Main news of April 21

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RUSSIA

* Russia resumed postal links with neighboring Georgia, lifting one of the remaining blockade measures imposed in October 2006 which banned air, sea and rail transport with the country

* A United States pastor has been sentenced to three years and two months in prison by a Moscow court for smuggling rifle rounds into the country for his Russian hunting partner

* The Council of Europe's human rights chief arrived in Chechnya on a three-day working visit to assess the situation in the southern Russian republic

* Russia will launch the second phase of humanitarian assistance to Kosovo Serbs in a week, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said

* South Korea's first astronaut Yi So-yeon said she was scared as she saw flames engulfing a re-entry capsule during her return to Earth along with two crewmembers on Saturday

* A Russian company building a nuclear power plant in Iran said that Azerbaijan's seizure of a shipment for the Bushehr plant was unlikely to seriously affect the construction schedule

* Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin has been appointed ambassador to Cuba, the ministry announced

* The head of the Investigation Committee at Russia's top prosecutor's office signed a decree dismissing Dmitry Dovgy, who led a series of high-profile probes recently, a committee spokesman said

* A court in East Siberia has extended the custody of Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky at the Chita detention center until August 2, a lawyer for the former oligarch said

* Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said he has no conflict with the Defense Ministry's special Vostok battalion, but is still concerned about some of its military leaders
 

WORLD

* Georgia's president has accused Russia of aggression saying Tbilisi has video footage proving that Russia downed a Georgian drone

* Two Palestinian militants and one civilian were killed in two overnight operations carried out by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, local radio reported

* Fernando Lugo, 56, a former Catholic bishop has been elected Paraguay's president, bringing to an end over 60 years of conservative rule by the Colorado party

* Ex-U.S. president Jimmy Carter said the radical Islamist group Hamas was ready to live in peace with Israel if an agreement was supported by a Palestinian referendum

* The radical Islamist group Hamas could halt rocket attacks on Israel if an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip is lifted, the movement's political leader Khaled Meshaal said

*  Olli Heinonen, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who arrived in Tehran on a two-day visit, has started the first round of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program

* Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak said after their summit the countries would combine efforts with the United States to end North Korea's nuclear program

* Nino Burdzhanadze, the speaker of the Georgian parliament, said she will not take part in the May parliamentary election

* Three people were killed and 40 fishermen including 22 Vietnamese went missing after typhoon Neoguri hit south China on the weekend, national media said

* The Playa de Bakio fishing trawler, with 26 crew members on board, has been hijacked off Somalia by pirates, who are demanding a ransom, Spanish media reported

BUSINESS

* Coca-Cola has pulled out of an investment project to turn the controversial Baikal pulp mill into a producer of bottled water, the company said

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