Main News of February 21



* Belarus’ total foreign debt may exceed the safety threshold of 55 percent of GDP in 2013, if the government continues its policy of massive state support to its enterprises, Economics Minister Nikolai Snopkov said in a report.

* The Israeli government has issued the first license to explore for oil on the Golan Heights, the plateau in south-western Syria captured and annexed by Israel, the license holder Genie Energy said.

* Workers at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site are wrapping up the cleanup of the area affected by a recent partial roof collapse, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) press service said on its website.

* A Syrian bomb squad defused a car bomb in central Damascus that was supposed to have been detonated next to the scene of a powerful explosion that killed at least 40 people earlier in the day, an eyewitness said.

* Israeli President Shimon Peres received an unusual early birthday present in the form of a larger-than-life portrait etched in a wheat field, the presidential press service said.




* Russia vowed to bring to trial American citizens it alleges have evaded punishment for “serious crimes” against Russian adoptees, the country’s chief investigator said.

* No one should be immune to prosecution for corruption, including high-ranking officials and lawmakers, Kremlin administration chief Sergei Ivanov said.

* The ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) has submitted a bill imposing fines of up to 50,000 rubles (about $1,700) on officials for using foreign words that have Russian equivalents in public, the State Duma press service said.

* The estimated cost of fraud from the illegal sale of Russian Defense Ministry property in the Oboronservis case has risen to over 13 billion rubles ($433 mln), Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin said.

* Celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov House began in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, where the last Russian emperor and his family were executed in 1917, the press service of the local eparchy said.

* Police in south Russia detained a man suspected of ordering the murder of a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party.




* The Russian Navy’s Udaloy I class anti-submarine destroyer Severomorsk will take part in a NATO anti-piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden, Navy spokesman Capt. First Rank Vadim Serga said.



* A delegation from Russia’s consumer watchdog may start inspections of Georgian winemakers and mineral water producers on February 25, Russia’s chief sanitary official said.

* Russian leasing company Ilyushin Finance Co. (IFC) has signed a $2.56 billion deal with Canadian airplane manufacturer Bombardier to buy 32 CS-300 medium-haul aircraft, Bombardier said.

* State-run VTB Bank, Russia’s second largest lender by assets, is ready to grant a $1 billion loan to Rosatom civilian nuclear power corporation to build Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant, VTB Management Board Member Valery Lukyanenko said.

* A new gold deposit has been discovered Russia’s Siberian republic of Yakutia, the region’s economics ministry said.




* Vancouver Olympic cross country sprint champions Marit Bjorgen and Nikita Kriukov won their respective events at the world championships in Italy.

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