Main News of February 28


* The main post in Vatican is vacant as of 8:00 p.m. local time (19:00 GMT), after Pope Benedict XVI left the Apostolic Palace on Thursday, heading for the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo

* The Venezuelan Embassy in Russia denied media reports that President Hugo Chavez had been brain-dead since December and was recently disconnected from life-supporting equipment

* The US will send the Syrian opposition an additional $60 million and for the first time, provide rebel forces with direct aid meant to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, US Secretary of State John Kerry said

* Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said he will no use the presidential security detail, including its vehicles, the presidential administration said, following a row with the prime minister over appointments in the service


* Russian-French trade turnover may exceed the 2011 level of $28.1 billion in the foreseeable future, Russian President Vladimir Putin said

* A Russian nationalist activist walked free from a St. Petersburg court after he was given a two and a half year suspended sentence after spending over a year behind bars awaiting trial

* Russian justice officials seem to have displayed too much zeal this month, tossing a Kremlin statement into the state registry of extremist materials and stirring up criticism that some of the government’s anti-extremism efforts are misguided and ineffective

* Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FCIN) said it had uncovered fraudulent financial operations inside the organization which have cost it over 10 billion rubles (some $327 mln)


* Russian-British oil venture TNK-BP International saw its 2012 IFRS net profit fall 13 percent year-on-year to $7.584 billion, the company said in a report

* Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has sold his 7.4 percent stake in internet company Mail.Ru for $532 million, bookrunner Morgan Stanley said

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