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MANEGE RISES FROM ASHES AS FINE GIFT FOR HERITAGE DAY, SAYS MOSCOW MAYOR

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MOSCOW, April 18 (RIA Novosti) - The Manege, Moscow's principal exposition hall, has risen from the ashes to re-open today. It comes as the best-possible gift to Muscovites on Historical Heritage Day-April 18 celebration, says Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

"This was a great job, and it shows how precious we hold our national history," he remarked at the opening gala to highlight symbolical dates connected with the Manege. Its construction finished in 1817, when Russia was celebrating the fifth anniversary of victory in the Napoleonic War of 1812. Now that the Manege has risen as Phoenix, Russia is celebrating the 60th anniversary of victory in World War II.

The mayor heartily thanked all engaged in the reconstruction, with the warmest gratitude to building experts and workers, historians and all others who were helping to preserve the true outlook of the landmark edifice. "It was our heart's desire to bring the Manege back to Moscow, Russia and its nation," Mr. Luzhkov rounded off his address.

A conflagration devoured the Manege late at night April 14, 2004. Fire experts qualified it as top-destructive. The flame consumed an area exceeding 2,000 square meters. There was no chance to save the building. Two firemen died that night, and another two were injured.

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