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Main news of September 30

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RUSSIA

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged to continue security and economic assistance for Abkhazia, the Kremlin press service said

* Russia banned imports of all Chinese food products containing milk derivatives following cases of melamine poisoning in China, and over a lack of official information from Beijing

* A Russian Delta-III class ballistic missile submarine has successfully sailed from a naval base in northern Russia to the Pacific Ocean under the Arctic ice floe, a Navy spokesman said

* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved a program worth 2.084 trillion rubles ($83 billion) to finance the state nuclear corporation Rosatom between 2009 and 2015

* Russia is planning to increase its spending on defense by 50% in the next three years, a senior MP said

* Under amendments to the Russian constitutional law on government, state officials from the prime minister down to city authorities will have to declare their incomes and assets, the Kremlin said

WORLD

* At least 179 people died on Thursday morning in a stampede at a temple in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, as pilgrims gathered for the start of a Hindu festival, the Times of India reported

* Serbia's President Boris Tadic said he would not rule out dividing Kosovo into Albanian and Serbian parts if all other options to keep the disputed state within Serbia fail

* Two ferries collided on a river in southern Bangladesh, leaving at least 50 people unaccounted for, local media reported

* Three people have been killed in a shootout between pirates onboard a Ukrainian ship seized off the Somali coast last week, the Vesti TV channel said

* Somali pirates have released Bunga Melati 2, a Malaysian oil tanker hijacked in August, the Asian country's Bernama news agency said on Tuesday, citing defense ministry sources

* The Palestinian National Authority freed 16 Hamas fighters earlier captured in the West Bank, and said no political prisoners are left in its prisons, local radio reported

* The U.S. House of Representatives has rejected a historic $700 billion bailout plan to rescue the country's financial system, sending the stock market into a steep decline and pushing down oil prices

* Russian Ambassador Vyacheslav Kovalenko left Georgia along with 22 embassy officials a month after Tbilisi severed diplomatic ties with Moscow

* Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said his country would not sacrifice relations with Russia to please the West

* British Ambassador to Russia Tony Brenton leaves Moscow and will be replaced in early October by Anne Pringle, a former envoy to Prague, a source in the embassy said

* Northern China's Shanxi Province, with one-third of the country's coal reserves, has decided to shut around half of its coal mines over safety violations, the Xinhua news agency said

BUSINESS

* Russia's state-controlled lender Vnesheconombank and the Export-Import Bank of Korea have signed a $200 million framework loan agreement, Vnesheconombank's press office said

* Gazprom and Italy's Eni have no plans to involve a third partner in their project to build a pipeline across the Black Sea to pump natural gas to Europe, the Eni CEO said

* Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian energy giant Gazprom, posted a 93.7% year-on-year increase in net profit calculated to US GAAP in the first half of 2008 to $3.6 billion

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