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Main news of June 24



* Russia and India have agreed to exchange knowledge in the training of mountain troops as part of an extensive military cooperation program, an aide to Russia's Ground Forces commander said

* Russia's premier and his Ukrainian counterpart will meet in Moscow on June 28 to discuss energy cooperation, NATO enlargement and Russia's Black Sea Fleet, a Russian government spokesman said

* An examination of remains discovered last year near Yekaterinburg in the Urals has established that they belong to members of Tsar Nicholas II's family, an Investigation Committee spokesman said

* The jailed founder of the now bankrupt oil firm Yukos could be freed next year if Russia's parliament approves a bill to review sentencing as part of a move to cut the prison population, a Russian daily said

* Russia must be ready to fight wars in the Arctic to protect its national interests in a region that contains large and untapped deposits of natural resources, a high-ranking military official said in an interview

* A newborn child in the southwest Siberian town of Bolotnoe has been named after Guus Hiddink, the Dutch trainer of the Russian national soccer team, the 'Sport' TV channel reported

* Although the majority of its teams are still largely unknown outside the former Soviet republics, the Russian Premier League will supply more players than any other national league for the upcoming Euro 2008 semifinals

* Turkmenistan has signed a $70 million contract with Russia to buy six Smerch multi launch rocket systems (MLRS), a Russian business daily said

* Russian investigators confirmed that embezzlement and money laundering charges had been brought against the former heads of subsidiaries of the now bankrupt Yukos oil company

* A senior police officer has been assassinated in the capital of Russia's southern republic of Daghestan, a Russian Interior Ministry official said

* The Russian tennis stars Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze progressed to the 2nd round of the women's singles at the Wimbledon tennis championship while two of their unseeded male counterparts, Marat Safin and Igor Andreyev, also enjoyed wins


* Iran may consider a request by the United States to open a diplomatic mission in Tehran if Washington sends it through official channels, the IRNA news agency reported

* Russia could call time on natural gas supplies to Europe in 10-15 years in favor of sales to China and India, a prominent U.S. scholar said

* Sergei Bagapsh, the president of Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia, has left the province on an official visit to Russia, a spokesman for the Abkhaz government said

* Russia is hoping Israel will resolve issues blocking the delivery of 50 armored personnel carriers to the Palestinian territories as part of an aid program, the Russian foreign minister said

* The death toll from the powerful earthquake that devastated China's southwest province of Sichuan on May 12 has risen to 69,185, the country's State Council said

* New European Union sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program are in violation of international law, an Iranian official said

* A couple who ate at least 15 cats in the central Ukrainian city of Poltava have been sentenced to four months in prison for cruelty to animals, national media reported

* Chile has declared a permanent ban on whaling in its waters, the government confirmed on its website

* Palestinian militants have launched a mortar into Israel, breaking a ceasefire deal between Israel and the radical Islamic group Hamas, a source in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said

* The inmates of a Brazilian prison used pigeons to deliver drugs and mobile phone parts to their cells, national TV reported

* The "Quartet" of mediators in the Middle East conflict will meet in Berlin to discuss the latest peace efforts in the region, Russia's Foreign Ministry said

* A Bahraini woman has given birth to sextuplets, three boys and three girls, national media reported

* Israeli troops have killed two Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Nablus, as a landmark Gaza ceasefire deal between Israel and the radical Islamic group Hamas enters its sixth day, Palestinians sources said

* At least five people were killed and 26 wounded in western Afghanistan after a suicide bomber blew a car up near a convoy of NATO-led forces, local media reported

* Philippine rescue workers have located another 24 people listed as missing three days after their ferry capsized during a typhoon, national media reported


* Sweden's Volvo Group will open a truck manufacturing plant in Kaluga, about 200km to the southwest of Moscow, on January 19, 2009, the company press service said

* Russian oil export duty could reach a record $495 per ton from August rising by more than 24%, a deputy head of the Finance Ministry customs payment department said

* An Italian engineering company said it had signed a contract to lay the first section of the Nord Stream gas pipeline

* Evraz Group, Russia's leading steel and mining company, rejected reports of an alleged price collusion with ArcelorMittal in South Africa

* It will take 4 billion rubles ($165 million) and at least 40 solid orders to resume production of the An-124 Ruslan (Condor) heavy-lift cargo plane, the RBK daily said citing a feasibility study

* The French cosmetics company L'Oreal is to invest 45 million euros ($69.9 million) in a project to build a cosmetics plant outside Kaluga, a city 190 (118 miles) kms southwest of Moscow, the local administration said

* Russia's GDP growth stood at 7.7% in May and was 8.4% for the first five months of 2008, a deputy economics minister said

* Metalloinvest and Interros financial holding are proposing that billionaire Viktor Vekselberg's Renova join forces to create a major mining and metals company, Metalloinvest's owner Alisher Usmanov said

* Russia's largest independent oil producer LUKoil said it would set up a joint venture with Italy's ERG S.p.A. to operate a refinery complex in southern Italy

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