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Main news of March 16

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A roundup of what has happened in the past 24 hours.

WORLD

* Japanese authorities say more than 13,000 people were killed or are missing as a result of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan

* Russia will evacuate families of diplomats and other officials working in Japan, but has no plans to withdraw diplomats or other Russians working in the country

* A Russian Emergencies Ministry plane landed in Tokyo, carrying rescuers and nuclear specialists to assist Japan in relief efforts after a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami

* Russia's Soyuz TMA-M capsule landed in Kazakhstan, bringing three astronauts safely back to Earth from the International Space Station

RUSSIA

* Russian officials dismissed rumors that radiation fallout from a series of blasts at a nuclear power plant in Japan may reach Russia's Pacific Sakhalin and South Kuril Islands

* Gorky Park in central Moscow will not be transformed into a new Disneyland and will preserve its historical and cultural heritage, its new director says

* A proposed restriction on street protest sites in Moscow could lead to a rise in unauthorized rallies, a lawmaker said.

BUSINESS

* Russia will ensure a nuclear power plant it is to build in Turkey will be able to withstand powerful earthquakes, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said

World oil prices may hit $150-200 per barrel in the short term in the wake of continued unrest in the Middle East and a devastating earthquake in Japan, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told a banking forum

* Russian banks failed to work well during the recent financial crisis and need tighter banking supervision, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said at a banking forum.

MILITARY NEWS

* A contract with France on the construction of modern warships for Russia will be signed when it is ready, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said

 

* The agreement to sell advanced warships to Russia is losing support in France because of Moscow's wish to get hold of sensitive military technology and concerns among Russia's neighbors, Le Figaro reports

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