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World Russian Congress Kicks Off In Moscow

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev addresses the congress in Moscow.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev addresses the congress in Moscow.

MOSCOW -- About 1,000 delegates from 90 countries gathered today in Moscow for the third World Congress of Russian Compatriots, or Russians living abroad, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

President Dmitry Medvedev said at the congress that laws for Russians living abroad will be amended soon to improve the support they receive.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addressed the congress delegates and stressed that "support to the [Russian] compatriots living abroad is one of the priorities of Russia's state policy."

The Russian media reported that the Russian diaspora is the second largest in the world after the Chinese, with some 30 million Russians living abroad, most of them in former Soviet republics.

Independent Uzbek media reported that the delegation from Uzbekistan, which is headed by the chair of the Russian Cultural Center in Uzbekistan, will not participate in the congress for the first time.

The Uzbek Foreign Ministry reportedly said that it "highly recommended [that the delegation] not participate in the congress."

The Russian daily "Vremya Novostei" reported that an Uzbek delegation would take part in the congress, but it would be represented by the deputy chairman of the Russian Cultural Center, Sergei Mironov, and officials from the Uzbek Embassy in Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry refused to give RFE/RL accreditation for the event.