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    .SOKOLOV URGES PRESERVING RUSSIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE

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    MOSCOW, APRIL 6, RIA NOVOSTI - The newly-appointed minister for culture and mass communications, Alexander Sokolov, appeared at a RIA Novosti press-conference to say that in the next few days personnel reshuffles will be accomplished both in the ministry proper and the federal agencies and services subject to it.

    He defined the strategic and tactical tasks of the ministry as "serving the population", implying the preservation of Russia's cultural values, museums and libraries, the development of national histrionic art and cinema as well as the encouragement of the system of grants to be determined by experts rather than bureaucrats.

    Sokolov drew attention to the necessity of setting up a law group consisting of highly-competent experts who would uphold in court the interests of people and individuals in art and literature.

    The minister also voted for staging wide discussions, with the involvement of the mass media, of the ministry's budget as well as for consultations with the Russian federation jurisdictions.

    Note was made of a certain disproportion in cultural promotional campaigns in such recognized centre as Moscow and St.Petersburg and Russia's outlying districts. The minister urged the necessity of introducing modern technologies and the Internet in remote areas. What matters here is to continue and implement a whole series of 2001-2005 cultural and educational programmes meant for children who are particularly susceptible to everything new. The ministry has therefore scheduled early trips to various regions of Russia and meetings with governors to discuss most topical cultural problems on the spot.

    Mr.Sokolov laid accent on his personal protest against commercials flow on television screens. Realising that a ban on advertising will undermine the financial status of television channels, the minister suggested introducing a system of subsidies.

    Asked about the feasibility of quotas on foreign feature and television films, the minister said that such an approach would hardly resolve the problems of the Russian cinema.

    As to restitution, the minister declared in favour of a rational, pragmatic and quiet attitude toward this problem. In his opinion, this involves law-making and a relevant debate should be carried out by the foreign ministry, the justice ministry, the State Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian parliament) and other bodies of state and government authority concerned.

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