12:50 GMT +314 December 2017
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    Morning re-cap of main news, May 18

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    * Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he saw little need for continued monitoring of Russia's obligations to the Council of Europe

    * Agreements between Russia and the European Union on easing visa regulations and on readmission of illegal immigrants, expected to be signed at a summit May 25, could come into force before the end of 2006, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said

    * Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said:

    - a merger is possible between state-owned oil-pipeline monopoly Transneft and state oil product transit company Transnefteproduct

    - expert analyses of the rising costs of the giant Sakhalin II energy project should be completed over the summer

    - State-owned oil company Rosneft will make its initial public offering when the right conditions are in place

    * President Vladimir Putin met with pro-Kremlin political youth movement Nashi to discuss problems of Armed Forces recruits, as well as increasing xenophobia and the rights of children

    * Ukraine's authorities said that Kryvorizhstal, the country's largest steel mill, could be sold to a group of investors for $6 billion

    * President Putin's envoy to Russia's Far East said the population in the region had declined by 20% in the last 15 years even though the regional economy had picked up

    * Local police said five servicemen had been killed and six wounded after their vehicles came under fire in Chechnya

    * Atomstroiexport, a state-run company building nuclear facilities overseas, said Russia was planning to bid in a tender for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Vietnam

    * Kazakhstan's prime minister said the country was planning to abolish monopolies on its telecommunications market in August to encourage healthy competition and sectoral development

    * Sea Launch, the world's sole company to orbit satellites from a floating launch facility in equatorial waters, said it would send a U.S. satellite into space in June

    * Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Belousov said the Russian Armed Forces would receive a large procurement of new arms by the end of the year

    * Russian spacecraft manufacturer Energia said it intended to start extracting lunar reserves of helium-3 to boost terrestrial energy supplies when a re-usable cargo shuttle comes online

    * Protestors tried to disrupt the opening of a Russia-NATO photo exhibition in Moscow by attempting to seize the microphones of the assembled dignitaries and shouting inflammatory slogans

    * Protestors representing a Russian Orthodox movement burned down a poster advertising the The Da Vinci Code at Pushkin Square in central Moscow, on the day of the controversial film's premier

    * Russia's national hockey team failed to advance to the World Championship semifinals in Latvia, losing defending champions the Czech Republic 3-4

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