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    RUSSIAN LANGUAGE CONTEST IN KAZAKHSTAN

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    MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) - The 2003 Russian language and literature contest among Kazakhstan's schoolchildren showed the necessity to preserve a common cultural and educational space in the CIS countries, said an official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Yakovenko.

    "The contest participants pointed out to the everlasting importance to preserve a common cultural and educational space in the CIS countries, with the fundamental role of the Russian language," Yakovenko noted.

    According to him, "Russia expressed sincere gratitude for permanent assistance to compatriots in Kazakhstan in different spheres." "The following events are of particular importance: the delivery of Russian textbooks for schools [the Russian embassy and consulate in Uralsk delivered over 40 tons of textbooks in the last two months] and the planned opening of the Russian language courses in several Kazakh towns," said the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    "Russia is taking active efforts to maintain relations with compatriots in educational, cultural and other important spheres and the protection of their rights and interests," Alexander Yakovenko concluded.

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