Main news of May 21

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WORLD

* Belarus is set to boost economic, social and cultural ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a spokesman for the country's Foreign Ministry said

* The second stage of NATO's training exercise in Georgia under the Partnership for Peace program started at the Vaziani military base near Tbilisi

* The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested four men accused of planning to blow up a synagogue in New York, along with other terrorist attacks

* U.S. Patriot air defense missiles and over 100 U.S. personnel will be deployed in Poland by the end of this year despite Russia's objections, Poland's deputy defense minister has said

* The Georgian opposition notified Tbilisi city hall on Thursday that it was intending to carry on demonstrations to demand President Mikheil Saakashvili's resignation until June 26

* Moldovan Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii has been renominated by the Communist Party as the country's new president

* A total of 11,034 people in 41 countries worldwide have been officially diagnosed with the A/H1N1 virus as of 06:00 GMT on Thursday, with 85 deaths, the World Health Organization said in its daily report

* A former army officer suspected of involvement in a mutiny at a Georgian tank base on May 5 was killed and two others wounded in a police operation early on Thursday, Georgian television said

* A Cairo court has sentenced one of Egypt's top real estate developers and a retired police officer to death for murdering a Lebanese pop star last year in Dubai, the Gulf News daily reported

* At least 13 people died and another four were seriously injured during a fire in a headphone factory in southern China's province of Guangdong on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported

RUSSIA

* The Russian Interior Ministry has demanded a response from Helsinki on whether a Finnish diplomat was performing his duties while helping to illegally take a child out of Russia

* Russia and Kazakhstan signed on Thursday a memorandum on establishing a customs union during bilateral negotiations in Astana

* Moscow lamented on Thursday remarks by the Japanese prime minister on the "ongoing occupation" of the Southern Kuril islands by Russia

* The production of a new Russian Mi-38 transport helicopter has been delayed until 2014 due to the expected withdrawal of a Canadian engine maker from the project, the project director said

* President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk on Thursday for a Russia-EU summit set to focus on natural gas supplies and problems over relations with Georgia

* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in Astana Thursday for the CIS heads of government meeting, at which he will hold bilateral talks with other leaders, the government press service said

BUSINESS

* Russian energy giant Gazprom has paid Ukraine in advance for gas transit to Europe for the rest of 2009, a source in a Russian business delegation on a visit to Kazakhstan said

RELIGION

* The Russian Orthodox Church is commemorating on May 21 St. John the Divine, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, celebrated as the patron saint of writers, editors and publishers

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