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    Main news of December 18

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    RUSSIA

    * Russia's Foreign Ministry condemned on Thursday the acquittal in a U.S. court of Miles Harrison over the death of his adopted Russian-born son, and said it would demand a review of the verdict

    * Foreign intelligence services continue to try to obtain classified information on the Sevmash shipyard in Russia's northern Arkhangelsk Region, a senior FSB official said

    * Gazprom may halt natural gas supplies to Ukraine from the start of next year over the country's failure to repay a more than $2 billion gas debt, a spokesman for the Russian energy giant said

    * Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers prevented 97 terrorist attacks in 2008 and killed 200 militants and gang leaders, the FSB director said

    * Legislators in the Kirov Region in northeast European Russia approved Nikita Belykh, the ex-leader of a Russian opposition party, as governor

    * An investigation has been launched into twin blasts in the Republic of Daghestan in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region that left five police officers injured, a local police source said

    WORLD

    * North Korea said on Thursday it had arrested a spy who attempted to kill leader Kim Jong-il on orders from South Korea's intelligence agency

    * Russia and Nicaragua concluded several bilateral agreements after talks between presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Daniel Ortega in Moscow on Thursday

    * Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said on Thursday that he entirely supported Russia's position on South Ossetia and Abkhazia and planned to visit the disputed Georgian republics in the near future

    * The United Nations has suspended the distribution of humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, a UN spokesman in the Gaza Strip said

    * The Indian Navy successfully launched a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on Thursday from a mobile platform in the Bay of Bengal

    * Latin American and Caribbean leaders have called on U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to lift Washington's economic blockade of Cuba

    * The death toll from Zimbabwe's worst cholera epidemic in decades has soared to more than 1,100, the United Nations said in a statement

    * The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) favors cooperation with other international organizations, particularly NATO, the head of the post-Soviet military alliance said

    * Ukraine has already paid $800 million of its debt to Russia for natural gas supplies, and will pay another $200 million soon, President Viktor Yushchenko said

    * Online games inspired by the Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at U.S. President George Bush in Baghdad have taken the Internet by storm

    * The Kyrgyz authorities have not yet even considered closing a U.S. air base, a source in the republic's presidential administration said

    BUSINESS

    * Russia's international reserves stood at $435.4 billion as of December 12, down $1.6 billion against $437 billion on December 5, the Central Bank said

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