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    RUSSIA MARKS CIVIL DEFENSE DAY

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - On Tuesday, Russia marks the Civil Defense Day inaugurated by the General Assembly of the International Civil Defense Organization (ICDO) in 1972.

    "At the initiative of ICDO, the 2005 Civil Defense Day will be held under the motto Civil Defense Will Protect and Preserve Environment," a Russian Emergencies Ministry spokesperson told RIA Novosti, adding that ICDO's special address to the member states stressed that environment protection was a most difficult problem that the mankind faces in the 21st century.

    "The duty of civil defense organizations is for them to become a part and parcel of the system of environment protection measures and to facilitate the efficiency of the efforts being made to this end by national governments and civil societies, especially during disasters and major accidents," the message reads.

    In 1931, French General George Saint-Paul, of the Medical Service, set up in Paris the Association of Geneva Zones that later evolved into the International Civil Defense Organization.

    ICDO became an intergovernmental organization in 1972. Now, its member states number more than 70.

    Russia's Emergencies Ministry has been an ICDO member since 1993, participating in all its campaigns.

    Over the 12 years, the Emergencies Ministry has contributed to bolstering ICDO as a dedicated international organization, improved its theoretical groundwork, launched cooperation with European countries and given impetus to admitting African, Asian and CIS nations, the spokesperson said.

    In its turn, ICDO has been doing its utmost to assist the Russian Emergencies Ministry in humanitarian operations. ICDO has been promoting advanced Russian technologies in humanitarian mine clearing, disaster medicine and canine search and rescue.

    An important field of cooperation between ICDO and the Russian Emergencies Ministry is training provided to the ministry's personnel in various countries, e.g. hundreds of specialists from various countries, including Russia, completed training courses at ICDO's training centers in Wangen, Schwartzenburg and Golion.

    2002 saw ICDO call for working out a framework convention on providing assistance to countries hit by large-scale disasters by international civil defense assets. Represented by its Emergencies Ministry, Russia joined the convention in September 2002, believing "it is an effective tool to make ICDO's member states help one another in an emergency".

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