The United States is assisting Russia to cut the outside aid to Chechen militants, Alexander Vershbow, the US Ambassador to Russia, was quoted as saying. "We are doing our best to prevent the outside aid to Chechen rebels," the Ambassador stated. In particular, the United States is assisting Russia in issues concerning foreign mercenaries, primarily, Jordanian terrorist Khattab. The Ambassador also stated that the United States appreciated the recent Moscow meeting between Viktor Kazantsev, the Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy to the Southern Federal District, and Akhmed Zakayev. In addition, Vershbow said that last week, US President George W. Bush confirmed that the United States believed that such contacts were vitally important for the achievement of a political solution to the Chechen problem.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign