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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 12, 2002

Opening Remarks by Mrs. Bush at the National Book Festival Opening Ceremony
The South Lawn

Thank you, and welcome to the White House, where we begin the second National Book Festival.

I am thrilled to share the stage with this remarkable group of people who inspire us with their professionalism, their talent, and their leadership.

I am especially pleased to be joined by a very special guest whose country boasts some of the world's most romantic, influential, and expressive literary figures -

Nikolai Gogol and Ivan Turgenev; Aleksandr Pushkin and Alexander Blok, Leo Tolstoi, and one of my favorites, Fyodor Dostoyevski - who wrote in St. Petersburg, a city I visited with the Russian First Lady in May of this year.

Mrs. Putin and I visited her university - St. Petersburg University - one of the most prominent and respected in her country. The university has vast hallway lined on one side with windows and on the other side with books, which the students use in their daily studies.

We walked down the long hall looking at case after case of books with titles in Russian and many other languages.

Mrs. Putin said that without fail - no matter what end of the hall she began her search - the books she needed were always at the opposite end of the hall.

Mrs. Putin is very interested in her country's libraries, especially the provincial libraries. We both agree that libraries are terrific places where children can explore their imaginations and where families can share the magic of reading. We share a great interest in libraries, and the visit to Russia inspired us to invite Mrs. Putin to our National Book Festival.

I am proud to welcome the First Lady of the Russian Federation to the people's house. Ladies and Gentlemen, my friend and fellow book lover, Mrs. Ludmila Putin.

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