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Main news of September 30



* 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


* 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


* 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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