|Forty is the old age of youth; fifty, the youth of old age. - Victor Hugo|
No. 209, 29 October 1993
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc. RUSSIA COMMUNIST LEADER DOES WELL IN POLL. According to an opinion research poll conducted during the Russian TV program "Obshchestvennoe mnenie [public opinion]" on 28-October, 45 percent of the respondents support the leader of the pro-democratic bloc "Russia's choice", Egor Gaidar, and 38 percent the leader of the Communist Party, Gennadii Zyuganov. Commenting on these results, Gaidar called upon democrats to form coalitions. Twenty-one electoral blocs have so far registered with the Central Electoral Commission, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 October. The majority of these blocs have been formed by democrats. The Central Electoral Commission complained that several bloc leaders have already started their campaigns in the mass media without having collected the necessary 100,000 signatures to be formally registered. -Alexander Rahr ELECTIONS "A FAR CRY FROM DEMOCRACY," SAYS YAVLINSKY. Grigorii Yavlinsky, the reform economist who leads a democratically-oriented election bloc and who has also said he will stand for president, criticized the forthcoming elections as "a far cry not only from democracy but even from simple logic," Reuters reported on 28 October. Yavlinsky pointed out that the pro-Yeltsin Russia's Choice bloc had virtually unassailable advantages over other parties, since its list of candidates included key ministers. He alleged that President Boris Yeltsin had "created a ministry of elections under the name of the Central Electoral Commission." Yavlinsky also said that the new parliament, elected on Yeltsin's decree, will effectively become unconstitutional, since the new Russian constitution is to be adopted by a referendum held simultaneously with elections to the parliament, and not by the legislature. -Wendy Slater NEW CHIEF EDITOR FOR PRAVDA. Pravda, the former daily newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party, will reappear on 2 November after a four-week absence. Along with other newspapers accused of fomenting violent opposition, Pravda was banned by the Yeltsin government at the beginning of October. At first, the Russian Information Ministry said the newspaper could reappear only if it changed its name, chief editor and policies. Pravda's journalists refused to change the name of the paper, which was founded by Lenin, but they have replaced former chief editor Gennadii Seleznev with Viktor Linnik, who was for many years the paper's correspondent in Washington. Linnik told Radio Liberty's Moscow correspondent he hopes to turn the paper into "an organ of civilized opposition." Sovetskaya Rossiya, which was also banned in October and given the same conditions if it wants to start publishing again, has not yet appointed a new editor. Deputy Press Minister David Tsabria said that the ban on Den, the extremist weekly newspaper of the "spiritual opposition", would be referred to a court. -Elizabeth Teague and Wendy Slater TRADE UNION CONGRESS OPENS. An extraordinary congress of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR, the old "official" trade union center) opened in Moscow on 28 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The keynote speech was made by acting chairman Mikhail Shmakov, who for the past three years headed Russia's largest regional union organization, the Moscow Trade Union Federation. He was a strong critic of the policies of the former FNPR leadership, which he castigated on 28 October as "constantly see-sawing between political neutrality and open support from various political trends." He said this was the reason for the failure of "social partnership" between the Yeltsin government, employers' associations and the Russian unions over the past two years. -Elizabeth Teague URALS REPUBLIC PROCLAIMED. On 27 October, Sverdlovsk Oblast unilaterally raised its status to that of a republic within the Russian Federation by adopting a new constitution and proclaiming itself the Urals Republic, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Regional governor Eduard Rossel told Interfax he and the regional soviet would govern the republic until gubernatorial and parliamentary elections are held on 12-December. The region is Yeltsin's former power-base and its population has remained loyal to him, but the proclamation of the new republic was roundly condemned by Yeltsin's aide Nikolai Medvedev, who said the decision demonstrated the lengths to which some local soviets would go to stay in power. He predicted that Yeltsin would order the dissolution of the soviet and hold its members to account. -Elizabeth Teague OPPOSITION TO REFORM GEOGRAPHICALLY IDENTIFIED. An article entitled "The Political Climate in Russia in 1991-1993" appears in issue No. 9 of the journal Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya. The work of three researchers, it analyses electoral and referendum statistics to identify 29 republics and regions of Russia that have consistently voted against Yeltsin's policies over the past two years. Of these, 23 are clustered between the 48th and 55th parallels, cutting an arc from the southern agricultural regions of European Russia to the heavily industrialized regions of the southern Urals. Only two regions where opposition to Yeltsin's policies has been growing fall outside these latitudes, the researchers say-the Northern Caucasus and Novosibirsk Oblast. -Elizabeth Teague TEMPORARY TAX AMNESTY DECLARED. A presidential decree signed on 27 October declared an amnesty from sanctions on enterprises for tax evasion through 30 November, Interfax reported. Those enterprises which do not take advantage of the amnesty and which are found to be in arrears for 1993 and previous years shall be liable to fines 3 times greater than provided for in the tax law. Regulations on obligatory disclosure by banks and lending institutions of enterprise accounts have also been tightened. -Keith Bush SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON TAX-EVADING REGIONS. Another presidential decree of 27-October imposes sanctions on republics and regions which fail to transfer tax revenues to the central budget, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The Russian Central Bank is ordered to withdraw the amounts in arrears from the regions' bank accounts. Defaulting regions will be deprived of export quotas, centralized imports, federal subsidies, and central credits. The decree is said to be valid through 31 January 1994 and is attributed to Russia's "extraordinary financial situation." -Keith Bush BREAD RETAIL PRICES FREED IN MOSCOW. The retail prices of bread are to be freed in Moscow on either 29 or 30 October, an RFE/RL correspondent and Russian agencies reported. The price of a standard white loaf is expected to rise to 220-240 rubles. The state subsidy on bread retail prices was discontinued in mid-October, but some city and local authorities have continued to subsidize the prices. A bread allowance of 1,400 rubles a month has been payable to poor Russians since 1 October. -Keith Bush FORTY-TWO COAL MINES TO BE CLOSED. Deputy Fuel and energy Minister Aleksandr Yevtushenko announced on 26 October that 41 deep coal mines and one open-cast mine will be closed by the year 2,000, Interfax reported. The mines in question produce 9-million tons of coal a year or just 3% of total output but accounted for 26% of all accidents in the coal industry. The estimated cost of closure was put at 450-billion rubles in the prices of the second quarter of 1993. -Keith Bush POSSIBLE BARTER DEAL WITH CUBA. The Foreign Ministry said on 28 October that Moscow and Havana are discussing a possible oil-for-sugar barter deal. The plan envisions the use of private companies on the Russian side and a limited role for the central Russian authorities. The Russian statement was issued after a meeting between Foreign Trade Minister Oleg Davydov and Cuba's ambassador to Russia, Rojelio Montenegro, Reuters reported. -Suzanne Crow TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIAN REBELS COUNTERATTACK. On 28 October forces loyal to ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia launched a counterattack and retook the town of Khobi that they had ceded to government troops on 27 October, Western agencies reported quoting a Georgian parliament spokesman. Meanwhile Mkhedrioni leader Dzhaba Ioseliani called on the population of Zugdidi to surrender in order to avoid a blood bath, according to Reuters. A spokesman for the Georgian presidential press office claimed in a statement carried on Georgian television that ten busloads of mercenaries from Abkhazia had arrived in Zugdidi to fight on Gamsakhurdia's side. Georgian television also reported that the body of Georgia's air force chief, who had been abducted four weeks ago, was discovered when government forces retook the town of Abasha. He had been tortured and then executed. -Liz Fuller RAFSANJANI IN BAKU. On the third and final day of his visit to Baku, Iranian President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani signed fourteen documents including a memorandum on the principles of friendship and cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan and agreements on trade, commerce, banking, and scientific exchanges, ITAR-TASS reported. Rafsanjani told a news conference in Baku before his departure for Tehran that he had telephoned Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, who had pledged that Karabakh Armenian forces would observe a ceasefire in south-west Azerbaijan beginning late on 28 October, AFP reported; Radio Tehran subsequently reported that the ceasefire had taken effect. In Baku, Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliev addressed an appeal to UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali to convene an emergency Security Council session to discuss the renewed fighting, according to AFP quoting Interfax. -Liz Fuller CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE ARE THE SERBS ARMING THE MUSLIMS AGAINST THE CROATS? ONE OF THE KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN BOSNIA THIS YEAR HAS BEEN THE COLLAPSE OF THE TRADITIONAL MUSLIM-CROAT ALLIANCE; ANOTHER HAS BEEN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE MAINLY MUSLIM BOSNIAN ARMY INTO A REAL FIGHTING FORCE. AFP on October 29 quotes unnamed local sources and UN officials as suggesting that the two developments might not be unrelated, and that the Serbs have, in fact, been selling weapons to the Muslims for their war against the Croats in central Bosnia and near Mostar. Serb forces have also engaged in cooperation with local Croat authorities to facilitate transportation of refugees and possibly of troops as well. Croat and Muslim politicians have traditionally regarded each other as allies against a more numerous Serb enemy, and many observers both inside and outside the former Yugoslavia have seen the destruction of that alliance as a major Serb strategic victory. The ultimate goal would likely be to isolate the Muslims in tiny pockets in Bosnia-Herzegovina, leaving the way open for a Serbian conquest of Dalmatia and reducing Croatia in the process to a rump state about the size of Slovenia and based around Zagreb. -Patrick Moore NEW CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT LEADER ELECTED IN KOSOVO. The head of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Christian Democrats, Lazer Krasniqi, has been replaced by Mark Krasniqi as party-leader, Rilindja reported on 27 October. The paper quotes a party representative as saying that the decision is a "tribute to the unity of the party and to the elimination of tendencies toward disintegration on the Albanian political scene in Kosovo." In July Lazer Krasniqi, who lives abroad, was accused by local party members of being undemocratic. The new leader stressed the importance of the "national question," or ethnic Albanian unity, adding that "cooperation with other parties, especially with the biggest party, the Democratic League of Kosovo," will improve. The parties in Kosovo are committed to non-violence and have sought to establish a working political consensus because Serb repression has prevented the parliament of the self-proclaimed republic from meeting even though it was elected in May 1992. Meanwhile, according to Rilindja, human rights abuses continue in the province, as do police raids for arms. Tanjug on 28 October said that Serb authorities have charged 19 Albanians with plotting armed rebellion. Elsewhere, Politika reported on 27 October that sharp differences have emerged between recent Serbian immigrants and long-term Serbian and Montenegrin inhabitants of Kosovo. Following talks between politicians representing Albanians, Serbs, and Montenegrins, the native Slavs accused the immigrants of collaboration with the Albanians. -Fabian Schmidt ROMANIA AND THE EMBARGO ON RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. A Romanian passenger ship detained in Belgrade for more than a week was allowed on 28-October to dock to obtain food and water, an RFE/RL correspondent and Radio Bucharest reported. The vessel Danube Star was detained eight days ago by two Serb nationalist groups, The White Rose and New Byzantium, in protest against the UN sanctions on rump Yugoslavia. The groups demand that Romania release four Serbian barges held in the Danube port of Braila, which had been carrying goods banned under the sanctions. In a related development, Reuters reported on 28-October that Romanian customs are battling gasoline smuggling on the border with rump Yugoslavia, where hundreds of smugglers are storming the frontier in attempts to make big profits by selling gasoline on the black markets in Serbia. A customs post chief told Reuters that on 23 October some 200 Romanians carrying gas cans smashed the windows of the checkpoint and forced their way through the customs barrier. -Michael Shafir CZECHS CELEBRATE NATIONAL HOLIDAY. Speaking at Prague Castle at ceremonies celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia-a national holiday in the Czech Republic but no longer in Slovakia-President Vaclav Havel said the Czech future lies in democracy, belief in universal values, and "genuine Europeanness." CTK reports Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus as saying Czechs will be able to face future challenges if they strip their new patriotism of "pompous phrases and theatrical gestures." Earlier in the day, a crowd of more than 2,000 people cheered as Havel laid flowers at the Equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas in Prague's Wenceslas Square. After Havel left, members of the extreme-right Republican Party, a strongly anti-Havel group, started a rally which was interrupted by a group of skinheads who attacked the Republicans. After the rally ended, the skinheads fought police; several were detained. -Jiri Pehe WALESA LOBBIES NATO IN FINLAND. "Poland is determined to join NATO; we are an independent country and no one is going to tell us what to do," President Lech Walesa told a press conference in Helsinki on 28-October. Walesa was responding to recent statements by Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev opposing NATO's expansion. Poles are realists, Walesa added, and understand that the decision on NATO membership is not theirs alone. During the first day of his two-day official visit to Finland, Walesa discussed security issues and the situation in Russia with Finnish President Mauno Kovisto, Polish TV reports. Kovisto stressed Finland's desire to maintain its neutral status and its disinclination to join the Atlantic alliance. Walesa was accompanied on the visit by three members of the new government: Foreign Minister Aleksander Olechowski, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksander Luczak, and Foreign Trade Minister Leslaw Podkanski. The president laid a wreath at the graves of Finnish soldiers lost in the "Winter War." He was scheduled to meet with the Finnish prime minister on 29 October. -Louisa Vinton POLISH COALITION CONSOLIDATES CONTROL IN SENATE. The Polish Senate selected new commission chairmen on 28 October, PAP reports. Deviating from the practice in the Sejm, where parties received chairmanships in rough proportion to their share of parliamentary seats, in the Senate the new ruling coalition took control over all twelve standing commissions. Five posts went to the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), seven to the Polish Peasant Party. The coalition controls 73 of 100 Senate seats. The coalition's move drew protests from the other parties represented in the Senate. In electing an SLD representative chairman of the human rights commission, SLD leaders said that the "internee ethos" (a reference to the parliament's focus on rectifying human rights abuses committed during the communist and martial law periods) should no longer dictate the commission's priorities. In other political news, the Liberal Democratic Congress (KLD), which failed to clear the 5% threshold in the recent elections and thus won no seats in the Sejm, announced an initial decision to merge with the Democratic Union. The final decision on the merger will come at the KLD's congress in November, PAP reports. Louisa Vinton HUNGARIAN MEDIA WAR ESCALATES. On 28 October the deputy chairmen of Hungarian Radio and Television appointed new chief editors to replace those recently suspended from their posts, prompting a new wave of protests, MTI and Radio Budapest report. The chief editors of radio channel Kossuth and the TV's chief editors of domestic news threatened to "take all legal measures" at their disposal unless radio and TV deputy chairmen Laszlo Csucs and Gabor Nahlik withdrew their appointees by noon 1 November and by noon 29 October, respectively. The protesting chief editors argued that the new appointees have a progovernment bias. The radio chief editors argued that the appointee to the post of deputy chief editor Klara Babiczky had violated the rules of objective reporting during the 1990 election campaign and is a regular contributor to the weekly Magyar Forum which is edited by Istvan Csurka. Government spokeswoman Judit Juhasz said that personnel and program changes fell under the jurisdiction of the TV and radio deputy chairmen, and denied charges by the opposition that the deputy chairmen had consulted with the government on the issue. The National Federation of Journalists warns that in the absence of Prime Minister Jozsef Antall (who is in Cologne for medical treatment) the deputy chairmen of radio and television have "slipped out of all legal controls" and called on parliamentary parties to take steps to appoint new radio and television chairmen acceptable to all sides. -Edith Oltay HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY PROTESTS ANTONESCU STATUE PLANS. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania protested on 28 October against a plan to erect a statue of the country's World War II military dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu, in the Transylvanian city of Tirgu Mures, an RFE/RL correspondent and Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. A statement released by the HDFR said that the city's residents do not need the dubious distinction of being the only Romanian city to honor a man who "led the country into a useless war eastwards and slaughtered thousands of Jews." But the HDFR is apparently not fully informed: on 22 October Radio Bucharest had reported that in the southern town of Slobozia a statue of the former leader had already been erected at the initiative of the Marshal Antonescu League, and earlier, on 7 October, the daily Vremea had reported the statue in Slobozia was placed in front of the local police inspectorate. Marko Bela, the president of the HDFR, said at a press conference carried by Radio Bucharest that the plan to erect the statue had not been approved by the town hall or the city council, being a private initiative of the Association of War Veterans (which has close links to the Marshal Antonescu League). Earlier, however, a street in Tirgu Mures was named for Antonescu despite protests from residents and the Jewish community. -Michael Shafir STOLOJAN CRITICIZES GRADUALISM IN REFORMS. In what appears to be a veiled criticism of the policies of the Vacaroiu government, former prime minister Teodor Stolojan, now a World Bank economist, told the Romanian-US Economic Council in Washington on 28-October that Romania cannot afford the waste of gradualism in implementing reforms, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. He said gradualism "usually increases the social costs of transition." Stolojan said privatization in Romania is "blocked in a political and bureaucratic game" which puts the entire economic reform in jeopardy. -Michael Shafir SLOVAKIA TO RECEIVE WORLD BANK LOAN. National Bank Governor Vladimir Masar, presently in Washington, told TASR on 28 October that negotiations with the World Bank were successful, and an $80-million loan should be on the way. The loan will be used to support Slovakia's balance of payments so that hard currency reserves will not be drained by paying for imports. The bank also pledged to assist with the implementation of social welfare reforms. -Sharon Fisher MOLDOVAN REFORMS PRAISED AT WORLD BANK MEETING. Held in Paris on 28-October, the first meeting on Moldova of the World Bank-sponsored Consultative Group, comprised of the Western donor countries and the main international financial institutions, reviewed "the impressive reforms that are under way in Moldova," the World Bank's press release said. The group agreed that "although relatively little known to the international community," Moldova has moved faster than other ex-Soviet republics in its stabilization and structural reform programs, eliminated preferential credits, reduced price subsidies, "made significant movement toward market-based foreign exchange operations," and enacted and began implementing the privatization program. "All members expressed strong support for Moldova's reform program, emphasized the national consensus that has been reached on market reform...and stated that Moldova merits generous support from the international community because of the strength of the program [and] its demonstration effect in the region." The World Bank had announced on 22 October a new, $60-million loan on favorable terms to Moldova. -Vladimir Socor IMF, WORLD BANK BOLSTER BALTIC ECONOMIES. Baltic media reported on 28 October that the IMF has approved additional credits of $32 million to support economic reform in Estonia. One half of this amount will be available immediately; the rest will be provided under normal stand-by credit facilities and may be drawn on until March 1995. Valdis Freidenfelds of the Latvian Finance Ministry told the press that the World Bank has agreed to help Latvia implement a complex program of banking and industry reform. He explained that the debts of state-owned industries to the Bank of Latvia will be transferred to one institution and restructured; once the indebted enterprises are able to resume production, they will have to repay their debts. -Dzintra Bungs BULGARIA SEEKS CLARIFICATION ON KOHL STATEMENT. BTA reports that the Bulgarian foreign ministry on 28 October requested additional information-without specifying from whom-on remarks by German Prime Minister Helmut Kohl that Balkan states should not be allowed to become full members of the EC. Kohl's remarks, which were reportedly made at a conference of German industrialists on 26 October, have reinvigorated a heated debate on Western attitudes toward Bulgaria triggered by criticism of Sofia's minority policy made by the new US ambassador in early October. Deputy foreign minister Valentin Gatsinski commented that Kohl's statement appears to be in line with similar remarks made by European politicians who would like to see a "terraced Europe," adding that others seek to include the entire continent in the EC. Gatsinski said he expects the foreign ministry to issue an official reaction in the next few days. Sources in the chancellery of the German premier told RFE/RL on 28 October that Bonn in principle supports EC enlargement eastwards but that potential members must demonstrate "a proven track record of democracy." They added that, "in this respect, the Central European states and the Baltics are clearly ahead." -Kjell Engelbrekt SLOVAK-UKRAINIAN MILITARY AGREEMENT SIGNED. On 28 October Slovak Defense Minister Imrich Andrejcak began a two-day official visit to Ukraine, TASR reports. During the visit Andrejcak and his Ukrainian counterpart Vitalii Radetsky signed an agreement on military cooperation, which Andrejcak stressed was not a military pact. According to Radetsky, the new military-political situation in Central Europe made it impossible for countries to guarantee their security under old accords. The military agreement is a supplement to the bilateral friendship agreement signed in late June. Andrejcak also met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko. Ustina Markus and Sharon Fisher US-BELARUS MILITARY AGREEMENT. US Defense Secretary Les Aspin and Belarusian Minister of Defense Paval Kazlouski signed a memorandum in Washington providing for regular high level US-Belarus military meetings and setting up a defense working group, Reuters reported on 28 October. The US signed similar agreements with Russia and Ukraine this year. -Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN MILITARY DELEGATION IN UKRAINE. On 27 October a Belarusian military delegation headed by the former minister of defense affairs paid a one-day visit to Ukraine, UNIAN reported. The delegation was met by Ukrainian defense minister Vitalii Radetsky and deputy defense ministers Ivan Bizhan and Ivan Oliinyk. The topic of discussion was military cooperation between Ukraine and Belarus in 1994. -Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN WRITERS WORRIED ABOUT INTERNAL SITUATION. The Ukrainian writers' weekly, Literaturna Ukraina, on 28 October published an appeal to President Leonid Kravchuk adopted at a recent plenum of the Council of the Writers Union of Ukraine (WUU). In the late 1980s the WUU spearheaded the movement for democratization and national renewal in Ukraine. The appeal expresses concern that "progressive reforms" are being blocked by "old economic and political structures" and that this is causing a sharp fall in living standards and social tensions. It also calls on the president to take steps to rectify "the catastrophic state of Ukrainian book publishing, the decline of national cinema and theater, and the shortage of [Ukrainian] school textbooks," and to ensure that the Law on Languages, which recognizes Ukrainian as the state language, is observed. -Bohdan Nahaylo ESTONIA EXPECTS RUSSIAN TROOPS OUT IN 1993. Estonian Foreign Minister Trivimi Velliste told the press on 28 October that about 4,000 Russian troops still remain in Estonia, but that they could depart by the end of 1993 if Russia makes the appropriate political decision. Velliste noted, however, that the Russian navy's nuclear training center in Paldiski is a separate issue, but that the partial dismantling and removal of the cores of the nuclear reactors there could be completed by the spring of 1994. Velliste added that in the later stages of the dismantling process, Russian experts could participate and come to Estonia with civilian visas. A similar schedule could also be followed at the ammunition depot at Naissar, Baltic media report. -Dzintra Bungs ESTONIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS TO MEET IN NOVEMBER? BNS REPORTED ON 28-OCTOBER THAT PREPARATIONS HAVE BEGUN FOR A MEETING BETWEEN ESTONIAN PRESIDENT LENNART MERI AND RUSSIAN PRESIDENT YELTSIN, POSSIBLY ON 8, 9, OR 10 NOVEMBER. Discussions concerning such a meeting were held in Moscow on 26-October between Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin and the chancellor of the Estonian Foreign Ministry. BNS did not specify the proposed agenda for a Yeltsin-Meri meeting, but Meri earlier this month told the press that he would like to sign an accord on the pullout of Russian troops from Estonia when he meets Yeltsin. -Dzintra Bungs US DOES NOT LINK CITIZENSHIP ISSUES WITH RUSSIAN TROOP PULLOUT. The US Embassy in Riga issued a statement rejecting some Western agency reports suggesting that Washington links the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia to the citizenship status of non-Latvians. BNS of 28 October, quoting an embassy spokesman, said that the US government supports the unconditional and prompt withdrawal of Russian military forces from the Baltic States. -Dzintra Bungs [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Ustina Markus and Louisa Vinton NOTICE: The RFE/RL Daily Report will not appear Monday, 1 November. 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