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    RUSSIA

    * International observers will not be subject to any restrictions during Russia's March 2 presidential elections, a Central Election Commission member said

    * Six Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers joined a Russian naval task force in the Atlantic to take part in the final stage of the current naval exercise, an Air Force spokesman said

    * Russia's rocket and space corporation Energia may build a new-generation piloted spacecraft by 2015, the company president said

    * The immediate election of a president in Lebanon in accordance with the Arab League plan will help the country overcome its ongoing political crisis, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said

    * The new Mi-28N Night Hunter helicopter gunship will continue to be fine-tuned by the manufacturer in 2008, after which it will be adopted for service, a senior military official said

    * Coca-Cola has removed offensive and blasphemous advertisements, which provoked a row among Russian Orthodox Christians, from the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod, an antimonopoly official said

    * Police in St. Petersburg detained a 19 year-old student on charges of sexually assaulting at least three children, city prosecutors said

    * One soldier was killed and three others wounded in a clash with militants in the southeast of Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, a police official said

    WORLD

    * In his final State of the Union address, U.S. President George W. Bush assured lawmakers that the country's economy is not under threat, and urged support for an economic stimulus plan

    * Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said the EU will sanction the dispatch of a police force to Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo after the country's presidential election

    * The UN Security Council failed to reach an agreement on a Gaza statement due to differences between the U.S. and Arab nations, Russia's UN envoy said

    * Thousands of Palestinians who flooded into Egypt last week are returning to Gaza after Egyptian authorities closed markets, petrol stations and imposed accommodation bans, local media said

    * Four armed bank robbers have held 30 people hostage, including a pregnant woman and small children, in a Venezuelan bank for over 24 hours, the Globovision TV channel reported

    * Japan urges North Korea to provide full information on its nuclear activities to enable six-party agreements to be implemented, Kyodo news agency quoted a top government official as saying

    * India has begun talks with the United States on the purchase of P-8i long-range maritime reconnaissance patrol aircraft to replace Russian-made Tu-142M bombers, the Times of India said

    * An outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has been discovered in Tibet, southwest China, the Xinhua news agency said, citing the agriculture ministry

    * At least 25 people were killed and another 13 wounded after a bus in southwest China veered off a mountain road and tumbled into a valley, Xinhua news agency reported

    BUSINESS

    * Most Russian assets frozen in France following a claim by the Swiss trading firm Noga have been unblocked, the Finance Ministry said

    * French auto giant Peugeot Citroen signed an agreement to build a car plant in central Russia's Kaluga Region

    * Russian energy giant Gazprom will start developing one of Russia's largest oil and gas fields in the northeast this year, a regional leader said

    * Oil company Slavneft, ranked among Russia's top ten crude producers, recorded a 10% drop in oil production to 153.9 million bbl in 2007, year-on-year, the company website said

    * Russia's agricultural production increased 3.3% year-on-year in 2007, the country's top statistics body said

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