|Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 56, 20 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CIS SUMMIT OPENS IN KIEV. Opening the meeting of CIS Heads of State in Kiev on 20 March, Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk said the summit was taking place at an extremely difficult time when confrontation was turning to war in some regions and the economy was threatened with disintegration, UkrINFORM-TASS reported. Kravchuk noted that the situation had deteriorated since the CIS was set up. Uzbek president Islam Karimov, elected chairman at Kravchuk's suggestion, said opinions differed so widely on the package of military, economic, and political questions to be decided that he doubted they could all be dealt with in one day. Outside a meeting was going on of those Ukrainian movements (including Rukh and the Ukrainian Republican Party) that oppose Ukrainian membership of CIS. (Ann Sheehy) MORE ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN UKRAINE. Russian reports that Kravchuk had agreed, in a telephone conversation with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, to honor the 1 July withdrawal deadline for tactical nuclear weapons have been denied by Kravchuk's press officer. (The reports were widely interpreted to mean Kravchuk had agreed to resume the transfers immediately.) As quoted by Reuters on 20 March, Vladimir Shlyaposhnikov denied the two presidents had even talked over the telephone. Viktor Antonov, the Ukrainian defense industry minister, told a Kiev news conference on 19 March he would like to see Ukraine receive some of the nuclear material from the dismantled weapons for use in its nuclear power stations, but admitted that this had not been an agreed part of the dismantling scheme. He said Ukraine had no facilities to dismantle weapons. (Doug Clarke) DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET PRIOR TO CIS SUMMIT. Reuter on 19 March reported that the CIS Defense Ministers were meeting that day near Kiev to seek compromises in the several divisive military issues that their heads of state were to take up on 20 March. While there were no reports on the results of the ministers' meeting, Ukrainian officials said the draft summit agenda consisted of 34 items, making it virtually impossible for all of the issues to be considered. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINE SAYS RUSSIA REFUSING TO SHARE ASSETS. On the eve of the Kiev summit, Ukraine's deputy minister for foreign affairs, Borys Tarasiuk, complained that Russia was refusing to divide up the foreign assets and property of the former USSR as agreed by CIS members (Radio Kiev, 19 March). Tarasiuk accused Russia of acting as if it were the sole legal successor to the USSR and said negotiations on sharing Soviet foreign assets had failed to produce results. (Bohdan Nahaylo) IRANIAN-BROKERED CEASE-FIRE IN NAGORNO- KARABAKH. A one-week truce in Nagorno-Karabakh goes into force at midday local time on 20 March, Iranian deputy foreign minister Mahmoud Vaaezi told Western reporters in Erevan on 19 March. The cease-fire is part of the Iranian peace proposals agreed in Tehran on 15 March and ratified by acting Azerbaijani President Yakub Mamedov and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan on 18 March; it will be monitored by Iranian observers. UN special envoy Cyrus Vance met with Ter-Petrossyan in Erevan on 19 March, and will travel to Nagorno-Karabakh on 20 March. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA DENIES INTRODUCING STATE OF EMERGENCY. The Armenian government rejected as "disinformation" a report broadcast on 18 March that it had introduced a state of emergency, but a foreign ministry spokesman conceded that such a step could be taken within the next few days in response to the Azerbaijani economic blockade, Western agencies reported on 19 March. (Liz Fuller) YELTSIN APPEALS TO TATARSTAN PARLIAMENT. In an appeal read out in the Russian parliament and broadcast by the Russian media on 19 March, Yeltsin said it was not too late for the Tatarstan parliament to comply with the Russian Constitutional Court's ruling on the 21 March referendum on Tatarstan's state status. Yeltsin said that he feared that nationalist forces could use the referendum--whatever its outcome--to kindle interethnic hostility both within and outside Tatarstan. The Russian parliament called on Yeltsin to enforce the Constitutional Court's ruling and said the results of the referendum would have no legal force. Tatarstan leaders said the referendum would go ahead as planned. (Ann Sheehy) DUBININ APPOINTED RUSSIA'S NEGOTIATOR WITH UKRAINE. Russian president Boris Yeltsin has appointed former Soviet ambassador to Washington Yurii Dubinin Russia's chief negotiator with Ukraine on political, economic, and military issues, Reuters reported on 18 March. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINIAN DECREE ON FOREIGN TRADE AND FOREIGN CURRENCY. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk signed a decree on 19 March liberalizing foreign trade and foreign currency regulations, Reuter reported on 20 March citing Kiev Television. The decree was said to stimulate imports and exports and to allow licensed traders to buy and sell freely on foreign markets. Foreign currency trading would also be permitted and retail stores allowed to keep accounts in foreign currency. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM. Professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of Yeltsin's Western advisers, told The Financial Times of 19 March that the Russian government is finalizing a mass privatization program which could place half of the shares of Russian industry in private hands within a year. Foreign investors would play a key role in the sale of "dozens" of the largest enterprises in the oil, gas, telecommunications, and automobile sectors. Shares in thousands of enterprises would be offered to workers, management, and the public through a system of individual vouchers and investment trusts like those being used in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN BUDGET DEFICIT. Recent pronouncements by Russian government officials suggest the budget deficit is running at a far higher rate than the "Economic Policy Memorandum" of 27 February envisaged or than the IMF recommended. Egor Gaidar is quoted (Washington Post, 20 March) as insisting that the deficit for the first quarter will not exceed 4-5% of the GNP, while other officials predict the quarterly deficit will reach 8-10%. Some 22 billion rubles extra has been set aside to meet the increased wages of the coalminers. Aleksei Ulyukaev told a news conference on 19 March that VAT collections had fallen short by 30 billion rubles, while income tax revenues were 5 billion rubles higher than planned, during the first two months of 1992. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN AGRICULTURAL REFORM PLANS. The Russian Cabinet of Ministers on 19 March discussed the progress of agricultural reform, Moscow TV-1 reported. At his news conference that day, Ulyukaev provided some specifics. The reform program for 1992-95 commences with the reorganization of loss- making farms and the stimulation of private farming. Of the 1,156 kolkhozes reorganized to date, only 32% have chosen to be broken- up into smaller farms, some 36% have become joint stock companies, 6% have become cooperatives, and the rest retain their previous status. By 1995, Russia intends to legalize the private buying and selling of farm land and to allow foreign investment in agriculture. (Keith Bush) SHAPOSHNIKOV ON CONSTRUCTION TROOPS. Air Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, the CIS commander in chief, says the presence of construction battalions in the army is a vestige of the past, adding: "We'll leave them behind at the end of the day." Interviewed on the "Vesti" news program on 19 March, Shaposhnikov said that if these units remained at all it would be for those wishing an alternative to military service. Young men not wishing to serve the compulsory 18 months in the military might opt for 24 months in a construction battalion. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN DEPUTIES KEEN TO IMPEACH BURBULIS. Russian television on 19 March broadcast the whole of that day's session of the Supreme Soviet. All parties in the legislature proved dissatisfied with the Yeltsin government and in particular with first deputy premier Gennadii Burbulis, accused by one deputy of abuse of power and trying to set up a personal dictatorship: the deputy called for Burbulis' impeachment. A majority of deputies seemed to favor stripping Yeltsin of the extraordinary powers he was granted last year to appoint government ministers without consulting parliament; they also wanted Russia's new constitution to ban the president from creating extraconstitutional bodies such as the "state advisers" (who monitor the performance of government ministers and are headed by Burbulis). (Julia Wishnevsky) NEW RULES FOR LOCAL OIL EXPORTS. According to Kommersant of 16 March, a government order of 9 March clarifies the rules for oil and gas exports by regional governments in the Russian Federation. Under a Yeltsin decree, regional authorities may buy up to 10% of the oil, oil products, or gas produced in their territories at the state price, and re-sell part of it (6 of the 10%) abroad for hard currency. It is now clear that this will be arranged through an allocation of 10% of the Russian Federation's export quota to regional authorities, on a competitive basis. Sales made under the quota are exempt from export duty and from the requirement to sell some of the proceeds for rubles. (Philip Hanson) REBUILDING GOLD AND DIAMONDS MONOPOLY? Russian Federation Deputy Finance Minister Golovatyi has reportedly recommended to Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar that all commodity-exchange sales of precious metals and stones should go through only one exchange, a specialist international exchange to be set up by the Ministry of Finance and the Almazzoloto corporation. According to Kommersant of 16 March, Golovatyi's 11 March memo proposes that no other exchanges be allowed to handle these items. Almazzoloto, formed last October, is the heir on Russian territory of the old state monopoly, Glavalmazzoloto (Izvestiya 3 October 1991). (Philip Hanson) MOSCOW LEADERS ARM THEMSELVES. Some two dozen "Margolin" pistols have been distributed to the members of the Moscow city government to ensure their personal security, the chief of Moscow's uniformed police informed Moscow News (no. 11, 1992). Arkadii Murashov said the arms were provided at the request of Moscow's deputy mayor, Yurii Luzhkov. However, neither Luzhkov nor his boss, Moscow mayor Gavriil Popov, took a weapon: both enjoy the protection of bodyguards from Boris Yeltsin's presidential security service. (Victor Yasmann) KGB ADMITS AIDS SCARE STORY. During a recruiting lecture for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Evgenii Primakov admitted that the KGB planted fake news stories blaming the spread of AIDS on a US military experiment. His statement was quoted in Izvestiya, as reported by Reuter on 18 March. Primakov said that the story, which was widely propagated in the Third World, was designed to expose the "perfidious" work of US military scientists. According to Primakov, US intelligence agencies retaliated by leaking so-called "evidence" of KGB complicity in the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II. (Keith Bush) MOLDOVA PROTESTS RUSSIAN SUPPORT FOR "DNIESTER" BANK. On March 18, Chisinau sent a protest note to Russia in connection with the Russian State Bank's decision to open accounts for the self-styled "state bank of the Dniester republic." The Russian State Bank's decision violated the laws and practices on interstate banking relations within CIS as well as Russian-Moldovan financial agreements, the note said as cited by Moldovapres. (Vladimir Socor) SPILLOVER INTO UKRAINE. According to Ukrinform and Radio Rossii of 18 March the number of refugees fleeing into the Odessa region of Ukraine from the armed conflict in Moldova has reached over 3,000. (Bohdan Nahaylo) OFFICIALS IN KAZAKHSTAN MUST DECLARE THEIR INCOME. As part of a series of measures to combat corruption and organized crime in Kazakhstan, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev has issued a decree requiring that public officials declare their annual income and prove how they earned it, KazTAG-TASS reported on 18 March. The decree also forbids public officials to accept gifts from organizations, enterprises, foreign governments, or private individuals in connection with their official duties. This part of the decree may prove difficult to enforce in a culture where the giving and receiving of gifts is so deeply ingrained. (Bess Brown) TURKISH TV IN CENTRAL ASIA. Uzbek TV has been experimentally broadcasting a Turkish TV program that eventually will be made available to all Central Asian states, Uza-TASS reported 19 March. In January, Turkish officials promised to set up a satellite system for broadcasting Turkish TV to Central Asia. That project is apparently still in the works, but the experiments in Uzbekistan are using parabolic antennas belonging to Uzbekistan's weather service. (Bess Brown) UN WARNS OF HEALTH SERVICE CRISIS IN CIS. A joint report by the World Health Organization and the UN Children's Fund, published on 18 March, said that the former Soviet republics urgently need help from the international community to avoid a health-care crisis. According to Reuter, the report is based on surveys conducted by 5 UN missions in February in the 11 CIS republics and the 3 Baltic states. In the five Central Asian republics, the report found, the crisis was "rapidly evolving and entirely unpredictable in its future trajectory and velocity." The report, to be sent to the governments that attended the January 1992 aid conference, calls for urgent aid to the value of $420 million. (Keith Bush) BALTIC STATES TROOP WITHDRAWAL TALKS GO FORWARD. The head of the Lithuanian delegation on talks with Russia on the withdrawal of former Soviet army troops from Lithuania, Minister without Portfolio Aleksandras Abisala, said that some progress was made in discussions in Moscow on 18-19 March, Radio Lithuania reports. Drawing up of a timetable has been hindered by the refusal of the army to give any specific information about its forces in the republic. Difficulties are also emerging in determining the size of the compensation Lithuania should receive for ecological and other damage the army caused during its stay. Sergei Zotov, head of Russia's delegation of experts discussing the withdrawal of ex- Soviet troops from Latvia told the press on 19 March before returning to Moscow that the talks in Ligatne were constructive, and that many issues were discussed, including the defense industry in Latvia. Nonetheless, further talks will take place in order to draft a formal accord. Large-scale troop withdrawals can be expected later this year, Zotov said, adding that Yeltsin has appointed an envoy to Latvia whom he did not identify, Radio Riga reports. (Saulius Girnius & Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN MINISTER ON TROOP PULLOUT. Defense Minister Talavs Jundzis called the withdrawal of 49 soldiers from Latvia on 19 March "a theatrical performance"; he noted that "if it keeps on like this, we won't be alive long enough to see the last one go," Radio Riga reported that day. At the ceremonial sendoff in Bolderaja there were almost as many reporters as soldiers leaving Latvia. Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov said that this is the beginning of the withdrawal process, which will continue after Latvia and Russia work out a formal accord on the pullout. Latvian officials boycotted the ceremony at Bolderaja as they had done on 12 March at Salacgriva, when an even a smaller number of soldiers departed. Mironov said that there were about 45,000 troops in Latvia, but Latvian officials consider the figure to be too low. (Dzintra Bungs) FINNISH PRESIDENT PLEDGES SUPPORT TO ESTONIA. During a luncheon speech in Tallinn on 19 March, Finland's President Mauno Koivisto said that his country "is ready to give continued support to the struggles of the Estonian people." He added that the economy must be reformed in order to close the gap in living standards between Estonia and Western Europe. During his visit to Estonia, Koivisto met with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi and other Estonian leaders, Reuters reports. (Dzintra Bungs) MORE POWERS FOR LANDSBERGIS? The National Progress faction in parliament is planning to propose legislation granting greater powers to Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis and Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reported on 19 March. The proposals would give the Supreme Council chairman the power to appoint all cabinet members, except for the ministers of national defense and internal affairs, on the recommendation of the prime minister but without requiring the consent of parliament. He could also return laws passed by parliament for modification. The prime minister would be allowed to appoint and dismiss the mayors of cities with the approval of the Supreme Council chairman. If these changes are accepted, the planned 23 May referendum on creating a presidency may well become unnecessary. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UPDATE ON THE YUGOSLAV AREA. The 20 March Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports continued cease-fire violations by the federal army in Croatia over the previous 24 hours. Some 250 mortar rounds fell around Osijek and another 150 around Nova Gradiska. Other fighting was reported in Dalmatia from Zadar to Dubrovnik. Reuters quotes Serbian officials in the Baranja region they occupy as saying that Croatian forces had shelled the area. On 19 March Austrian TV said that 50 Norwegian logistics specialists have arrived in Croatia as part of the advance group of 400 UN peace-keeping officers. The 19 March issue of Vjesnik reported that the EC-sponsored plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina allots 52 of the republic's districts to the Muslims, 37 to the Serbs, and 20 to the Croats. The paper added that in terms of total territory this means that the Muslims and Serbs would each get about 44%--i.e., the Serbs would have more and the Croats less of a share of the land than their respective 33% and 18% of the republic's total population would seem to entitle them. Finally, the daily notes that 50 countries have now recognized Croatia, with Libya and Japan being the most recent. (Patrick Moore) UNPROFOR COMMANDER CRITICIZED IN CROATIA. Borba reports on 19 March that several opposition leaders and the media in Croatia have criticized Gen. Satish Namibar, the UNPROFOR commander. The Belgrade daily cited an article from Vjesnik (Zagreb) in which Gen. Namibar's logistics were called "neither flawless nor unbiased." Vjesnik was critical of Namibar for visiting Belgrade before Zagreb, and for having flown with Yugoslav Airlines from New York to Belgrade accompanied by "warmonger" Borisav Jovic, a Serb and member of the rump Yugoslav State Presidency. Borba suggests that Croatia is generally not satisfied with the UN plan for the deployment of peacekeeping forces in Croatia and hopes for their early withdrawal. Mika Tripalo, a prominent opposition leader, is quoted as saying that Croatia will lose all sovereignty in the protected areas under the UN plan. Drazen Budisa, head of the Croatian Social Liberal Party, stated that because the UN troops are stationed exclusively in Serb areas they will actually be "protecting the Serbs from Croats who have never threatened them." (Milan Andrejevich) OLSZEWSKI IN FRANCE. Polish Prime Minister Jan Olszewski expressed satisfaction with his official trip to France, saying that all goals of the visit were fulfilled. On 20 March he told reporters that Poland enjoys "great sympathy" in France. Olszewski also announced that a commission will be named to facilitate foreign investment. President Fran¨ois Mitterrand said he favors Poland's entry into the EC in principle but stressed that Warsaw should not harbor any illusions that EC membership would be the answer to its economic problems. Prime Minister Edith Cresson expressed the opinion that Europe cannot continue to be built without Poland, Western and Polish media report. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) WALESA: STOP FLOODING POLAND WITH IMPORTS. President Lech Walesa has called on Western countries to stop flooding Poland with their products and help build up the country's own industry instead. He told Handelsblatt and the Wall Street Journal on 19 March that Western imports have contributed to the decline of Polish industry. Walesa also said that Poland wants to pay back its debts but questioned whether it is best to do so now rather than using the money for the future. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) SLANDER CASE AGAINST GLEMP REJECTED. On 19 March US Federal Court Judge Robert Patterson dismissed a slander suit filed by New York rabbi Avi Weiss against the Polish Catholic Primate, Cardinal Jozef Glemp. According to Western media, the suit was thrown out on a legal technicality--that Glemp had not been served a proper summons. The rabbi said he would appeal the ruling. Weiss alleges Glemp defamed him during a mass in August 1989 in Czestochowa, by falsely accusing him of planning to kill nuns living at a Carmelite convent outside the Auschwitz concentration camp. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLAND AGREES TO EXTRADITE US TAX EVADER. On 19 March the provincial court in Lublin agreed to extradite David Bogatin, chairman and majority owner of the First Commercial Bank of Lublin, one of Poland's new private banks. He is wanted in the US for tax evasion, fraud, and forgery. Bogatin's attorneys have argued that tax evasion is not covered by the Polish-US extradition treaty, but the court ruled that Bogatin could be extradited on the forgery charge, Western and Polish media report. The Russian-born Bogatin has US citizenship. He fled the US in 1987, forfeiting $500,000 in bail. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) JAKES SAYS COMMUNIST PARTY WANTED REFORMS. Former Czechoslovak Communist Party General Secretary Milos Jakes told the Vienna daily Der Standard of 19 March that although the party had made errors, it wanted to institute reforms in 1990. The ouster of the communists in 1989 interrupted the reform process. Jakes said that Czechoslovakia was proceeding slowly to avoid the mistakes of Poland's and Hungary's reforms. He also said that the CP leadership had been forced into some of its errors by Soviet demands that Czechoslovakia give priority to heavy industry and produce consumer goods cheaply at the expense of quality. (Barbara Kroulik) McDONALD'S IN PRAGUE. McDonald's opened its first fast- food facility in Prague on 19 March. Housed in an art-nouveau building off Wenceslas Square, it has been described as one of the classiest establishments in the city. Manager Karel Suk said the meat comes from southern Bohemia and the buns and fries are imported from Moscow but he wants to use only local suppliers by the end of 1992. Prague residents were not impressed; the outlet replaces a restaurant with lower prices, Western agencies report. (Barbara Kroulik) PRIVATIZATION IN HUNGARY. Hungary's State Property Agency (SPA), in charge of privatizing state assets, has privatized 4,000 state-owned companies thus far and wants to prepare another 2,000 for sale by transforming them into shareholding ventures by year's end, SPA head Lajos Csepi told Western newsmen on 19 March. Csepi reported that Hungary's income from privatization of state firms has reached $178 million by the end of February, a 38% increase over the end-of-January figure. He predicts that the entire privatization process can be completed in about four years.(Edith Oltay) HUNGARY SIGNS ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGREEMENT. On 19 March in Helsinki Hungary became one of the over 20 countries to sign the UN European economic committee's environmental protection convention. The signatories are obliged to inform each other about companies using hazardous materials, pledge to investigate the sources of water pollution, and work out plans for emergencies. Great importance is attached to reducing water pollution in neighboring countries since a substantial part of Hungary's rivers originate outside the country. (Edith Oltay) FUNDS FOR CULTURE IN ROMANIA LACKING. Romania's Culture Minister Ludovic Spiess said on 19 March that his ministry's 1992 budget is only 0.32% of the national budget. Three billion lei should be added to the allotted 3.8 billion, he says, otherwise it will be impossible to continue restoration of historic monuments, complete the National Library and the National History Museum, and fund significant cultural events and museums. (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIA ON MOLDOVA, TREASURY. On 19 March President Ion Iliescu sent messages to the presidents of Russia and Ukraine urging them to take joint action to find a negotiated settlement to the conflict. Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase said that during his recent talks in Moscow he noticed a shift in Russia's stand about Romania's state treasury confiscated in 1917 by the Soviets. For the first time the Russians have agreed to set up a joint commission to look into the matter. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN-TURKISH MILITARY AGREEMENT DELAYED. A Turkish military delegation, headed by first deputy chief of general staff Fikret Kupeli, ended a visit on 19 March without the planned signing of an agreement on military cooperation. BTA said on 19 March that the government approved the agreement on cooperation in military training in principle but additional coordination will be necessary and Bulgaria will be ready to sign by 27 March. Separately the government approved a draft agreement abolishing restrictions on the movement of diplomatic and consular personnel on the respective territories, excluding certain zones. Also on 19 March the government discussed border problems with Turkey, especially in connection with the recent violations of Bulgarian Black Sea waters by Turkish fishing boats. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN-US LABOR AGREEMENT. On 18 March Minister of Labor Vekil Vanov, who has been on a working visit to the US for more than a week, and his US counterpart Lynn Martin signed a memorandum on cooperation in helping Bulgaria design and implement worker assistance programs. An RFE/RL correspondent and Bulgarian Radio report from Washington that this is the fourth US labor assistance program with former communist states, after those signed with Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. (Rada Nikolaev) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by: Elizabeth Teague & Charles Trumbull The RFE/RL Daily Report is produced by the RFE/RL Research Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Inc.) in Munich, Germany, with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). The report is available Monday through Friday, except holidays, at approximately 0800 US Eastern Time (1400 Central European Time) by fax, post, or e-mail. The report is also posted daily on the SOVSET computer network. For-inquiries about specific news items, subscriptions, or additional copies, please contact: In USA: Mr. Jon Lodeesen or Mr. Brian Reed RFE/RL, Inc., 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036. Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6900 fax: (202) 457-6992 or -202-828-8783; or in Europe: Mr. David L. Troyanek or Ms. Helga Hofer Publications Department, RFE/RL Research Institute Oettingenstrasse 67 8000 Munich 22 Telephone: (-49 89) 2102-2631 or -2642 fax: (-49 89) 2102-2648
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