Interviewed live Monday by Mayak-24 radio station, Alexander Veshnyakov, chairman of the central electoral commission said Russian Duma and presidential elections are not to coincide. "We have made a thorough analysis not only within the framework of the central electoral commission but through consultations with other state institutions and experts in the field of constitutional law. Our conclusion is that any attempt at combining these two events will mean a breach of the Duma deputies' constitutional powers," said Alexander Veshnyakov. Under the Russian Constitution, elections to the State Duma will take place in December, 2003 while presidential elections in March 2004. If a new bill on elections is regarded by the State Duma in the third reading on May 17-22 and passed by the Federation Council on May 29, the law, on being signed by the president, will come in force in the first half of June.
Negotiations are underway on the use of airfields in Cuba, Venezuela and Algeria. South Africa, Syria and Egypt are likely to join the list