2007-02-27 14:07:00

Luzhkov suggests converting casinos into book centers

Moscow, February 27, Interfax - Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov suggested Moscow’s gaming houses to be transformed into reading popularization centers.

‘Over two thousand casinos were open in Moscow, and now we actively close them. Let us open book centers instead. I think this is the direction we should take,’ Luzhkov said at the Moscow government meeting on Tuesday.

Popularization of reading is an important national task, he noted. ‘We should not cry or shout, but solve this problem. I am very glad that we have finally, maybe a bit too late, come to discuss the issue,’ the mayor said.

The Moscow government meeting reviewed a program of events aimed at supporting and popularizing reading in the city. According to Luzhkov, it was also important to increase the number of city libraries and bookshops, as well as to have business structures involved into reading popularization.

Regardless of electronic information carriers and computer networks development, the gadget cannot totally replace the book. ‘Our formation system should be balanced and provide some space for reading,’ Luzhkov noted.

He demanded ‘a large, serious program, which would include all necessary measures for improving the reading situation in Moscow’ to be drafted in 20 days.

According to the information given by Moscow’s head of committee for telecommunications and mass media Vladimir Zamuruyev, almost 40 percent of Moscow citizens never read books at all, 50 percent never buy them, and 60 percent do not subscribe for periodicals.

During the meeting, Moscow City Duma’s Speaker Vladimir Platonov said that in developed countries the proportion of people who read regularly is 52-56 percent, while in Russia it is but 23 percent.