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Main news of February 15

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RUSSIA

* Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a presidential favorite, said his election program contained four key areas - Institutions, Infrastructure, Innovation, Investment

* Russia could be forced to reconsider its relations with two Georgian breakaway regions if Kosovo declares independence and it is recognized by other states, the Foreign Ministry said

* Russia's Armed Forces have become more mobile and combat ready in recent years, President Vladimir Putin said

* Russia's Defense Ministry is closely monitoring a U.S. spy satellite that has gone out of control and may have nuclear material on board, a high-ranking defense source said

* Russia's Supreme Court rejected for the second time opposition candidate Mikhail Kasyanov's complaint against election authorities who barred him from running in the March 2 presidential polls

* Russia's parliament may pass a bill this year to extend the presidential term from the current four to six or seven years, the Kommersant daily said

* Russia's Progress M-62 space cargo ship was buried at a "spaceship cemetery" in the southern Pacific, a Mission Control spokesman said

* The embalmed corpse of ex-Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin could remain on view in his tomb on Red Square for another 100 years, if no decision to remove it is taken, one of its curators said


WORLD

* Boris Tadic was inaugurated in Serbia for a second five-year presidential term following his narrow election victory over nationalist Tomislav Nikolic on February 3

* Serbia's ambassadors to a host of EU states have packed their belongings and are ready to return to Belgrade if Kosovo declares unilateral independence, the Serbian Blic newspaper said

* Russia's envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that Thursday's security council meeting failed to reach a consensus on independence for Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo, with those states in favor in the minority

* Belgrade is to seek an explanation from Moscow as to the grounds on which Russia granted political asylum to the widow and son of the late Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, national media said

* The Russian Foreign Ministry said that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that Russia was 'intimidating' its post-Soviet neighbors was inappropriate

* Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Georgia's capital to demand electoral reforms, press freedom and the release of 'political prisoners' ahead of parliamentary polls in May

* The Czech Republic's incumbent President Vaclav Klaus has been re-elected head of state by parliament, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Miloslav Vlcek, said

* The Vietnamese Health Ministry reported the country's third death this year from the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu


BUSINESS

* Ukraine will pay $1 billion of its natural gas debt to Russia's energy giant Gazprom before March 14, the country's First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchinov said

* The Vankor oil deposit, which Russian state-controlled crude producer Rosneft is developing in East Siberia, will produce oil cheaper than Saudi crude, the company's president said

* Russia and Iran will work out a plan for a joint venture to operate the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran within the next two months, a senior Atomstroyexport executive said

* Russia's foreign debt declined 14.6%, year on year, in 2007 to $44.4 billion, the Finance Ministry said

* The Russian ruble could become a stable currency within the next four to five years, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said

* The Russian ruble could be used as a payment instrument for deals on an Iranian oil exchange, the Islamic Republic's ambassador to Moscow said

* Russia's state-controlled crude producer Rosneft plans to raise production 70% on last year's figures by 2020, to 170 metric tons, the company president said

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