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    The Russian Information Agency Novosti begins Hotline coverage for Thursday, January 1, 2004.

    RIA Novosti correspondents report:

    MOSCOW. January 1 is the last day when the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation accepts documents from self-nominated presidential candidates. Staff officers are on duty in the Central Election Commission on this day.

    BRUSSELS. Ex-Foreign Minister of Holland, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer will assume the office of NATO Secretary General, replacing George Robertson on the post.

    CLERMONT-FERRAND (FRANCE). The many-day international rally Telephonica-Dakar (Paris-Dakar) starts for the 26th time. About 350 crews and pilots in trucks, cars and motorcycles will be taking part in one of the most prestigious races. Russia will be represented by three KAMAZ trucks. The rally participants will have to cover around 11,000 kilometers. The European part of the route will pass via France and Spain, and the main part of the rally - via cross-country terrain on the territory of Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal. The finish is to take place January 18 in Dakar.

    RIA Novosti holds a full copyright for all its published materials. Upon any republication of RIA Novosti materials reference to RIA Novosti is mandatory.

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