The chairman of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, Gennady Seleznyov, has come out in support of fortifying the peaceful process in Afghanistan. Journalists asked Mr. Seleznyov to comment on the framework agreement on the formation of a provisional government in Afghanistan, which was signed in Bonn. The Duma speaker expressed his desire that the agreement, which would be in effect over six months, was mandatory, and that "all the world feel that the government is able to function." Mr. Seleznyov believes that the question of the countries, which will deploy peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan, will be posed in the near future. In his opinion, "the need for the presence of international troops in Afghanistan is indisputable." "It will be good if 'blue helmets' include as many representatives from Muslim countries as possible, as this will help in cooperating with the local population," the Duma chairman said. Mr. Seleznyov gave his approval to the Russian hospital in Afghanistan and assured that "this noble and humane mission will be properly recognised."
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