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#19 - JRL 7034
Putin declares 2003 Year of Russia in Ukraine

Moscow, 24 January: President Vladimir Putin has signed an instruction on
holding the Year of Russia in Ukraine, the Kremlin press service reported
on 24 January.

The Year of Russia in Ukraine will be held in 2003 "to develop
Russian-Ukrainian relations", the document says. An organizational
committee will be set up to coordinate the activities of Russian federal
executive departments. The opening ceremony of the Year of Russia in
Ukraine will take place in Kiev on 27 January in the presence of presidents
Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma.

Last year was the Year of Ukraine in Russia by bilateral agreement. Putin
and Kuchma summed up its results in Moscow in December 2002. The closing
ceremony took place at a branch of the Bolshoy Theatre.

The Year of Ukraine in Russia helped us develop cooperation in all spheres
and make plans for the future, Putin said. "I am confident that these plans
stand more chance of success now," he added. "The coordinated actions of
Russia and Ukraine on the international scene will strengthen the positions
of both countries in Europe and the world," Putin said.

Kuchma thinks that the Year of Ukraine in Russia has helped change the
attitude of Russians to Ukrainians. "Russians have started taking us the
way we are - as friends, but not Russians," Kuchma said. "The year has
changed the views of many politicians, who looked at Ukraine without
political trumpery," he added. This will also be the spirit of the Year of
Russia in Ukraine. "We want to have a good neighbour and a business
partner," Kuchma said.
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