* Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russian president on Monday in a glittering Kremlin ceremony that took place less than 24 hours after protesters opposed to his rule had battled police in downtown Moscow.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday urged the Foreign Ministry to stick to the provisions of the new Russia-U.S. Start treaty and push for guaranties that the U.S. missile shield in Europe will not be aimed against national nuclear facilities
* Polling stations opened across Syria on Monday for the country’s first multi-party parliamentary elections in half a century amid reports of ongoing violence that has jeopardized the UN-backed peace plan designed to end the 14-month bloody conflict
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New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.