The Kremlin has announced the schedule of the President's international contacts till the end of 2001. On Monday, December 10, Vladimir Putin is to meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell, deputy head of the presidential administration Sergei Prikhodko told RIA Novosti. On December 14, Russian and Ukrainian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma will attend a meeting of Russian and Ukrainian businessmen in Kharkov. In late December, new Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller is due to visit Moscow and to meet Vladimir Putin as part of preparations for Putin's coming visit to Poland in January 2002, Prikhodko said. In accordance with the preliminary agreement, Vladimir Putin is expected to pay a working visit to Great Britain in the last ten days of December, Prikhodko noted. In addition, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko intend to hold a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Russia-Belarus Union, the Kremlin spokesman said. Prikhodko also reported about preparations underway for Azeri President Geidar Aliyev's visit to Russia in late January 2002.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building