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    RUSSIAN MASS MEDIA TO BECOME TRULY INDEPENDENT, PRESS MINISTER SAYS

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    MOSCOW, January 13, 2004 (RIA Novosti) -- Russian Press Minister Mikhail Lesin congratulated Russian journalists on their professional holiday, Russian Press Day.

    "This event unites people of various professions: journalists, editors, publishers, printers, and distributors. Their generous labor ensures one of the citizens' main rights - freedom of speech," the minister's congratulatory message says.

    "The importance of our work is not only to give people unbiased information," the minister said. "We are building a single information environment for the country and uniting society.

    "Today, the industry is ever more intensively participating in the process of self-perfection and self-organization, the issue of economic freedom and independence of publishing houses and publications is becoming more topical, and this year will not be easy. We will conduct important reforms, in particular in the printing industry. I am sure that these processes will lead to genuine independence of mass media."

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