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    GOOD MORNING,

    The Russian Information Agency Novosti begins Hotline coverage for Thursday, March 18, 2004.

    MOSCOW

    * Russia's federal government will hold session. Debates on a draft federal Forest Code will be prominent on the agenda.

    * Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, will have a routine conference with Dai Bingo, China's First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    * The Federation Council, parliament's upper house, hosts the following:

    - a roundtable on, "Improving the Budget Legislation as Concerns Interbudgetary Relations";

    - parliamentary hearings on, "Russia's Small Rivers: Environmental Problems and How to Settle Them";

    - a session of the Federation Council/US Senate Russian-US cooperation group.

    * The State Duma, parliament's lower house, hosts the following:

    - a Duma Council session;

    - public inauguration of an online encyclopaedia, "State Duma: 1999-2003";

    - parliamentary hearings on, "The Economic Patterns of Environment Protection and Legislative Bases of Pollution Fining".

    * Professor Stephen Cohen of the New York University, prominent American author and political expert, will address an audience at the Russian State University of Commerce and Economics in debates, "US and Russian Domestic and Foreign Political Problems. Russo-US Relations: Present State and Prospects".

    * A two-day international conference opens on, "Corporate Social Responsibilities. Effective Technologies of Social Investment Management". Arkadi Volsky, president, Russian Industrialists' and Entrepreneurs' Union, and John Richardson, chairman, European Fund Centre, are prominent among the participants.

    * President Hotel hosts a joint session of the National Economic Council and the Russian Economic Forum organising committee to discuss preparations for and holding a 9th Russian Economic Forum, due May-June 2004 on, "Economic Cooperation as Integration Factor in the Commonwealth of Independent States".

    * A 6th national banking conference gathers on, "Progress of Retail Banking Business in Russian Regions". Alexander Murychev, Russian Regional Banking Association president, is taking part.

    * A news conference gathers to introduce to the public a Golden Speech annual contest of foreign journalists writing on Russian-related topics.

    * The organising committee of the international anti-terror media forum, The Media against Terrorism and Drugs, convenes a news conference. Committee members will appear on the conference alongside Eduard Sagalayev, media forum co-chairman, and National Television and Radio Broadcasters' Association president.

    * The Cinema House hosts a closing gala of the 9th international film festival, The Faces of Love.

    KHANTY-MANSIISK

    The federal Ministry of Science and Education opens a two-day session on implementing an initial stage of Russian reforms to update education and streamline government youth policies.

    VELIKY NOVGOROD

    * An international conference opens on, "New Threats to International Security: International Cooperation against Terror Financing". Diplomats and legislators from Russia and other countries are expected to take part alongside Russian, French and Belarussian university researchers, and spokesmen of law enforcement agencies, legal organisations, and banking.

    WASHINGTON, D.C.

    * The foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives, US Congress, will hold hearings on, "US-Russian relations and Vladimir Putin's Second Presidential Term". Elizabeth Jones, Assistant State Secretary for Eurasian countries, will take part.

    NEW YORK CITY

    * An 8th annual conference, "Investment in Russia and the CIS" is gathering, organised by Sax Associates and Bloomberg companies. Prominent among Russian spokesmen are Alexei Ulyukaev, First Deputy Minister of Finance, and Yuri Isayev, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

    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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