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Moscow Mayor Plans To Replace Casinos With Libraries

Moscow's next library? (AFP) February 28, 2007 -- Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has called on the city's gambling halls to eventually be turned into libraries.

"More than 2,000 gaming halls were opened in a short time in Moscow and we are now actively closing them down. Let's make book clubs out of gambling centers," AFP quoted the mayor as saying today in a statement.

Reading Initiative

The measure is seen as part of an effort to increase falling reading rates among Muscovites. A city official today cited statistics that show that half of the city's residents do not purchase books, 40 percent don't read books at all, and 60 do not subscribe to any publication, AFP reported.

Under legislation passed last year, thousands of Russian casinos and gaming halls are to be shut down and moved to four special zones in different parts of the country, all outside cities.

Gambling venues will begin closing this summer and continue through to 2009.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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