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    MORNING PREVIEW

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    GOOD MORNING,

    The Russian Information Agency Novosti begins Hotline coverage for Thursday, May 20, 2004.

    MOSCOW

    * The federal government holds session, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov chairing.

    * Pascal Lamy, European Union Commissioner for Trade, and German Gref, Russia's acting Minister of Economic Development and Trade, meet in negotiations on Russian prospects to join the World Trade Organisation.

    * Sergei Lavrov, Russia's acting Foreign Minister, meets at the negotiating table with his counterparts of Turkey and Senegal, and delegates of the OIC-Organisation The Islamic Conference.

    * Russia's Justice Ministry is hosting an international conference on topical issues of penitentiary research and practice. Organising the event are the ministry's Penitentiary Research Institute and the Penitentiary Research Society, with the International Prison Reform NGO's support.

    * The Russian Rail joint-stock company hosts a tripartite conference. Railway bosses of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia will discuss construction of a Kazvin-Rasht-Astara branch-line to restore a direct rail route from Moscow to Teheran via Baku.

    * The Federation Council, parliament's upper house, holds hearings on, "Special Economic Zones as Vital Instrument of Investment Policies and Government Support of Innovation". The event has been arranged by the Council committee for economic policies, private enterprise and property holding.

    * RIA Novosti is offering news conferences:

    - Yuri Shafranik, president of the Russian Oil and Gas Industrialists' Guild, and of the committee for international cultural, research and business contacts with Iraq, on "The Global Petroleum Market Situation and the President State of the Russian Oil-and-Gas Complex;

    - Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, and Alexander Yakovenko, Foreign Ministry spokesman, on "Russia-EU Relations and Topical Foreign Political Issues";

    - Vadim Gustov, head of the Federation Council committee for CIS affairs, on "CIS Countries' Team Efforts: Topical Issues of Its Legislative Basis".

    * John Bolton, US Undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, addresses an Interfax news conference to sum up his Moscow negotiations.

    * A 5th accountants' and auditors' international forum gathers at the State Kremlin Palace.

    * Vladimir Chvanov, Energomach Co. Designer General and First Deputy Director General, addresses a news conference on Energomach contribution to international space projects, and rocket engine R&D prospects.

    * The Belarus-Russia Parliamentary Assembly commission for information policies and contacts with public organisations opens session, to last two days.

    * The Peace Fund hosts a news conference on Slav Writing and Culture Days, soon to be celebrated in Moscow.

    SOCHI

    * Secret police and security chiefs of roughly 70 countries gather for a 3rd international conference. Dominating the agenda will be safety of this year's Olympics in Greece-in particular, terror and other extremist outbreak prevention.

    KALININGRAD

    * The Russian Baltic exclave's regional administration receives delegates of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. A joint session will debate investment opportunities of the Kaliningrad Region, implementation of a federal target programme for its development up to 2010, and the principles of exclave-EBRD contacts.

    YEREVAN

    * Sergei Ivanov, Russia's Defence Minister, is arriving in the Armenian capital on a two-day routine visit. He will take part in a session of the CIS Defence Ministers' Council, due May 21.

    SUKHUMI, ABKHAZIA

    * Georgian-Abkhaz negotiators discuss conflict settlement and ways to reduce tensions.

    WARSAW

    * A 49th Warsaw international book fair is taking start, to last into May 23, Russia appearing as guest of honour.

    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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