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Russian Economic Forum To Begin Today

Moscow, May 17 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's first economic forum bringing together the country's major financiers, entrepreneurs and managers is scheduled to begin today in Yekaterinburg.

Up to 1,000 people are expected to attend the two-day gathering. Organizers say one goal of the meeting is to form a new public association aimed at influencing Russia's social and economic direction. They also say the gathering hopes to generate a statement about candidates for the June 16 presidential election.

Organizer Andrei Nechayev, President of the Russian Financial Corporation, said earlier this month that he envisions such an association having as its main goal the development of economic conditions favorable to business in Russia.

Nechayev said he did not expect such an association to become a political bloc, but to instead devote most of its energies toward policies that will best increase industrial production and raise wages.