Main News of December 14


* US President Barack Obama  signed into law the Magnitsky Act, a bill punishing Russian officials for alleged human rights violations that US lawmakers attached to a landmark trade bill normalizing trade relations with Moscow

* Iran has denied again a request by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to allow its experts to visit a suspected Iranian nuclear site, Iranian media reported

* Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev instructed his government to start preparation for transferring the national language to the Latin script by 2025

* The World Bank has approved a $82 million loan for Uzbekistan to finance improvements in the public water supply services, the World Bank’s Uzbek office said

* The United States said Friday it will send troops and missiles to its NATO ally Turkey in response to alleged security threats from Syria

* European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels stressed the need to support the coalition of opposition groups in Syria in the “most effective way”

* Human rights organization Amnesty International welcomed the conviction of the killer of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and called on Russian prosecutors “not to rest” until the masterminds of the killing are brought to justice


* The lower house of the Russian parliament gave preliminary approval to a draft law penalizing US nationals involved in violating the rights of Russian citizens, touted as Moscow’s response to the Magnitsky Act

* Russia and Georgia have a chance to normalize bilateral ties which have been extremely strained since the two countries fought a brief war in August 2008, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said

* Russian whistleblower and opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg were accused of defrauding an unspecified firm of 55 million rubles ($1.8 million) in phony shipping charges

* Russian opposition activists have officially recalled their request to hold a rally in downtown Moscow, but thousands of people are still expected to show up despite police warnings

* The Russian Foreign Ministry downplayed earlier comments made by the ministry’s deputy head in which he suggested that the Syrian opposition could win the civil war raging in the country

* Russia plans to join the inquest into the 2006 death of ex-Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko in London, Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed

* Three suspected militants have been shot dead in a shootout with police in the volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, regional law enforcement authorities reported

* A Washington-based political advocacy group, the International Republican Institute (IRI), said it was ordered to leave Russia because it is funded by a US government agency

* Russia will inaugurate a research center dedicated to the study of the so-called “killer waves” – a mysterious natural phenomenon that has drawn attention of scientists around the world in the past few years

* Russia may develop a non-nuclear precision-guided payload capability for its new hundred-ton class liquid-fueled ICBM if need be, Strategic Missile Forces (RSVN) Commander Col. Gen. Sergei Karakayev said

* Russia’s troubled Yamal-402 satellite should reach its designated geostationary orbit on Saturday when it uses its engine for the fourth time, Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) company said

* Russia’s Strategic Missile Force (RSVN) plans to test-fire 11 intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2013, after firing only five this year, its commander said

* Parole hearings for jailed Yukos executive Platon Lebedev deteriorated into a legal stalemate on Friday, when Arkhangelsk Region Court ordered a third trial in the case

* A Moscow court sentenced a former police officer to 11 years in prison for his role in the 2006 killing of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya

* In a quirky mixture of the transcendental and the administrative, a prestigious college in Moscow commissioned a prayer service to protect it from reputational problems, including placement on Russia’s notorious “list of inefficient colleges”


* Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored as Russia came back from a goal down to beat Sweden 5-1 in the opening match of the Euro Hockey Tour’s Russian stage

* Former world junior champion race walker Tatiana Mineeva has been given a two-year ban for a breach of anti-doping rules, the All-Russian Athletics Federation said

* Russia’s BC Khimki has secured a favorable draw for the Euroleague playoffs after a tense 78-77 win over Greece’s Panathinaikos

* Russia is building costly new stadiums for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 football World Cup without planning what to do with them afterwards, International Olympic Committee member Alexander Smirnov said

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