The Federation Council of the Russian Federation will be completely formed by the end of March 2002, Chairman of the Council Sergey Mironov declared at a press conference in Saint Petersburg today. According to him, a session will be held on January 16, during which changes to the statute and the structure of the parliament's upper house will be approved. 146 people are working in the Council now, and another 30 candidates will be chosen ver soon, Mironov was quoted as saying. In his opinion, previous activities of the Federation Council proved the efficiency of the Council's management structure, which consists of one chairman and four deputies instead of seven as was planned earlier. Mironov said that the main aim of the Federation Council for 2002 was to increase legislative initiative of this state institution as a whole an in particular its members. "None of bills submitted to the Federation Council will be approved automatically," the official mentioned.
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