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    THE 15TH CHARITY WAR AND PEACE BALL IN LONDON

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    LONDON, February 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Smotrov) - The 15th charity War and Peace ball will take place in London on Thursday.

    The founder and the organiser of the ball, Count Andrei Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, a direct heir of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, said that "It is a jubilee ball. It has always been known for its inimical atmosphere. Everybody knows that it is not simply another ball, but it is an absolutely peculiar event," noted the count. This year it has been timed to the 175th anniversary of the birth of Leo Tolstoi which was marked several months ago.

    More than 400 guests have been invited to the War and Peace ball; they include representatives of the Russian nobility, whose names are well-known in the history of the country, such as the Obolenskys, Golitsyns, Naryshkins and Trubetskoys.

    The guests in evening gowns and suits, which copy the dresses of the beginning of the 19th century, will find themselves in the atmosphere which Leo Tolstoy described in his world famous novel. Today this atmosphere has been restored in the London de-luxe hotel Dorchester. The programme of the ball includes twenty ball dances. At the end of the event the guests will choose the winners in the nominations of "The Best Dance" and "The Best Dress." At a traditional auction the guests will be offered jewels, a designer's coat, a hat decorated with rock crystal, an evening gown, a dinner in a fashionable London restaurant and several foreign tours.

    This year, Valentina Vishnevskaya's Gypsy company was invited to the ball as honorary guests. "We believe that the Gypsy company, consisting of fifteen musicians, singers and dancers, which gives its concerts in London for the first time, will not disappoint the audience," said the organisers of the ball.

    However, the pleasure of taking part in this ball costs quite a lot. Representatives of the British, Russian, European and American Bohemia paid 200 pounds for a ticket. But, following the traditions of the Russian nobility, the organisers of the ball hold it for a charitable purpose. The incomes from this event will be used for the development of the Russian Orthodox Church in London and for supporting social and cultural projects of the London Fund "Life Action Trust" which renders assistance to young European artists.

    Apart from that, thanks to the charitable investment by one of the Russian companies, part of the incomes from the sale of tickets and from the auction will go directly to Russia, for the first time in the history of these balls, to render aid to disabled children. The money will be sent to the Children's Rehabilitation Centre in Saint Petersburg which is a non-state charitable organisation under the patronage of Polly von Studnitz, the wife of the German Ambassador to Russia from 1996 to 2002.

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