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Main news of January 18

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RUSSIA

* President Vladimir Putin said Russia will not support any "illegal and immoral" decision by Kosovo to declare unilateral independence

* The British Council's office in St. Petersburg froze its projects for the next three weeks amid pressure from Russian authorities over alleged tax arrears, a spokesman said

* Alexei Borodavkin, Russia's envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the OSCE will have to shut down its mission in Kosovo if the province declares its independence from Serbia

* Vitaly Kaloyev, who recently served jail time in Switzerland for killing an air traffic controller, was appointed to a government post in Russia's North Caucasus republic of North Ossetia

* Prosecutors extended until May 2, 2008 a probe into ex-Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, currently serving eight years in prison for fraud and tax evasion, a lawyer said

WORLD

* Russia delivered the third fuel shipment to the Bushehr nuclear power plant it is building in southern Iran, the country's official news agency said, citing officials

* U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns is to resign in late March

* U.S.-born former world chess champion Bobby Fischer died in Reykjavik, Iceland, at the age of 64, Icelandic national media reported

* Lockheed Martin, a U.S. defense industry giant, expressed an interest in helping India develop its own missile defense network, an Indian news agency said

* Around 90 militants were killed by the Pakistani army on the Afghan border, an army spokesman said

* At least two Palestinians were killed and 15 injured when the Israeli Air Force attacked a Defense Ministry building in Gaza, a local emergencies service said

* Turkish combat aircraft destroyed about 60 targets in the latest airstrike on Kurdish rebel positions in north Iraq, the general staff said

* Japan's Cabinet secretary urged government bodies to step up controls over classified information after a Japanese official allegedly leaked secret documents to Russia

* Seventy-seven percent of Georgians want the country to join NATO, the country's Central Electoral Commission said

* Four out of eight Russian players progressed to the last 16 at the 2008 Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne

BUSINESS

* Russia and Bulgaria signed a $15 billion deal to build the South Stream natural gas pipeline, which is set to give Russia greater control over supplies to southern Europe

* Russia's state-owned nuclear equipment monopoly Atomstroyexport signed a 3.9 billion euro ($5.9 billion) contract in Bulgaria to build a nuclear power plant in the north of the Balkan state

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