Despite the criticism of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) by some mass media and analysts, one should admit that founded ten years ago the Commonwealth has played a stabilising role in conditions of the collapse of the Soviet Union and contributed to the formation of independent states and to the choice by them of their own way of development. The critics said that "the expectations of all the CIS countries in 1991 were very high. However not all of them have come true, which is quite natural." Apart from that, according to the critics, "at the initial stage, there was an obvious gap between the decisions taken and their fulfilment." Within the past two years, however, the situation has changed for the better. And the critics believe that at the present time the CIS have prospects and that "they are rather good." Not the last role in this process plays the tendency of increasing the importance of inter-state associations in the international arena. The priority task facing the Commonwealth, Moscow believes, is to turn the Commonwealth into such an organisation. One of the paths in this direction is to strengthen bilateral relations among the CIS countries, laying emphasis on "distinct pragmatism depending on the partner's steps to meet the other side half way." It is quite natural that Russia, as the largest CIS member territorially, has been allotted the leading role. "This is not our choice" - which is, according to the experts, was repeatedly underscored also by Russia's partners in the Commonwealth. For example Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma believes that "it would not be correct to say that the CIS is an instrument of pressure and is used by certain countries unilaterally." In the opinion of the leader of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the main task today for the CIS member-countries is not to lose mutual understanding which has been achieved by them during these last few years. According to him, now, having strengthened their independence, the CIS member-countries are interested in further developing integration processes within the framework of the Commonwealth.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia