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    TEN MOST IMPORTANT RUSSIAN POLITICAL EVENTS

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    MOSCOW, DECEMBER 28, (RIA Novosti) - RIA Novosti presents what is perceived by its correspondents as ten most important Russian political events over the 2004 period.

    1. Vladimir Putin was elected as Russia's president for the second time already in the first round. 64.39 percent of all Russian voters cast their ballots, with more than 71.31 percent of their total number supporting the incumbent President.

    2. Mikhail Kasyanov's government was sacked. Mikhail Fradkov was placed in charge of the new Russian Government. A three-tier Cabinet structure was introduced within the framework of the administrative reform, comprising ministries, federal services and federal agencies.

    3. The regional election system was overhauled. New election legislation states expressly that, from now on, all territorial governors shall be elected by territorial legislatures in line with presidential recommendations.

    4. A proportional system of State Duma elections was introduced. The next State Duma shall be elected in accordance with partisan ballots alone. The new law has it that each political party must have at least 50,000 members, with regional chapters boasting at least 500 people each.

    5. A string of major terrorist acts took place in Russia. Hostages were seized in Beslan, with bombs exploding at Moscow's Rizhskaya and Avtozavodskaya subway stations. Passenger airliners were blown up by terrorists, after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport and shaping course for Sochi and Volgograd. Chechen bandits headed by Shamil Basayev raided Ingushetia.

    6. President Akhmad Kadyrov of Chechnya was killed, with Alu Alkhanov winning subsequent republican presidential elections.

    7. Russia scored a major diplomatic victory, securing the release of two Russian citizens, who had been accused by Qatar's authorities of perpetrating a terrorist act against one of the main Chechen-bandit emissaries Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev. Both men then returned home.

    8. At long last, the people of Russia received a chance to celebrate New Year holidays together with their children. Russian adults and children alike will relax until January 10, 2005.

    9. Russian authorities started enlarging this country's territories. The Perm region and the Komi-Perm autonomous area merged into one single whole. The Krasnodar territorial legislature, those of the Dolgano-Nenets and Evenk autonomous areas, as well as regional administrators, asked the President of Russia to facilitate their merger. The head of state approved this proposal.

    10. Metropolitan Laurus, primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, paid his first-ever official visit to Russia. Two segments of the Russian Orthodox Church began to pray together, with both sides adopting specific decisions that will help restore church unity as soon as possible.

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