* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he expected the new U.S. administration to be more successful that the previous one in resolving Afghanistan's problems
* The Russian Navy rejected media reports that the Baltic Fleet's Neustrashimy missile frigate is in an unsatisfactory technical condition, a Navy spokesman, Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, said
* Uzbekistan is ready to sell Russia up to 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas this year, the country's president, Islam Karimov, said
* Russian energy giant Gazprom denied media reports that it may reconsider its gas deal with Ukraine signed earlier in the week, the company's CEO, Alexei Miller, said
* Ukraine will honor its gas agreements with Russia signed in Moscow on January 19, a deputy chief of the Ukrainian president's office, Oleksandr Shlapak, said
* Russian industrial production grew by a mere 2.1% in 2008 against the forecast of 4.7%, and fell 10.3% year-on-year in December 2008, the Federal Statistics Service said
* Russia's benchmark dollar-denominated RTS index fell to a six-year low of 498.77 points, down 3.36% on the previous day's close, stock exchange reports said
* Overcoming the "contradictions of the system" in the United States will be the most serious challenge for the new U.S. President Barack Obama, the former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said
* North Korean leader Kim Jong-il met with Chinese communist party official Wang Jiarui in the capital Pyongyang, China's Xinhua news agency said
* The presidents of Venezuela and Argentina, Hugo Chavez and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, have signed a host of bilateral cooperation agreements in the energy, industrial, agricultural, and health spheres during an official visit, Argentine press reported
* Japan successfully launched a satellite that will monitor greenhouse gases as part of global efforts to understand climate change, Japan's space agency said
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