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Main news of April 27



* The Russian president instructed regional authorities to take urgent action to prevent the spread of swine flu in Russia, the Kremlin press service said

* A senior police officer shot three people dead and injured six others at a supermarket in southern Moscow shortly after midnight on Monday in a shooting police said could have been sparked by a family row

* The Russian ambassador to the U.S. said the key task in bilateral relations is to overcome the stereotypes the two countries have

* The first round of full-format Russia-U.S. talks on a new strategic arms reduction treaty will be held on May 18-20 in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said

* Moscow's Khamovniki Borough Court refused to refer back to prosecutors a second criminal case against Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev

* A prototype of the advanced Su-35 Flanker multi-role fighter plane burst into flames during take-off procedures at a testing ground in Russia's Far East, a spokesman for the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant said

* Svetlana Bakhmina, a former Yukos lawyer and mother of three, was released from prison, a week after a Moscow court granted her parole, a friend of the family told RIA Novosti

* Sakhalin Energy, which operates the Sakhalin-II oil and gas project in Russia's Far East, has postponed a seismic scan until 2010 over fears that it could harm whales, a company spokeswoman said

* A new task force from Russia's Pacific Fleet has joined operations against Somali piracy off the Horn of Africa, a fleet spokesman said


* The number of people to have died from suspected swine flu in Mexico has risen by 46 to 149, the country's health minister, Jose Angel Cordova, said

* A quake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale hit Mexico on Monday, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported

* Abkhazia has urged NATO member states not to go ahead with a planned military exercise in Georgia, expressing deep anxiety and concern over the plan, the South Caucasus republic's foreign ministry said

* The Armenian ruling coalition said it supported the president's foreign policy to normalize ties with Turkey

* Belarus's president, Alexander Lukashenko, met with Pope Benedict XVI ahead of a possible meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

* The European Union will give Ukraine help to overcome its political and economic crisis, EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said during a meeting with the 27 EU member-states in Luxembourg

* The deputy head of Ukraine's state veterinary committee said the country had banned the import of live pigs and pork from Mexico, Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand as fears grew of a swine flu pandemic

* A cult leader serving 15 years for sex attacks on children made a helicopter escape from a French island jail

* Turkey, a NATO member, has expressed interest in buying S-400 Triumf air defense systems from Russia, a Russian defense industry official said


* Ukraine's prime minister said she would push for amendments to the country's natural gas supply contract with Russia, to reduce the import volume, at her upcoming meeting with her Russian counterpart

* Tatneft, one of Russia's top ten crude producers, said on Monday its net profit under Russian Accounting Standards declined 21.7%, year-on-year, in 2008 to 34.29 billion rubles ($1.03 billion)

* Russia's state-run retail savings bank Sberbank on Monday posted slightly better than expected 2008 net profit under IFRS that showed a decline of 8.3%, year-on-year, to 97.7 billion rubles ($2.93 billion)

* Sberbank of Russia, the country's largest retail savings bank, has extended a $3 billion loan to energy giant Gazprom for a term of five years, the bank's press office said

* Gazprom Neft, the oil-producing arm of Russian energy giant Gazprom, has acquired 16.95% of Britain's Sibir Energy, which operates in Russia, the British company said


* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that sports medicine and anti-doping measures should be improved to prevent a problem for the state

* A powerful shot from North Korean midfielder Hong Yong-Jo condemned CSKA to a 2-1 home defeat against newly-promoted Rostov at the weekend, while Krilya Sovetov beat Dynamo in Moscow to move into first place

* Defending champions Russia surged to a 4-0 lead against France inside 10 minutes before easing off to record a 7-2 win at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Switzerland

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