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    Main news of December 28

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    RUSSIA

    * Russia is not negotiating deliveries of S-300 air defense systems to Iran despite certain media rumors, the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said

    * President Vladimir Putin has topped business daily Kommersant's annual rankings of Russia's elite for the seventh consecutive time, the paper said

    * Russia's Defense Ministry has ordered new tank support combat vehicles to boost firepower of the Ground Forces armored units, the Vzglyad business newspaper reported

    * Russia's Supreme Court upheld a decision denying registration to Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky as a candidate for the March 2 presidential elections due to residency requirements

    * A volunteer camp of environmental organizations has resumed its work in the Black Sea strait rescuing birds affected by a November oil spill, a spokesman for the WWF office in Russia said

    * The Russian government has increased export duty on grain from the current 10% to 40% to stabilize domestic bread and flour prices, the government's press office said

    * Russia will launch January 28 a Proton M carrier rocket to orbit a communication satellite after a four-month delay, the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said

    * Japan's Mitsubishi Motors signed a contract with Russia's economics ministry to invest $200 million in building a plant in the Kaluga Region, a senior ministry official said

    * A Russian delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, will visit Warsaw on January 10, 2008 to discuss the U.S. missile shield plans, a Polish official said

    WORLD

    * The second shipment of nuclear fuel was delivered from Russia to Iran for its Bushehr nuclear power plant on Friday, the state news agency IRNA said

    * Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the murder of Pakistan's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in a bomb explosion on Thursday, local television channels said

    * NASA has again postponed the Atlantis shuttle launch, scheduled for January 10, but this time indefinitely, the space agency's website said

    * Rescuers have pulled out a further five bodies from the site of a collapsed 12-story building in Egypt's Mediterranean city of Alexandria, bringing the death toll to 27, the MENA news agency said

    * Japan's premier and his Chinese counterpart have announced their determination to end a disagreement over disputed rights to gas fields in the East China Sea

    * Russian nuclear fuel producer TVEL has supplied Iran with equipment for the reactor core operations at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, a company spokesperson said

    * At least 31 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in clashes with security forces in northern Sri Lanka, the Defense Ministry said

    *  France will introduce a nationwide ban on smoking in most public places from January 1, 2008, the French health minister said

    * Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former premier and one of the country's most popular opposition leaders, has been laid to rest at the family mausoleum in the south of the country

    *  Islam Karimov has been reelected for another term as president of Uzbekistan winning the presidential elections held on December 23, a spokesman for the country's Central Election Commission said

    * Two Israel Defense Forces off-duty soldiers were killed west of Hebron by unknown gunmen, Israeli media reported

    * Archeologists have discovered the ruins of an 800-year-old pyramid in the center of Mexico City, China's Xinhua news agency said

    * The U.K. will launch six extra-long stamps to mark the centenary since the birth of Ian Fleming, known as the creator of the world's best known secret agent, James Bond, Royal Mail said

    BUSINESS

    * Russia's Central Bank said the country's narrowly defined money supply (M1) was 4 trillion 16.6 billion rubles ($163 billion at the current exchange rate) as of December 24, up 96 billion rubles ($3.9 billion) in the week since December 17

    * Russia's state-controlled crude producer Rosneft said it intends to boost oil output 10.9% year on year in 2008 to 111.9 million metric tons (820 million barrels)

    * Sberbank expects net profit of at least 112 billion rubles ($4.5 billion) in 2007, the head of Russia's largest state-owned bank said

    * Russia's state-controlled Development Bank said it planned to sell its recently purchased 5% stake in Europe's Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) to the Russian aircraft corporation

    * Gazprom Neft and LUKoil have formed a joint oil and gas venture to implement projects in hydrocarbon production, the two leading Russian energy companies said

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