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    GOOD MORNING,

    The Russian Information Agency Novosti begins Hotline coverage for Wednesday, March 17, 2004.

    MOSCOW

    * Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, is addressing a news conference.

    * Muhammed Tsikanov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, addresses a news briefing, "Russia's Draft Forest Code", on the ministerial premises.

    * Vladimir Filippov, First Deputy Minister of Science and Education, receives ministerial office heads for a routine conference to take stock of essential aspects of an educational updating reform, and discuss developmental trends of Russia's nongovernment higher educational establishments.

    * The Air Defence Coordination Council under the Council of CIS Countries' Defence Ministers opens session. The conferees will meet spokesmen of Russia's military-industrial complex.

    * The State Duma, parliament's lower house, hosts two news conferences:

    - "Oil-Mining Flat Taxation: An Inequality Formula";

    - Igor Rodionov, State Duma member, on, "Tbilisi Tragedy of April 8-9, 1989: The Truth and Lies". Parliamentarians and military legal experts are taking part.

    * RIA Novosti hosts the following news conferences:

    - Andrei Malyshev, in charge of the Federal Nuclear Inspection Service, on, "Missions of the Federal Nuclear Inspection Service to Ensure Russia's Nuclear and Radiation Safety";

    - Rajab Safarov, Director General, Contemporary Iranian Study Centre, on, "The Iranian Nuclear Programme";

    - Konstantin Zatulin, State Duma member, on, "Ossetia-Abkhazia-Adzharia? Whence Another Conflict in Georgia, and Where May It Get Us?" * The Russian Regional Banking Association arranges a news conference in the context of a 6th national conference, The Development of Russian Banking Business.

    * Academician Vitali Ginzburg, 2003 Nobel Prize winner for physics, addresses an audience at the Central House of Journalists. He will speak up on present-day research and education in Russia. Is the report of Russian science's death an exaggeration? Why is quasi-scientific superstition prospering? What's the point of teaching religion at school? and, What to expect of research and education pooled in under one ministry? are burning matters on the agenda.

    * Russian and Italian secondary school students will talk to each other in a television linkup on Italian Language and Culture Week, underway at Russian school.

    * President Hotel hosts a news conference on the 11th Moscow international exposition, Travel and Tourism, or MITT 2004, to be held at the Krasnaya Presnya Expocentre, March 24-27.

    POIKOVSKY TOWNSHIP, KHANTY-MANSI AUTONOMOUS AREA An Anatoli Karpov international chess contest opens in the township Poikovsky. It has gathered players from Russia, other CIS countries, the USA, France and the Netherlands.

    MINSK

    * The 24th session of the Belarussian-Russian union Parliamentary Assembly holds a plenary gathering. The agenda concerns organisational matters-in particular, election of top Parliamentary Assembly officials, and this year's union budget draft.

    * Speaker Boris Gryzlov of the State Duma, Russia, is visiting Minsk for the Parliamentary Assembly session. President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus will receive him.

    KIEV

    * A Russian delegation is arriving in Ukraine to visit the Khmelnitsky and Rovno nuclear power plants, March 17-19. Leading the delegation is Oleg Sarayev, Director General of the Rosenergoatom concern, and president of the World Association of Nuclear Plant Exploiter Organisations.

    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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