"Russia plays a crucial role in maintaining peace and security in Europe," said Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio during the Russian-Portuguese full-scale negotiations in Moscow. The Portuguese head of state noted that it was his country's consistent policy to support the Russia-EU relations. He stressed that the current situation in international politics should be used "not to attain short-term goals, but to open a new stage of strategic partnership between Russia and the European Union, Russia and NATO." According to Sampaio, the success that can be achieved in these spheres is significant for the future of Europe. Sampaio also noted that Portugal was looking forward to its coming OSCE chairmanship. He said that his country was going to implement the "platform of collective security in Europe." Sampaio pointed out that the visit by Putin to Portugal due to take place next year would be a good sign for the Portuguese OSCE chairmanship." Portugal, Sampaio said, strongly advocates Russia's participation in all international organizations, including the WTO. The current Portuguese delegation includes a lot of businessmen with the Economy Minister, and 40 "most active and influential Portuguese entrepreneurs".
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