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Main news of June 20

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A roundup of what has happened in the past 24 hours

WORLD

* European foreign ministers expanded sanctions against Belarus' authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko over a violent post-election crackdown on the opposition

* Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the unrest in his country was caused by a small group of "saboteurs"

* IAEA head Yukiya Amano suggested conducting safety checks on every tenth nuclear power plant in the world in the next three years

RUSSIA

* Russian prosecutors appealed a decision by a French court to release two luxury yachts allegedly belonging to fugitive Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev submitted to the Federation Council the candidacy of Yury Chaika for the prosecutor general's post

* Moscow's Preobrazhensky Court returned jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's request to be released on parole to a pre-trial detention center

* Two main Russian opposition parties suggested that both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin should run in the 2012 presidential elections

* Russia risks losing its seat on the Council of Europe if it passes a bill to allow the Constitutional Court to block rulings from the International Court of Human Rights

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged to ease the state's grip on business in the country and cut down on bureaucracy

* Moscow will use its veto rights in the UN Security Council to prevent the adoption of a resolution on Syria similar to the one passed against Libya, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said

BUSINESS

* Russian Helicopters and Italy's AugustaWestland plan to sign a 20 million euro joint venture deal at the Le Bourget air show in France

DEFENSE

* France has transferred to Russia all the technology it asked for under a $1.7-billion deal for two French-built Mistral class amphibious assault ships

SPORTS

* Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was approved as the head coach of the Russian national ice hockey team

RELIGION

* The Russian Orthodox Church is preparing for a reform of its liturgical language

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