Main News of March 26

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


* North Korea said it had ordered its strategic rocket and long-range artillery units to target US military bases on Guam, Hawaii and mainland America.

* Fitch Ratings has downgraded the ratings of Cyprus’ two largest banks to default levels after the Eurogroup struck a bailout deal with the Cypriot authorities as a precondition for Cyprus to receive much-needed aid, the international rating agency said.

* An official inquiry into the death of self-exiled Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky in the UK will be opened on Thursday, Thames Valley Police said.

* The US Supreme Court completed hearing arguments in the first of two landmark cases involving bans on gay marriage, with members of the nine-judge panel indicating that a California ban on same-sex unions may be struck down.

* The governor of North Dakota signed a law banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat—which can occur as early as six weeks into gestation—enacting the strictest abortion regulations in the United States.

* A small vial with a rare but potentially deadly virus called Guanarito that could be used in a bioterror attack is missing from a maximum-security University of Texas research laboratory, and officials there are scrambling to explain what could have happened to it.


* Russia is ready to assist South Africa with construction of nuclear power plants (NPP) in the country, providing a line of credit if the project is implemented by Russian specialists, President Vladimir Putin said.

* A Russian senator has handed in his resignation following allegations that he has Israeli citizenship and undeclared foreign real estate, a Federation Council official said.

* Russia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal to scrap the year-round summer time pattern established by the government in 2011, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the courtroom.

* Police have prevented the embezzlement of over 350 million rubles’ ($11 million) worth of assets at state-run hi-tech corporation Russian Technologies (Rostech), the Interior Ministry said.

* Russia’s drug control service head said that Moscow will contribute to a new South American anti-drugs program, and proposed the launch of counter-narcotics training courses for agents in Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador.

* Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich could settle a dispute with RBC Media group over its false report on Monday of the Chelsea football club owner’s arrest in the United States out of court, his spokesman said.

* Two men convicted of involvement in a bizarre plot to seize power in Russia’s Urals city of Yekaterinburg have filed appeals to drop all charges against them, while the prosecution has demanded an even harsher sentence, the Urals regional court said.

* About three-quarters of Russians support raising the minimum legal age for buying alcohol to 21 from the current 18, according to a poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM).


* Shares in the main asset of Russian oil major TNK-BP plummeted almost 20 percent on news that its parent company, Rosneft, planned to raise billions of dollars in loans from its recently acquired subsidiary.

* Russian steel giant Novolipetsk Steel’s 2012 US GAAP net profit fell 56 percent year-on-year to $596 million, the company said, citing deteriorating market conditions for steelmakers.


* Russia’s Proton-M carrier rocket carrying a Mexican telecommunications satellite blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos reported.

* Russia plans to put 68 spacecraft into orbit by 2015 and to almost double the number of its communications satellites to 44 by 2020, a deputy head of the Central Research Institute of Machine Building said.

* Russia may use future modules of its segment of the International Space Station (ISS) to build its own orbital station, a senior space industry official said.

* A private SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule, commissioned by the US space agency NASA, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after spending three weeks docked to the International Space Station (ISS) where it dropped off and picked up supplies.


* Russia will have a delegation of around 220 athletes at its first home Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, the team’s chef de mission Alexander Kravtsov said.

* Maria Sharapova blew away Klara Zakopalova to set up a Miami Masters quarterfinal with Italy's Sara Errani.

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