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    DEFENSE MINISTRY TO ENSURE LAUNCH OF FRENCH SATELLITE

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    MOSCOW, March 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Government has given permission to the Defense Ministry to provide contractual services to ensure the launch of a Utelsat, a French company satellite, by a Russian Proton-M carrier rocket. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has signed the relevant instructions.

    The launch is planned to be made from the Baikonur launching site, the Government Information Department said.

    The information department noted that the Prime Minister instructed the Justice Ministry to ensure that Russia's national interests involving the results of scientific-technical work (Russia owns the rights) are protected. The protection of national rights, the department continued, will be done in line with the contract concluded with the Khrunichev Space Scientific-Industrial State Center.

    Mr. Fradkov's instruction says that foreign specialists will be admitted to Baikonur facilities for launch work in line with the established procedure.

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