|The last of the human freedoms- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way. - Victor Frankl|
No. 118, 23 June 1994
RUSSIA RUSSIA SIGNS NATO PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT. After months of negotiation and recrimination, on 22 June Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev signed the NATO Partnership for Peace agreement. "Let me state with full certainty," Kozyrev was quoted by Reuters as saying, "that there are no insurmountable obstacles on the way to shaping a workable relationship between Russia and its Western partners." NATO Deputy Secretary-General Sergio Balanzino described the signing as "a defining moment in shaping the security of our continent . . . there will only be stability in Europe with and not against Russia." The agreement, which in formal terms at least marks a major milestone in the transformation of Europe's post-Cold War security environment, was accompanied by a statement setting out the major principles of broader cooperation between NATO and Russia. Reportedly crafted to make clear that it in no way binds NATO decision-making to Moscow--Balanzino emphasized that the new relationship "has nothing to do with some kind of NATO-Russia condominium or a Yalta Two'"--the statement nevertheless provided Russia with an acknowledgment that it remains a major power. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. OPTIMISM AND CAUTION. In remarks that may partly reassure the governments of former Soviet bloc states bordering Russia, Kozyrev also said that Moscow now accepts the principle of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, although he cautioned that that expansion should not be too hasty. The Washington Post of 23 June, meanwhile, quoted US officials as emphasizing that the signing was only "the beginning" and that considerable uncertainty remained both over NATO's role in the post-Cold War world and over Russia's ability and willingness to function in harmony with the alliance. That Russia's new relationship with NATO is likely to be challenged by nationalists in Russia was made clear on 22 June when a vote in the Russian State Duma to pass an amendment invalidating Russia's accession to the NATO partnership failed by only nine votes. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. JOINT RUSSIAN-US STATEMENT ON NORTH KOREA. Following consultations in Brussels, US Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Kozyrev also announced that the two sides were close to completing the text of a draft UN Security Council resolution aimed at easing the crisis in North Korea. According to ITAR-TASS on 22 June, Moscow and Washington had narrowed their differences on the issue; the draft resolution will reportedly call for sanctions against North Korea within approximately thirty days if Pyongyang does not take positive steps to address the international community's concern over its alleged nuclear weapons program. To encourage positive movement, Kozyrev said, the resolution proposes the holding of an international conference on the issue. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. GRACHEV CALLS FOR JOINT EXERCISE WITH US. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev on 22 June issued a public statement urging that a joint Russian-US peacekeeping exercise, originally scheduled for July in the Orenburg region of Russia, take place as planned. Opposition in the Russian parliament had earlier led President Boris Yeltsin to talk of scuttling the exercise. According to Interfax of 22 June, however, Grachev said that Yeltsin had not yet made a final decision on the exercise. Grachev was quoted as saying that "if we reject the joint . . . exercises, we shall lose from the political point of view." He reportedly has sent a letter to Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin explaining his position. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. KOZYREV ON ARMS EMBARGO, SANCTIONS. Foreign Minister Kozyrev told reporters in Brussels on 22 June that "nothing is excluded from examination right now" when asked if Russia would support lifting an arms embargo against Bosnia. Kozyrev said that options needed to be discussed if the Bosnian Serbs reject the peace plan currently being worked out, Reuters reported. An ITAR-TASS dispatch said that Kozyrev answered in the affirmative when asked whether sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia would be lifted in the event that a peace agreement could be achieved. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. CRIME SWEEP IN MOSCOW. Russian and Western media reported on 22 June that a long-anticipated anti-crime operation had been executed in Moscow on 21-22 June. According to Reuters, over 2,200 people were detained and 759 were charged. A report in the Boston Globe noted, however, that most organized crime figures knew of the raid well in advance and were maintaining a low profile. In related news, President Yeltsin announced that he does not intend to suspend his controversial anti-crime decree despite objections that it infringes upon civil rights, according to an RFE/RL correspondent's report. On 22 June the Duma voted 246 to 6 in favor of a resolution calling upon Yeltsin to suspend the decree, according to Interfax. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA REJECTS LIFTING ZHIRINOVSKY'S IMMUNITY. The State Duma refused on 22 June to put on its agenda the question of stripping the ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky of his parliamentary immunity, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 June. No further details were given by the agency. The office of the Russian Prosecutor General asked the Duma last week to allow a criminal case to go forward against Zhirinovsky for inciting war and ethnic conflicts. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. COMMUNISTS STAGE TWO RALLIES IN MOSCOW. Two demonstrations were held in Moscow on 22 June to demand that the Communist opposition be given broadcasting time on Ostankino Television, Interfax reported. About 50 people carrying red flags and portraits of Stalin, Lenin and Marshal Zhukov demonstrated in front of the Ostankino headquarters. Another group estimated at nearly 2,000 people gathered at the nearby All-Russian Exhibition Center. They demanded the immediate adoption of legislation allowing the communist opposition one hour a day on television. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA STILL DEVELOPING CHEMICAL WEAPONS? The New York Times reported on 23 June that Clinton administration officials believe Russia is still developing chemical weapons despite its obligation under the chemical weapons convention to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpiles. Materials provided to the US by Russian officials reportedly lack any information on binary chemical weapons programs, despite claims by the Russian scientist Vil Mirzayanov that a binary weapons program is underway. This has in turn raised US suspicions that a secret program is continuing, perhaps even hidden from the civilian leadership. Similar charges concerning Soviet and Russian biological weapons research were made in March 1994, but have not been clarified, although they resulted in the firing of the head of the Russian committee for chemical weapons destruction. The committee's deputy head, Pavel Syutkin, was appointed acting chairman of the committee on 22 June, Interfax reported. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. SECRET SERVICE DENIES ILLEGAL EXPORT OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS. There have been no instances of illicit export from Russia of highly-enriched uranium suitable for production of nuclear weapons, the spokesman of the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK), Aleksandr Mikhailov told ITAR-TASS on 22 June. Although his service has prevented several cases of illegal export of low-enriched uranium and other radioactive materials, there were no cases of smuggling of highly-enriched uranium or weapon plutonium, which also can be used for the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. Mikhailov also said that Western reports on the smuggling of nuclear materials from Russia are aimed not at preventing nuclear proliferation, but "placing the Russian nuclear arsenal under Western control." Mikhailov admitted, however, that he has no information about possible illegal export of radioactive elements from the territory of the other CIS states. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA FAILS TO APPROVE BUDGET, RAISES MINIMUM WAGE. The State Duma tried three times to approve the 1994 budget in its third reading on 22 June, but fell short of the 225 votes required for passage in each attempt, Interfax reports. The closest vote was 220 to 46, with 33 abstentions. Government officials warned that the Duma's failure to give the budget final approval would prevent the Central Bank from providing credits for government spending, and that the government would be forced to submit new draft budgets for the third and fourth quarters of 1994. A further attempt to pass the budget will be made on 24 June. Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin instructed deputies to cancel all business trips and return to Moscow for the vote. In related business on 22 June, the Duma voted 329 to 1 to raise the minimum monthly wage from 14,620 rubles ($7) to 20,500 rubles ($10). The increase, the first since December, directly affects only employees paid from the budget, but the minimum wage also serves as a benchmark for wages in other sectors. The average wage in April was 175,000 rubles. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. BUDGET REVENUES FALL AS PRODUCTION DROPS. As recession has hit Russian state industry, budgetary revenues have fallen short of anticipated levels by 28% in the first five months of 1994, Interfax reports. Struggling factories have defaulted on tax payments amounting to 2.1 trillion rubles ($1 billion). Deputy Economics Minister Yakov Urinson reported on 16 June that Russian industrial production for May 1994 was 53% below the figure for December 1993. Output for the first five months of 1994 was down 26% compared with the same period in 1993. Still, many officials expressed cautious optimism about the economy, arguing that official statistics dramatically understate the extent of private sector growth. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin predicted on 19 June that the recession will bottom out in June, and that monthly inflation will remain at a level of 7-9% for the rest of 1994. Prices rose 8.1% in May. Chernomyrdin also countered speculation about a state of "dual power" in Russian economic decision-making; the new spate of presidential decrees is designed to speed economic change and does not reflect conflicts over policy. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NAZARBAEV ON GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE. In an interview televised on 22 June, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev explained recent changes in the country's government as part of a new anti-crisis policy and as an effort to bring young people familiar with business into the Cabinet, Interfax reported. On 20 June Interfax reported the abolition of the ministries of energy and fuel resources, communications and retail trade; separate ministries of energy and the coal industry and for the oil and gas industry were created, along with a ministry of transport and communications, and a ministry for industry and trade. Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet had expressed its displeasure with the government's anti-crisis program and demanded the Cabinet's resignation. Nazarbaev said in the interview that if the program did not show success in 15 months, the government would resign. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BELARUS VOTES FOR PRESIDENT. On 23 June Belarus will try to become the last former communist country in East Europe to have an elected president by choosing from six candidates. The favorites are Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich and former chairman of the parliamentary anti-corruption commission, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, both of whom favor some form of union with Russia as do Belarus Communist Party Central Committee secretary Vasil' Novikau, and Agrarian Party Chairman Alyaksandr Dubko. Candidates emphasizing independence for Belarus and economic market reform are former parliament chairman Stanislau Shushkevich and Popular Front Chairman Zyanon Paznyak. More than half of the 7.2 million eligible voters must cast ballots to make the elections official and, since it is unlikely that any candidate will receive a majority of the votes, a second round between the two top candidates will be held in two weeks, Western media report. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUS PREMIER MEETS YELTSIN. On 22 June Kebich broke off his election campaign to travel to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, Interfax reports. The talks centered on the deepening and accelerating of economic integration of Belarus and Russia as well as on the progress of democratic reforms, devolution, and prospects of political cooperation with the CIS. It was noted that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will head the Russian delegation at the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from German occupation on 1-3 July. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. "THE FIGHTING IN BOSNIA IS NOW WORSE THAN BEFORE THE CEASE-FIRE TOOK EFFECT." This is how the VOA on 23 June described the current state of affairs in light of the 10 June truce. RFE-RL's South Slavic Language Service the previous evening noted that the most intense combat is taking place in the Ribnica area of northern Bosnia, while Bihac and Sarajevo are both "tense." Reuters quoted one foreign relief worker as saying that "the internal front line went crazy when the cease-fire took effect. [The Bosnian government army] figures this is the time to finish off [Bihac kingpin Fikret] Abdic. They have one month." Elsewhere, the 23 June Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes Bosnian radio as saying that a major Serbian offensive is imminent. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN BOSNIA AND CROATIA. RFE/RL's South Slavic Language Service reported on 22 June that discussions and voting regarding setting up the new Muslim-Croat government were going on into the night. In the course of 23 June, Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic is expected to name 10 Muslim and 6 Croat nominees for the new posts. Meanwhile in Bonn, AFP said on 22 June that Germany will send 70 police to Mostar as part of an EU contingent of some 200 to help provide security while the town is rebuilt. The EU's chief administrator there will be a former mayor of Bremen, Hans Koschnick. Finally in Croatia, President Franjo Tudjman and a host of other dignitaries marked The Day of Anti-Fascist Struggle, a Tito-era holiday that has been retained. It gave Tudjman the opportunity to undercut charges that his government is sympathetic to the legacy of the World War II-era Axis puppet state, as well as to underscore the links between Istria, where the uprising began, and the rest of Croatia. Vecernji list covers the speech on 23 June. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIAN ECONOMY SHOWING RENEWED STRESS . . . On 20 June the London Times featured a report on the rump-Yugoslav economy under the headline: "Farmers in Serbia to Gather Gold for Grain." Unlike Serbian media, which emphasize reports of economic gains, the Times notes that Serbia's economy is showing signs of fatigue. The article says that in recent weeks the "super dinar," pegged to the value of the German mark when introduced into circulation on 24 January 1994, has begun to fluctuate "seriously." Also, a black market for currency exchange has reemerged. Such signs, reports the British daily, signal a public loss of confidence in the dinar and may portend a return to hyper-inflation. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND GOLD AWAITS THE FARMERS. On 23 June, meanwhile, Serbian media continue to focus attention on economic issues, with the design of a proposed gold coin, which will be used to pay Serbian farmers for grain surpluses, grabbing headlines. According to Politika, the new gold coin, which is to bear likenesses of the Serbian double-headed eagle and, ironically, a peace dove, will be minted as soon as federal authorities approve the design. The coin will weigh 7.78 grams and will be pegged to the value of gold on international markets. The coin will, however, have a face value of 150 dinars, or approximately $94. The coin's introduction appears to be part of an inflation-fighting campaign by National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic, who has grudgingly committed the bank to bailing out the agricultural sector while refusing to do so by printing un-backed dinars, an action which could trigger spiraling hyper-inflation. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. CENSUS UNDERWAY IN MACEDONIA. Even though the ethnic Albanian parties in the Macedonian parliament have criticized the Macedonian census, which started on 21 June, they have nonetheless urged the ethnic Albanians to take part in it. The leader of a joint committee, made up of the Party of Democratic Prosperity and the Democratic People's Party, Shaban Prevalla, said, however, that the ethnic structure of the country has not been reflected in the construction of the local census commissions. He also claimed that a large number of Albanians has not yet received Macedonian citizenship. The parties had demanded constitutional amendments making the Albanians co-equal with the ethnic Macedonians and urged a postponement of the census in the meantime. Nonetheless, the parties urged Macedonian Albanians who live abroad to participate, arguing that there is little chance of the Albanians soon getting their constitutional changes. The parties also note that the Albanians have received little support for their claims from the international community. Rilindja carried the story on 20 June. The Frankfurter Rundschau nonetheless reported on 22 June that ethnic Albanians are boycotting the census. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK CABINET REJECTS DEBT DEAL WITH RUSSIA. On 22 June, the Slovak government turned down a plan for settling debts owed by Russia, Slovak media reported. Russia has agreed to take over Soviet debts, including sums owed to Slovakia and the Czech Republic; the Slovak portion of the former Soviet Union's debt to Czechoslovakia amounted to $1.5 billion. Former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and Russian officials agreed on debt payments when Meciar visited Moscow in August 1993. TASR quotes Deputy Prime Minister Brigita Schmoegnerova as saying the cabinet believes Slovakia should be getting part of the money Russia has agreed to pay to the Czech Republic, in particular the money to be paid directly to those Czech companies that are owed money by companies in the former Soviet Union. She said that many products that were manufactured in Slovakia were sold to the Soviet Union by foreign trade companies based in Prague and, as a result, the Czech Republic is now claiming debts resulting from these sales. Schmoegnerova flew to Moscow on 23 June for further debt negotiations. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER ON SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY. On 20 June, Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan told journalists in Prague, where he had met with Czech officials, that the Slovak government will not wait until after Slovakia's autumn general elections to sign a state treaty with Hungary, if it can be done before then. Kukan argued that the treaty had been delayed by minority policies of the previous Slovak government of Vladimir Meciar and those of the outgoing Hungarian government. The foreign minister said that work has begun on the text of the treaty and, in his opinion, "talks will start as soon as the new Hungarian government takes office." The main points of contention in the past have been recognition of mutual borders and guaranteeing the rights of ethnic minorities. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN COALITION AGREEMENT REACHED. MTI reported on 22 June that the Hungarian Socialist Party (HSP), which attracted 54% of the votes and the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (AFD), which had 18% of the votes during last month's general election, reached a final agreement for governing of Hungary for the next four years. The deal will give the AFD almost equal power to approve government policy, candidates for senior posts, and draft legislation. The AFD will have three ministerial posts, among them the important Interior Ministry, while the HSP will have nine. In addition, the AFD will have the newly created deputy prime ministerial post and number of state secretaries. The two parties will have over a two-thirds majority in parliament, and thus will be able to change the constitution. The distribution of parliamentary committees between the parties was agreed earlier. The joint economic guidelines accepted include restoration of a uniform tax break for foreign investment, negotiation of a "social pact" between employers and employees, scrapping a costly government bank bailout, and a 50 billion forint ($500 million) cut in this year's budget. Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc. PRAGUE SPRING FIGURE SERIOUSLY INJURED. Two years after the death following a car accident of Alexander Dubcek, a leader of the Prague Spring reform period in 1968, another prominent leader of the Prague Spring was seriously hurt in a car accident. CTK reports that Oldrich Cernik, the prime minister of Czechoslovakia in 1968, was severely injured on 22 June near the Moravian city of Ostrava. He has been hospitalized with multiple injuries and is hooked to a life-support system. Like other members of the Czechoslovak leadership, Cernik was taken to Moscow after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and forced to sign documents legalizing the invasion. He was expelled from the communist party in 1970, being able to return to public life only after the "velvet revolution" in November 1989. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. ILIESCU, HAVEL SIGN TREATY. On 22 June the Romanian and Czech Presidents, Ion Iliescu and Vaclav Havel, signed a bilateral friendship and cooperation treaty, Radio Bucharest reports. At a press conference, the two presidents expressed hopes that the treaty will help boosting economic and political ties between their countries. Later this year, the two countries are expected to sign a free trade agreement, providing a framework for closer economic links. Havel and Iliescu said they were not interested in an expansion of the "Visegrad group," which Havel described as "an improvised alliance." But Havel promised to support Bucharest's plans to join the Central European Free Trade Agreement. Both groups are made up of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. An RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest noticed that the pro-Iliescu media offered rather low-key coverage of the Czech president's visit. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. UDF CAUCUS SAYS PARLIAMENTARY BOYCOTT HELPS BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS. In a declaration adopted by the parliamentary group of the Union of Democratic Forces on 22 June and appearing in Demokratsiya on the next day, an ongoing political boycott of the National Assembly is described as ineffective and indirect help to the coalition's opposite number, the Bulgarian Socialist Party. The declaration, which was supported by an overwhelming majority of the caucus, says the selective boycott of plenary sessions instead of blocking the work of parliament, as was intended, has made it easier for the government and the mainly Socialist deputies who back it to ignore the opposition and pass their own legislative proposals. It is also argued that the boycott threatens to weaken the UDF's standing as a leading and responsible political force, at home as well as abroad. The boycott was selected as a means to bring about early general elections by the coalition's sixth conference in May, which also voted to fully subordinate the parliamentary faction to the decisions of the UDF National Coordinating Council. In an interview with 24 Chasa on 23 June, the 65-year-old respected UDF deputy and lawyer Aleksandar Dzherov urged more a more pragmatic stance on the part of the NCC, and warned--in a reference to the low average age of that body--that he was no longer prepared obey "youngsters who act before they think." Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH HIGH COURT RULES ON STATE SECRETS. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled on 22 June that the law on state secrets covers only the intelligence and counterintelligence services, and not all employees of the security police, Polish TV reports. The ruling clears the way for the release--at least to the courts--of files on former secret police informers and agents. Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski has consistently cited restrictions on state secrets in justifying his refusal to release files from the communist secret police archives, even in cases where prosecutors have requested them to clear up the murders of opposition activists. The tribunal ruled that a state secret is not a value in and of itself; the application of the secrets law cannot be allowed to collide with other rights and freedoms or interfere with democratic control over the security services. Supreme Court Chairman Adam Strzebosz had requested the ruling in connection with the case of Stanislaw Pyjas, a student activist murdered in 1977. In a related development, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew Sobotka denied on 22 June that he ever knowingly collaborated with the DDR secret police, as documents from Stasi archives suggest. Sobotka was a deputy Politburo member in 1989; he represents the ruling coalition in the internal affairs ministry. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. REACTION TO YELTSIN DECREE ON ESTONIAN BORDER. On 21 June the Estonian Foreign Ministry immediately issued a statement, condemning the decree by Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordering the unilateral demarcation of the Estonian-Russian border by 31 December. It noted that Estonia had steadfastly sought solutions to the border question, even asking the CSCE to name a special representative to help settle the differences. On 22 June Prime Minister Mart Laar called the decree "without precedent on the international scene" and that it was another attempt by Russia to pressure Estonia for concessions on military retirees, BNS reports. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry issued a statement noting that the decree contradicts the CSCE principles requiring agreement only through negotiations and without applying any pressure. Deputy Chief of the Legal Department of the Russian border force Mikhail Shekhalevich told Interfax that the decree was a vital necessity to stop the smuggling of weapons into Russia and non-ferrous metals, fuels, and food to Estonia. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA CRITICAL OF LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW. On 22 June, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov was reported by Interfax to have described the Latvian citizenship law as inhuman; he claimed that it had been aimed against Russian-speaking residents in Latvia. Krylov added that if this legislation became a law (it still must be endorsed by the president), Latvian-Russian relations would deteriorate and the visit of Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin to Latvia would most likely not take place; furthermore, the fate of numerous agreements made during the recent visit of the Latvian president to Moscow would be uncertain. In its own statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry objected primarily on the naturalization quotas in the Latvian citizenship law, saying that the admission of Latvia into the Council of Europe would encourage the discriminatory policies of the Latvian authorities and mark the relaxation of international norms in the field of human rights. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. PRESIDENTIAL POLL IN UKRAINE. A poll of more than 1,500 respondents from all Ukrainian regions conducted by the Ukrainian Barometer Center indicated that former Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma and President Leonid Kravchuk were the favorites for the presidential elections on 26 July, Interfax reported on 21 June. Kuchma was supported by 29% of the respondents, Kravchuk by 23%, president of the Center for Market Reforms in Kiev Volodymyr Lanovyi by 8%, former parliament chairman Ivan Pliusch by 3%, president of the Ukraine Financial Group stock company Valerii Babych by 2.5%, and Minister of Education Pyor Talanchuk by less than 0.5%. Interfax, however, failed to give any information about the popularity of another candidate, parliament chairman Oleksandr Moroz, or how many people were undecided or did not plan to vote. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. 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