Main news of March 24

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RUSSIA

* Russia is putting off government consultations with Ukraine, which were due next week, until its natural gas pipeline declaration with the EU is clarified, President Dmitry Medvedev said

* The Russian president and his wife, as well as all top state and government officials are to declare their incomes, real estate and assets, a Kremlin spokesperson said

* Russia will not get involved in a new arms race, the head of the Security Council said at a meeting dedicated to discussing Russia's national security strategy until 2020

* Russia's foreign minister said a dispute over Norwegian telecoms giant Telenor's stake in Russia's VimpelCom should be settled by the companies

* Russia's Interior Ministry is investigating a smuggling case in which over 3 tons of valuable Russian church and cultural relics were taken to the U.S., a senior ministry official said

* Russia's Admiral Vinogradov destroyer arrived in Indonesia on an official visit following a three-month tour of duty in the Gulf of Aden

* Russia's Black Sea Fleet must have 8-10 submarines in active service and the Navy plans to commission new Lada class vessels to meet the requirement, a senior Navy official said

* Russia's Liberal Democrat Party said it would not nominate the main suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko murder case, Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi, as candidate for mayor in the Black Sea resort of Sochi

WORLD

* Syria officially named its ambassador to Lebanon for the first time since the countries gained independence in the 1940s, Lebanese LBC television said

* The Guinean ambassador to Serbia, Mohammad Isiaga Kuruma, was stopped by Serbian police at a border checkpoint on suspicion of smuggling cigarettes in his official car, Serbia's Blic newspaper said

* Ukraine's biggest opposition party is resolved to start impeachment procedures against President Viktor Yushchenko, a Ukrainian daily reported

* France has issued through Interpol an arrest warrant for the Russian mother of a three-year-old girl kidnapped last week, a spokesman for Russia's Interpol told RIA Novosti

* The president of the unrecognized Moldovan republic of Transdnestr said a Russian military base could be established in the country

* Astronauts from the U.S. shuttle Discovery have successfully finished their third and the final spacewalk during the current mission to the International Space Station, NASA said on its website

* Kyrgyzstan launched its second nationwide population and housing census, which is due to last until April 2, a government spokesman said

* Some 2,390 prisoners in 25 countries were executed in 2008, according to a report released by the London-based international human rights organization, Amnesty International

* The chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has said the country must seek close missile defense cooperation with Russia as the best means of protection against Iran

* Egyptian authorities have decided to postpone a regular round of inter-Palestinian talks until early April to allow Palestinian groups time to reach a decision on unresolved key issues, the MENA agency reported

* Georgia's Interior Ministry has confirmed the arrests of several opposition activists, and accused them of illegally buying firearms

BUSINESS

* The West Siberian District Federal Arbitration Court rejected an appeal by Norway's telecoms giant Telenor to suspend a court ruling to pay $1.728 billion to Russian communications operator VimpelCom

* Novolipetsk Steel, one of Russia's four largest steel companies, announced on Tuesday a US GAAP net loss for the final quarter of 2008 of $480 million, due to plummeting metal prices on world markets

* Russian authorities have decided to examine the financial position of Norilsk Nickel and its transactions carried out in favor of shareholders, a business paper said

* The chairman of the People's Bank of China has spoken out in support of Russia's proposal to create a new global reserve currency as an alternative to the U.S. dollar, Xinhua news agency reported

SPORTS

* WBC Heavyweight World Champion Vitali Klitschko of Ukraine said he is interested in the WBA title and wants to fight Russia's Nikolai Valuev to get this belt

* Zenit St. Petersburg manager Dick Advocaat has said that he would like to see Glasgow Rangers' and Scotland captain Barry Ferguson in his side

* Out-of-favor Tottenham Hotspur striker Roman Pavlyuchenko is determined to put his time on the bench to good use in Russia's upcoming World Cup qualifiers

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