|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 20, 01 February 1993
RUSSIA NATO, RUSSIAN GENERALS TALK OF COOPERATION. Russian Defense Minister General Pavel Grachev and U.S. General John Shalikashvili, the Commander-in-Chief of NATO forces in Europe, said at a joint press conference in Moscow on 30 January that their armed forces could collaborate in preventing local conflicts and in combating the spread of nuclear weapons. Appearing on the Novosti newscast, Grachev said that the two sides would work on ways to cooperate in peacekeeping activities, in providing humanitarian aid, and in search-and-rescue operations among other things. He also suggested that they might hold joint staff exercises. ITAR-TASS quoted Shalikashvili as saying it was quite probable that Russian and NATO peacekeeping units would train together in the near future. Doug Clarke YELTSIN EASES ARMS SALES RULES. AFP reported on 30 January that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had prepared a decree that would reduce the amount of bureaucracy involved in foreign arms sales. The decision was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Georgii Khizha, who, along with Mikhail Malei, a presidential adviser, has been pressing for increased Russian arms sales to compensate for the 67% cutback in domestic weapons procurement. AFP also reported on 1 February that Malaysia is still considering the purchase of 24-to 30-MiG-29 fighters, reportedly on offer from $12-million to $20 million dollars each, a price much lower than comparable Western fighters. John Lepingwell CONCERNS OVER THE 1993 RUSSIAN BUDGET. The Russian parliament has returned the 1993 budget submitted by the Russian government for revisions, according to Reuters and various Russian news agencies on 29-January. Beyond requesting additional details, the parliament has asked that the government's anti-crisis program be finalized before reconsideration of the budget. More concern has been raised by a government document obtained by Reuters which asserts that the existing budget calculations do not include additional expenditures passed by the parliament recently, including the doubling of pensions. The document states that the 1993 deficit figure could be twice as high as is represented in the government's present draft. Erik Whitlock CHERNOMYRDIN STRESSES HIS COMMITMENT TO ECONOMIC REFORM. In speeches to the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on 30-31 January, Russian Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin reassured his audience of Western business leaders of his commitment to "radical" economic reform, according to Reuters reports on the same days. He called for immediate foreign investment in Russia's oil and gas industries, and for joint ventures in agriculture. He urged the West to agree on a program to restructure Russia's foreign debt, insisting that easing the debt burden was essential to help his government combat hyper-inflation. When questioned about the need to fight inflation by curbing Central Bank credits to state industries, Chernomyrdin remained cautious, stressing the need to avoid mass unemployment. Sheila Marnie RUSSIA AND UKRAINE MAKE PROGRESS ON DEBT ISSUE. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin and First Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers, Ihor Yukhnovsky, have had some success in resolving differences concerning the two nations' repayment of the debt of the former Soviet Union, according to Kommersant on 29 January. Russia has assumed the Soviet debt obligations of all the other republics in exchange for their relinquishing any claim on Soviet assets abroad. Achieving such a deal with Ukraine has as yet eluded Russian negotiators. Meeting in Kiev last week, Shokhin and Yukhnovsky were, however, able to agree upon criteria by which Soviet assets abroad will be valued. Resolving the outstanding issues of debt obligations is one of the obstacles preventing Western creditors from approving comprehensive debt restructuring for Russia. Erik Whitlock BANNED OPPOSITION GROUP HOLDS MEETING. ITAR-TASS reported on 31 January that the national council of the outlawed pro-communist and nationalist movement, the National Salvation Front, had held its first session near Moscow. NSF leaders claimed that 33-Russian regions and various political parties were represented at the meeting, which resolved to prevent the ratification of the START II disarmament treaty by Russia. NSF leader, Ilya Konstantinov, told reporters that internal disagreements in the NSF had been superseded by the "desire to unite in the struggle against the present government". The Constitutional Court is due to rule shortly on the legality of President Yeltsin's decree banning the NSF. Wendy Slater RUTSKOI, GORE DISCUSS REGIONAL CONFLICTS. The Vice-Presidents of the United States and Russia discussed cooperation between their two countries in the settlement of regional conflicts in a telephone conversation on 29 January. ITAR-TASS reported that the talks focused on conflicts in Bosnia and Iraq. For Russia, Rutskoi was reported to have stressed that US-Russian cooperation should be deepened in all fields. US Vice-President Al Gore reportedly stated that US policy is giving priority to Russia and that Washington is ready to do everything possible to promote democracy and economic reform in Russia. Suzanne Crow YELTSIN WANTS PARTNERSHIP WITH ASIA. Speaking before the Indian parliament on 29-January on the final day of a three-day visit, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said: "Our national interests and our geopolitical situation make inevitable the steady presence of our country in Asia." He said that Asia is a priority in Russian foreign policy owing to Russia's "Eurasian" identity. Not discounting the importance of ties with the West, especially in the realm of disarmament, Yeltsin said "we seek a strong balance in our relationship with both the East and the West," AFP reported. -Suzanne Crow DETAILS ON RUSSIAN-INDIAN DEBT DEAL. More details on the debt agreement concluded between Russian President Yeltsin and Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao emerged on 29-January. According to the Financial Times, 63% of India's 380 billion- rupee (US$ 13-million) debt to Russia is to be paid at an exchange rate of 19.9 rupees per ruble; the rest at a rate of 31.57 rupees per ruble. All India Radio reported that the 63% would be repaid over a period of 12-years, while the remaining 37% is payable over the next 45-years and carries no interest charges. Erik Whitlock JAPAN TO ASSIST WITH NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL. According to a 31 January report from ITAR-TASS, Japan will assist Russia in disposing of radioactive waste (but not fissile materials) from dismantled nuclear warheads, although it will not participate in the dismantling process. Japan is said to be reluctant to provide financial aid for dismantling, despite recent calls by Ukraine and Germany for international funding of the disarmament process. John Lepingwell RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT IN NORTH KOREA TO DISCUSS NUCLEAR CONCERNS. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Kunadze arrived in North Korea on 29-January to discuss Russia's concerns over North Korea's nuclear program, which is suspected of covertly developing nuclear weapons. Kunadze, acting as Yeltsin's special representative, noted on 1-February that the talks were "open and frank" and had included a wide range of issues, including the need for a new treaty basis for Russian-North Korean relations. Kunadze stated that North Korea must comply with IAEA inspection requirements as well as facilitate special inspections by South Korea. He also urged North Korea to join the new chemical weapons convention. The visit was reported by ITAR-TASS and Reuters on 29 January and 1 February. John Lepingwell RUSSIA'S POPULATION SHRINKING. According to the Russian State Committee for Statistics, there was an absolute decline in Russia's population in 1992, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January. The population decreased by 70,000 and now totals 148.6 million. The main reason for the decrease is the lower birth rate (down by 11%), and the higher death rate (up by 5%). Sheila Marnie RUSSIA'S 1992 GRAIN HARVEST. According to the Russian State Committee for Statistics, the country's grain harvest was up by 20% in 1992 on the previous year, ITAR- TASS reported on 31 January. The 1992 grain harvest totaled 106 million metric tons, whereas the 1991 figure was 88 million metric tons. The increase was mainly due to better harvests in the Orlov, Sverdlov, and Orenburg regions and the Tatarstan, Mordovian and Chuvash republics. -Sheila Marnie DIPHTHERIA EPIDEMIC IN RUSSIA? THE INCIDENCE OF DIPHTHERIA IN RUSSIA IS REACHING WHAT THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CALLS EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS, ACCORDING TO AN ARTICLE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES OF 29-JANUARY. The number of new cases being registered is now approximately 500 per month, and the total recorded in November 1992 was 3,278. The number of people affected by the disease was expected to reach 4,000 by the end of 1992. Both Moscow and St. Petersburg have more than 650 registered cases. The disease is also spreading in other CIS states: Ukraine had 1,344 registered cases by November 1992. The spread of the disease is attributed mainly to the failings of the Russian vaccination program for infants. -Sheila Marnie SOLDIERS TO PATROL MOSCOW STREETS? MOSCOW MAYOR YURII LUZHKOV HAS CALLED FOR SOLDIERS TO ASSIST MOSCOW POLICE IN PATROLLING HIGH-CRIME AREAS, ESPECIALLY LATE AT NIGHT, ACCORDING TO ITAR-TASS ON 29-JANUARY. Joint military-police patrols were originally introduced by Gorbachev and their reinstatement reflects a growing crime rate in the city. -John Lepingwell OFFICER ARRESTED IN SUSPECTED ATTEMPT ON YELTSIN'S LIFE. The Moscow Military Prosecutor has detained a Russian army officer on suspicion of having planned to assassinate President Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January. Major Ivan Kislov, who deserted from his military unit in Khabarovsk, was arrested in a government building with two home-made bombs and a knife in his possession. Kislov told his interrogators that by killing Yeltsin he would have contributed to the "cause of socialism". Further investigation of Kislov's case will be carried out by the Russian Ministry of Security. Victor Yasmann TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KAZAKHSTAN WANTS OPEC OBSERVER STATUS. Western agencies reported on 31-January that Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev told correspondents during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan want to set up an organization of petroleum producers similar to OPEC. The three CIS states intend to try to coordinate their export policies, he said. Nazarbaev added that Kazakhstan is seeking observer status with OPEC; while his country does not want to be dependent on OPEC, he said, it does want to be in "the family of oil producers." Bess Brown GEORGIA REQUESTS UN PEACEKEEPING TROOPS FOR ABKHAZIA. On 29 January the chairman of the Georgian Committee for Human Rights and Inter-Ethnic Relations, Sandro Kavsadze, asked the UN Security Council to deploy UN peacekeeping troops along the Russian-Georgian border to prevent a further deterioration of the situation in Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported. Security Council chairman Yosio Hatano registered concern at the situation in Abkhazia and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and compliance with the 3-September ceasefire agreement; the Security Council undertook to send two new fact-finding missions to Abkhazia to evaluate the political situation and to investigate charges of human rights abuses. Liz Fuller CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN PEACE TALKS MOVE TO NEW YORK. International mediators at the Geneva Conference on the former Yugoslavia will meet with UN representatives in New York to seek formal Security Council endorsement of their Bosnian peace plan. Lord Owen expressed hope that if any warring faction still rejects the plan, the council will act to impose a settlement. He said that could be done by political, economic or military means. Owen did urge the EC and US not to impose stricter sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia and not to lift an arms embargo on Bosnia-Herzegovina while there is still hope for a negotiated settlement. Although the entire plan was not agreed to, each of the three ethnic groups accepted one or more elements. The Croats signed the three parts of the accord-a general statement of principles, a detailed map for partitioning, and a cease-fire. Bosnian Serbs oppose some aspects of the map, and the Muslims refuse to sign the cease-fire and reject the map. Bosnian President Aljia Izetbegovic explained that he would never agree to a partition of the republic that awards "the biggest slaughterhouses of ethnic cleansing" to the Serbs. He also said he did not sign the cease-fire because he feels the UN will not effectively collect the heavy weapons of the Serbs. Radios Bosnia and Croatia and international media carried the reports. -Milan Andrejevich CROATIA PRESSES ON. Radio Serbia reported on 31-January that Croatian forces continued their offensive against the self-proclaimed Republic of Serb Krajina. Serbian sources also claim that Croatian troops are massing in western Slavonia, and thousands of civilians have been evacuated from the area. Ethnic Serb leaders are demanding that the UN act within two days to compel the withdrawal of Croatian forces from territory recaptured in their recent offensive. Croatia's President Franjo Tudjman told a rally of supporters in Split on 30-January that Croatian troops would recapture more key points, including Serbian-held towns such as Knin and Benkovac, if UNPROFOR fails to restore Croatian authority in "the Republic of Serb Krajina." Tudjman told Der Spiegel that he will announce further military action against rebel Serbs and will not extend the UN mandate in Croatia if the UN fails to disarm Serb militia and repatriate displaced Croats. -Milan Andrejevich DANUBE SAGA. Three more tugboats passed into Serbian waters on the Danube on 29 and 30-January, Radio Bucharest and Romanian TV said. The tugboats ignored summons by Romanian port and frontier authorities, including attempts by helicopter and patrol speed boats to stop them. Radio Bucharest and Romanian TV reported on 31 January that two Yugoslav tugboats had blocked the harbor lock at the Iron Gate navigation system complex. After long arguments, the tugboats withdrew and will probably unload their cargo at the Serbian port of Prahovo. On 29 January the Security Council urged Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine to respect the trade embargo and reminded Sofia and Bucharest of their obligation to intercept vessels carrying oil for rump Yugoslavia. On 29 January the Romanian government examined the developments and decided that it will again request international assistance in the form of UN commissions to monitor the approaches to Romanian territorial waters. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu said on 29 January that the government will do everything in its power short of using military force to stop the convoys, Rompres reported on the same day. Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodor Melescanu said on 29 January that although Romania had received "favorable responses to requests for speed boats, "the sources of the offers are geographically far" which makes the whole issue practically "theoretical." -Michael Shafir POLITICAL FIREWORKS IN BELGRADE. Serbia's opposition will not be represented in the federal assembly's upper house, the Chamber of Republics. Deputies to the lower Chamber of Citizens, dominated by the Socialist Party and Serbian Radical Party, abolished a provision that representation in the upper chamber be based on party strength in the lower chamber. Deputies from seven opposition parties walked out in protest. Of the 20 seats representing Serbia in the Chamber of Republics, 12 are held by Socialists and 8-by Radicals. Leaders of DEPOS (the main opposition coalition), the Democratic Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, and the small Democratic Party have announced that they might form a "shadow parliament" to counter the undemocratic practices of the Socialist-Radical dominated legislatures. Politika and Studio B TV carried the reports on 29 and 30 January. -Milan Andrejevich DAVOS: KRAVCHUK PROPOSES NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT FUND. Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Davos on 30 January, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk proposed the establishment of an international fund to finance nuclear disarmament. ITAR- TASS reports that German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe is very receptive to the idea. Kravchuk also spoke to reporters about nuclear arms issues. RIA on 31-January quoted him as saying that the nuclear weapons in Ukraine do not belong to Ukraine and the republic does not claim them, but "the assets invested in their creation are our common property." He said that Russia should admit that these nuclear weapons are not its exclusive property. Kravchuk estimated the value of the fissionable materials in the warheads in Ukraine at $6 billion and said Ukraine wants some compensation for them. -Doug Clarke DAVOS: KLAUS ON REGIONAL COOPERATION. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus discussed the so-called Visegrad Quadrangle and future Czech-Slovak relations with journalists in Davos, agencies reported on 31 January. He said that while cooperation among the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland makes sense because all these countries are undergoing similar problems, "it would not benefit the rest of the world" if they establish a new institution with "buildings, representatives, and secretaries." Klaus has repeatedly pointed out that the goal of Czech foreign and economic policy is to join the EC and that focusing on cooperation with non-EC members could distract from that aim. Klaus also pointed out that the Czech Republic has a vital interest in a "normal, flourishing, stable Slovakia" and pledged to do the best "to ensure that." He also said that all investments of Slovak citizens in the Czech Republic will be protected and that the Czech Republic has a fair chance to become "a normal European country" within two or three years. -Jan Obrman DAVOS: BALTIC COORDINATION. On 31 January Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis expressed regret that although his government had signed free-trade agreements with Sweden and Finland, none yet exist with Estonia and Lithuania, Reuters reports. He said that the Baltic States should try to get more joint investment projects rather than competing against each other in setting up new industries and installations. Lithuanian Finance Minister Eduardas Vilkelis noted that different approaches to trade and taxation are hindering Baltic cooperation. Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt supported the call for better cooperation, noting the success of the Nordic Council. -Saulius Girnius SECRET MEETINGS BETWEEN KLAUS AND MECIAR? CTK AND VARIOUS CZECH DAILIES REPORTED ON 28 AND 29-JANUARY THAT CZECH AND SLOVAK PRIME MINISTERS VACLAV KLAUS AND VLADIMIR MECIAR HELD TWO SECRET MEETINGS (ONE ON 19 JANUARY, THE SECOND ON 27 JANUARY). The meetings were reportedly confirmed by individual members of both governments. The talks reportedly focused on the division of former federal property and the split of the Czechoslovak currency. Some political parties represented in the Czech parliament have expressed dismay about the secrecy surrounding the meetings and called for an involvement of the parliament. Rumors were further fueled by a report in the respected Mlada Fronta dnes daily of 30 January that claimed Meciar asked Klaus for $345 million in financial aid. The paper also said that the Czech National Bank and two parties of the four-party ruling coalition are categorically opposed to the request. On the same day, however, Klaus dismissed the report as being based on a misunderstanding. -Jan Obrman WARSAW DEMONSTRATORS DEMAND WALESA'S OUSTER. Several thousand opponents of the president, shouting "Down with Walesa," "Lustration," and "Bolek to Moscow," marched on Belweder on 29 January. Estimates of crowd size varied from two to seven thousand. At the head of the march were Center Alliance leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, former defense minister Jan Parys, and Freedom Party leader Kornel Morawiecki. Kaczynski told the crowd that Walesa is "not our president-.-.-. but the president of the Reds," and called for new presidential and parliamentary elections. Former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski and former Internal Affairs Minister Antoni Macierewicz did not attend, prompting speculation that the movement to unseat Walesa is divided over the wisdom of street demonstrations. Demonstrators burned a mustached figure in effigy; most participants thought it was Walesa, but Kaczynski insisted it represented presidential chief of staff Mieczyslaw Wachowski. Several reports said the demonstrators, mostly male and most over 50, were aggressive; some shouted anti-Semitic slogans. Walesa was out of town during the demonstration. -Louisa Vinton POLISH SENATE APPROVES RESTRICTIVE ABORTION BILL. After two days of procedural discussions, the Senate voted, 35 to 34, to accept unamended the abortion bill passed by the Sejm. The bill now goes to the president for signing. Proposals to make the bill more restrictive or more liberal were all voted down. An amendment to permit abortion when the pregnant woman faces a "difficult life situation" failed by a single vote. As it now stands, the bill bans all abortions except when the pregnant woman's life or health is threatened (as affirmed by three doctors); when the fetus is severely damaged; and when the pregnancy results from rape or incest (as certified by a prosecutor). Doctors who perform abortions in other situations face two-year prison terms. Some senators thought the bill a reasonable compromise; others insisted it sanctioned murder, on the one hand, or violated women's rights and dignity, on the other. -Louisa Vinton HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION DRAFTS PROPOSALS. The Alliance of Free Democrats, Hungary's largest opposition party, has worked out a 15-point package for the months remaining before the 1994 general elections, MTI reported on 30 January. According to party chairman Ivan Peto, the proposals do not constitute an election program and could even be adopted by the coalition government. They include ideas such as the preparation by independent research institutes of an objective situation report and an economic forecast, a report after four months by the finance minister on the fulfillment of the 1993 budget, and the provision of sufficient means to the local governments by the 1994 elections. The Free Democrats favor reducing the number of seats in parliament from 386 to 250 to make its functioning more effective and less expensive, and expressed their support for Romanian human rights activist Doina Cornea, who is under pressure in Romania for alleged antistate subversion. -Alfred Reisch CORNEA'S SUMMONS CONFIRMED. The Bucharest city prosecutor's office confirmed on 29-January that Doina Cornea has been summoned to appear to defend herself against charges of undermining state power. The office said the charges where brought in connection with statements made by Cornea on 27 September 1992 but did not specify who filed the complaint. It said at this stage Cornea was not incriminated and she was still "presumed to be innocent." At a press conference on 29 January presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu deplored the summons as "ill-timed," referring to the expected visit of a parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe. -Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS RESIGN. Parliament Chairman Alexandru Mosanu and three of the most senior members of the Parliament Presidium resigned on 29-January in the face of majority demands, apparently backed by President Mircea Snegur, for a referendum to confirm Moldova's independence and for the election of a new parliament. The four favor a gradual unification with Romania and they are concerned that the proposed referendum would block it, and that new elections would deprive supporters of unification of even their residual strength in parliament. -Vladimir Socor MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN FRANCE. On an official visit to France on 28-30 January, Mircea Snegur and President Fran¨ois Mitterrand signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation. Snegur also held separate talks with other senior French officials. Snegur said, as cited by an RFE/RL correspondent, that Moldovan-Romanian unification is neither possible nor desired, since only 5% of Moldovans want it. France pledged to support Moldova's entry into the Council of Europe and closer links to the EC, Reuters reports. Foreign Minister Roland Dumas announced that France will open an embassy in Chisinau shortly and praised Moldova's "efforts to live in peace with its neighbors," ITAR-TASS reports. Noting the common origins of their languages, the sides agreed to expand cultural and educational exchanges. Snegur also signed the Paris Charter of the CSCE. -Vladimir Socor MORE FERMENT IN THE CRIMEA. Several thousand communists rallied in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol on 31 January, demanding restoration of Russian control over the Crimea and reversal of Kiev's market-oriented economic reforms, Reuters reports. Demonstrators are said to have chanted Russian nationalist slogans. The previous day, according to Ukrinform-TASS, the Second Extraordinary Congress of the All-Crimean Movement of Voters adopted, among others, resolutions demanding that the Crimean government rescind its moratorium on a Crimean referendum, supporting those arguing for the administrative subordination of Sevastopol to Russia and the unity of the Black Sea Fleet, and criticizing the Ukrainian leadership for not signing the draft CIS charter. -Roman Solchanyk PLANS FOR "ANTI-COMMUNIST, ANTI-IMPERIAL" FRONT IN UKRAINE. The Congress of National Democratic Forces held a press conference in Kiev on 29-January that discussed its initiative to form an "anticommunist and antiimperial front" in Ukraine, Ukrainian TV reports. The organizers called attention to the activation of those forces intent on depriving Ukraine of its independence and regaining power for the Communist Party. The proposed front has called for a mobilization of democratic forces to oppose such plans. -Roman Solchanyk NEW RUSSIAN ORGANIZATION IN ESTONIA. Russian-speakers in Estonia held the founding congress of a new umbrella organization on 30 January, BNS reports. Without citing specific evidence, the Russian-speakers' Representative Assembly adopted a statement calling on both the Estonian and Russian parliaments to end violations of Russian-speakers' rights in Estonia. According to reports, the assembly intends to defend the interests of Russian-speakers and work together with Estonian leaders to draft legislation affecting the rights of the Russian-speaking population. The organization appears to have been founded in preparation for local elections to be held later this year. All permanent residents of Estonia, regardless of citizenship, are eligible to vote in local elections. -Riina Kionka SWEDEN DETAINS REFUGEE BOAT FROM LATVIA. Radio Riga and Western agencies reported on 23 and 24-January that the captain and crew of a fishing trawler from Latvia transporting some 80 Kurdish and Arab refugees were detained in Gotland by the Swedish authorities. Earlier that week the Latvian-based freighter Priekule transported some 400-Kurdish refugees to Gotland, where its captain and crew were also detained. Refugees arriving in Latvia-mostly by train from Russia-reportedly use the services of criminal organizations in Russia and Belarus to reach Scandinavia. Both the Latvian and Swedish authorities are seeking ways to stop this illegal traffic of refugees. -Dzintra Bungs [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Wendy Slater and Charles Trumbull
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