Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, at a meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Independent States timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the CIS, named major problems facing CIS members and expressed hope that some of these problems will be solved in the near future. Over the last decade, Kasyanov said, trade between CIS countries has decreased by over 60 percent, which has caused changes in its structure. The share of fuel and raw materials in this trade has increased by four times to reach almost 50 percent, while the share of finished goods and equipment has decreased. Another important problem named by the prime minister is the depreciation of fixed assets inherited by CIS countries from the ex-U.S.S.R. The average salary in the CIS does not exceed $100 a month, which is considered in the world as a point just above poverty. Kasyanov pointed out that insufficient efforts by all the member states have actually resulted in the CIS turning into a ground for drug-trafficking. The Commonwealth members have not yet learned to fully implement decisions made, although they tried to demonstrate concerted action, the prime minister said.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election