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Main news of May 21




*  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he will hold one-on-one talks with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy during the G8 summit in Japan in July

* Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov met with his Mongolian counterpart in Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital, to discuss military cooperation between the two countries, a Defense Ministry spokesman said

* England's two leading sides, Manchester United and Chelsea, face each other in the Champions League final in Moscow in the competition's first ever all-English final

*  Saudi Arabia has cancelled an $800 million tender won by Russian Railways to build a rail line in the country, for political reasons, the head of the company said

* Two Russian Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers are carrying out a routine patrol over remote areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, a Russian Air Force spokesman said

* A technical glitch caused the ballistic landing of Russia's Soyuz TMA-11 capsule in April this year, the head of the Federal Space Agency's department for manned flights said

* Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service will conduct a census of prisoners in November 2009, the chief of the service said  

* Russian oil and gas companies are interested in developing the Mediterranean region and are set to expand their presence in the area, an executive of Russia's largest independent natural gas producer said

*  Russia's ambassador to Latvia said that the two countries could sign a simplified visa agreement by the end of 2008 to boost bilateral ties and trans-border cooperation

* A decree by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Russia's Black Sea Fleet jeopardizes trust between Moscow and Kiev and could have an adverse impact on the negotiating process, the Russian Foreign Ministry said


* An exit poll said President Mikhail Saakashvili's United National Movement has garnered 63.2% in Georgia's parliamentary elections, despite the opposition party claiming to have won the polls

* The government of the Czech Republic has approved the deployment of a component of the U.S. global anti-missile system on its territory, the prime minister said

* EU ambassadors have agreed to start talks on a new EU-Russia partnership deal, that expired in December 2007, an EU spokeswoman said

* The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill allowing the Justice Department to sue members of the OPEC cartel of oil-producing countries for price-fixing

* Voting began in early parliamentary polls at 8:00 a.m. local time [04:00 GMT] in Georgia with the country's opposition promising to instigate a "people's rebellion" if they suspect the elections of being rigged

* Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has held talks with a Hamas delegation in Cairo to discuss a positive Israeli response to a proposed ceasefire in Gaza, Egypt's state media said

* The Ukrainian President has signed a decree ordering the Cabinet to prepare by July 20 a draft law on terminating all international agreements on the presence of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine

* Leaders of the Lebanon's U.S.-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition have signed a deal to end a protracted political crisis which has left the Middle East state unable to elect a president since November 2007, Lebanese TV said

* The Israeli prime minister has proposed that a U.S. naval blockade be imposed on Iran to stop the Islamic Republic from moving ahead with its uranium enrichment program, an Israeli newspaper said

* Israel is holding indirect peace talks with Syria with the mediation of Turkey, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said

* Foreign ministers from Russia and France discussed the ongoing row surrounding Georgia's breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia during their meeting in Moscow

* Ukraine's cabinet of ministers has decided to unilaterally withdraw from a production sharing agreement with a U.S. oil company to develop the Black Sea shelf, a first deputy prime minister said

* Talks between Iran and the U.S. on Iraqi security have been postponed for an indefinite period due to ongoing militant activity and murders of civilians in Iraq, Iran's foreign minister said

* Conflicting information is coming from the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone, following reports of gunfire along the border and bus explosions that left several people injured

* The European Union is likely to impose a ban on imports of sunflower oil from Ukraine on Thursday, a source in the European Commission said 

* Georgia's president once again accused Russia of aggravating the situation in the country's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as Georgians voted in parliamentary elections

* A Zenit rocket successfully delivered a U.S. communications satellite into orbit as part of the Sea Launch project, the company said

* Ukraine has joined the working group on Russia's bid for WTO membership and wants to start bilateral talks with Moscow, a Russian delegation source said 

* Relatives of Polish prisoners of war massacred by Soviet secret police in the Katyn forest in 1940 have filed an appeal against the closure of the case, a lawyer said




* Russia's most popular Internet search resource Yandex has been valued at $5 billion for an initial public offering at the U.S. Nasdaq in fall, business paper Vedomosti reported

* Foreign investment in Russia declined 29.9%, year-on-year, in the first quarter to $17.3 billion, the country's top statistics body said

* Gazprom Neft and the Moscow Oil and Gas Company (MNGK) have submitted an application to the Federal Antimonopoly Service to create a joint venture, the agency said

* State rail monopoly Russian Railways could hold an initial public offering to raise around $25 billion for 25% of its stock minus one share, a company source said

* Consumer prices in Russia grew 7.2% since the beginning of 2008 to May 19, or 2.7% more than in the same period of last year, the federal statistics service said

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