Putin and Berlusconi to visit Russian cruiser

President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi are to visit the Russian Moskva cruiser.

The cruiser Moskva, a flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, had sailed to Italian shores on August 27 with a group of battleships.

Putin and Berlusconi will also see a demonstration flight of the Russian Be-200 aircraft over Sardinia.

The Be-200 multi-purpose amphibious jet plane is the latest achievement of world hydroaviation and is the most perfect and effective of all the existing amphibious aircraft. It is to be used for transportation and passenger carriage, fire fighting, search and rescue, and environmental monitoring.

The Russian head of state will have an opportunity to see the plane in action. During his visit to the International aerospace show in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow on August 19 he examined the BE-200 plane, which had been built by an order from the Emergencies Ministry. Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu who accompanied Putin during that visit told the President about the plane's technical specifics.

The fire-fighting version of BE-200 was handed over to the Emergencies Ministry in summer. The ministry had ordered seven such planes.

Putin arrived in Sardinia on Friday. The two leaders spent a time at the La Certosa villa of the Italian Prime Minister. Apart from discussing matters related to bilateral cooperation, they considered a number of international issues.

The two leaders also issued a joint statement. "Russia and Italy are for a gradual going over, stage by stage, to a visa-free regime for mutual trips by citizens of the Russian Federation and the states of the European Union," the statement says.

In the evening Putin and Berlusconi watched a football match on TV between the Milan and Porto teams, which played in Monaco for the European Super Cup. The Italians won 1:0.

The Russian President supported the Milan team. He explained this by being a guest of the Italian Prime Minister who owned that team.

Sharing his impressions of the lunch with Berlusconi, Putin said the food was "simple, tasty and diverse."

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