said

* The second probe into the case of Yukos co-founders Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev has been extended until August 2, a lawyer representing Khodorkovsky said

* Three people have been killed and one injured in a helicopter crash in the Perm Territory in Russia's Urals, the company that owns the helicopter, Gazpromavia, said

* Russia plans to build a nuclear power plant in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad with the participation of European companies, the head of nuclear power agency Rosatom announced

* The Russian Defense Ministry officially refuted reports of an alleged shootout in Chechnya April 14 involving security convoys of the Chechen president and a commander of the ministry's special battalion


* Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze accused Russia of trying to annex the country's unrecognized republics

* Sanctions imposed on Iran over its "peaceful nuclear activities" have not affected the country's economy, but rather stimulated foreign investment, the Islamic Republic's first vice president said

* Israel has partially resumed fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip after a week-long cutoff, Israeli and Palestinian officials said

* The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution to extend the mandate of UN observers in Georgia, and called for talks to be resumed between the country and its breakaway region of Abkhazia

* Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the United States on an official six-day visit, the first time a pope has been to the White House since 1979

* Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said at a PACE session:

 - Ukraine is prepared to bear responsibility for a possible shortfall in Russian natural gas supplies transited to Europe

- PACE should recognize her country's 1932-1933 famine as an act of genocide

* Kosovo will start establishing its own special forces (BSK) and security and information agency (BIA) in the next two and a half months or so, Kosovo's leading daily said

* The extradition hearing of former defense minister Irakly Okruashvili that began at an appeal court in Paris has been postponed until June 11

* A school bus veered off a bridge into a canal near Vadodara in western India killing at least 44 people, mainly children, national media reported

* Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has canceled his European tour planned for this month over tensions with the opposition-dominated upper house of parliament, but will visit Russia on April 25, an official said

* Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc accused the president of siding with the opposition, and set an ultimatum, saying he must either work with the cabinet or dismiss it


* The U.S. Department of Justice has approved a $810 million deal allowing Russia's largest steel producer Severstal to purchase a U.S. steel mill from ArcelorMittal, local media reported

* Diamond multinational De Beers will acquire a large stake from Russian oil giant LUKoil in one of Europe's biggest diamond deposits located in northwest Russia, LUKoil's press office said

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