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    RUSSIA AND BELARUS MARK UNITY DAY

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    MOSCOW, April 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - On Friday Russian-Belarussian Unity Day events will be held in cities and regions in Russia and Belarus.

    "Traditionally, on this day the results are summarized, problems and prospects of the Union state's development are discussed and solemn events are held in Moscow, Minsk and many other cities and regions in Belarus and Russia," the standing committee of the Union State told RIA Novosti.

    The central event will be a solemn meeting devoted to Russian-Belarussian Unity Day that will be held simultaneously in the Moscow Hall of Columns of the House of Trade Unions and in the Minsk Palace of Trade Unions.

    Alexandra Pakhmutova, a composer and Valentin Sidorov, a Russian painter, and Mikhail Savitsky, a Belarussian painter, will be awarded Union State literature and art awards.

    The Union State literature and art awards are inter-state awards and are given once every two years (usually three awards). The cash prize is 1,250 times greater than the Russian Federation's minimal wages.

    "About 50 industrial, social, military-technical, cultural and educational programs and undertakings are being realized in the Union State now," the standing committee reported. The priorities are the development of information technology, the creation of new materials and chemical products, research and development in biotechnology and power engineering. Special attention is being paid to the problems of the regions that were affected by the Chernobyl meltdown, ecology and the rational wildlife management.

    "Twenty-five inter-state agreements which legislatively formalize the principles of the functions of the Union State have been already signed," the committee reported.

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