Moscow's State Kremlin Palace is getting ready to host a constituent congress of the all-Russia centrist party Yedinstvo and Otechestvo /Unity and Fatherland/, which was scheduled for Saturday. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend. As many as 3,000 congress delegates representing the branches of the party Yedinstvo and movements Otechestvo and All Russia from all members of the Russian Federation will transform the Union of Yedinstvo and Otechestvo into a single political party, adopt a program and Statute of the party, and elect its directing bodies, including a Higher Council. The idea of merging the two centrist organisations was first mentioned by Sergei Shoigu and Yuri Luzhkov, the leaders of Yedinstvo and Otechestvo, in April 2001. In July, they formed a Union of Yedinstvo and Otechestvo, which was joined by the movement All Russia in October. Shoigu and Luzhkov later said that uniting wasn't easy but they managed to overcome all the differences. It is generally assumed that after its registration, Yedinaya Rossiya /United Russia, the contemplated name of the new organisation/ will number around 500,000 members, which will make it the country's largest political party. Initiators of the union point out that the ideology of their party will be based on a slogan "Freedom, Justice, Law, Conciliation," that the new organisation will be supporting President Putin's reforms in every way possible and taking part in elections at all levels, in 2003 elections to the State Duma /the Russian parliament's lower house/ in the first place.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia