The Russian Information Agency Novosti begins Hotline coverage for Friday, April 23, 2004.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue his two-day visit to Crimea, at the invitation of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.
* European Commission Chairman Romano Prodi, currently visiting the Russian capital, will deliver a speech on EU expansion, "Russia and Europe: Strong Ties, Broad Horizons," at the Tretyakov Art Gallery's Vrubel Hall.
* The foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) will gather for a conference at the President Hotel.
* The Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, will hold a panel discussion on territorial planning as a basis for local self-government.
* The State Duma, or parliament's lower house, will take up a package of rejected federal bills.
* The RIA news agency will host the following press conferences:
- with Sakhalin Governor Ivan Malakhov, to highlight current economic projects on the Sakhalin Island (11.00 a.m.);
- with Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov, who is expected to review the UN Human Rights Commission's latest session in Geneva (noon);
- with Irina Hakamada, chair of the organizing committee for the Free Russia party, to speak about the Russian democratic movement's prospects for consolidation.
* A Moscow district court will consider the Prosecutor General's request that the time given to Mikhail Khodorkovsky's defense team for studying materials related to their client's case should be limited.
* A press conference on the Polytechnic Museum premises will analyze the building's current condition and prospective renovation.
* Federal Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev will make a routine, one-day visit to Smolensk, where he is to hold a conference on problems of flax growing in Russia's Central Federal District.
* Days of German Culture and Science will open here as part of the current Year of German-Russian Culture Encounters, to run through April 30.
* A Russo-Swedish panel discussion on individual freedoms will take place in the suburb of Sestrortsk; former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is expected to be among the panelists.
* The Finance Ministers of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations will converge on the U.S. capital to hold a session. Minister Alexei Kudrin will be participating on Russia's behalf.
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