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    The Russian Information Agency Novosti begins Hotline coverage for Tuesday, February 17th, 2004.

    MOSCOW

    * Vladimir Yakovlev, federal Deputy Prime Minister, is addressing a news conference on, "Mortgaging Developmental Prospects in the Context of Housing and Municipal Economic Reforms".

    * Igor Ivanov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, meets at the negotiating table with Solomon Pasi, his Bulgarian counterpart and acting president of the OSCE, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    * A delegation of Czechia's Senate is starting an official visit to Russia, to last into February 21. Senate President Peter Pitgart is leading the delegation. Tomorrow, the delegates will meet with Speaker Boris Gryzlov of the State Duma, parliament's lower house, 12.30, and Igor Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 15.00.

    * Sergei Shoigu, Minister for Emergency and Calamity Relief (Emercom), is addressing the media at the press centre of the daily, Moskovsky Komsomolets.

    * The Federation Council, parliament's upper house, is holding a session of its ruling council to debate prospective amendments of the spring session agenda.

    * The State Duma Council is gathering for session, 10.00.

    * Supporters of the political party, United Russia are having an enlarged-attendance session of their Central Coordination Council. They intend to issue a public appeal to promote incumbent President Vladimir Putin in a federal presidential election of March 14.

    * A Public Council of presidential hopeful Irina Hakamada's promoters is gathering for a maiden session.

    * The Open Forum club is holding session on, "The Terrorist Factor and Political Developments in Russia: Global Challenges and Their Social and Political Aspects".

    * Normans Penke, Latvian Ambassador to Russia, is addressing a news conference on, "Educational Reform in Latvia".

    * RIA Novosti hosts a news conference on, "The Insolvency/Bankruptcy Law: A Year in Action. Achievements and Prospects. Corporate Financial Improvement on the Bankruptcy Procedure". Evgeni Primakov, President of the federal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will be prominent among the participants.

    * Alexander Nozdrachev, Director General of the Russian Agency for Conventional Arms, is addressing a news conference on, "R&D and Manufacture of Pioneer Precision-Homing Weaponry. Prospects for Major Industrial Holdings on the Basis of Companies under the Russian Agency for Conventional Arms".

    * Yuri Koptev, Director General of the Russian Aerospace Agency, is addressing a news conference on implementing a project for Souyz space rockets, of Russian design and manufacture, to be launched from the Kourou space centre, French Guyana.

    * The Komsomolskaya Pravda publishing centre is hosting two news conferences:

    * - Pavel Krasheninnikov, Stage Duma legislative committee head, on, "The Necessity to Toughen Criminal Punishment for Terrorist Activities", noon;

    * - "Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation vs. Svyatoslav Roerich's Will and Testament". Taking part are Ambassador Yuri Vorontsov, President of the International Roerich Centre and special envoy of the United Nations Secretary General; Ludmilla Shaposhnikova, Vice-President of the International Roerich Centre and Svyatoslav Roerich Museum Director General, and others. 13.00.

    * Cardinal Walter Casper, President of the Papal Council for Christian Unity, is arriving in Moscow on invitation of the Conference of Russia's Roman Catholic Bishops. His Eminence will meet with top-notch hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and with members of the Roman Catholic community in Russia.

    ASTANA

    * Mayor Valentina Matvienko of St. Petersburg is arriving in Kazakhstan. Her visit schedule envisages conferences with Prime Minister Danial Ahmetov; Adilbek Jaksybekov, Minister of Industry and Trade; and Mayor Timur Dosmukhanbetov of Astana. Timed to Miss Matvienko's visit will be a business forum of Astana's and St. Petersburg's entrepreneurs. The visitor is expected to fly from Astana to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Wednesday morning.

    GENEVA

    * Spokesmen of the group of the UN Secretary General's friend countries for Abkhaz settlement are opening their third conference on the United Nations' Geneva headquarters. The group represents Russia, Germany, France, the USA and the UK. The conflicting parties' spokesmen are expected to appear. The conferees will hear a communication by Heidi Taliavini, UN Secretary General's special envoy, on developments in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone.

    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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