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    GOOD MORNING,

    The Russian Information Agency Novosti begins Hotline coverage for Wednesday, March 10, 2004.

    MOSCOW

    * A nation-wide telephone conference will be held to discuss preparations for the upcoming presidential polls. Alexander Veshnyakov, Chair of the Central Electoral Commission, is expected to take part.

    * The Interfax news agency will host press conferences with Central Electoral Commission Chair Alexander Veshnyakov and presidential hopeful Sergei Glazyev. Veshnyakov will speak about the preparedness of Russian polling stations for the March 14 vote. And Glasyev is expected to suggest ways of preventing election fraud.

    * A press conference on public attitudes ahead of the March 14 presidential election will take place on the RIA news agency's premises.

    * The Olympic Penta hotel will be the venue of an international conference entitled "Are Free Elections Possible in Russia?" The event's organizers include Moscow's Helsinki Group, the Golos association, the Center for Contemporary Political Studies, the Indem think tank, the Anti-Corruption Research Center, and the Russian Journalists Guild.

    * Izvestia daily's media center will host a press conference on the abuse of religious rights and its implications for the presidential election's outcome.

    * A news conference titled "Russian Banks: Development Scenarios after Presidential Election" will take place in Moscow's House of Economists. It will feature bankers who are winners of the Manager of the Year title in the banking sector, as well as leaders of major Russian banker associations.

    * Russia's Federal Archival Service will hold a press conference to mark Archives Day.

    * A preview press conference and an opening ceremony will be held in the Central Cinema House to usher in the St. Anna debut & student film festival, to be held for an eleventh time this year. The jury will be chaired by the Russian film director Pyotr Todorovsky. The acclaimed Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi has been invited to attend the forum as a guest of honor.

    * The renovation and upgrading of the Ostankino television tower and the prospective switchover to digital television will be discussed at a press conference marking 65 years since the start of regular television broadcasts in Moscow.

    ST. PETERSBURG

    * A symposium devoted to the 170th birth anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleyev and the 135th anniversary of his Periodic Law opens at Petersburg University's Mendeleyev Center.

    BAGHDAD

    * Vagit Alekperov, President of the Russian petroleum giant Lukoil, is scheduled to hold a number of meetings with Iraqi oil officials. The main goal behind Alekperov's visit to Iraq is to restore his company's contract for the development of the Western Kurna-2 oil field. The deal was declared null and void in the final months of Saddam Hussein's rule.

    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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