Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov will visit Rio de Janeiro on Thursday where he will meet with local business community. Speaking Wednesday at a press conference in Brazilia, the capital of the country, Kasyanov pointed out that his visit is the first ever visit of the Russian prime minister not only to that country but also to the entire South-American continent. It is not fortuitous, according to him, that the visit began in Brazil, which is one of the four countries with which Russia has formed a high-level commission headed by the two countries' premiers. According to Kasyanov, Russia is looking forward to the Brazilian president's visit in the company of entrepreneurs, scheduled for the beginning of 2002. In April-May 2002 the Brazilian defence minister is expected to arrive in Moscow. In the course of his Brazilian visit, Mikhail Kasyanov signed on Wednesday a programme of cooperation between the Russian atomic energy ministry and the Brazilian national commission on atomic energy in peaceful use of atomic energy in 2001-2003. In addition, the sides signed an inter-governmental agreement on mutual assistance, prevention and investigation of customs crimes, cooperation in the sphere of competitive policy which also stipulates the exchange of information in the field of competitive law, and an agreement on cooperation in the field of tourism, for the development of which the necessary juridical basis will be created, above all. The sides also signed an agreement on cooperation between the Russian Vneshekonombank and the Bank of Brazil.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea