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    PROGRAM TO CELEBRATE KAZAN'S 1000TH ANNIVERSARY WILL BE FINALIZED BEFORE MAY 15, SAYS KUDRIN

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    KAZAN, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - The program of celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the capital of Tatarstan (republic on the Volga), Kazan, will be finalized before May 15, acting Russian Vice Premier and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin told journalists.

    "By May 15, we are to reach the homestretch to prepare for the jubilee," Mr. Kudrin said after a session of the State Commission to prepare for the celebration of the city's jubilee, due in August 2005.

    In his words, some positive shifts have been made in the preparation for the celebration for the last six months. "Active restoration of Kazan's historic monuments is underway, metro construction has been sped up, important facilities of the city infrastructure will soon be commissioned," said Mr. Kudrin.

    The acting vice premier also said the financing of the preparation for the celebration from the federal budget will be carried out according to the schedule.

    Some 53 billion rubles (over $1.8 billion) will be spent on the preparation for and holding of the celebrations. Besides the federal budget, the regional and local budgets, as well as attracted investors ensure the financing.

    The project "Enhancing Kazan's investment attractiveness" is to be implemented by the time of the jubilee. It is planned to attract a credit of the IBRD worth $125 million under the guarantees of the Russian government on the project realization.

    The program of elimination of shabby housing is to be realized by the jubilee in Kazan, too. According to the program, over 32,000 families will be able to improve their housing conditions.

    A number of facilities of Kazan's historic center, first of all, the Kazan Kremlin complex, are to be reconstructed as well.

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