The top priorities of 2002 law-making were outlined by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leadership of the parliamentary group Federation of the upper parliamentary chamber, the Federation Council, Tuesday. Valeri Goreglyad, Federation group leader, said this to reporters following the Kremlin meeting. He said that in question were the pension, judicial and land-turnover reforms. Goreglyad said the president "has backed the group's initiatives on foreign-policies". Mikhail Margelov, also of the Federation group, told reporters that the head of state received a detailed report on the activities of the joint ad hoc group of the US Senate and the Russian Federation Council. Margelov believes this cooperation to be "extremely important" in the light of arrangements for a summit meeting of the Russian and American presidents. The joint group is handling such matters as rejection of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and some other American legislative acts, which are a cold-war heritage denigrating Russia's status, according to Margelov. Margelov noted that "the president oriented us towards what the Federation Council can do in the sphere of international activities". He views the role of the Federation Council as something "representing Russia's positive image abroad".
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea