|It matters if you don't just give up. - Stephen Hawking|
No. 25, 08 February 1993
RUSSIA RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTIES SUPPORT REFERENDUM. A two-day conference of democratic parties and movements ended in Moscow on 7 February with an appeal to Russia's political parties to establish local committees in support of the 11 April referendum on the principles of a new Russian Constitution, various Russian agencies reported. The conference, organized by the Democratic Russia movement and parties constituting the Democratic Choice bloc, also rejected recent attempts by conservatives to convene an extraordinary session of the Russian Congress of People's Deputies in order to preempt the referendum. On 6 February, delegates voted to "start a campaign" for the resignation of parliamentary speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, following Khasbulatov's remarks of the previous day criticizing President Yeltsin for having "failed in his duties." Wendy Slater KOZYREV ON STABILITY OF RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. In an interview with Russian TV on 7-February, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev claimed that foreign policy had not been changing recently, and that "historic breakthroughs" in relations with China and India were part of a long-standing Russian foreign policy strategy. Kozyrev sounded a conciliatory note towards parliament, but rejected its calls for a pro-Serbian policy and reiterated his support for the Vance-Owen plan for ending the conflict in Bosnia. He also noted that Russia remains a part of the coalition against Iraq (Kozyrev did not mention that Russia has never participated in coalition military activities) but called for Russia's interests to be taken into account and for greater coordination with the US. John Lepingwell RUSSIA REITERATES SUPPORT FOR VANCE-OWEN PLAN. In a separate interview with Russian TV on 7-February, Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin noted that Russia agreed with most of the EC countries on the Vance-Owen plan, but was still unsure of the US position. Churkin recently returned from visits to Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries, and he warned that if Bosnia rejected the plan, it could increase "extremism in the Muslim world" and trigger demands to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia, which Russia would not support. Churkin also noted that Russia's position on Croatia's recent offensive was shared by most other countries, and argued that Russia is not becoming isolated within the UN on the Yugoslavia crisis. John Lepingwell ROUND TABLE MEETS IN MOSCOW. On 5 February ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported the first meeting of a "round table" forum, attended by Russia's political parties of all persuasions, trades unionists, entrepreneurs, legislators, and government leaders. The forum was opened by parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov who suggested that it become a permanent consultative body to discuss Russia's economic problems. Despite calling for "consensus and democracy," however, Khasbulatov also criticized the pro- Yeltsin "ultra-radicals," warning of a threat to "the unity and integrity of the country." The next "round table" meeting is set for 15 February when the question of the forthcoming referendum will be on the agenda. Wendy Slater FIRST RUSSIAN ARREARS PAID FOR BY US GOVERNMENT. The Banque Indosuez has filed a claim with the US Departure of Agriculture for reimbursement of $354,000 of US government backed loans to Russia, according to an article in the Journal of Commerce on 5-February. Russia is now $258.8 million behind on repayments of $5 billion in bank loans for grain purchases since 1990. The Banque Indosuez is so far the only bank to claim reimbursement, but others could follow. The fact that the program is beginning to cost the US money could lead to policy changes, and options such as debt restructuring and direct food assistance to Russia are being considered. However, Russia currently accounts for a high percentage of US wheat (20%) and corn exports and the loss of the Russian market could lead to lower grain prices and higher government subsidies to US farmers. Sheila Marnie and Robert Lyle GERASHCHENKO: IMF ADVISES NO SUPPORT FOR RUBLE. Russian Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told an ITAR-TASS correspondent on 7-February that the International Monetary Fund has counseled Russian officials against spending more dollars to prop up the ruble. IMF officials feel that interventions on the exchange market are ill- advised because the exchange rate is "not representative, but reflects only the interests of commercial organizations importing a certain set of consumer goods," Gerashchenko said. He added that Russia did not have the dollar or gold reserves to bring down the ruble exchange rate to a more reasonable level in any case. -Erik Whitlock RUSSIA CREATES SPECIAL INVESTMENT BANKS. The Russian government has recently created two banks to channel international and domestic investment credit. On 30 December, President Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the Russian Bank for Reconstruction and Development that apparently will function as an intermediary between the international financial organizations and domestic borrowers. On 5-February Yeltsin issued another decree creating the State Investment Company to meet the needs of state structural and investment policy by "attracting foreign [investment] and stimulating domestic investment," ITAR-TASS reported. -Erik Whitlock KOZYREV, GRACHEV TO SELL START-2. President Yeltsin's press office told an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow on 5 February that Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and Defense Minister Pavel Grachev have been named as the President's representatives in the parliamentary debate over ratification of the START-2 Treaty. The treaty is expected to face opposition from nationalist and communist Russian deputies who feel that it weakens Russian defense capabilities. -Stephen Foye GRACHEV ON RUSSIAN MILITARY REFORM. In an interview published in the latest issue of Argumenty i fakty and summarized on 5 February by ITAR-TASS, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev suggested that a civilian could be named to head the Defense Ministry sometime after 1995, "when the situation in the army stabilizes." He said that the General Staff would then manage the uniformed military while the Defense Ministry would concern itself with military-political issues and weapons policy. Grachev also said that 2,218 generals now serve in the Russian army and that the proportion of generals has fallen from one for every 530-soldiers and 169 officers in 1987 to one for every 1,262 soldiers and 312 officers today. He called the housing shortage the most pressing problem facing the army, and said that the number of homeless officers (and their families) was expected to rise by 1995 from the current figure of 150,000 to about 400,000. Grachev said that he favored total elimination of nuclear arsenals and of "huge stockpiles of conventional weapons," and said that Russian aircraft are no longer armed with nuclear weapons. -Stephen Foye SECOND ROUND OF NORTH OSSETIAN-INGUSH TALKS ENDS IN KISLOVODSK. The first deputy chairman of the North Ossetian parliament, Yurii Biragov, said on 5 February that chief result of the second round of talks just ended between North Ossetian and Ingush delegations in Kislovodsk was the signing of an agreement on measures on searching for those who have disappeared without trace and for the unconditional return of hostages, ITAR-TASS reported. The two sides also affirmed their desire to ensure the unconditional implementation of the decree of the Russian Congress of People's Deputies on the disarming and disbandment of illegal military formations. A mechanism for this will be proposed at the next meeting on 16 February. The North Ossetian parliament has been threatening to ignore the Russian Congress' demand that it disband its national guard. -Ann Sheehy CONGRESS OF VOLGA GERMANS IN SARATOV. The chairman of the "Heimat" society, Yurii Haar, said at a conference of Volga Germans in Saratov on 5-February that the time of meetings and ultimatums was past and it was time for concrete action, ITAR- TASS reported. Haar maintained that demands for the immediate restoration of the Volga German republic had greatly harmed the Russian Germans' movement. A start had been made, he said, by setting up a fund called "Republic" and by constructing a settlement. Delegates called for a cautious approach to invitations from other parts of Russia for the Germans to settle there rather than on the Volga, saying that their dispersal would threaten their disappearance as an ethnic group. -Ann Sheehy TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA DEMONSTRATORS DEMAND RESIGNATION OF ARMENIAN PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT. Some 100,000 people demonstrated in Erevan on 5 February to demand the resignation of President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, the dissolution of parliament and the creation of a constituent assembly which would adopt a new constitution and prepare for new parliamentary elections, Western agencies reported. Demonstration organizer Paruir Hairikyan, whose Association for National Self-Determination espouses a maximalist position on Armenia's territorial claims in Nagorno-Karabakh and parts of Turkey, proposed giving the president until February 18 to comply with demonstrators' demands, which the presidential press service promptly rejected. -Liz Fuller AZERBAIJAN CRITICIZES HUMANITARIAN AID TO ARMENIA. On 7 February the Azerbaijani Presidential Press Service issued a statement equating the supplying by unspecified foreign states of humanitarian aid to Armenia with open support for "Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan," ITAR-TASS reported. Such aid shipments risk jeopardizing the CSCE peace process, and without them Armenia would not have been able to launch its 5-February offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, during which Armenian forces reoccupied several villages, the statement continued. An earlier Presidential press release statement on 5-February, also reported by ITAR-TASS, denied that Azerbaijan had ever imposed an economic blockade on Armenia, arguing that transport problems were the result of Armenian sabotage of the railway through Armenian territory linking Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, which constituted an act of aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan. -Liz Fuller OPPOSITIONISTS ARRESTED IN TAJIKISTAN. Radio Dushanbe reported on 5 February that several members of the anti-government opposition have been arrested in Tajikistan on suspicion of attempting an armed coup and causing the civil war of 1992. Among those arrested is former dissident Mirbobo Mirrakhimov, who headed Tajikistan's State Radio and TV under the coalition government of Communists and oppositionists that was in power from May to November 1992. Several of his subordinates in the TV administration were also arrested, along with Dushanbe's deputy chief of police and two leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party. On 6-February ITAR-TASS reported that journalists were allowed to meet a young woman who had been arrested for shooting three people in October 1992 when pro-Communist forces tried to capture Dushanbe. The woman claimed she had been forced to commit the murders, presumably by fundamentalists. -Bess Brown NEW POLITICAL ORGANIZATION SUPPORTS NAZARBAEV'S REFORMS. A new political organization, Popular Unity of Kazakhstan, held its founding congress on 6 February in Alma-Ata, KazTAG-TASS reported. One of the primary goals of the organization, which characterizes itself as multinational and opposed to all forms of extremism, is to support the reform program of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who has been named leader of the new group. Previously Nazarbaev had avoided joining any political organization, though he actively supported the Popular Congress. The chairman of the political council and therefore actual head of Popular Unity is parliamentary deputy Serik Abdrakhmanov. -Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SERBS FIRE ON GERMAN RELIEF PLANE. International media on 6 February said that a German aid flight was hit en route from Zagreb to Sarajevo and one man was injured, requiring emergency surgery when the plane returned to Zagreb. The UN later complained to the Serbian authorities in Croatia, whom it blamed for the incident. Relief flights were cancelled, and international airline flights to Zagreb, except for Croatian ones, have been suspended. -Patrick Moore BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media report on 8-February that mediators Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen failed to make progress in their talks with Bosnian Serb, Muslim, and Croat representatives over the weekend. The Serbs and Muslims have wide-ranging objections to the Vance-Owen peace plan, which the Muslims feel underscores the Serb policy of ethnic cleansing. The BBC quotes the Vienna daily Die Presse as saying that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has offered an alternative proposal to divide the republic in two, presumably between Serbs and Croats. Many Serb and Croat nationalists do not accept the existence of a Muslim nation, and feel that the Muslims are really renegade members of their own respective nationalities who must somehow be returned to the fold. Meanwhile in Munich, international media reported on 7 February that NATO Secretary-General Manfred Wšrner told a gathering of senior Western defense figures the alliance may find it necessary to intervene in Bosnia. -Patrick Moore ROMANIAN BOATS STILL DETAINED ON DANUBE. Three Romanian tugboats are still held on the Danube by Serbian authorities in retaliation for Romania's enforcement of the embargo against rump Yugoslavia, Radio Bucharest said on 6 February. One Romanian tug was allowed to leave, however, and reached Romanian territorial waters on the same day. -Michael Shafir. ELECTIONS IN CROATIA. On 7 February Croatian voters went to the polls to elect the largely symbolic upper house of parliament along with local and municipal officals from among 27 contesting parties. Each party must obtain at least 5% of the vote to obtain representation, but seats in parliament will be assigned on the basis of proportional representation. This electoral law passed by President Franjo Tudjman's ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in the lower house discourages the formation of tiny parties while at the same time offering the larger ones a chance to obtain seats on the proportional principle, thereby removing an incentive for the opposition to form a coalition against the HDZ. Polls suggest that the HDZ will do well in view of Tudjman's popularity, which was further bolstered by the military successes of the Croatian army against the Serbs since 22-January. Local and regional parties are expected to do well in Istria and Dalmatia, however. Some 25% of Croatia's territory is under Serbian occupation, and the country is further burdened with a refugee population of over 600,000 and a sluggish economy. Croatian and international media covered the story. -Patrick Moore MACEDONIA AND UN RECOGNITION. On 5 February President Kiro Gligorov sent at letter accompanied by a memorandum to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The documents, copies of which were given to RFE/RL by the Macedonian Foreign Ministry, were prepared in response to a Greek document circulated to all members of the UN. The thrust of both Macedonian documents is that Macedonia meets all criteria for admission to the UN and should not be subjected to meeting other prerequisites, evidently a reference to changing the republic's name. The memorandum emphasizes that Macedonia has no territorial aspirations regarding its neighbors and stresses that recognition of Macedonia is critical to stability in the Balkans. -Duncan Perry ZHELEV IN SKOPJE. On 6 February Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev paid a one-day visit to the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, BTA reports. Although the trip was unofficial, it received considerable attention in Bulgarian and Macedonian media, since it is the first visit to Skopje by a Bulgarian head of state since 1942. Presenting his book Fascism in Macedonian translation-the pretext for the trip-Zhelev said he was "impressed and moved" by the warm reception. He later held talks with his counterpart Kiro Gligorov and other top Macedonian officials. Meanwhile in Bulgaria, Prime Minister Lyuben Berov told Oshte that the government is considering turning the current Bulgarian consulate in Skopje into an embassy. -Kjell Engelbrekt BULGARIAN-GREEK RELATIONS. In an interview with Bulgarian TV on 6 February Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis said he is dissatisfied with the recent course of Bulgarian-Greek relations. Playing down differences in policy toward Macedonia- which Sofia, incurring the rage of Athens, recognized in January 1992-Mitsotakis argued that there is no reason why the two countries should not expand bilateral ties. He said Greece represents a stable friend of Bulgaria and that relations with third countries, including Turkey, must not be allowed to interfere. -Kjell Engelbrekt SLOVAK PREMIER CALLS ON FOREIGN MINISTER TO RESIGN. Slovak media report that at a closed-door meeting of the leadership of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia on 7 February, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar demanded the resignation of Foreign Minister Milan Knazko. Knazko told the media that he neither is going to resign nor give up his post in the party. The movement's leadership met to discuss recent statements made by Knazko and Rudolf Filkus, the chairman of the movement's council, critical of some of the movement's policies. In January Meciar accused Knazko of grossly violating party discipline for criticizing the selection of Roman Kovac as the movement's presidential candidate. No formal disciplinary action against the two politicians was taken at the meeting, but the leadership rejected the foreign minister's planned trip to Brussels, where he was supposed to meet with NATO General-Secretary Manfred Wšrner and European Commission head Jacques Delors. Knazko was criticized for having failed to consult with other ministers in preparing the trip. Knazko told the media after the meeting that he will not run against the party's current presidential candidate, Michal Kovac. -Jiri Pehe GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN PRAGUE. Klaus Kinkel arrived in Prague on 5 February to discuss with Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec and other officials German plans for expelling illegal aliens and concerns that the Czech Republic could become a dumping ground for the would-be immigrants. International media report Zieleniec as saying that the Czech Republic will seek agreements with other states on a transit corridor for the return home of any unwanted aliens. Kinkel also met with President Vaclav Havel, who pointed out that Germany is the biggest foreign investor in the Czech Republic and praised the good cooperative ties between Germany and the Czech Republic. In another meeting, Kinkel asked Prime Minister Klaus to continue bilateral discussion of the Sudeten Germans, some three million people expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War-II. In a special ceremony, Kinkel and Czech Parliament Speaker Milan Uhde opened the German Cultural Center in Prague. -Jiri Pehe POLAND RESISTS GERMAN ASYLUM PLAN. In advance of a second round of bilateral talks in Bonn on 8 February, Polish officials voiced their disapproval of Germany's plans to return asylum-seekers to the country from which they arrived. Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, minister for EC contacts, told Der Spiegel on 8-February that Poland would not agree to be a dumping ground for refugees "so that Germany can get rid of its problems." If the plans go ahead, he said, "Germany will have to understand if we send them the bill." Poland's negotiator in the talks, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Zimowski, told reporters that thousands of rejected asylum-seekers would be an unbearable financial burden for Poland. He disputed German press reports that Poland was using the asylum conflict to wring money out of Bonn. Meanwhile, a Polish parliamentary commission voted down a motion to impose a visa requirement on travelers from the East. Zimowski told the Sejm that high-priced, registered invitations would be imposed for Bulgaria, Romania, the former USSR, and the former Yugoslavia; if these failed to curb crime and smuggling, visas would be next. -Louisa Vinton WALESA ADMITS "TACTICAL ERROR." President Lech Walesa backed away from but did not renounce his decision to reject the government's candidate for Minister of Culture, Christian National Union (ZChN) member Zbigniew Klajnert. During a meeting with ZChN leaders in the Sejm on 5 February, Walesa admitted it was a "tactical error" not to have informed anyone about his decision beforehand. In a compromise statement, Walesa traded his endorsement of "Christian values" for the ZChN's assertion that "the street is not the place for debate," a veiled criticism of the anti-Walesa demonstration held on 29-January. At a press conference later in the day, Walesa made the apparently contradictory statement that ministerial choices were strictly the coalition's business but his participation in the selection of ministers was justified. Klajnert himself pulled out of the running for the culture post on 6-February. Meanwhile, new battle lines were drawn in the Sejm as the prime minister drummed up support for the 1993 budget. Ten of the twenty- seven Solidarity deputies formed a dissident unionist lobby and criticized their leadership for supporting unpopular government policies, while the German minority caucus underlined its support for the government. -Louisa Vinton NO IMF LOAN FOR HUNGARY. According to a 6 February AFP report, talks between the International Monetary Fund and the Hungarian government have failed, blocking Hungary's access to a $500-million loan. The loans were likely rejected because Hungary's planned budget deficit was much higher than expected after Finance Minister Mihaly Kupa had to modify his original three-year budget submitted last September. Under the original scheme, the budget deficit would be 176 billion forint next year, 170 billion forint in 1995, and 140-billion in 1996. The modified targets are a deficit of 215-billion forint for 1994, 220-billion for 1995, and 222 billion in 1996. A Finance Ministry statement said, however, that the IMF delegation praised Hungary's legal and institutional progress toward a market economy. -Judith Pataki IMF OFFICIAL SAYS ROMANIAN ECONOMY ON THE RIGHT PATH. Maxwell Watson, an official of the International Monetary Fund, told reporters in Bucharest on 5 February that the IMF is confident Romania will continue on the correct economic reform path. Radio Bucharest quoted Watson that if the reforms are to be sustained, there must be guarantees that "the more vulnerable sections of the population" are protected. Watson headed an IMF delegation which met with President Ion Iliescu, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, and other officials. -Michael Shafir GERMANY TO BRING BACK TOXIC WASTE FROM ROMANIA. The German government has decided to bring back some 485 tons of German toxic waste illegally shipped to Romania in 1992. Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported on 6 February that the federal government would cover the costs of transporting the waste to the state of Saxony-Anhalt as well as the costs of storing it there. The decision follows protests of environmentalists in both Romania and Germany and appeals by Romanian local and central authorities to the government in Bonn. German Greenpeace activists told Reuters on 7 February that they would begin to neutralize the toxic waste. -Michael Shafir RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR IN KIEV MAKES DEMANDS. At a 5 February press conference in Kiev, Leonid Smolyakov, made a series of demands, including dual citizenship for Russians in Ukraine, Western agencies report. Smolyakov also called on Kiev to begin nuclear disarmament talks without pressing for Western aid and warned that Russia could stop fuel deliveries if Kiev does not accept Russian proposals for repayment of the Soviet external debt. An RFE/RL report from Kiev on 6-February also noted that Smolyakov protested a Kiev newspaper story about his recent visit to the Crimea. -Roman Solchanyk OLIINYK ASSAILS KIEV'S POLICIES. Poet Boris Oliinyk, recently elected parliamentary deputy, former advisor to President Mikhail Gorbachev, and former deputy head of the USSR Supreme Soviet Council of Nationalities, has published a devastating attack on the Ukrainian leadership's foreign and security policies. The article appears in Holos Ukrainy of 5 February. Among other things, Oliinyk accuses Kiev of a "romantic" unilateral nuclear disarmament policy, saying that "for some reason we have agreed not only to take off our armor, but also our underwear." Oliinyk points to the fact that Leonid Kravchuk, "the president of the world's third most powerful nuclear state," was not invited to the recent signing of the Russian-American START-2 treaty in Moscow as evidence of Ukraine's low stature in international affairs stemming from what the procommunist deputy claims is the leadership's lack of coherent policies serving Ukraine's national interests. -Bohdan Nahaylo MOLDOVA SEEKING OIL IN THE GULF. A Moldovan delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Andrei Cheptene has begun a tour of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran to discuss the possibility of importing crude oil in exchange for Moldovan agricultural produce or contract labor, Basapress reports. Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli told Moldova suverana of 6-February that Russian commitments to Moldova for 1993 cover only 2 million tons of crude oil of Moldova's annual needs of 4 million, and that his government is searching for alternative suppliers in order to reduce dependence on Russia. -Vladimir Socor ESTONIAN MINISTER OF ECONOMICS APPOINTED. On 5 February President Lennart Meri appointed 33-year-old Toomas Sildmae as Minister of Economics, replacing Ain Saarmann, who resigned allegedly for health reasons on 25 January, BNS reports. Sildmae had been the general director of the Finest Hotel Group, a highly successful Finnish-Estonian joint venture. -Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN PRODUCTION DECLINES. In 1992 industrial production fell 39% from 1991 levels, BNS reported on 5 February. The greatest declines were in the pulp and paper (64%), construction (60%), machine and metals (57%), and chemical (54%) industries. Production in the light, food, and energy industries were equal to or below the average, at 42%, 28% and 17% respectively. Agricultural production decreased 21.4%, with grains and vegetables dropping 32.8% and animal husbandry 15.7%. Estonia harvested 594,000 tons of grain and 648,000 tons of potatoes, and produced 900,000 tons of milk, 138,000 tons of meat, and 430-million eggs. -Saulius Girnius RETURN OF RUSSIAN HELICOPTER SEIZED IN LATVIA. The Latvian Foreign Ministry has decided to return unconditionally as an act of good will the Russian MI-8 helicopter that its border guards confiscated near the port of Ventspils for crossing into Latvian air space from Estonia on 29 January, BNS reported on 6 February. Spokesman Aivars Vevers said that Russian statements claiming that the flight was lawful had not been verified. -Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA AND COUNCIL OF EUROPE. On 5 February Seimas press attache Vilius Kavaliauskas announced that the foreign affairs committee of the Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg the previous day recommended that Lithuania be admitted as a member, Radio Lithuania reports. The recommendation was the final hurdle needed for Lithuania to be accepted as a member on 14 May. -Saulius Girnius COUNCIL OF EUROPE RECOGNIZES BALTICS AS "OCCUPIED." On 4 February the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe adopted several amendments to the European Covenant of Human Rights that highlight the legal status of the Baltic States as countries formerly occupied by the USSR, Radio Lithuania reports. The assembly urged Russia to draft legislation for ethnic Russians wishing to emigrate from the Baltic States. It noted that the repatriation was not the result of national discrimination, but of the process of "loss of privileges." -Saulius Girnius [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba and Charles Trumbull
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