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Main news of August 17

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RUSSIA

* Russian President Vladimir Putin said on the final day of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's Peace Mission 2007 anti-terrorism exercises in the south Urals:

- Allegations that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a military bloc are irrelevant

- Russia permanently resumed long-term patrol flights of strategic bombers, which were suspended in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union

- Monday's blast on a train en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg shows that the terrorism problem in Russia has not yet been eliminated

* The left-wing Kremlin-backed party, A Just Russia, will nominate President Vladimir Putin, whose second four-year term expires in 2008, presidential candidate IN 2012, party leader Sergei Mironov said

* The economic damage resulting from a Moscow-St. Petersburg train derailment earlier this week were estimated at over 215 million rubles (over $8 million), a Russian Railroads official said

* Antiterrorism exercise Peace Mission 2007, conducted by a regional security organization has come with a price tag of 2 billion rubles ($80 million) for Russia, a Defense Ministry official said

* Police in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia averted a terrorist attack on an oil refinery to the northeast of the republic's capital, Nazran, local police said

* A total of 83 children have fallen ill in a case of mass food poisoning that has hit kindergartens throughout the Stavropol Territory, southern Russia, the local emergencies service said

* The Federal Migration Service said that more than 550 illegal workers from Vietnam had been detained at an underground textile factory in central Russia

* Russia's leading carmaker AvtoVAZ said two workers had been fired and many others would be stripped of their bonuses for taking part in a strike on August 1 to demand a payrise

WORLD

* Seoul will provide $7.5 million in flood relief to North Korea, Lee Jae-joung, the unification minister, said

* Russia blocked an attempt to force a UN Security Council vote condemning Moscow for an alleged violation of Georgian airspace by Russian aircraft 

* The chief of staff of Russia's Air Force, Gen. Igor Khvorov, denied Tbilisi's claims that Russian aircraft violated Georgian airspace on August 6 

* Russian experts investigating the alleged violation of Georgian airspace by a Russian warplane said they suspect an unexploded missile found in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone had been deliberately planted by Tbilisi

* Tbilisi, which accused Russia of dropping a missile near a Georgian village last Monday, provided parts of different missiles to visiting Russian experts investigating the incident, a Russian military official said

* The BBC's Russian-language service has been removed from the schedule of its distributor in Russia, on orders from the national media regulator, the British broadcaster said on its Web site 

* Russia's agricultural safety regulator launched inspections at beef-processing factories in Belgium and France with the possibility of revising its import ban, a spokesman said

* Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called early elections for September 16, six months before his government's term expires, citing a need for a new mandate to kick-start reforms

* A Zurich court ordered the early release of a Russian convicted of murdering an air traffic controller in revenge for a 2002 air crash that killed his family, the Swiss Telegraphic Agency said

* There is no need to conduct repair work on the space shuttle Endeavour heat shield during the fourth spacewalk, scheduled for August 18, a NASA spokesman said

* A new scanning program revealed that the FBI and CIA have been editing Wikipedia entries on topics ranging from the Iraq war to Guantanamo

BUSINESS

* Russia will supply up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity to Lithuania while the Ignalina nuclear power plant is being repaired, electricity monopoly Unified Energy System said

* The assets of Russia's top 30 banks dropped 0.6% in June 2007, for the first time since the start of this year, the Bank of Russia said

* Finland's Fortum decided to sell 35.5% in Lenenergo, an electricity generating company in northwest Russia, to a consortium of Russia's second-largest bank VTB and electricity monopoly UES 

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