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Main news of January 21

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RUSSIA

* A Russian naval task force started exercises in the northern Atlantic, a Navy spokesman said

* The Russian Central Election Commission registered Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as a presidential candidate

* Russia will deploy a second regiment equipped with new S-400 air defense systems at the end of 2008, a missile defense official said

* Russia will increase funding for space projects by 13% and start the construction of a new space center this year, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said

* Russia plans to launch more train ferry services across the Black Sea by 2015, Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin told journalists after a Russian-Armenian business forum in Yerevan

WORLD

* Parliamentary elections ended in Cuba with the new National Assembly set to elect a council president on February 24 in a vote that could end almost fifty years of rule by Fidel Castro

* Serbia is set to hold a runoff between the top two presidential contenders after an ultranationalist candidate narrowly won the first round of voting, election authorities said

* Israel decided to ease its transport blockade on the Gaza Strip and allow fuel to enter the enclave for electricity generation, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said

* The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) invited Georgia's newly re-elected president to address the organization, despite protests from Russia, a Russian official said

* The U.K. Foreign Office confirmed that it will not take any diplomatic measures in retaliation for the closure of two British Council offices in Russia

* South Korea urged Russia to play a lead role in forging all-round ties between Seoul and Pyongyang, a special envoy for the South Korean president-elect said 

* Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, currently on an eight-day visit to Europe, pledged that the country's February 18 parliamentary polls would be "free" and "peaceful"

* Around 1,500 business owners took to the streets in central Minsk in protest at a presidential decree that only allows them to hire their close relatives

* An Indian carrier rocket launched from India's Shriharikota space center delivered an Israeli military satellite into orbit, Israeli television said

* A bus carrying pilgrims in west India's Maharashtra state plunged into a gorge on Sunday, killing at least 37 and injuring about 40 others, local police said

BUSINESS

* The Singapore government investment fund GIC Real Estate acquired a 25% stake in a project to build a residential complex just outside Moscow, the Russian developer, the PIK Group, said

* British company Imperial Energy said it was considering holding an initial public offering of its Russia-based oil service subsidiary, Rus Imperial Group

* Russian Railways announced it had won an $800 million tender to build a 520-km (323-mile) rail line in Saudi Arabia

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