Main News of February 11


* At least thirteen people were killed and dozens wounded as an explosion rocked a Turkish customs gate on the border with Syria on Monday, media cited the Turkish government as saying


* Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed six generals and one colonel from the Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), following a minor scandal that unfolded last week

* The Russian government has challenged the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that there were procedural violations in the trial of former Yukos security chief Alexei Pichugin, who was sentenced to life in prison on murder charges, his lawyer Ksenia Kostromina said

* A Progress M-18M cargo spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur site in Kazakhstan and put into orbit on Monday, a spokesman for the Russian mission control center said

* Russia began a temporary ban on US beef and pork imports over what it says is a failure by the US food safety watchdog to guarantee that these shipments are free of the feed additive ractopamine

* The death toll in the gas blast at a coal mine in Russia’s northern republic of Komi has risen to 18, the republic’s Interior Ministry said


* Pope Benedict XVI is to step down as head of the Catholic Church on February 28 due to old age and failing health, Vatican Radio reported


* Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to award European Space Agency (ESA) astronauts Andre Kuipers (the Netherlands) and Roberto Vittori (Italy) the Order of Friendship and the Medal “For Merit in Space Exploration,” accordingly

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