On Thursday, the Russian president embarks on an eight-day tour around Siberia and the far East.
According to a source in the presidential administration, Vladimir Putin will visit Vladivostok, Chita, Novokuznetsk, and Kazan.
Stopping in Vladivostok for five days, the president will chair several conferences, meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and pay visits to the base of the Pacific Fleet and to the Institute of Oceanology.
The first conference will be dedicated to the social and economic development of the Far Eastern Federal District.
When he had only established the system of Federal Districts and Presidential Plenipotentiaries, the President held such conferences in each of the seven Districts. A year on, he held similar conferences in the Southern, Northwestern and Volga Federal Districts. According to the source in the presidential administration, Putin has decided to revive the tradition of holding such conferences.
Among the officials that will attend the conference are governors of the regions that make up the Far Eastern Federal Districts, Vice Premier Viktor Khristenko, ministers of transport, communications and energy, the head of RAO Unified Energy Systems, as well as the chairmen of the State Fisheries Committee and the State Construction Committee. The conference will focus its attention on developing the infrastructure of the Federal District.
On the following day, the President will have a meeting with sailors and the top brass of the Russian Pacific Fleet. He will also hold a conference with the top brass and pay visits to men-of-war. Later on, he will attend the burial of the relics of Admiral of the Fleet Fyodor Ushakov, a distinguished figure of the 18th century. Similar ceremonies have already taken place in the Black Sea and Northern fleets.
The President is also expected to visit a sea reserve situated south of Vladivostok to meet with oceanologists.
Leaving Vladivostok on August 28th, Putin will move on to the Chita region, Eastern Siberia. He will spend there several hours discussing the military reform with the defence minister and the top brass of the Siberian Federal District. He will also have a brief tour of the district's military training center and a meeting with the Governor of Chita.
On the same day, Putin will fly to Novokuznetsk, a city in the Kemerovo region, Southern Siberia, and on to the town of Mezhdurechensk to visit a coal mine called Raspadskaya and talk to miners.
He will then chair a conference of the Presidium of the State Council in the building of the mine's administration. The conference, which will gather members of the Presidium and the government, will be dedicated to developing Russia's coal industry and is likely to end with Putin giving instructions to the government how to adjust the energy strategy so as to change the volumes of coal and gas used by power plants /it is expected that the coal volume will be increased/.
On the evening of the same day, Putin will leave for the Tatar capital Kazan, the Volga area, to meet with the leaders of delegations participating in the Third Convention of the World Congress of Tatars. He will also chair a session on preparations to the Millennium of Kazan.
Russia's Ambassador to Belarus, Mikhail Babich, said that Moscow would treat any military intervention in the affairs of Belarus as an attack on Russia