|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 61, 27 March 1992
NOTE: Effective March 30, items on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will be included in the section, "Central and Eastern Europe." SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR PARTY DIEHARDS REJECT HUMAN RIGHTS FOR NEW RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION. On 26 March, the Russian parliament's House of Nationalities rejected part two of the draft Russian Constitution, according to Russian TV reports. This part, prepared by former Soviet prisoner of conscience and now the chairman of the parliament's Human Rights Committee Sergei Kovalev, lists guarantees of individual rights in Russia. The discussion of the second section lasted five hours, and it was put to a vote twice. Unlike the House of the Republic, the House of Nationalities includes many former top Communist Party officials. (Julia Wishnevsky) NAGORNO-KARABAKH UPDATE. Armenia and Azerbaijan continued to disagree over who should represent Nagorno-Karabakh at the CSCE Minsk peace conference. Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Salamov argued that delegates from Karabakh "cannot participate as delegates of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh parliament," while Armenian Foreign Minister Raffi Hovanissian insisted that the Nagorno-Karabakh representatives should have equal status with other participants, Western agencies reported on 26 March. UN Secretary- General Boutros Ghali appealed in New York on 26 March for an extension of the cease-fire due to expire today. The UN Security Council agreed on 26 March after discussing the Karabakh conflict that the UN should not become involved in any peacekeeping initiative for the region. (Liz Fuller) DNIESTER LEADER SIGNS DECREE ON MOBILIZATION. The president of the self-styled "Dniester republic," Igor Smirnov, signed a decree on 26 March ordering a partial mobilization of men up to the age of 45, ITAR-TASS reported. The move was justified on the grounds that Moldova is "actively preparing for combat operations." The decree cited as evidence, the Moldovan seizure of armaments and materiel from CIS military units stationed in Moldova, the mobilization of men liable to call-up, and terrorist acts. Smirnov also signed a decree putting the "Dniester republic" on Moscow time, which is one hour different from Chisinau time. (Ann Sheehy) TRANSFORMER STATION BLOWN UP ON LEFT BANK. A transformer station in Grigoriopol on the left bank of the Dniester was blown up on the night of 25 March, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 March. As a result power supplies to nearly all the Moldovan villages in the area were cut, and half the farmland was deprived of irrigation water. According to specialists, it will take two to three months to repair the damage. Central TV said on 26 March that fighting had resumed in the Dubosary area, and Moldovan forces were trying to cut the Tiraspol-Dubosary road, which would isolate the two main centers of the "Dniester republic" from each other. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN CHANGES DEFENSE ORGANIZATIONS. In a 26 March decree, Russian President Boris Yeltsin abolished the position of state councellor for defense and dissolved the State Committee for Defense. Interfax reported that General Konstantin Kobets, who had been the defense councellor--or advisor--had been "placed at the disposal" of the CIS commander in chief, Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov. Col. Gen. Pavel Grachev, who had chaired the defense committee, was appointed Russian first deputy minister of defense. (Doug Clarke) ANOTHER SUBMARINE INCIDENT. A submerged foreign submarine was detected on the morning of 25 March in the Barents Sea near the spot where an American and ex-Soviet submarine collided on 11 February. ITAR-TASS reported on 26 March that two warships of the Northern Fleet had tracked the submarine as it left Russian territorial waters. Rear Admiral Valerii Aleksin, identified as the CIS navy's chief navigator, speculated that the intruder was either an American or British nuclear submarine. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO LOSE THEIR PARLIAMENTARY MANDATES? Interfax reported on 24 March that a draft decree of the Russian parliament has been prepared that would require those parliamentarians who hold government posts to relinquish their deputies' mandates. Among those who would be affected by the ruling is Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai. On 25 March, ITAR-TASS reported that Russian Procurator General Valentin Stepankov has demanded that Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov, and Moscow local government administrator Nikolai Travkin, all of whom are also leaders of political parties or movements, choose between their state posts and their party posts. Stepankov is, somewhat belatedly, applying the provisions of the Decree on Power adopted by the first Congress of Russian People's Deputies in June 1990.(Elizabeth Teague) BURYATIA READY TO SIGN FEDERAL TREATY IF CHANGES MADE. The Buryat parliament voted on 26 March to sign the federal treaty but would like some additions and changes, Radio Rossii reported. The changes concern such fundamental issues, such as ownership of natural resources, the delimitation of powers between the Federation and the republics, and the primacy of federal and republican laws. The parliament also wanted the text supplemented with articles on the basic principles of the state structure for the Russian Federation and the status of its subjects. (Ann Sheehy) LAW ON REHABILITATION OF COSSACKS TO BE DRAWN UP. In accordance with Yeltsin's instructions the Russian government has formed a commission to draw up a draft law rehabilitating the Cossacks, Radio Rossii reported on 26 March. The commission will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai. It will also include representatives of the territorial Unions of Cossacks. After considerable pressure the Cossacks got themselves included in the 1991 RSFSR law on the rehabilitation of repressed peoples on the grounds of the savage persecution they were subjected to in the early years of Soviet rule, and they have since been agitating for a law to be enacted. (Ann Sheehy) MFA PERSONNEL CHANGES TO COME. Radio Rossii reported on 25 March that a number of personnel changes are expected in the Russian Foreign Ministry. Among them, the current head of the Press and Information Department, Vitalii Churkin, will be sent as ambassador to Chile. Churkin will be replaced by the editor-in-chief of the magazine VIP, Sergei Yazdrozhimersky. Career diplomats view Yazdrozhimersky's candidacy "rather suspiciously," the report said, while adding that he apparently has the support of Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. Radio Rossii echoed the frequent reports that Kozyrev himself is likely to leave his post soon. Radio Rossii was quoting the independent news agency Okapress. (Suzanne Crow) WESTERN BANKERS ROLL OVER CIS DEBT. On 26 March, a panel representing 600 Western creditor banks announced a further 30- day rescheduling of principal payments by the former Soviet republics, Western agencies reported. The CIS delegation undertook to improve their foreign exchange controls. They conceded that interest payments during the second quarter of 1992 might be delayed. (Debtors are technically required to keep interest payments up to date, but only about 30% of the interest coming due from the CIS has been paid in recent weeks). The Western side had been reportedly seeking longer-term solutions to the problem of the repayment of the CIS debt, but no enlightenment was offered on this score. (Keith Bush) UKRAINE ON COLLISION COURSE WITH IMF? Volodymyr Chernyak, one of the authors of Ukraine's latest economic reform, told Reuters on 26 March that Ukraine cannot follow the IMF precepts on free prices. "I am deeply convinced that neither in Russia nor in Ukraine is it possible to follow the classic IMF scheme. You cannot make free prices the cornerstone of reform." Chernyak said that Ukraine would like help from the IMF but "if we cannot convince them, we will go ahead anyway." Criticism of the Ukrainian reform program has already been aired by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Lanovy and by Oleksandr Savchenko, a leading Ukrainian reformer. (Keith Bush) UKRAINE TRIES TO HEAD OFF OIL PRICE INCREASE. Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin told RFE/RL on 26 March that he is trying to persuade Russia to cancel its planned increase in the prices of oil and petroleum products. Otherwise, Fokin said, Ukraine will retaliate by making the coupons now in circulation the only legal currency in Ukraine. (It was not immediately clear how this would help Ukraine pay for Russian oil. Besides, Ukraine and Russia reached a preliminary agreement in late February that Ukraine would return ruble notes to Russia as these were replaced by parallel or alternative currencies.) Fokin argued against cutting economic ties with Russia now to reach its goal of economic independence, because Ukraine does not have enough energy resources. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN OFFICIAL DENIES BUDGET CRISIS STORY. Sergei Vasilev, an advisor to the Russian government, has denied the 24 March Izvestiya story of a large deficit in the Russian budget. Speaking on Radio Rossii on 25 March, he said the budget was being fully implemented, and the first-quarter deficit would be "minimal." The Ministry of Finance has denied that the memo cited by Izvestiya exists. Considerable doubt remains about the denial. Irina Demchenko, who wrote the article, has a good track record; similar stories earlier were not denied; it is not clear which definition of "budget" is involved; and saying the deficit is "minimal" is less convincing than giving a number. (Philip Hanson) GORBACHEV TO BE INTERROGATED IN EARLY APRIL. Mikhail Gorbachev is to be questioned in early April, in connection with the case of misuse of the Communist party funds, Western agencies said on 25 March. Spokesmen for the Gorbachev Foundation have denied, however, an Interfax report that the former USSR President had been told not to leave Moscow in connection with the interrogation. According to the spokesmen, Gorbachev had merely "agreed" with Russian General Prosecutor Valentin Stepankov that testimony from the Party's last General Secretary would be useful for the probe. Interfax also said that most former Politburo members had already been questioned. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN PROSECUTORS REPORTEDLY SOLD OFFICIAL INFORMATION. "Novosti" quoted a report to have been distributed in the Russian parliament on 26 March, saying that the office of the Russian Federation General Prosecutor had approved the sale of video tapes relating to the case against the coup conspirators even before some of the tape transcripts appeared in the German magazine Der Spiegel. The report said that prosecutors received $2,000 and DM 3,000 for the tapes. This habit of selling official information for hard currency has created a major international stir in the CIS and elsewhere. (Julia Wishnevsky) WRITERS' UNION HONORS LUKYANOV. The reactionary leadership of the Russian Writers' Union held, on 26 March, a public reading of poetry by Anatolii Lukyanov, former chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet who is now in jail for his alleged role in last August's attempted coup. Despite organizers' appeals to Russian legal and governmental authorities, as well as to the British Queen and French president, Lukyanov was not allowed to leave the prison to attend the event. In an interview with Russian TV, a Union official Valerii Rogov confirmed that the reason Lukyanov was so honored was purely political, aimed to whitewash him in the eyes of the public. (Julia Wishnevsky) UKRAINE OPENS EMBASSY IN BUDAPEST, BUT NO THANKS TO RUSSIA. On 26 March, Ukraine opened its first embassy, in Budapest. It is situated in the building which formerly housed the West German embassy and the expenses have been met by a Transcarpathian commercial bank. In its report on the opening, Radio Ukraine commented that Russia had taken over all of the property that had belonged to the former Soviet embassy in Budapest and had refused to divide up these assets with other CIS members. Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Borys Tarasiuk, as cited by MTI, described the opening of the embassy as a "special event" that testified to the exemplary relations that have developed between the two neighboring states.(Bohdan Nahaylo and Edith Oltay) TURKMENISTAN TO HAVE OWN CURRENCY? The chairman of the Turkmenistan Universal Commercial Bank Senegat Kuklev told the Nega newspaper that Turkmenistan was close to creating its own currency, Radio Mayak reported on 26 March. Kuklev said they would not make the mistake of other republics that adopted coupons. The governments of Turkey and Iran had offered the republic help in creating its currency. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN-LANGUAGE SCHOOLS TO OPEN IN MOLDOVA. ITAR-TASS reported on 26 March that authorities in Chisinau will be opening a number of Ukrainian-language schools in the city in the new school year, as well as five kindergartens and a Ukrainian-Russian gymnasium [high school]. Although the 600,000 Ukrainians in Moldova form the country's largest national minority, the last Ukrainian schools in the republic were closed in the 1960s and the Ukrainian population subjected to russification. About 100,000 Ukrainians live in Chisinau (15% of the inhabitants). (Bohdan Nahaylo) METROPOLITAN REJECTS CRITICISM. Zhizn published in no. 11, March 1992, an interview with Metropolitan Pitirim of Volokolam and Yurev. The metropolitan, who is the head of the publishing department of the Russian Orthodox Church, is one of its leading hierarchs. He was accused recently in the press of being a "KGB operative." The metropolitan told the interviewer that he thinks it "unnatural" to defend himself against the campaign being waged now but that he never did anything illegal or amoral. (Oxana Antic) BALTIC STATES ESTONIA WANTS NUCLEAR PLANT CLOSED. Foreign Minister Lennart Meri told reporters on 26 March that Estonia has evidence that the Russian nuclear power station at Sosnovy Bor has been leaking radioactivity for 20 months. Estonia has called on Russia to shut down the plant after Tuesday's incident. (Riina Kionka) BALTIC STATES AGREE ON COMMON VISA SPACE. On 26 March the prime ministers of the three Baltic States signed a protocol in Tallinn creating a common visa space in the Baltic States. The accord takes effect immediately, Radio Riga and Radio Tallinn report. Citizens of the Baltic States will not have to pay a fee to cross any border within the visa space. For citizens of other countries, a visa for one of the Baltic States will also serve as a transit visa for the other two; a transit visa issued by one Baltic State will give a traveler the right to cross into the other two states and stay up to 48 hours. Accords were also signed on closer cooperation between the Baltic governments, customs services, and trade with the CIS states. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA WILLING TO HOST MINORITIES COMMISSIONER. An RFE/RL correspondent reported from Helsinki on 26 March that Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas offered Vilnius as the seat for either the main office or a regional branch of the office of the proposed High Commissioner for Minorities. Saudargas also said that if the position is approved, the commissioner should work closely with the CSCE office for democratic institutions in Warsaw. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA TO INVESTIGATE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. The Latvian Supreme Council decided on 25 March to start investigating repressions against the people of Latvia and damage done to the country by totalitarian regimes, notably those of the former USSR and Nazi Germany. A special commission is to be formed by 31 March and additional laws or revisions of existing laws are to be drafted by 1 May, Diena reports. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR DUMPED CHEMICALS IN THE BALTIC SEA. Citing Yurii Efremov, head of the chemical service of the Baltic Fleet of the former USSR, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 March that the Soviet Union dumped toxins, including mustard gas, in the Baltic Sea after World War II. Despite fears to the contrary expressed by Scandinavian environmentalists, Efremov claims that no massive leak could occur from the canisters containing the chemicals. (Dzintra Bungs) CHICAGO LITHUANIAN: "I WAS A DOUBLE-AGENT." A former Lithuanian parliament spokeswoman and US citizen told reporters on 26 March that the KGB pressured her into supplying information on Lithuanian emigres, but that she kept US officials aware of her activities at the same time. Rita Dapkus, a Lithuanian- American from Chicago, told Western agencies that she provided "generalized information" on about 20 emigres from 1986 until August 1991. She said she supplied the information because the KGB threatened to revoke her visa to Lithuania if she did not cooperate. Dapkus said she informed the FBI in Chicago during her yearly trips home; the FBI's Chicago office refused to comment. (Riina Kionka) CIS FIGHTER PLANES CRASH IN LATVIA. Two MiG-27 fighter planes of the former USSR armed forces crashed separately on 24 March in Latvia. Radio Riga reports that the pilots of both planes were killed but there were no injuries on the ground. The Latvian government was not informed of the practice flights or the circumstances surrounding the crashes. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SKUBISZEWSKI CONCERNED ABOUT RELATIONS WITH LITHUANIA. Back in Warsaw from the CSCE conference in Helsinki, Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski told a press conference that he is concerned about the future of Polish-Lithuanian relations, PAP reported on 26 March. The day before, Skubiszewski met with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Saudargas, to ask him to review the decision to delay self-government elections in the Vilnius and Salcininkai districts, areas inhabited predominantly by Poles. Polish authorities are also worried about the current review in Lithuania of titles to land and property. The minority issue, said Skubiszewski, influences relations between the two countries and "it would not be good if these deteriorate because of the way Lithuania treats Poles." (Roman Stefanowski) MORE INFORMATION ON POLISH WEAPONS SMUGGLERS. On 27 March Gazeta wyborcza published the names of seven Poles arrested in Germany on 10 March accused of trying to sell weapons worth some $100 million to Iraq. They include Wojciech Baranski, a retired three-star general in charge of army combat training from 1985 to 1989, Jerzy Napiorkowski, a former deputy finance minister, and Raimund Szwondra, deputy director of Lucznik, a hunting equipment factory in Radom. Also arrested was Stan Kinmann, an American citizen representing Ronald Hendron of the International Business Center. According to the paper, two ex-Soviet generals "vanished" just before the arrests were made. A spokesman for the Foreign Cooperation Ministry said the weapons in question did not originate in Poland. (Roman Stefanowski) CZECHOSLOVAK, GERMAN DEPUTIES MEET. Deputies of the Czechoslovak federal parliament and the German Bundestag said the development of French-German relations after the war could serve as a model for the relations between Germany and Czechoslovakia. The deputies met in Prague on 26 March to discuss ways of implementing the Czechoslovak-German friendship treaty signed in February. They also met with Karel Schwarzenberg, President Vaclav Havel's chief of staff, who said Czechoslovak-German relations should be improved, particularly at the level of regions and communities, and called for greater German investment in Slovakia, CSTK reports. (Barbara Kroulik) LIECHTENSTEIN WANTS PRAGUE TO RETURN LAND. The Principality of Liechtenstein may not ratify an accord with Czechoslovakia because Prague refuses to return property it confiscated from Liechtenstein's royal family in 1918. A government statement said on 26 March that Liechtenstein may delay the agreement reached last week between Czechoslovakia and the European Free Trade Association. An EFTA spokesman in Geneva, however, said other member nations are prepared to sign the free-trade agreement, Reuters reports. (Barbara Kroulik) HAVEL HONORED BY AMERICAN ACADEMY. Vaclav Havel became a honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters on 26 March. The Academy cited Havel for his work as a dramatist and his efforts for freedom and democracy. Academy president, Prague-born Hugo Weisgall, handed the diploma to Havel, who said he highly values his membership and will do his best to uphold the standards of the institution, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. The New York-based academy was founded 1889 to promote literature, music, and the fine arts. (Barbara Kroulik) ROMANIA'S NSF CONVENTION OPENS TODAY. The three- day convention of the ruling National Salvation Front begins on 27 March in Bucharest. Local and foreign media are speculating about the likely confrontation between President Ion Iliescu and NSF leader Petre Roman about who will be designated as the party's candidate for president of the country. On 26 March the Senate--whose speaker Alexandru Barladeanu is a long-time opponent of Roman--issued a report accusing Roman of misusing some 35 billion lei in governmental funds during his premiership in 1990-91. Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan (finance minister in Roman's government) expressed some irritation at the charges and said on television that impropriety on this scale could not have happened unnoticed by entire staffs of the ministries involved. (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT CRITICIZES PRESS. A government communique on 25 March condemned "chauvinist" attacks carried by some periodicals. Such attacks, it said, run counter to the constitution and international agreements, and legal bodies should take offenders to court. On 19 March, after receiving a delegation of the Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities headed by chief rabbi Moses Rosen, President Iliescu condemned the anti-Semitism of right- wing magazines like Europa and Romania mare, local media said. Former NSF ideologue Silviu Brucan said on 25 March that the language of Romania's extremist parties is a legacy of Ceausescu's chauvinism and has only a "minuscule appeal." (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIA AT THE HELSINKI CONFERENCE. On 25 March at the CSCE foreign ministers' conference in Helsinki, Adrian Nastase indirectly criticized Hungary's claim that a state's national security includes the protection of minorities in another country. He said this is not in accordance with the rules of international relations and repeated an earlier proposal that the CSCE process draw up a code of conduct on minority issues. Nastase also voiced concern about the activities of Cossack units operating in Moldova, Western and local sources report. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN MINERS STRIKE. Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov and Minister of Labor Vekil Vanov left on 26 March for Madan, a mining town in the Rhodope Mountains and center of the miners protest and strike warning over the past few days. According to the dailies on 27 March, as quoted by BTA, they arrived very late in the evening, after the miners had begun their strike. By way of emphasizing their occupational health risks, the miners have been threatening to take their women and children down into the mines. Debate is also continuing in the press over the government's announcement that it will discontinue production of uranium and lead, which was the main motive for the strike. (Rada Nikolaev) PODKREPA CHAIRMAN BECOMES VICE PRESIDENT OF ICFTU. While the miners of his confederation have been preparing for a strike, Podkrepa Chairman Konstantin Trenchev was attending the congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Venezuela, which ended on 24 March. Sofia dailies reported on 26 March that Trenchev was elected vice president of ICFTU, calling it a great distinction. Podkrepa has been an ICFTU member only since June 1991. (Rada Nikolaev) TENSION RISES IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. On 26 March the Presidency, or executive council, of the republic ordered the federal army to withdraw that same day from Bosanski Brod, where the army has been backing the efforts of Serbian irregulars to take control of that strategic transportation hub on the Croatian border. The Presidency said it would appeal to the UN Security Council if the army does not comply, which the army refuses to do. The 27 March Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung carries the story. The 26 March Vjesnik says that recent developments in Bosanski Brod show that the Serbian leadership is conducting a war against Bosnia-Herzegovina to consolidate the Serbian position there before that republic receives international recognition, which is expected to come on 6 April. (Patrick Moore) MACEDONIAN DEVELOPMENTS. Another ex-Yugoslav republic that is expected to be recognized on or after that day by most EC states is Macedonia. Vjesnik says that Greece continues to try to block that development, although Politika on 23 March argues that Athens has already lost its bid to do so. Vjesnik reports that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic ended a "strictly private" five-day visit to Greece on 24 March, after discussing Macedonia and other issues with top Greek leaders. Afterward he drove straight back to Serbia and did not stop in Skopje, as some Macedonian leaders had expected. That republic is the latest new East European state to launch a contest to replace the old, communist-era flag, coat-of-arms, and anthem, and has set a deadline of 10 April for entries. Finally, unemployment in Macedonia has reached 170,000 and is expected to hit 200,000 by the fall. (Patrick Moore) DJILAS CONTINUES TO SPEAK OUT. The 27 March New York Times carries an interview with Milovan Djilas, once Yugoslavia's best-known dissident and long regarded by many as the leading analyst of that country's politics. Djilas rejects criticism that he is partly responsible for the current crisis on account of his having headed the postwar commission that set the current boundaries between the republics. He says that his commission did the best it could given the complexity of ethnic settlement patterns. He likens his current critics to the "journalistic hooligans" who hounded him during the Tito era. He feels that "the great majority of what the communists did was bad," but that they should be given credit for trying "to bring people together across the boundaries of nationality and religion." America, Djilas says, seems "a little less able to play its role in the world," which could leave "the way open to everything bad." (Patrick Moore) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled b: Carla Thorson & 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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