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Main news of November 23

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RUSSIA

* The United States has gone back on previous initiatives concerning its missile shield in Europe in a written proposal earlier received by Russia, a source in Russia's Foreign Ministry said

* Boris Nemtsov, a possible presidential candidate from Russia's right-wing SPS party, said he may become a single candidate from the united right-wing opposition in the presidential elections in the spring

* Russian police are treating the explosion which killed at least five people and injured 13 on a bus in the country's North Caucasus region as a terrorist attack, a police source said

* Over 200 international observers have received accreditation for the Russian parliamentary elections due December 2, the chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission said

* Russia's Navy will soon have new commanders of its two main fleets in the Baltic and Pacific, as part of a major military leadership reshuffle, a high-ranking Defense Ministry source said

* Prosecutors have formally charged Sergei Storchak, a Russian deputy finance minister, with attempting to misappropriate over $43 million of public funds, his lawyer said

* Russia is disappointed with a U.S. reply to its offer that Washington use its radar systems as an alternative to missile defense plans for Central Europe, a Russian Foreign Ministry source said

* The operation to clear up the oil spill from the coastline of the Kerch Strait between the Black and Azov seas will be completed in four days, the Russian transportation ministry said

* The number of workers on strike at a Ford car plant near St. Petersburg has decreased from 1,500 to some 400, Alexei Etmanov, chairman of the plant's trade union, said

* Russia's upper house of parliament ratified an agreement on the restructuring of Cuba's $166 million post-Soviet debt to Russia

WORLD

* Pakistan's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations has been suspended over its failure to lift a state of emergency in the country, the organization said during a summit in Uganda

* Arab countries agreed to participate in a Middle East peace forum in the United States, foreign ministers of the Arab League said

* A session of the Lebanese parliament for electing a new president has been postponed until November 30 amid a looming political crisis that could lead to violence between rival factions

* Some 100 passengers and crew have been evacuated from a cruise ship in the Antarctic Ocean which began taking in water after striking an iceberg, the company which owns the vessel said

* Venezuela's government regrets the Colombian leader's decision to end President Hugo Chavez's mediation role in hostage release talks with rebels, the Foreign Ministry said

* Turkey has sustained about $300 billion in losses from the 24-year long confrontation with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish government spokesman said

* Poland's new Prime Minister Donald Tusk told parliament in his inaugural speech:

- Relations with Russia must be improved, and that Moscow has shown its willingness to engage in dialogue

- Poland will be ready to resume dialogue with the United States on the missile defense issue after consultations with NATO and neighboring states

* Experts from Russia, China, Japan and South Korea will visit North Korea on November 27-29 to observe the progress on disabling the country's nuclear program, a Russian Foreign Ministry source said

* Relatives and friends have paid tribute to Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB officer and Kremlin critic, who died in London exactly a year ago

* Georgia has marked the fourth anniversary of the "rose revolution" that deposed former president and ex-Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze and brought to power the pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili 

* Ukraine's new parliament, elected on September 30 in early polls, convened for its first session, paving the way to forming a majority coalition and government

BUSINESS

* RusAl has agreed the acquisition of a 25% plus one share in the metal's giant, Norilsk Nickel from Onexim Group, Mikhail Prokhorov's holding company, a company press release said

* Turkmenistan plans to raise its natural gas price for Russia by at least 30% to $130 per 1,000 cubic meters next year, the CEO of Russian energy giant Gazprom said

* Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan along the Caspian coast of Kazakhstan and onto Russia could start to be built ahead of schedule

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