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    PUTIN ARRIVES IN VELIKY NOVGOROD

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    VELIKY NOVGOROD, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Veliky Novgorod.

    Presidential envoy to the Northwestern federal district Ilya Klebanov and Novgorod region governor Mikhail Prusak met the head of state at the airport.

    Vladimir Putin expressed a wish to visit the excavation site during a meeting with historians in November 2003. The meeting touched upon the so-called problem of "black archeologists", which can be remedied by reviving student archeological clubs, archeologists believe.

    Putin promised help and said he was ready to find time to visit excavation sites. "I will work there myself with pleasure," he said.

    Veliky Novgorod is one of Russia's ancient cities (it has been known since 859). Besides, it is the motherland of Russian democratic and republican traditions - it was the capital of the Novgorod republic in the 12-15th centuries.

    There are 117 architectural monuments and 11 archeological monuments in the city. In 1992, 56 architectural monuments of Veliky Novgorod and its outskirts were included on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage.

    The city is over 1,000 years old. Since then, it has amassed a cultural layer of 6.5-10 meters. Systematic archeological excavations have been conducted in the city since 1932. At present, the layers of the 12-13th centuries are being researched at three excavation sites.

    The unique feature of the Novgorod archeology owes to the character of the local soils, which preserve organic materials that would have otherwise disappeared without any traces, for centuries.

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