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Main news of February 23

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Main news - Sputnik International
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A roundup of what has happened in the past 24 hours

WORLD

* The European Union's foreign policy chief has called on Libyan authorities to protect foreign nationals amid mass anti-government riots and ease their departure from the country

* NATO plans to step up its cooperation with Ukraine in order to tackle common problems, alliance's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with the Ukrainian magazine Profil

* Libya's eastern province Cyrenaica is no longer under the control of country's embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said

* Libya's second largest city of Benghazi which has been seized by the country's opposition protesting against Muammar Gaddafi is celebrating victory and trying to return to normal life, local media said

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has condemned violence against protesters in Libya, urging the country's embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi to listen to his people

* A Libyan plane believed to be carrying Aisha Gaddafi, the embattled Libyan leader's daughter, was denied permission to land in Malta, local media said

* All Libyan ports and terminals have been temporarily closed amid violence in the North African state, France's major shipping group said

* France decided to freeze assets of ousted Egyptian Pesident Hosni Mubarak and his family, French Foreign Ministry said

* The United Nations is concerned by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's call on his supporters to take to the streets

* The UN Security Council called on Libyan authorities to immediately end their clampdown on protesters

* The Indian government is strongly concerned by the upheavals in Libya and condemns the use of force against protestors, a statement issued by the Indian Foreign Ministry said

* Tajikistan's Foreign Ministry has asked the Russian leadership to help evacuate Tajik citizens from riot-struck Libya, official spokesman for the ministry said

* The Ukrainian cabinet of ministers is currently preparing a resolution which will allow the country to restore its gas exports to Poland, the Kommersant-Ukraina paper said citing own sources

* London's Court of Appeal has rejected a request by Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich to dismiss a lawsuit filed by his former business partner Boris Berezovsky

* Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the Russian-French cooperation in energy at talks in Paris, the Russian energy giant said

RUSSIA

* The final fourth plane carrying Russians from protest-hit Libya has landed in Moscow, a spokesman for Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry said

* Russia will not accept attempts to escalate pressure on the events in the Middle East and North Africa, swept by unrest, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a telephone conversation with the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall, when the country celebrates the Defenders of the Fatherland Day

* Russia is grateful to Egypt for providing security for Russian citizens during the recent tumult, a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry after a phone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Gheit said

* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will arrive in Brussels on a working visit

* Unknown assailants set fire to a luxury Maybach car in western Moscow

* A total of 388 illegal casinos have been shut down in Moscow over the past 1.5 months, the chief of the Russian capital's police Vladimir Kolokoltsev said in an interview with government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta

* Over 4,000 police officers will ensure law and order in the Russian capital, when the country celebrates the Defenders of the Fatherland Day, a Moscow police spokesman said

* The first evacuation plane with Russian citizens onboard arrived at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport from riot-torn Libya, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said

* One police officer died and another six were wounded during a clash with militants in Russia's North Caucasus Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, local investigators said

BUSINESS

* Russian state development corporation Vnesheconombank (VEB) expects to receive over 30 billion rubles ($1bn) of net profit calculated to Russian Accounting Standards in 2011, a 3.8% rise year-on-year

SPORTS

* The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos is positive about a recently advanced idea to send Olympic Flame to the International Space Station (ISS) and back to Earth as a part of the preparations for the 2012 Winter Olympics, Stats Secretary Vitaly Davydov said

* Russia's double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva will not take part in the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Paris in March over illness, Russia's national head coach said

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