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Main News of February 1

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


*US President Barack Obama is unlikely to visit Russia until September, when he is due to attend the G20 leaders' summit in St. Petersburg, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said

*The Russian Foreign Ministry denied reports claiming that a four-party meeting between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, senior US and UN officials and a Syrian opposition leader is being set up on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference

*NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is in Lithuania on an official visit, on Friday praised the country for dealing with security challenges, but emphasized the need to increase defense spending

* Russia and Ukraine have found ways to lower the price of Russian gas regardless of whether Ukraine joins the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine said

*US President Barack Obama’s administration on Friday proposed a compromise on a contentious provision in his signature health care reform law requiring insurance plans to cover birth control services for women at no charge—a mandate that sparked outrage among religious organizations


*Armenian presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan is recovering from surgery after he was shot in the shoulder in an apparent assassination attempt on Thursday, the country’s media said

* The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the UN Security Council asking the organization to condemn Israeli air strikes on a military research center near Damascus on Wednesday, Syrian state news agency SANA reported

* A Canadian naval officer on a court trial under espionage charges received almost $72,000 for passing classified information to the Russian military, Canada’s CBC television network reported citing prosecution


* A Zenit-3SL rocket carrying an Intelsat-27 (IS-27) telecoms satellite crashed into the Pacific Ocean shortly after launch on Friday, following an emergency shutdown of its first stage motor, Russian space corporation RKK Energia head Vitaly Lopota said

* A court in Russia's Far East has fined Chinese farmers more than $5 million for polluting local soil with pesticides and canceled their lease on a large plot of land, the regional office of Russia's agriculture watchdog said

*The Commander of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, will attend an official keel laying ceremony on Friday for the first Mistral-class amphibious assault ship being built at a French shipyard for Russia

*Russia’s Sevmash shipyard has fixed the engine problems which caused a delay in the delivery of the refitted aircraft carrier Vikramaditya to the Indian navy last year, a United Shipbuilding Corporation source said 

*A Russian research expedition performed a record-breaking first dive on Friday at one of the world’s coldest lakes in Siberia, reputed to be home to a monster

*Russia and Armenia are to establish joint defense enterprises under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the post-Soviet security body's head Nikolai Bordyuzha said on Friday, following a visit to Yerevan in late January

*Russian law enforcement officials arrested a resident of Russia’s republic of North Ossetia suspected of smuggling firearms from the neighboring South Ossetia, the republic’s Interior Ministry said

* A jailed member of the female punk band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, has been sent to hospital for a medical examination, the Russian prison service said

* Moscow police have detained and charged four suspects from Russia and Ukraine accused of defrauding hundreds of elderly customers of tens of millions of rubles by selling them dietary supplements under the guise of costly pharmaceuticals, city police said

* Russian investigators questioned a former member of a once prominent liberal political party and summoned three others for questioning next week over an embezzlement case linked to famous opposition figure Alexei Navalny

* Russia’s Investigative Committee dismissed claims by the country's human rights watchdog that the May 6, 2012, riots were provoked by the police, and said all the arrests are “justified”



*Russia had spent 1.1 trillion rubles ($36.7 billion) on preparatory events for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games by the start of 2013, according to documents prepared for a first meeting on Friday of the state commission responsible for preparing for the Games



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