|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 18, 28 January 1993
RUSSIA RUTSKOI FAULTS US ON IRAQ, WARNS ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi said in an interview with Interfax on 27 January, "I am against the tactics of force against Iraq being employed by the USA," referring to the "disproportionate and sometimes ill-conceived deployment of the U.S. armed potential." He also faulted the United States for allegedly failing to give Russia ample notice of planned military actions taken against Iraq. Rutskoi warned that similar actions by the United States, which he described as unilateral moves taken under the banner of the United Nations, must not be repeated in Yugoslavia, Interfax reported. -Suzanne Crow CHURKIN IN ZAGREB, WARNS TUDJMAN. AFP reported on 27 January that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin told Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to withdraw Croatian troops from territory they have seized in the Krajina region. Otherwise, Churkin said, Croatia may face UN sanctions, an idea raised by Russian officials in Moscow during the last few days. According to Radio Croatia, Churkin argued that the recently initiated Croatian military operations are not in Croatia's interests. -Suzanne Crow and Hal Kosiba RUSSIA, UKRAINE END NUCLEAR TALKS. Two days of Russian-Ukrainian talks on implementing the START-1 treaty and on ensuring the safety of the strategic nuclear weapons in Ukraine ended on 27-January. Interfax reports that the joint statement indicates the two sides had made progress on preparing a draft treaty on the supervision of strategic missile complexes. They decided that special groups of experts should consider various options for dismantling, transporting, and destroying the missiles now in Ukraine. CIS Commander-in-Chief Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov told Interfax that it is possible that Russia could provide some material compensation to Ukraine for these strategic weapons, but he cautioned that when all the expenses involved in dismantling the missiles were added up, the cost to Russia might exceed the benefits it would receive. Doug Clarke RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR ON THE CRIMEA. Russia's ambassador to Ukraine, Leonid Smolyakov, told journalists in Simferopol that the recent demonstrations in the Crimea should serve to speed up the search for balanced political solutions to existing problems, Holos Ukrainy reported on 27 January. Among the problems raised by Smolyakov were dual citizenship and the referendum. He also noted that the discussion of the status of Sevastopol in the Russian parliament is "an exploratory process" and that no one intends to claim Ukrainian territory. According to the ambassador, he is not aware of a single case of forced Ukrainization, "including in the Crimea." -Roman Solchanyk RUSSIAN FARM SUPPORT DECREE. On 23 January, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a decree "On Emergency Measures for Financial Support of the Agro-Industrial Complex of the Russian Federation," ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and Russian TV reported on 27-January. No reason was given for the delay in publication. It calls for the writing off of construction debts incurred by farms, the payment of subsidies on livestock products delivered to the state, and subsidies on fuel and energy used by farms. The decree says that direct subsidies to farms will be replaced during 1993 by indirect support in the form of guaranteed prices for produce delivered. The additional cost to the federal budget was put at 160 billion rubles. -Keith Bush KHASBULATOV FOR NEW ELECTIONS IN 1994. Russian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov told a gathering of young politicians and sociologists in Moscow that one should not overestimate the significance of the new Russian Constitution, which is to be adopted after the April referendum, because the Constitution will have only a provisional character and will be altered with time, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 January. Khasbulatov thus indicated that a future parliament would continue altering the Constitution during the next few months-as the Congress is doing now. He also said that he is skeptical about the referendum because it casts doubt on the Federation Treaty. Khasbulatov spoke out in favor of early presidential and parliamentary elections in the spring of 1994. -Alexander Rahr TATARSTAN, SAKHA (YAKUTIA), AND APRIL REFERENDUM. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said at a press conference in Kazan on 27 January that it would be sensible to sign the treaty between Russia and Tatarstan before the April referendum on the basic provisions of the Russian constitution, ITAR-TASS reported. Shaimiev said that, without the treaty, the people of Tatarstan would not know what they were voting for. There have been fears that some of the republics of the Russian Federation will not participate in the referendum, thus undermining the integrity of the federation, and Shaimiev's remarks are clearly aimed at putting pressure on Russia to agree to the treaty on Tatarstan's terms. According to Radio Mayak of 27 January, the presidium of the Sakha Supreme Soviet has reservations about the referendum, and more and more people in the republic are against holding it. -Ann Sheehy RUSSIAN ENTERPRISE DEBT REACHES 5 TRILLION RUBLES. The problem of interenterprise debt that reached crisis proportions last summer appears to be threatening the Russian economy again. In an interview with Trud, published on 28 January the chairman of the State Committee on Industrial Policy revealed that interenterprise debt had reached five trillion rubles, or some 20% of GNP. Shurchkov expects that in February another program of debt cancellation and refinancing will have to be undertaken; this would be similar to last year's measures that resulted in new credits totaling hundreds of billions of rubles being issued to troubled enterprises Shurchkov said, however, that most enterprises have now adjusted to their new economic environment and that this will be the last time the problem will emerge. -Erik Whitlock RUSSIAN SECURITY MINISTRY ON WESTERN ESPIONAGE. The spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Security, General Andrei Chernenko, accused Western secret services of meddling in Russian internal affairs and of encouraging separatist tendencies in various regions of Russia, Western agencies reported on 27-January. Speaking at a press-conference, Chernenko declined to name the secret services involved, but said that about 10 foundations, directed by former intelligence officers, are coordinating their activities against Russia. Chernenko also cited the achievements of his service in the struggle against corruption, smuggling, the proliferation of dangerous weapons technologies, and drug trafficking. Over 200-senior officials have been arrested for corruption in 1992, he added. -Victor Yasmann NEW BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER TOUCHES BASE IN KIEV. According to Interfax on 27 January, the newly appointed commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Vice Admiral Eduard Baltin, held a short meeting in Kiev on his way to his headquarters in Sevastopol. He met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, who reportedly congratulated him on his new appointment, and with Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov. -Doug Clarke RUSSIAN TRADE UNIONS DEMAND INCREASE IN MINIMUM WAGE. The Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions is demanding that the minimum wage be raised from 2,250 to 4,400 rubles a month starting on 1 February, according to ITAR-TASS on 26-January. Parliament has already approved a resolution raising minimum pensions to 4,275 rubles per month from 1 February. The trade unions would like the minimum wage to be raised gradually to the level of the minimum subsistence budget, which they currently estimate to be 6,500 rubles. They further demand that the minimum wage be linked to inflation, and reviewed on a quarterly basis. Sheila Marnie AID PROGRAM FOR RADIATION VICTIMS IN THE URALS. The Russian Council of Ministers has approved a program which envisages a series of measures to help radiation victims in the Urals region, according to ITAR-TASS on 27 January. It is estimated that 450,000 people in the area are suffering from the effects of radioactive emissions from the Mayak production association in the Chelyabinsk region, to which they were exposed in the 1940s and '50s. The aid will be financed from the federal budget, and will cost about 11.7-billion rubles; 4.2 billion rubles will be spent on compensation payments to victims of radiation exposure, 3.2 billion on the socio-economic rehabilitation of the region, and 1.6-billion on health services. The Mayak plant still produces plutonium and reprocesses wastes from nuclear power stations. -Sheila Marnie TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIA WARNS NEIGHBORS ON DANGER FROM NUCLEAR REACTOR. On 27 January Armenian Prime Minister Khosrow Arutyunyan warned the governments of the CIS countries, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey that the safety system at Armenia's Medzamor nuclear power station near Erevan is "virtually out of control" as a result of the power blackout caused by the 23 January explosion that damaged the main gas supply pipeline through Georgia to Armenia, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Ostankino TV, Armenia has appealed to Turkey to supply electricity. In December, 1992, the Turkish government reneged on an earlier agreement to supply electricity to Armenia because of pressure from the opposition Motherland Party. - Liz Fuller FIGHTING CONTINUES EAST OF DUSHANBE. Tajik government troops were still battling opposition fighters in the Ramit Gorge east of Dushanbe on 27 January, ITAR-TASS reported. The government forces insisted that their opponents are well-armed but have little hope of maintaining resistance for long, because there is practically no way out of the gorge. Tajikistan's Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs told an RFE/RL correspondent that the government had given the opposition fighters in Ramit Gorge, whom he identified as supporters of the Islamic Renaissance Party, until midnight to surrender. The official estimated that some 600 opposition fighters were in the Ramit Gorge. - Bess Brown UZBEK MUSLIM LEADER ATTACKS TAJIK CLERICS. Mufti Muhammad-Sadyk Muhammad-Yusuf, chairman of the Muslim Religious Board for Central Asia, complained to Interfax on 27 January that he had repeatedly warned Tajikistan's religious leaders not to become involved in politics and had even made them sign forms to that effect. He also criticized the Islamic Renaissance Party, a major element in the anti-Communist opposition in Tajikistan. A parallel organization in Uzbekistan with the same name remains illegal but is reported to be flourishing in some parts of Uzbekistan, particularly the Fergana Valley; the party is seen as a threat by Uzbekistan's political leadership and its official Muslim leadership as well. - Bess Brown NEW DIPLOMATIC MOVES ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH. On 23 January Mario Raffaelli, who chaired the five abortive rounds of preliminary talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan aimed at paving the way for a CSCE peace conference on Nagorno-Karabakh, traveled to Baku and Erevan to consult with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, ITAR-TASS reported. Ter-Petrossyan subsequently stated that Armenia would agree to an unconditional ceasefire, but that if Azerbaijan imposed new conditions, then the leadership of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic had the right to do so too. On 26 January Azertadzh quoted Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofik Gasymov as proposing new steps for resolving the Karabakh impasse, specifically the withdrawal of "all foreign troops" from the territory of Azerbaijan, a 120 day ceasefire, and the stationing in Lachin raion and "in the conflict zone" of CSCE observers. Armenia is unlikely to agree to withdraw from the Lachin corridor linking Armenia with Karabakh, as this would leave the beleaguered population of Stepanakert without reliable supplies of food and medication. -Liz-Fuller CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SLOVAK PARLIAMENT AGAIN FAILS TO ELECT PRESIDENT. The National Council of the Slovak Republic failed for a second time to elect a president on 27 January. Roman Kovac, the candidate of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia won 78 votes in the 150seat legislature, 12 short of the necessary three-fifths majority. His only contender in the second round, Milan Ftacnik of the excommunist Party for a Democratic Left, received 31 votes. Agencies report that 30-deputies abstained and 7 others cast invalid ballots. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar indicated after the voting that the MDS is "not united" and that a struggle against his party is now being carried out even within its own structures. He accused the foreign minister and MDS Deputy Chairman Milan Knazko of "grossly violating party discipline." The next round of the presidential elections will be held on 15 and 16 February. The MDS nominated a new candidate, the former chairman of the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly, Michal Kovac (who is not related to Roman Kovac). -Jan Obrman HAVEL SUPPORTS MILITARY INTERVENTION IN BOSNIA. In the first interview with the Czech Press Agency CTK after his election, President Vaclav Havel said that the Czech Republic should "support the idea of an international military intervention in Bosnia," CTK reported on 27 January. Havel said that the Czech Republic should soon send out a "strong and clear message" to this effect. The President added that Czech "foreign policy should be based on the principle of responsibility for developments in the world and particularly in Europe. We will do ourselves a great service if we make it clear that we care about events around us." Havel also said that while he did not agree with the Czech government on all aspects of foreign policy, he expects no problems in cooperating. -Jan Obrman SERBIAN TUGS DEFY ORDERS TO STOP. In a statement released on 27 January and carried by Rompres, the Romanian government said it has ordered authorities to take all measures provided for by the resolutions of the UN Security Council, including measures of constraint in order to stop the Serbian barges carrying fuel up the Danube. The statement said the government will seek CSCE and Security Council assistance in acquiring the technical means to enforce the embargo. According to Reuters, however, government spokeswoman Doina Jalea said Romania does not support the use of force against the Serbian barges. Meanwhile, Romanian TV said on 27 January that four Serbian tugboats pulling barges continue to defy Romanian orders to stop and are heading towards Serbia. One convoy has already reached the Serbian section of the Danube. Meanwhile, in a Foreign Ministry statement on 27 January, Bulgaria declared that it can not halt sanction-breakers without Romanian assistance. BTA reports that Bulgarian and Romanian customs officials had conferred two days earlier in Vidin, only to establish that both sides lack the means to halt the barges by force. -Michael Shafir and Kjell Engelbrekt CROATIA SITUATION UPDATE. Radios Croatia and Serbia report on 27 January that fighting has intensified between Croatian and Serbian forces in areas under UN protection. A Serbian counter-offensive has recaptured several villages around the town of Maslenica. Croatian and Serbian troops are building their forces in key areas of the "Serbian Republic of Krajina." The UN Security Council issued a statement on 28 January saying the fighting in Croatia is "in flagrant violation" of a binding resolution demanding an end to the violence by Croats and Serbs. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said that the risk of a serious escalation of the conflict between Croats and Serbs in Croatia is "extremely high" and that Croatia's action places the entire peace process in the region in jeopardy. Western media reports say the fighting has raised the possibility that the UN might withdraw from Croatia. -Milan Andrejevich BOSNIAN SITUATION UPDATE. On 28 January Radios Bosnia and Croatia reported intense fighting between Croats and Muslims and Serbs and Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnian Croat leader Mate Boban and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, who agreed to a truce in Geneva on 27 January, said that the conflicts between them benefit only the Serbs. Meanwhile, the international-mediated peace talks are said to have stalled. Izetbegovic reiterated his warning that he will pull out of the negotiations if the situation in both Bosnia and Croatia continues to deteriorate. -Milan Andrejevich INTERNATIONAL REACTIONS. On 27 January Turkish President Turgut …zal accused the Security Council of a double standard because it enforces resolutions against Iraq, but not against Serbia. According to the Boston Globe, …zal warned he might ban US warplanes patrolling the no-fly zone in northern Iraq from using bases in Turkey if the UN does not act decisively to halt Serb aggression against Muslims. US dailies report the Clinton administration is reviewing policy in what one official quoted by the Washington Post described as a "comprehensive wall-to-wall approach" to every aspect of the Balkan crisis. Meanwhile, more than 100 well-known figures, including former Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, and former British Prime Minister Thatcher, have sent an open letter to President Clinton urging an end to "the attempted genocide" of the Bosnian people. The letter was published in the Washington Times on 27 January. -Milan Andrejevich POLISH JUSTICE MINISTER SUSPENDED. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka ordered Justice Minister Zbigniew Dyka on a month's forced leave on 27-January. She had announced two days earlier that she had "lost confidence in the leadership of the prosecutor's office." The justice minister is ex officio the prosecutor general. The source of Suchocka's displeasure was the "reprehensible" decision to assign a prosecutor involved in the political trials of the 1980s to the slander investigation in connection with allegations that President Lech Walesa's closest aide, Mieczyslaw Wachowski, was a secret police agent. The prosecutor in question, Jacek Andrzej Kaucz, had demanded a ten-year sentence for Wroclaw Solidarity leader Wladyslaw Frasyniuk during the martial law period. Leaders of the Christian National Union-Dyka's party-told reporters on 27-January that they agreed with the suspension but said it could have consequences for the ruling coalition. -Louisa Vinton POLISH ABORTION DEBATE MOVES TO SENATE. The Senate is expected on 29 January to vote on amendments to the restrictive abortion law passed by the Sejm on 7 January. The commissions assigned to review the law have reached dramatically different conclusions. The legislative commission voted on 19-January to propose a total ban on abortion, with the only exception being a "direct threat" to the pregnant woman's life. Other amendments would impose prison sentences on women who induce abortions themselves and oblige local governments to provide "information about conscious procreation," rather than contraceptives, as the Sejm's version stipulates. The human rights commission, on the other hand, proposed liberalizing the Sejm draft by permitting abortion for women in "difficult life situations" and striking the provision giving the fetus the legal status of a person. Gazeta Wyborcza calculated on 20 January that the proponents of the restrictive bill slightly outnumber supporters of the liberal version. -Louisa Vinton CSURKA NOT ELECTED AS HDF VICE PRESIDENT. Istvan Csurka, controversial writer and leader of the right-wing faction of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum, failed to be elected by the party's presidium as one of the six party vice presidents, MTI reports. In December 1992 the HDF temporarily suspended the posts of vice presidents in order to blunt criticism of the party in connection with the activities of Csurka, then one of the vice presidents. The selection of the vice presidents and the HDF executive chairman, second in command after party chairman Jozsef Antall, took place three days after the HDF's national meeting. Minister of Defense Lajos Fur, incumbent HDF executive president, was reconfirmed in that post. -Karoly Okolicsanyi ESTONIAN-HUNGARIAN TALKS IN BUDAPEST. Prime Ministers Mart Laar of Estonia and Jozsef Antall of Hungary met in Budapest on 27 January 1993, MTI reports. They agreed to set up a joint economic committee to encourage bilateral trade. Laar said Estonia is interested in studying Hungarian experience in privatization and Soviet troop withdrawal experiences, he said. There was also mention of a possible Finnish-Estonian-Hungarian summit meeting. Antall and Laar also called for measures to protect the Khanty, a Finno-Ugric people related to both the Hungarians and the Estonians, who live around Russia's oil-producing Tyumen region. The visit is the first ever to Hungary by an Estonian head of state. -Karoly Okolicsanyi and Riina Kionka SPIROIU ON RELATIONS WITH HUNGARIAN ARMY. Romanian National Defense Minister Nicolae Spiroiu says his ministry and the Hungarian Defense Ministry both express a desire to cooperate in ironing out trouble spots between the two countries. In an interview with RFE/RL on 27 January, Spiroiu said they hope to set an example for political relations between the two states. A Hungarian Foreign Ministry delegation is currently in Bucharest conducting talks on a bilateral treaty. -Michael Shafir KOZLODUY INCIDENT WAS "SERIOUS." Bulgarian energy experts on 27 January said the fire at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in late September was the most serious incident in the history of the plant, BTA reports. Georgi Stoilov, Deputy Chairman of the Union of Power Engineers, told a press conference in Sofia that Kozloduy officials and the National Electric Company had intentionally played down the consequences of a fire in the backup electric equipment in the sixth reactor. Stoilov dismissed the official investigations as "biased" and said the UPE will now initiate its own probe into the circumstances and effects of the incident. -Kjell Engelbrekt HOXHA TRIAL ENDS. The 71-year-old Nexhmije Hoxha, widow of former communist strongman Enver Hoxha, has been sentenced to nine years in prison for misappropriation of some 750,000 leks (somewhat under $100,000 at the official rate) in state funds between the time her husband died in 1985 and 1990. Chiefly at issue were funds used for the Hoxha family's living expenses. The prosecution had sought a 14-year sentence, but the judge justified the lesser term on the basis of her age and the state of her health. Mme. Hoxha's codefendant, Kino Buxheli, who was in charge of attending to the personal needs of the communist leadership, received a four-year sentence. The trial was the first for any member of Albania's former communist elite. -Charles Trumbull KUCHMA EVALUATES HIS GOVERNMENT. Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma held a press conference in Kiev to mark his first hundred days in office, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 27 January. In the next few days the Cabinet of Ministers will present parliament with its economic reform package, said Kuchma. He also told journalists that there can be no return to the old administrative-command system and that Ukraine should cooperate with all of the former Soviet republics on the basis of mutual benefit. -Roman Solchanyk UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OPPOSES GOVERNMENT DECREES. Parliament has called for important modifications of recent governmental acts concerning economic reform, Interfax reported on 25 and 27 January. On 25 January Parliament adopted in principle a draft decree on the social-economic situation in the country that recommended, inter alia, that the government reestablish fixed prices for some necessities, such as milk, butter, salt, sugar and vegetable oil. On the 27th parliamentarians urged restrictions on the resale of land bought from state enterprises for private commercial use. Parliament also recommended the government amend recent government decrees on leasing so that current lease-holders receive special privileges for retaining such contracts. -Erik Whitlock MORE ON ABKHAZIA-"DNIESTER" ALLIANCE. Valid for 10 years, the Abkhazia-"Dniester" treaty of friendship and cooperation provides inter alia that "in the event of a threat of military attack against either of them, the sides will immediately consult with a view to taking measures to repel the aggression," Basapress and ITAR-TASS reported on 26 January. The "Dniester republic Supreme Soviet" ratified the treaty that day, in the presence of a delegation of hard-line deputies of the Russian Supreme Soviet, Izvestia reported on 26-January. Moldovan Parliament Vice-Chairman Victor Puscasu told ITAR-TASS on 25-January and Interfax on the 27th that the move is intended by proimperial circles in Moscow to undermine Moldova and Georgia, and that these two countries are not about to violate international law by making pacts [against Russia] with, for example, Chechnya or Tatarstan. -Vladimir Socor MORE THAN 40% OF RUSSIAN TROOPS OUT OF BALTIC. Col. Gen. Leonid Mayorov, the commander of the Northwest Group of Russian Forces stationed in the Baltic republics, said in an interview published by Krasnaya zvezda on 27 January that more than 40% of his troops have been withdrawn to Russia. Western analysts have estimated that roughly 135,000 Soviet troops were once stationed in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Mayorov added that every officer and warrant officer withdrawn has been assigned housing in Russia. He complained that Estonia and Latvia has not been as understanding regarding the withdrawals as has Lithuania. There, he explained, the servicemen's apartments could be privatized, allowing his men to sell or exchange their apartments for living space elsewhere. -Doug Clarke BALTIC, FRENCH DEFENSE MINISTERS TO COOPERATE. BNS reported on 26 January that representatives of the defense ministries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania signed a trilateral defense accord that will create a permanent Baltic defense council. Their next meeting is planned for 24 February in Tallinn. A French delegation headed by Defense Minister Pierre Joxe also participated in the two-day Baltic defense seminar in Riga and it is expected that France and Latvia will soon initial an agreement on cooperation. Latvia has already signed similar accords with Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. -Dzintra Bungs LITHUANIAN BANK HEAD SURVIVES THIRD VOTE. On 26 January in a secret ballot the Seimas voted 62 to 11 with 13 spoiled ballots on a no-confidence measure against Bank of Lithuania Chairman Vilius Baldisis. Since 71 votes were needed, he remains in office. This was the third attempt to depose Baldisis, the other two having been instigated last year by then Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius. Since the Seimas failed to accept the voting results, the question will be raised again, perhaps even after the presidential elections on 14-February, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. -Saulius Girnius FOUR PARLIAMENTARY FACTIONS IN LATVIA. On 26 January the Supreme Council amended the regulations concerning the formation of parliamentary factions. Henceforth, factions can be registered if their membership consists of at least one-tenth of all the deputies. Currently, there are 179 deputies at the Supreme Council and four factions: People's Front with 55 deputies, Satversme (Constitution) with 33, Lauku (Agrarian) with 20, and Ravnopravie (Equal Rights) with 18. This means that about 73 deputies are not members of any faction. -Dzintra Bungs NARCOTICS FROM ASIA TO EUROPE-VIA ESTONIA. Police in Estonia seized over 28-kilos of narcotics in raids during 1992. According to a BNS report on 27 January, about 75% of the seized narcotics were found in Tallinn and were bound for the West. Because of its proximity to Finland, Estonia has become a major transit point for illegal drugs originating in Central Asia and the Caucasus and bound for Western Europe. -Riina Kionka [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba and Charles Trumbull
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