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    A roundup of what has happened in the past 24 hours

    WORLD

    * The ratification of a new strategic arms reduction (START) treaty with Russia is a top priority of the Barack Obama's administration, a senior State Department official said

    * A Thai court extended the release on bail for Russian Grammy-winning pianist Mikhail Pletnev, who was recently accused of child sex abuse in Thailand

    RUSSIA

    * Six people were injured in Friday's blast in Grozny, the capital of the volatile Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, a spokesman for the regional Investigative Committee department said

    * The Russian energy giant Gazprom does not regard the Nabucco gas pipeline project as a rival to its own South Stream project, Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev said

    * Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered a total of 5 billion rubles ($165 million) to be disbursed from the federal budget to the central Russian areas worst affected by wildfires, his spokesman said

    * Nine bodies have been found in burnt-out houses in the southwest of Nizhny Novgorod Region following wildfires across central Russia, the Russian Emergencies Ministry reported

    * Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for the resignation of local government heads who have failed to cope with the deadly wildfires in central Russia

    * The head of the Russian presidential human rights council, Ella Pamfilova, who resigned early on Friday, proposed economist Alexander Auzan as her successor

    * Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in the wildfire ravaged region of Nizhny Novogorod to assess the situation

    DEFENSE

    * Two Russian Tu-95MS Bear-H strategic bombers have carried out a record-breaking 40-hour patrol over three oceans, an Air Force spokesman said

    BUSINESS

    * Russian railroad construction company Mosmetrostroy together with an Israeli partner has won a tender to construct a high-speed railroad between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, Israeli business daily Calcalist said

    * Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Monitoring will remove import restrictions on deliveries from six plants operated by Finnish dairy producer Valio from August 6, service spokesman Alexei Alekseyenko said

    *Russian energy company Inter RAO has posted a 2009 net loss of 282 million euros to IFRS, a sharp fall from the 86.9 million euros net profit of the previous year

    * Russia's Agriculture Ministry will soon start selling grain from its intervention fund to the regions which have suffered most from the ongoing drought, the head of the ministry's crop production and plant protection department said

    SPORTS

    * Russian athlete Svetlana Feofanova won gold in the women's pole jump event at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona

    * Russian runner Yuliya Zarudneva won gold in the 3,000 meter Women's Steeplechase Final at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona

    * Russian runners Tatyana Firova, Kseniya Ustalova, and Antonina Krivoshapka took all three medals in the 400 meter sprint event at the European athletics championships in Barcelona

    * A nationwide competition to find a mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, to be held in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, will kick off on September 1, organizers said

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