What will Lyudmila Putin and Laura Bush be doing in Moscow

Lyudmila Putin and Laura Bush are to visit the local Tretyakov art gallery and the Russian state children's library today. Despite the fact that distinguished foreign guests usually perceive their visit to the Tretyakov gallery as a highly important event, everything will be somewhat different this time. The explanation is quite simple -- the incumbent US First Lady had worked as a librarian for some time.

Laura Bush, who is fond of Russian literature, told The New York Times during her husband's election campaign that "The Karamazov Brothers" by Feodor Dostoyevsky ranked among her favourite books.

Lydia Zharkova in charge of the Russian state children's library noted that the program of the two First Ladies' visit had been prepared rather thoroughly.

The Russian state children's library was founded in 1969. As of today, this library has approximately 500,000 books and other items, Zharkova stressed. People flocking to the library can read Russian and foreign books alike; moreover, they can obtain music notes and software packages. The library, which owns a unique museum collection of old books for children, is annually visited by 470,000 children and adult readers alike.

This library is also a science-and-methodological center in the field of children's literature and pedagogics. It comprises departments, whose staffers are supposed to analyze the psychology and sociology of the children's reading process. The library also has the so-called fairy-tale room for little readers. The library's psychologist caters to readers in line with its research concepts.

The library hosts child-creativity exhibitions on a regular basis, also inviting well-known actors, as well as film-and-theatre directors. A program for supporting gifted children has been drafted by its personnel; this program is also aimed at aiding handicapped children. Besides, the library hosts annual book contests for children and teenagers, as well best-book contests.

According to the Tretyakov gallery's officials, Lyudmila Putin and Laura Bush will admire a Russian-art display dating back to the Middle Ages and until the early 20th century. The two First Ladies will be shown ancient Russian icons, as well as 18th century and 19th century sculptures.

The Tretyakov gallery has received quite a few high-ranking officials over the 1992-2002 period. Their list includes Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Beatrix of Holland, Prince Michael of Kent, as well Bernadette Chirac, the wife of French President Jacques Chirac.

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