Main news of March 3

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RUSSIA

* Kremlin-backed Dmitry Medvedev won Russia's presidential election by a landslide, preliminary results from the Central Election Commission showed

* European observers said Russia's presidential elections reflected the will of voters, but questioned the fairness of the polls

* Gazprom cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine by 25% over a debt dispute, but pledged shipments to Europe would not be affected

* Russia's Foreign Ministry protested the establishment of a 15-member steering committee on Kosovo comprising countries backing Kosovo's independence

* Russian-American joint venture International Launch Services (ILS) has signed a contract to launch two U.S. commercial satellites, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center said

* Russia has delivered four Su-MKM fighter planes to Malaysia under a contract signed in 2003, a spokesman for the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer said

* The Kremlin-backed United Russia party has won a landslide victory in elections for legislative assemblies in 11 regions, which were held on March 2 together with the presidential polls

* Riot police broke up an unsanctioned protest in central Moscow against Kremlin candidate Dmitry Medvedev's election as president, and arrested dozens of protesters

WORLD

* The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution imposing a third round of economic sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program

* The Israeli military concluded a ground offensive in northern Gaza that left at least 118 people dead and jeopardized U.S.-backed peace talks with the Palestinians, local radio said

* Turkey's military will continue land operations against Kurdish PKK separatists in northern Iraq, the chief of the General Staff, Gen Yasar Buyukanit, said

* A helicopter carrying United Nations personnel crashed in east Nepal killing at least 10 people, local officials said

* Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his country will strive to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, but will continue operations against militants in Gaza

* Ali-Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), warned that new international sanctions against his country would weaken the organization's authority

* More than 10,000 refugees from Bhutan have been left homeless by a blaze that destroyed most of their camp in southeast Nepal, local officials said

BUSINESS

* President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to draft proposals on improving the management of Russia's financial reserves

* The Russian government has approved a new route bypassing Lake Baikal for an oil pipeline from East Siberia to the Pacific, a Cabinet spokesman said

* Barclays Bank has signed a deal to buy Russia's Expobank for $745 million, the British bank said

* Mechel [RTS: MTLR], a leading Russian mining and metals company, announced that it was seeking to buy Britain's Oriel Resources

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