Main news of December 1

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RUSSIA

* Russia's naval task force from the Northern Fleet has started deployment in the southern Caribbean in preparation for joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy, a Russian Navy spokesman said

* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has signed an instruction on the design and construction of the second stage of the Baltic Pipeline System, the government said

* Unidentified gunmen killed two police officers at a checkpoint in Russia's North Caucasus republic of North Ossetia near the border with Ingushetia on Monday, an Interior Ministry source said

* U.S. president-elect Barack Obama's announcement of Hillary Clinton as the country's secretary of state has been partially motivated by the ongoing financial crisis, a Russian expert said

* Tajik nationals working as construction workers in Russia's Urals city of Yekaterinburg are striking over wage arrears in the first major protest in the country since the start of the financial crisis

* Russia's Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate is escorting a three-ship convoy past the Horn of Africa, protecting it from Somali pirates, a Russian Navy spokesman said

* Police have compiled photofits of two young men suspected of setting off an explosion in a church in southern Moscow injuring two people, local police said

* Gennady Zyuganov was reelected as leader of Russia's Communist Party late on Sunday at a congress, where he pledged to restore the party's influence and bring more young leaders to its ranks

* A treaty between Russia and Norway on visa facilitation and readmission comes into force on Monday

* The Russian government lowered oil export duty by 33% as of Monday, from $287.3 per metric ton to $192.1, to take into account the lower global oil price

WORLD

* U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Monday officially announced the members of his national security team, including Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state and Robert Gates, who will stay on as defense secretary

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been re-elected chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party for the eighth time

* A meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Russia-Belarus Union State has been delayed upon a request from Belarus, the Kremlin said

* The Ukrainian government approved on Monday a draft agreement with Russia and Kazakhstan on involvement in the work of an international uranium enrichment facility in East Siberia

* Italy's famous lagoon city Venice, along the northeastern Adriatic coast, was flooded on Monday as high tides pushed sea levels to the highest in the past 30 years, the ANSA news agency said

* Ten people were killed and 27 injured on Monday in a suicide bomb attack at a market in the southern Helmand province, a district administrative chief said

* Around 60 militants belonging to the radical Islamic Taliban movement have been killed in Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, a spokesman for the country's Defense Ministry said

* The U.S. space shuttle Endeavour has made a successful landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California after being forced to abandon plans to land in Florida, a NASA spokesman said

* North Korea brought into force on Monday restrictions on cross-border movement with the South and suspended the countries' rail link, in protest against Seoul's "hostile policies"

* At least 114 people have died and over 78,000 have been left homeless in flooded areas of southern Brazil, the country's Civil Defense Service said 

BUSINESS

* Russia's Reserve Fund has grown by 88.59 billion rubles ($3.2 bln), while the country's National Prosperity Fund has increased by 440.98 billion rubles ($16 billion) since November 1, the Finance Ministry said

* Russia's largest independent oil producer LUKoil said on Monday it had completed a deal with Italy's ERG S.p.A. on acquiring a 49% stake in a joint venture in a refinery in southern Italy

* Russia's state-controlled crude producer Rosneft said on Monday its US GAAP net income grew 140% year-on-year in January-September to a record $10.35 billion

* The Swedish government has requested additional information on the Nord Stream pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea to pump Russian natural gas to Germany, the project operator said

* Robert Dudley stepped down on Monday as CEO of TNK-BP, the Russian-British joint oil venture said

* Raiffeisenbank has granted a $100 million 12-month loan to Gazprom Neft, the oil producing arm of energy giant Gazprom, the bank said

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