Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov plans to meet with parliamentarygroup leaders before the 2003 budget draft is given its first reading. TheGovernment Information Department reported that Kasyanov made a respectivestatement at a meeting with the key ministers and deputy prime ministersdevoted to the preparations for the debates on the country's main financialdocument in the lower house of parliament. As it was reported earlier, thebudget draft would be given its first reading on September 25. During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrinreported that the amount of unpaid salaries owed to civil servants by theregional budgets had been reduced from RUR3.2bn ($101.23m) to RUR950m($30.05m) in the past month. This reduction has become possible due tofinancial aid provided by the federal government. It was pointed out at themeeting that the salary arrears in the educational sector had beendecreased by RUR80m ($2.53m). Kasyanov told Deputy Prime Ministers Kudrinand Matviyenko to tighten control of the situation with the repayment ofwage arrears. .
Representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation commented on the state of affairs in the Sea of Azov
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club that Russia will never initiate military actions, including with the use of nuclear weapons