Main news of July 1



* The sea link between Gagra in Georgia's separatist Abkhazia region and Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi has been restored after more than 15 years, a ferry company spokesman said

* Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said that Russia-Belarus ties should be strengthened, and that the two countries could never join the Western military alliance

* The treaty on friendship and cooperation between Russia and Ukraine should not be extended when it expires this year, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said

* Russian prosecutors have brought new charges against jailed Yukos executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev of stealing 350 million metric tons of oil and laundering $28.3 billion

* The killer of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya is hiding in Western Europe, a senior Russian investigating official said

* Russia's emergencies ministry delivered to Jordan three batches of humanitarian assistance destined for the Palestinians territories, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement

* Foreign staff at the Russian-British oil venture TNK-BP will be forced to leave Russia starting next week over visa and work permits amid an ongoing shareholder dispute, a Russian business daily, Kommersant, said

* Eight people have been hospitalized in the East Siberian Republic of Buryatia with suspected anthrax, the republic's emergencies ministry said


* Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar issued a decree introducing a four-day state of emergency in the capital, Ulan Bator, because of rioting after Sunday's parliamentary elections

* Israel has reclosed Gaza border crossings in response to a Palestinian mortar attack in southern Israel, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said

* The breakaway republic of Abkhazia closed a bridge across the Inguri River on its administrative border with Georgia

* Georgia's foreign minister, Yekaterina Tkeshelashvili, slammed as unacceptable the effective control Russia has assumed over the breakaway province of Abkhazia

* Polish President Lech Kaczynski predicted with confidence that Georgia and Ukraine would soon join NATO

* Western powers who say Zimbabwe's recent election was marred by intimidation and violence can "go hang", President Robert Mugabe's spokesman said

* Serbia's new cabinet could be formed by July 4, President Boris Tadic said

* Iran's parliament issued a statement saying the country could cease to cooperate with the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, if new sanctions are imposed over Iran's controversial nuclear program

* Poland's ex-premier and leader of the conservative Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that without a U.S. missile base on its territory the country may fall back under Moscow's military domination

* The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the British queen's awarding of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, author of the controversial novel Satanic Verses

* A total of 29 people were killed and around 30 others injured when a coach overturned in central Iran, local television reported

* Turkmenistan reintroduced the Gregorian calendar for days of the week and months of the year, abolishing the system of the country's former eccentric leader who created a personality cult during his 21-year rule


* The Russia government lifted from July 1 grain export duties introduced more than six months ago to stem domestic food price growth

* Mosenergo, Russia's largest regional electricity generator, has signed a 70 million euro ($110 million) contract with Siemens to re-equip one of its heat and power plants, the engineering giant said

* The duty on Russian oil exports will rise by $97.8 to a record $495.9 per metric ton as of August 1, in line with world market trends, Russia's Finance Ministry said

* The average world price of Russia's major export oil blend increased by $45.66 per barrel, year-on-year, in the first half of 2008 to $105.31 per barrel, Russia's Finance Ministry said

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