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    Putin opens Russian information center in Beijing

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    President Vladimir Putin and RIA Novosti Director General Svetlana Mironyuk then launched a Chinese-language Internet portal set up by RIA Novosti for the Year of Russia in China. The portal is the first Chinese-language site set up by a Russian agency.

    BEIJING, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin Tuesday opened a center in Beijing to provide informational support for the Year of Russia in China, a series of cultural, economic and other events designed to promote bilateral exchanges.

    Putin, accompanied by as RIA Novosti Director General Svetlana Mironyuk, attended an exhibition of photographs prepared by RIA Novosti and the Year of Russia in China organizing committee and dedicated to bilateral relations between the two countries.

    Putin and Mironyuk then launched a Chinese-language Internet portal set up by RIA Novosti for the Year of Russia in China. The portal is the first Chinese-language site set up by a Russian agency.

    The opening ceremony was also attended by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, co-chairman of the Year of Russia in China organizing committee.

    Putin is scheduled to attend a gala dinner to launch the Year of Russia in China later Tuesday, with more than a thousand government officials, businesspeople and cultural figures expected to take part.

    The informational center, set up by RIA Novosti with assistance from the organizing committee and the Russian Embassy in China, will host press conferences, briefings, and video conferences between Beijing and Moscow and other Russian cities, as well as presentations, round tables, and photography exhibitions.

    Speaking at the inauguration of the center Monday, Russian Ambassador to China Sergei Razov said the center would play an essential role in the Year of Russia in China.

    "The center will be a place for journalists to obtain basic information about the Year of Russia in China, to exchange opinions, and ask questions," Razov said.

    He said the Year of Russia in China was an unprecedented event in bilateral relations and would include over 200 events spanning politics, culture, economics, and youth affairs.

    "It will be a landmark event that will promote good-neighborly relations and cooperation between Russia and China," Razov said.

    RIA Novosti Director General Svetlana Mironyuk Monday briefed reporters about the concept behind the center and its practical aspects.

    "The Russian Information Center should be a bridge in relations between the Russian and Chinese media, and help us to destroy stereotypes that appeared 20-50 years ago," she said, adding that the center would use advanced technologies, including video- and Internet-conferencing, to connect audiences in both countries in real time.

    Cultural and political figures will take part in events organized at the center located in central Beijing. The center will also issue regular bulletins.

    "We hope that the center will serve as Russia's cultural center, and attract interest not only from journalists, but also from ordinary people," Mironyuk said.

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