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Founder of the Russian opposition Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky, said today he mourns Vaclav Havel's death, Ekho Moskvy reports on Friday.The former president of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel died this week. For millions of people from both Czechoslovakia and abroad Havel was a sympol of struggle against communism and moral strenght.

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The head of the Russian republic of North Ossetia, Taymuraz Mamsurov, says he praises tolerance and opposes xenophobia, Yuga.ru reports."I cannot understand how Caucasian people can harm Russians, if the number of Caucasians is so small compared with Russians," Mamsurov said.

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Presidential Envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District Alexander Khloponin says he supports President Medvedev's initiative to elect governors of Russian regions, Yuga.ru reports.Nowadays governors and other local officials are not elected in Russia, after Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, which has been controlling the parliament since early 2000s, abolished the local elections.

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The lower chamber of the French Parliament on Thursday approved a bill making the denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide a crime. Turkey reacted immediately and recalled its ambassador to France in protest.According to the deputy head of the Strategic Culture Fund, Andrey Areshev, Turkey and France will continue to haggle over the bill for some time, but serious conflict is impossible.

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 The lower chamber of the French parliament has backed a bill making the denial of genocide a crime, the Euronews TV channel reports on Thursday. For France, this covers the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915. But that puts it at odds with Ankara which rejects the genocide description. 

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Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has marked his 44th birthday in Batumi, starting from visits to the municipal canteen for the poor in Batumi, where he met old people and gave gifts.

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Russian national politics in 2011

 Alexander Zhuravskiy: “Our main priorities are to strengthen the unity of the Russian nation, the harmonization of inter-ethnic relations and ethno-cultural development”

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that he wants to get rid of the economic basis for mass migration. Cultural and upbringing activities for children should be developed. They should be taught tolerance just as they are taught grammar at school, Medvedev told the Federal Assembly.

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The Turkish parliament will discuss the Azerbaijani genocide in Khodzhaly (allegedly conducted by the Armenian troops in 1992) next year, APA reports on Wednesday.The massacre is considered a genocide by the Memorial Human Rights Center and the Human Rights Watch.

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Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev will take part in an opposition rally scheduled for December 24th in central Moscow, Grani.ru reports on Wednesday.The demonstration is being organized by several opposition groups and public figures in order to protest against alleged vote fraud during the December 4 parliamentary elections. 

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Muslim holy days were officially declared public holidays in the Russian republic of Bashkortostan, Russian media report on Wednesday.The Russian Supreme Court decided the measure doesn't contradict the Russian Constitution, which states that that the Russian Federation is a secular state.

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Jewish people all over the world are celebrating Hanukkah.The Hanukkah (or the Festival of Lights), is an 8-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC.

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Azerbaijan has initiated a social project entitled “Life Without Obstacles” to adapt disabled people, especially people with poor hearing. A special website was opened with advice about communication, purchases of earphones and modern treatment.

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The situation in the Mangistau Region in the western part of Kazakhstan, where mass disorders have occurred, resulting in murders, remains stable, the petroleum staff are at work, ITAR-TASS reports.

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