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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 79 Part I, 24 April 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 79 Part I, 24 April 1998

A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern 
Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by 
the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

This is Part I, a compilation of news concerning Russia, 
Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II covers Central, 
Eastern, and Southeastern Europe and is distributed 
simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL 
NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's 
Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* COMMUNIST DEFECTORS HAND VICTORY TO KIRIENKO

* KIRIENKO PROMISES NOT TO BREAK UP NATURAL MONOPOLIES

* NIYAZOV AT WHITE HOUSE

End Note: ARMENIANS REMEMBER 1915 GENOCIDE
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RUSSIA

COMMUNIST DEFECTORS HAND VICTORY TO KIRIENKO. The State Duma 
on 24 April voted by 251 to 25 in a secret ballot to confirm 
Sergei Kirienko as prime minister. Communist deputies appear 
to have defied party discipline in order to hand Kirienko 
the winning margin. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov 
announced following a plenum of the party's Central 
Committee on 23 April that the Communist faction would 
oppose Kirienko and would seek to conduct an open vote. He 
added that if the Duma conducted a secret ballot, Communist 
deputies would not participate in the voting. However, many 
Communist deputies did pick up ballots on 24 April, RFE/RL's 
Moscow bureau reported. Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko 
faction did not take part in the secret ballot as a sign of 
their united opposition to Kirienko. President Boris Yeltsin 
did not visit the Duma before the vote, limiting his 
lobbying efforts to a written appeal asking deputies to 
support Kirienko. LB

KIRIENKO PROMISES NOT TO BREAK UP NATURAL MONOPOLIES. 
Addressing the Duma before deputies voted on his candidacy 
for the last time, Kirienko promised that the government 
will not break up natural monopolies in the energy and 
transportation sectors or sell its controlling stakes in 
those monopolies, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. He also 
promised to enact measures to help oil companies, which have 
been hurt by falling oil prices on world markets. In an 
indirect appeal for the deputies' support, Kirienko said 
that "the huge amount of tasks in the Russian economy's 
complex situation gives us a joint responsibility before 
Russia and the people," Reuters reported. He added, "Let us 
show this responsibility not with words but with deeds. 
There is no time to lose." If the Duma had rejected Kirienko 
on 24 April, Yeltsin would have been constitutionally 
obliged to dissolve the Duma, setting back legislative 
activities for several months pending new elections. LB

CONFLICTING REPORTS ON CHUBAIS'S POSSIBLE APPOINTMENT. The 
presidential press service on 23 April "categorically 
denied" that Yeltsin has agreed to appoint former First 
Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais as chief executive of 
the electricity giant Unified Energy System (EES), Russian 
news agencies reported. Earlier the same day, Ekho Moskvy 
quoted an unnamed source close to the presidential 
administration as saying Yeltsin has assented to the 
appointment. Chubais's spokesman Andrei Trapeznikov 
described the report as "disinformation" designed to deter 
the Duma from voting to confirm Kirienko. Chubais's possible 
appointment is strongly opposed by some influential 
businessmen as well as by politicians including Communist 
Party leader Zyuganov, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, and 
former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. In contrast, 
media financed by Oneksimbank have advocated appointing 
Chubais to EES and putting acting First Deputy Prime 
Minister Boris Nemtsov in charge of supervising natural 
monopolies in the energy and transportation sectors. LB

YELTSIN PROMISES TO HELP COAL MINERS... Yeltsin has promised 
to issue a decree that will outline "unconventional" 
measures to help coal miners, Russian news agencies reported 
on 23 April. At a Kremlin meeting with delegates from 
miners' trade unions, coal enterprise directors, and 
officials from regions with a large coal sector, Yeltsin 
instructed acting Prime Minister Kirienko and Aleksander 
Livshits, deputy head of the presidential administration, to 
prepare that decree. He suggested that some of the proceeds 
from the privatization of coal enterprises may be spent on 
improving mine safety and that some funds obtained through 
the government's alcohol policy will be allocated to the 
coal industry. In addition, Yeltsin said part of a $1.5 
billion loan from Japan may be spent to build housing for 
miners, and he told Kirienko to restructure the debts of 
coal-mining companies. Yeltsin made the promises one day 
before a congress of coal industry workers began in Moscow. 
LB

...AS DOES KIRIENKO. Addressing the Duma on 24 April, 
Kirienko said the government has drafted plans to ensure 
that coal enterprises receive regular financing. In a speech 
to the Federation Council two days earlier, the acting prime 
minister promised that the government will enact a program 
to double funding for coal-mining regions this year. 
Meanwhile, Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Igor 
Kozhukhovskii announced on 21 April that Russia is 
conducting negotiations with the World Bank on a possible 
$600 million loan that would be used primarily to resettle 
coal miners from the country's northern regions to more 
central areas. Russia has already received two World Bank 
loans to support the coal industry, for $500 million and 
$800 million. Only $400 million of the second loan has so 
far been allocated. LB 

KORZHAKOV SLAMS BEREZOVSKII. Duma deputy Aleksandr 
Korzhakov, Yeltsin's longtime bodyguard, leveled numerous 
accusations against the businessman Boris Berezovskii in an 
interview with "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 22 April. 
Korzhakov said Berezovskii helped arrange a lucrative deal 
to publish Yeltsin's memoirs and was also behind business 
deals for other members of Yeltsin's family. He declined to 
specify how much Yeltsin and his family earned from those 
deals. Korzhakov also admitted that he helped Berezovskii 
take control of the Sibneft oil company, which, according to 
Korzhakov, Berezovskii said he needed as a source of 
financing for the Russian Public Television network. In 
addition, Korzhakov accused Berezovskii of embezzling more 
than $100 million from Yeltsin's re-election campaign. 
"Moskovskii komsomolets" is close to Moscow Mayor Yurii 
Luzhkov, a political opponent of Berezovskii. The popular 
daily was reported to be involved in a media campaign to 
persuade Yeltsin to oppose certain "oligarchs" (see "RFE/RL 
Newsline," 21 April 1998). LB

LUZHKOV CREATES PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT. Luzhkov has 
created a new department on public relations in the Moscow 
city administration, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 
April. Luzhkov appointed Olga Kostina to head the 
department, which will coordinate all activities to shape 
the mayor's public image. Kostina has denied the new 
department was created with a view toward the next 
presidential election, but "Kommersant-Daily" cast doubt on 
her denial. Kostina has been an unofficial adviser to 
Luzhkov since 1996. In 1994-1995, she was a public relations 
adviser for Mikhail Khodorkovskii, the founder and then head 
of the Menatep Bank. LB

KRASNOYARSK GOVERNOR CLAIMS DIRTY TRICKS USED AGAINST HIM. 
Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Valerii Zubov on 23 April ordered 
the confiscation of some 850,000 copies of a newspaper 
reportedly published by former Security Council Secretary 
Aleksandr Lebed's campaign headquarters, ITAR-TASS reported. 
The newspaper contained an article alleging that Zubov's 
campaign is preparing to commit "a subversive act" and blame 
that act on Lebed's supporters. Lebed has said "his people" 
had "nothing to do" with the article. On 22 April, Zubov 
charged that some candidates are trying to bribe voters in 
violation of federal and regional laws. Neither Lebed nor 
Zubov is expected to gain more than 50 percent support in 
the first round of the gubernatorial election on 26 April. 
LB

IS GROUND BEING PREPARED TO ANNUL ELECTION? "Nezavisimaya 
gazeta" reported on 24 April that the Krasnoyarsk Krai 
electoral commission has issued a warning to Lebed over the 
distribution of printed campaign materials that do not 
contain all the required information. The commission has 
also uncovered evidence that four candidates, including 
Zubov and Communist-backed Duma deputy Petr Romanov, have 
received financial contributions that exceed the maximum 
allowable level. Alleged violations during the campaign 
before a 29 March mayoral election in Nizhnii Novgorod were 
cited by the city's electoral commission as grounds for 
annulling that election after a controversial candidate won 
by a narrow margin. LB

STARS TAKE PART IN LEBED CAMPAIGN RALLY. French actor Alain 
Delon appeared alongside Lebed at a 23 April rally of some 
10,000 people in Krasnoyarsk, Russian news agencies 
reported. Several well-known Russian pop singers also 
performed at the rally. In an interview with ITAR-TASS, 
Delon said he believes Lebed could play the same role in 
Russia that Charles de Gaulle played in France. NTV reported 
that Delon has denied he was paid to come to Krasnoyarsk on 
Lebed's behalf. Meanwhile, Lebed charged on 22 April that 
Moscow Mayor Luzhkov is supporting Zubov, because the 
federal authorities need an "obedient governor" who will not 
stand up for the interests of his region, Interfax reported. 
Lebed also accused Luzhkov of planning to use Zubov for his 
own presidential campaign in 2000. Speaking to Interfax, 
Luzhkov denied he is supporting Zubov at Yeltsin's request 
and repeated that he does not have presidential ambitions. 
LB

SUSPECT IN ATTEMPT TO BLOW UP PETER THE GREAT STATUE 
ARRESTED. Russian security officials on 22 April arrested a 
senior Interior Ministry official in connection with the 
abortive July 1997 attempt to blow up a Moscow monument to 
Tsar Peter the Great, Russian agencies reported. The 
official, who has been charged with terrorism, had 
collaborated with members of the so-called Revolutionary 
Military Council of the RSFSR in an attempt to destroy the 
controversial statue. Members of that organization tipped 
off Interfax and the bomb, which was due to explode on the 
night of 5-6 July, was defused (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 
July 1997). LF

RUSSIA'S MUSLIMS PROTEST PLANNED PUBLICATION OF 'SATANIC 
VERSES.' At a news conference in Moscow on 23 April, Union 
of Muslims of Russia Chairman Nadirshakh Kharchilaev, 
Council of Muftis of Russia Chairman Ravil Gainutdin, and 
other Muslim leaders expressed concern over the planned 
publication of a Russian translation of Salman Rushdie's 
"Satanic Verses." The Limbus-Press publishing house in St. 
Petersburg has announced it will publish a translation of 
the controversial novel next month. Kharchilaev said the 
planned publication is "an insult and a challenge" to 
Russia's estimated 20 million Muslims. He hinted that some 
of them could resort to violence against Limbus-Press's 
staff or premises. Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini 
pronounced a death sentence on Rushdie when the novel was 
published in 1988, accusing the author of profanity. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

NIYAZOV AT WHITE HOUSE. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov 
met with U.S. President Bill Clinton and Vice President 
Albert Gore at the White House on 23 April. Agreements were 
signed whereby the U.S. will provide $750,00 for a 
feasibility study of Trans-Caspian oil and gas pipelines on 
the Caspian sea bed and the U.S. Export-Import Bank will 
grant more credit to Turkmenistan for purchasing U.S.-made 
goods. The previous day, Turkmen officials signed agreements 
with U.S. companies Mobil and Exxon on the exploration and 
extraction of oil in western Turkmenistan. ITAR-TASS on 24 
April quoted Niyazov as saying the agreements will be 
"useful to all the governments of the region." But the 
Tehran Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 23 April 
said the "legal regime of the Caspian Sea and water borders 
of its littoral states are not determined yet." It added 
that the Iranian route is by far the cheapest for exporting 
Turkmen gas and oil and that Turkmenistan 'should not submit 
to the ad hoc pressure exerted by powers outside the 
region." BP

IS THE TRANS-CASPIAN PIPELINE REALLY NECESSARY? In its 
annual study released on 23 April, the International 
Institute for Strategic Studies casts doubts on U.S. claims 
that Caspian oil reserves amount to 200 billion barrels, 
equal to 16 percent of the world's known reserves. It 
suggests that a more realistic estimate is between 25 and 30 
billion barrels, Reuters and AFP reported. LF

NIYAZOV'S VISIT DRAWS STRONG CRITICISM. The Russian 
newspaper "Kommersant-Daily" on 23 April described Niyazov's 
visit as the U.S.'s latest bid to break up the CIS and 
"ensure" that at next week's CIS summit Central Asian and 
Trancaucasian leaders "are not overly compliant." The 
Helsinki Commission wrote a letter to President Clinton 
saying "no political reforms or human rights issues matter 
to the United States as long as you have oil or natural 
gas." White House spokesman Michael McCurry said the U.S. is 
calling for a multiparty system, fair elections, and the 
release of political prisoners in Tajikistan. With regard to 
the last-named, Niyazov said "they're free" as he left the 
White House. Previously, he has denied there are any 
political prisoners in Turkmenistan, and he has consistently 
told journalists in the U.S. that they are "poorly informed" 
in response to questions about the country's poor human 
rights record. BP

TAJIK GOVERNMENT, UTO REJECT ABDULLOJONOV'S PARTICIPATION. 
Abdumalik Abdullojonov, the leader of the Tajik National 
Revival Movement, has sent a letter to the Tajik National 
Reconciliation Commission requesting that his group be 
included in current negotiations, Interfax reported on 23 
April. Abdullojonov, a former prime minister, said that "no 
real peace will be reached in Tajikistan" until his movement 
is included. The commission rejected Abdullojonov's request, 
saying Abdullojonov's "initiatives can harm the tangible 
results already achieved in the [negotiating] process." 
Abdullojonov's movement, enjoys widespread in the northern 
Leninabad region. BP

ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN SET TO BEGIN IN KAZAKHSTAN. At a 23 
April session of the parliament at which a draft law on 
corruption was discussed, Alnur Musayev, chairman of the 
National Security Committee, said that "corruption is deeply 
rooted in Kazakhstan and poses a threat to the republic's 
national security," Interfax reported. He went on to say "if 
we don't take urgent and resolute measures, this threat will 
undermine the foundations of our state system." President 
Nursultan Nazarbayev said "anyone taking bribes is 
considered an opponent of the president's policy," ITAR-TASS 
reported. The parliament is expected to adopt the law in 
June. BP

ARMENIA CONDEMNS AZERBAIJANI CHARGES OF "GENOCIDE." The 
Armenian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement responding 
to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's decree last month 
naming 31 March the "Day of the genocide of the Azerbaijani 
People." That decree claims that in the19th and 20th 
centuries, Armenia and its "protectors" implemented "a 
systematic policy of genocide" against the Azerbaijani 
people, expulsion of Azerbaijanis from the Armenian SSR, and 
dismemberment of Azerbaijan's historical territory. The 
Armenian Foreign Ministry rejected those claims as 
"senseless," unfounded, and aimed at erasing the memory of 
the genocide against Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and 
elsewhere in Azerbaijan. It said Armenia "categorically 
condemns the unconstructive approach of the Azerbaijani 
authorities, which impedes the peaceful resolution of the 
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict." "Nezavisimaya gazeta", which 
published Aliev's decree on 22 April, noted its anti-Russian 
tone and its promulgation one month before the upcoming CIS 
summit. LF

DEFEATED ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OPTIMISTIC. 
National Democratic Union chairman Vazgen Manukian told 
RFE/RL on 23 April that his party is gaining strength and 
many new members, despite his defeat in last month's early 
presidential election. Manukian came third in the first 
round of voting, which he later condemned as unfair. 
Manukian said his party "has remained clean" and will 
continue competing for power. He predicted that the party 
will have an important impact on future political 
developments in Armenia, but he refused to discuss its new 
strategy or the possibility of new opposition alliances in 
the runup to the next parliamentary elections. Manukian also 
denied reports that new President Robert Kocharian 
repeatedly offered him the post of prime minister. LF
	
FIVE AZERBAIJANIS JAILED FOR PROTESTING RFE/RL BAN. Five 
people who took part in demonstrations in Baku on 22 April 
to protest the suspension of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani-language 
medium-wave broadcasts have been sentenced to between three 
and10 days in jail, AFP reported on 23 April. The Radio 
Liberty Defense Committee said on 23 April that it will 
stage further protests next week. LF

RUSSIAN COMPANY ACQUIRES CONTROLLING STAKE IN GEORGIAN 
MANGANESE MINE. The Association of Industry, a 
Yekaterinburg-based joint-stock company, has paid $1 million 
for a 75 percent stake in the Chiatura manganese mine, 
Caucasus Press reported. Once one of the country's major 
industrial enterprises, the mine has been idle for the past 
two years. Meeting on 22 April with Georgian President 
Eduard Shevardnadze, Association of Industry president 
Aleksandr Vyatkin said his company will pay off the mine's 
estimated $60 million debt, fund reconstruction of the 
Chiatura municipal infrastructure, and create some 2,500 new 
jobs. LF 

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

RUSSIAN, LATVIAN OFFICIALS MEET AMID DISPUTE. Latvia and 
Russia have had their first direct official contact since 
bilateral relations deteriorated last month over the Baltic 
State's ethnic Russian minority. Latvian Foreign Ministry 
State Secretary Maris Riekstins was in Brussels on 23 April 
to meet with Russian acting Deputy Foreign Minister 
Aleksandr Avdeev. Riekstins later told Reuters by telephone 
that the discussion had been "normal." But he would not say 
whether the talks were a step in improving ties between the 
two neighboring states. Riekstins also said there was 
agreement that further talks were necessary but added that 
no date had been set. JC

KREMLIN SPOKESMAN SAYS LATVIA MUST CHANGE CITIZENSHIP LAW. 
Sergei Yastrzhembskii told Interfax on 23 April that Russia 
will not lift economic measures against Latvia unless Riga 
brings its legislation into line with European and 
international standards. He said that the amendments to the 
citizenship law submitted to the Latvian parliament this 
week are "just the very first step" toward "respect for the 
rights of Russian-speakers" living in Latvia. Yastrzhembskii 
argued that Russia is "not making super-demands" but that 
Riga should ensure the "free integration" of ethnic 
minorities into Latvian society and lift all restrictions on 
those minorities imposed by Latvian legislation. JC

RUSSIAN ORGANIZATION TO VACATE RIGA BUILDING. The Russian 
Community of Latvia has agreed to vacate an historical 
building in downtown Riga within the next two weeks, "Diena" 
reported on 24 April. A small group of ethnic Russians 
refused earlier this week to leave the premises of the so-
called Peter I Palace (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 April 
1998). They have now reached an agreement with the 
building's new owner, the Estonian company MERKS, whereby 
they will have 14 days into which find alternative premises 
for their offices. The president of the Russian Community of 
Latvia warned, however, that the fight for the building was 
not over and that his organization will "continue to work" 
with the government to get the building back. JC

MOSCOW WARNS VILNIUS AGAINST DEPORTING RUSSIAN CITIZEN. A 
Russian Foreign Ministry official has warned that Russian-
Lithuanian relations could be harmed if Vilnius deports 
Russian citizen Valerii Ivanov, BNS reported on 23 April. 
Ivanov was jailed for 12 months last year for defaming the 
victims of the January 1991 Soviet crackdown in Vilnius; 
previously, he had served a prison sentence for backing the 
crackdown but was released after seven months under an 
amnesty. Lithuanian Interior Minister Vidmantas Ziemelis 
sent a petition to a Vilnius court earlier this week 
requesting that Ivanov be deported when he is released from 
prison in July. Russian Foreign Ministry official Vladimir 
Rakhmanin said that Moscow hopes Vilnius will "demonstrate 
good-will and humanism toward [Ivanov] and prevent actions 
that would impair the atmosphere of good-neighborly 
relations." JC

END NOTE

ARMENIANS REMEMBER 1915 GENOCIDE

by Emil Danielyan

	Armenians throughout the world are today commemorating 
the 83rd anniversary of the genocide in which more than one 
million of their compatriots were massacred and another one 
million or so forced out of their homeland. In Yerevan, 
hundreds of thousands of people are to proceed slowly toward 
the genocide memorial on Tsitsernakabert Hill in order to 
pay tribute to the victims.
	Many scholars argue that the 1915 genocide was 
premeditated by the Ottoman Turkish leadership and aimed at 
the annihilation of Armenians (the largest remaining 
Christian minority) in the empire's eastern provinces. The 
arrest on 24 April 1915 of the entire Armenian intellectual 
elite of Constantinople and their subsequent execution 
signaled the start of the genocidal policy. Mass executions 
of Armenian males, who were mobilized into the Ottoman army 
but then disarmed, were followed by the systematic 
deportation of their families and the infamous "death 
marches" to the south.
	Most of the women, children, and elderly people forced 
to take part in those marches died in armed attacks, of 
hunger, or from disease before they could reach their 
destination, the Syrian desert. Those who survived took 
refuge in the Middle East and later in Europe and the 
Americas. A significant number of people escaped to the 
territory of the present Republic of Armenia.
	The huge number of victims and the loss of some 80 
percent of their historical homeland deeply scarred the 
Armenians. Turkey, meanwhile, continues to deny the 
genocide. According to the official Turkish version, it was 
a "peaceful evacuation" of the treacherous Armenians to 
preclude their collaboration with advancing Russian troops.
	For generations of Diaspora Armenians--the direct 
descendants of survivors--achieving international 
recognition of the 1915 genocide has been their life's chief 
aim. Appeals to various governments and international 
organizations and demonstrations in front of Turkish 
embassies have been part and parcel of Diaspora life.
	The issue also has far-reaching implications for 
Armenia's foreign policy, in general, and relations with 
Turkey, in particular. The authorities of independent 
Armenia have so far not considered recognition of the 
genocide as a precondition for developing ties with Turkey. 
Nonetheless, there is still a deep divide between the two 
nations. Turkey continues to be regarded as the number one 
threat to the country's national security--hence, the desire 
to have a powerful foreign protector. 
	Historically, it was Russia that took on that role. 
The Russian empire guaranteed the security of its Armenian 
citizens, something that Ottoman Armenians could only dream 
about. Even after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, 
Moscow continued to play that role. The troops Russia 
maintains in Armenia will be welcome as long as there is no 
political reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey. Indeed, 
mutual trust between Ankara and Yerevan, a potentially 
strong stabilizing factor in the region, seems virtually 
impossible without agreement on the interpretation of the 
1915 events.
	Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said earlier 
this week that the issue of recognizing the 1915 genocide 
will be on the agenda in the new government's dealings with 
Turkey, stressing that its inclusion will be "not for the 
sake of conflict but in order to establish more healthy 
cooperation." This is a significant shift from the policy of 
the Ter-Petrossian leadership, which had tried to sidestep 
the problem, at least in the short term.
	Many in Armenia opposed that policy, which they claim 
has not resulted in gestures of good will on the part of 
Turkey. They point out that Ankara closed its borders with 
Armenia, refused to establish diplomatic ties with its 
eastern neighbor, and gave unconditional backing to 
Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It may well be 
that by putting the issue on its agenda, Yerevan aims to 
have leverage to counter Turkish engagement in the Caucasus. 
	Meanwhile, lack of recognition of the 1915 genocide 
undermines Turkish efforts to become involved in the 
Karabakh peace process. Armenia rejects such involvement out 
of hand. The average Armenian still identifies Azerbaijanis 
with Turks and looks at developments surrounding the 
Karabakh dispute through the prism of the 1915 genocide. 
Some analysts have suggested that a final peace in Karabakh 
may require Turkey to face its troubled past and finally 
recognize the events of 1915. But such a development does 
not seem likely in the near future.

The author is a Yerevan-based RFE/RL correspondent.

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