On January 28, 2003 the representatives of AvtoVAZ, Ruspromvto (the company controlling GAZ) Severstal Auto (controlling UAZ) and KamAZ signed an agreement about the establishment of the Union of Russian Automobile Producers. If automakers' chiefs succeed in reaching common ground on regular joint actions, a strong industrial lobbyist organization may appear in Russia. Until recently lobbyist efforts of Russian automakers have been piecemeal and patchy, but have born results. The greatest victory of the Russian automobile industry was last year's introduction of a prohibitive import duty for foreign cars older than 7 years. To persuade the government of the necessity of this decision, it took automakers nearly a year.
According to different estimates, around 470,000 used foreign cars arrived in Russia last year. Despite increased duties, the demand for Russian cars was at a standstill. From now on, Russian automakers are resolute to take more aggressive steps. The new union will work on a permanent basis: the President and the Board of this newly established institution are expected to be elected soon. As Severstal-Auto CEO Vadim Shvetsov said, within the framework of the new union, automakers are planning to discuss all "new initiatives aimed at reforming the industry". Additionally, according to the Severstal-Auto chief, the "platform" of the automakers' union will serve as a place for dialogue with part suppliers, the Izvestia newspaper reported.
Two ballistic missiles attacked the US Navy destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) from the territory of Yemen. The destroyer came to the aid of the hijacked Central Park tanker of Zodiac Maritime