As addressing journalists following an audience with the Pontiff, Sergei Mironov, speaker of the Russian Federation Council, said the Head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, had confirmed his intention to return the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan to Russia.
The head of the upper house of Russian parliament said "the Pope said he wished to return the object of worship back to the country." Mironov also stressed that the State Secretary of the Vatican who attended the audience indicated that there were no contradictions between Russia and the Vatican. Mironov quoted the Secretary as saying that "the prior incidents have been settled and there are no grounds for new concerns." The Federation Council Speaker added that the principle and clear-cut "stand of the Pope in regard with the Iraqi problem" was especially conducive to rapprochement of Russia and the Vatican's positions. Mironov said "the Iraqi theme was central at the meeting and I expressed gratitude to the Pontiff for his repeated statements urging cease fire in Iraq." In his opinion, the Vatican's position on Iraq was undoubtedly influencing the opinion of all Catholics in the world as the Vatican "is the centre of the Catholic world." He exchanged presents with the Pontiff. The Russian senator presented Pope John Paul II a dish with the picture of the Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow while the Pope, in his turn, gave Mironov a book about the Vatican and a medallion.
After it turned out that Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov included the Fonbet betting company in the list of backbone enterprises that can count on state support, everyone started talking about these bookmakers.