The Russian Foreign Ministry did its best to defend the interests of Russian businessmen in other countries of the world throughout the 2001 period, regarding this as a top-priority task. This was disclosed here today by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. According to Ivanov, Russian businessmen continue to return to foreign markets, gradually restoring their lost positions. The Russian Foreign Ministry is also called on to defend the rights and interests of Russian citizens and compatriots elsewhere; this, too, constitutes its most important objective. Moscow hosted a congress of compatriots not so long ago; that congress highlights positive changes in this field, as well, Ivanov noted. Still this is only the beginning, Ivanov went on to say. We'll be attaching priority to this issue in the future, he stressed. Regardless of where he or she is staying, any Russian citizen must know for sure that we are always ready to help, Ivanov said in conclusion.