Colonel General Valery Manilov, a member of the Russian Federation Council and the former First Deputy Chief of General Staff, believes that the Russia-NATO Council should be transformed so that 20 countries, including Russia, could jointly discuss security issues. Manilov made this statement on Thursday during a session of the bilateral working group "Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation - NATO Parliamentary Assembly." Manilov stressed that "the Russia-NATO joint standing council should be transformed." Nineteen countries were equal partners while one "was kept in reserve." Now, the General believes, all the 20 states should start "jointly evaluating the situation, making and implementing decisions." According to Manilov, such a scheme will only work when it is "based not on political statements, but on a compulsory international document, provided that NATO and Russian legislation are in compliance with it." The General stated that during the forthcoming negotiations with Russian officials on November 22-23, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson would be discussing "practical ways to implement the recent initiative of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to give a new shape to several aspects of Russia-NATO relations." According t! ! o Manilov, the first aspect is joint tactics and the monitoring of security situation. To quote Manilov, the second aspect of the British initiative is "the objective necessity to establish a method of making and carrying out joint evaluations and decisions." The General added that the international community had once defied Russian warnings that international terrorism was a major threat to humanity at present, and this led to tragic consequences."
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