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Lyudmila Putina took part in opening the Orlenok
Lyudmila Putina, the wife of Russian President Vladimir Putin, took part in opening the Orlenok (Little Eagle) international Russian-Italian children's forum. This forum involves Russian and Italian school students aged between 12 and 15. "It is believed that children aged 12-15 years face problems in life. I am very pleased to learn that you have won contests in this difficult period of your life, displaying talents to the best of our capacity," Lyudmila Putina noted at the beginning of the ceremony. "This victory will make you confident. When you come home, you will tell your coevals about friendship and mutual help. You will share your positive emotions that, as I am sure, you will experience," Putina added. For his part, Valentino Valentini, chief of the Italian Prime Minister's secretariat, noted that friendly feelings were better expressed through creative work and art. "We attach priority to art, which makes it possible to express one's soul best of all," he added. The opening ceremony took place at a holiday hotel near Moscow. School students and guests then talked to each other near an open-air bonfire. The organizers of this international conference would like Russian and Italian children to learn more about their nations' traditions, culture and historical ties. It is also intended to create favorable conditions for joint creative work. Fifty-seven Russian school students from all seven federal districts were selected on a competitive basis. They live on a vast territory between Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East and Vyborg on the Russian-Finnish border. One girl arrived from Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Moscow events will also involve 25 school children from Beslan, North Ossetia. This city was attacked by terrorists September 1, 2004. They seized many hostages at a school on that day. Most terrorists were killed September 3, 2004. Italy will be represented by 60 children. Moscow will host the first part of the children's forum May 22-26. Forum delegates will subsequently leave for Italy. This forum is organized by the Moscow-based Russian-language development center. This is already the third such project. In 2003, the center organized the Baltic Star youth-exchange program involving school children from the Baltics. The 2004 Youth Crossroads program of Russian-French exchanges took place last year.
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