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Main news of April 17



* The Chechen president said two hundred military personnel from the Vostok special battalion in Chechnya submitted early discharge requests following earlier media reports of an alleged shootout involving his security convoys 

* Semyon Vainshtok, the head of the Russian corporation overseeing the construction of sport and infrastructure facilities for the 2014 Winter Olympics, resigned

* The U.S. could ease Russia's concerns over its plans to deploy missile defenses in Central Europe, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

* A Moscow court released ex-nuclear minister Yevgeny Adamov, sentenced to 5.5 years in prison on fraud charges, changing the jail term to a suspended sentence after just two months in custody

* Copyright piracy in Russia which has been a major obstacle to the country joining the WTO dropped by 15% in 2007, year-on-year, the Russian Interior Ministry said

* A Russian court ruled that five doomsday sect members from Belarus be deported for violating Russia's visa regime, the court chairman said


* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told troops at a military parade that the Islamic Republic had become a powerful nation and no world authority could threaten its security

* Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he expected major breakthroughs to be reached at a Moscow Mideast peace conference slated for June

* Tibetans held an 'alternative' relay in New Delhi in protest against China's crackdown on Tibet's independence movement, as the Beijing Olympic torch arrived in India from Pakistan

* Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili demanded that Russia revise its measures to support the unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying the measures violate Georgia's sovereignty

* One Turkish soldier was killed and 13 wounded in a firefight with Kurdish insurgents in southeast Turkey, national media reported

* Britain has been granted observer status in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Organization, the chief of the body said


* Moscow wrote off Libya's $4.5 billion debt in exchange for multi-billion dollar contracts for Russian companies

* Venezuela's parliament has adopted a law to introduce an excess profit tax for oil producers to boost social development amid soaring global oil prices, Mexican media said

* Mechel, a leading Russian mining and metals company, said it had acquired 95.69% of shares in the U.K.-based Oriel Resources Plc, which owns assets in Russia and Kazakhstan

* Russian financial holding Interros said it had agreed with Onexim Group to buy a 50% stake in Onexim's KM Invest

* Italy's prime minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi is not ruling out that talks with Russian air carrier Aeroflot to buy state-run Alitalia, stalled in November, could be resumed

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