Preparations for Russia's ratifying the European Social Charter will take three years, Russian Labour and Social Development Minister Alexander Pochinok assumes. As part of a large-scale programme of consultations and negotiations related to the ratification of the Charter, Herbert Haupt, the Austrian Social Affairs Minister, is making a visit to Russia, the Russian Labour Minister said at a Tuesday press conference. The Russian minister and his Austrian counterpart exchanged the experience in adapting the national legislation to European standards. Once party to the Charter, Russia will assume a number of commitments. In particular, higher social standards will be introduced which will require considerably more budgetary means for social purposes, Pochinok noted. Serious amendments should be made to legislative acts, and relevant work is underway: pension and labour legislation reforms have been launched, and there are plans to reform the system of social and health care insurance, he stressed. During Haupt's visit, a ceremony was held to award the founder of the movement for setting up "children's villages" in Russia, Yelena Bruskova, with the Golden Order of the Austrian Republic.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea