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* Khodorkovsky release marks Putin confidence, Olympic gesture
MOSCOW, Dec 19 - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he would soon pardon jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who still has eight months left to serve of a more than 10-year jail sentence.
KIEV, Dec 19 - Ukraine expects economic growth of 3 percent in 2014, a draft budget showed on Thursday, days after Russia offered a $15 billion lifeline to help revive its smaller neighbour's economy and keep the country in its orbit.
SAO PAULO, Dec 19 - Brazil's central bank lowered on Thursday the estimate for the expansion of bank lending in the country this year to 14 percent from a prior 15 percent.