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    Artek children's center to resume work on Feb. 23 - minister

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    KIEV, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - The Artek International Children's Center in the Crimea, which closed this winter due to financial problems, will resume its work on February 23, Ukraine's government said Thursday.

    Located in the southern Crimea not far from Yalta, Artek is famous as the main Soviet-era pioneer camp, which had welcomed children year-round since the 1930s and even carried on working during World War II, when the center moved to Altai.

    Earlier in the week the Ukrainian parliament voted overwhelmingly to allocate some $8 million in addition to the earlier earmarked $2.5 million to the camp.

    The camp became internationally known in 1983 when it was visited by U.S. schoolgirl Samantha Smith, who was invited after writing a letter to Soviet leader Yury Andropov. Samantha died in a plane crash in 1985 but her mother, Jane, appealed to the Ukrainian authorities to help the center.

    Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, the camp remained a unique international meeting place for children of all ages from former Soviet republics and other countries, but it closed in January over a lack of funds. It is supervised by the Ukrainian president's property management committee.

    Artek General Director Boris Novozhilov said in Kiev on January 16 that the center could cease to exist within a year as the government had not provided any funding for the camp for three years.

    Novozhilov announced a hunger strike on January 19 and was later hospitalized with heart problems.

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