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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 152 Part II, 10 August 1998
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 152 Part II, 10 August 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 II, a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia 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 SPECIAL REPORT: TURKEY AT A CROSSROADS A veteran RFE/RL correspondent reports from Turkey on politics and religion, minorities, economics and foreign relations. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/turkey xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * ZEMAN CABINET PUBLISHES PROGRAM * WEU CALLS FOR INTERVENTION IN KOSOVA * ALBANIA TO SCREEN ARABS End Note: LANGUAGE ON TRIAL xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE PUSTOVOYTENKO THREATENS TO SEND TAX DEBTORS TO TENT CAMP. In order to force tax debtors to pay, Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko has threatened to bring managers and top regional executives to a tent camp for civil defense training, Ukrainian News reported on 8 August. Pustovoytenko, who is head of Ukraine's Civil Defense, told a 7 August cabinet session that 3,000 tents have been prepared at Pereyeslav Khmelnytskyy near Kyiv. "We will train by manuring gardens," the agency quoted him as saying. Pustovoytenko's threat follows his 5 August attempt to force unpaid taxes from some 2,000 managers by locking then up in the Ukrayina palace in Kyiv (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August 1998). The managers have paid only 81 million hryvni ($40 million), leaving Pustovoytenko, according to Ukrainian News, "dissatisfied." The total tax and pension fund arrears in Ukraine in July reached 8.9 billion hryvni. JM KUCHMA REDUCES 1998 BUDGET DEFICIT, TAX BURDEN. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has signed a decree reducing the 1998 budget deficit from 3.3 to 2.5 percent of GDP, Ukrainian Television reported on 7 August. The decision meets the IMF's main requirement for providing Ukraine with a $2.2 billion loan, which was agreed last month. The budget spending in 1998 will be reduced by 4.7 billion hryvni ($2.2 billion). By another decree Kuchma has abolished obligatory payments to the state-run Chornobyl Fund, which amounted to 5 percent of the wages paid by each enterprise. The president also reduced mandatory payments to the Social Security Fund from 4 to 3 percent of the wage fund. JM UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT HONORED BY CIS LEADERS ON 60TH BIRTHDAY. Leonid Kuchma on 9 August welcomed high ranking-officials from the former Soviet republics who came to his 60th birthday party at his summer residence in Crimea. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Russia's Deputy Premier Ivan Rybkin, CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii, and former Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin paid their respect in person. Russian President Boris Yeltsin sent a congratulatory telegram to Kuchma. Shevardnadze termed bilateral relations with Ukraine "verging on the ideal," while Aliev assured Kuchma that Ukraine "is assuredly part of the program" for the export of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil. JM/LF FOOD TO BE RATIONED IN HOMEL THROUGHOUT 1998. The Homel City Executive Committee has introduced new norms for the sale of foodstuffs at city shops until the end of 1998, Belapan reported on 8 August. The former restrictions on food sales were set in February. According to the new directive, individuals are allowed to buy no more than 3 liters of milk, 0.5 kg of cheese, O.4 kg of butter, and two items of canned products at any one time. JM BALTIC COUNTRIES TO PARTICIPATE IN NATO EXERCISES. Lithuania is sending troops to a NATO exercise in Albania that will take place August 16-22, BNS reported on 7 August. Estonia and Latvia are sending troops and Lithuania is sending observers to a NATO exercise in Macedonia scheduled to occur September 10-18. PG LATVIAN PREMIER MARKS FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE. On the first anniversary of his election, Latvian Prime Minister Guntars Krasts said that he and his government have succeeded in providing a "period of stability" despite efforts by "malevolent persons abroad" to undermine the country's development, BNS reported on 7 August. In other remarks, Krasts said that he hopes to develop better relations with Moscow in the future. PG RUSSIAN RADAR SITE IN LATVIA TO CLOSE ON SCHEDULE. On 7 August, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin said that Moscow will abide by to its commitments and shut down the Skrunda radar site as required by the 1994 accords, BNS reported. (On 6 August, Nesterushkin had suggested that Moscow might drop its most-favoured- nation approach to Latvian trade unless Riga agreed to extend Skrunda's operational life.) The radar site will now cease operations on 31 August and be completely dismantled by September 29, 2000. PG LATVIAN REFERENDUM PETITION DRIVE GAINS MOMENTUM. As of 6 August, some 36,000 people had signed a petition calling for a referendum on recent changes in the country's citizenship legislation, BNS reported on 7 August. Organizers need to collect approximately 97,000 more signatures by the 18 August deadline. In a related development, Latvian citizens living abroad have asked Riga to increase the number of polling places where they can vote in this fall's general elections, a request the Central Election Commission has referred to the foreign ministry for review. In the last round of voting, there were 28 such polling places in foreign countries. PG LITHUANIAN MP ASKS FOR IMPEACHMENT BEFORE TRIAL. A Lithuanian legislator charged with corruption has asked his colleagues to conduct an impeachment investigation before he is brought to trial, BNS reported on 7 August. Only if he is convicted, something that would require a three-fifths vote, and loses his parliamentary immunity would Audrius Butkevicius be tried as an ordinary citizen. The Center Union, which earlier expelled Butkevicius from its ranks, has agreed to act as his lawyer in any parliamentary proceedings. PG POLAND CALLS FOR COMPROMISE IN DISPUTE OVER AUSCHWITZ CROSSES. The Polish Foreign Ministry has told the Israeli ambassador to Poland that the Polish authorities are in favor of a compromise solution to the Polish-Israeli dispute over the Catholic crosses erected near the former Auschwitz death camp (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 7 August 1998), PAP reported on 7 August. According to the ministry, the compromise should be worked out by representatives of the Polish government, the Polish Catholic Church, and "interested organizations and institutions on the Jewish side." The appeal follows a 6 August open letter sent to PAP by Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, former director of the RFE/RL Polish Service. Nowak-Jezioranski urges a quick solution to the cross controversy in order to prevent "extreme elements active on both sides" from harming Poland's international interests and rising a wave of "anti-Jewish and anti- American moods in Poland." JM POLISH GOVERNMENT BACKS OFF IN ROW WITH FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION. Just minutes before midnight on 7 August, Jacek Debski, chairman of the Office of Physical Culture and Tourism, withdrew his earlier decision suspending the members of the Polish Soccer Association (PZPN) board. The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) had set a deadline for the government's withdrawal at midnight of that day, threatening to exclude Poland's national and club teams from international soccer events (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 1998). FIFA rules say that national soccer associations must be independent of governments. Debski suspended the PZPN leadership in May, accusing it of incompetence in managing Polish soccer. JM ZEMAN CABINET PUBLISHES PROGRAM. The Czech cabinet headed by Milos Zeman on 7 August officially released its political and economic program, which will be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies on 18 August. The program emphasizes the need to fight economic-related crime, to revive economic growth, to support Czech exports and to complete bank privatizations by 2000. It also calls for swift integration into the European Union and NATO in cooperation with Hungary and Poland, but also calls for a referendum on EU entry before the country is admitted, Reuters and dpa reported. On ties with neighboring Germany, the program states that these must be "forward- looking". On 8 August, Reuters reported that German Finance Minister Theo Waigel, addressing a meeting of the organization representing the Sudeten Germans, called on Zeman to officially apologize for his remarks on the organization. MS HAVEL'S HEALTH IMPROVING, DANGERS NOT YET BEHIND. President Vaclav Havel's condition improved on 9 August, but doctors said he is to remain in intensive care for another week. Havel's personal physician, Ilja Kotik, said that the president is still breathing with the occasional aid of a respirator and that "the time to celebrate victory has not yet come." He said that laboratory findings "are not normal yet," Reuters reported. Havel's wife Dagmar said the president is watching movies, reads newspapers and communicates through written notes. MS ORBAN COOLS ON WESTERN LIBERALISM. Prime Minister Victor Orban, in an interview with the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", said certain elements of west European liberalism can not be "simply transferred" to Central Europe, and such attempts might "do often more harm than good," Hungarian media reported. He said some "stringent measures" envisaged by the government are viewed with concern in the West, but do not worry Hungary's own liberals, who understand that the country's high crime rate and public concern over it means that "tough action" will have to be taken this year. Orban also said that his own ruling Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party is now "much more than a liberal party," as it includes Christian Democratic elements and it is "just a matter of time" before closer links with the Democratic Forum coalition partner are forged. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WEU CALLS FOR INTERVENTION IN KOSOVA. Fighting continued in western Kosova during the 7-9 August weekend, particularly along the Decan-Gjakova road. In Paris, the Western European Union's Presidency on 7 August called on NATO to intervene "immediately" to prevent the war from spreading throughout the region, Reuters reported. WEU president Luis Maria de Puig said in a statement headlined "Enough is Enough" that "it is now clear that the use of force is the only means of bringing about a political agreement, with which the parties must be forced to comply...The limits of what the international community can tolerate without intervening have been reached. We are in the midst of a catastrophe with more than 600 dead, over 5,000 taken prisoner, 200,000 refugees and 300 villages destroyed: This is Bosnia all over again...The international community has yet again been deceived by [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic...The time has come for military action." PM COOK: NO MILITARY VICTORY. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that the plans for Kosova that British Ambassador Brian Donnelly gave to the Serbian and Kosovar leaderships over the weekend are aimed at establishing a wide autonomy for the Kosovars within Yugoslavia, the "Guardian" wrote on 10 August. Cook added that the international Contact Group's proposal would give the people of Kosova "control of their own internal affairs, control over their own security and real autonomy....We are making it plain to both sides that this is not a war that either side can win." The Kosovars have repeatedly made it plain that, in the wake of the crackdown Milosevic launched in February, the only options are full independence or an international protectorate. Meanwhile in Tirana, a Kosovar shadow-state spokesman told an RFE/RL correspondent on 7 August that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) is prepared to be a part of the Kosovar delegation in any future talks with the Belgrade authorities. PM RUSSIAN VETO ON KOSOVA? "NATO has completed preparations for military intervention [in Kosova], but this seems increasingly likely to remain a paper exercise," the "Guardian" wrote on 10 August. The London daily noted that U.S. President Bill Clinton and France's Jacques Chirac agreed in a telephone call on 7 August that they will not undertake any action in Kosova without Russian approval. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasevskii said in Belgrade on 8 August after several days of shuttle diplomacy in the region that "no one has yet explained what any foreign military interference would bring to [Kosova] and the people there." He added that the solution lies in preserving the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia while ensuring "a high degree of autonomy" for Kosova, the Belgrade daily "Danas" reported. PM EXIT GELBARD? The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 7 August that U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard will no longer deal directly with the Kosova issue, at least not in Belgrade. U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill, who has been active in Kosovar diplomacy in recent weeks, will now handle the issue on Washington's behalf. The German daily reported that Gelbard had made some unspecified remarks that offended Milosevic, who declined to deal with him any further. PM DEADLY DANCING WITH WOLVES. Serbian police in Kragujevac arrested an unnamed member of the State Security Service on 8 August after the man opened fire on the cafe "Kod Gileta," killing three people, the Belgrade daily "Danas" wrote. There was no apparent motive for the gunman's action, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Among the dead was Slobodan Miljkovic "Lugar," whom the Hague-based war crimes tribunal wants in conjunction with deaths of at least 19 persons in Bosnia, where he was an officer in the paramilitary Gray Wolves. Meanwhile in Pale, unidentified masked gunmen killed Srdjan Knezevic in front of his home. Knezevic headed the paramilitary White Wolves during the Bosnian conflict but subsequently became deputy chief of police for the Serbian part of the Sarajevo area. He was a supporter of Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic, who said in Banja Luka that Knezevic was "a hero" and a victim of mafia violence. PM JOINT RETURN OF REFUGEES. SFOR peacekeepers accompanied 700 Muslims who returned to their villages of Sovici and Doljani in Croatian-controlled Herzegovina on 8 August after an absence of five years. At the same time, an unspecified number of Croats returned to their homes in nearby Jablanica. The Croatian news agency HINA reported that five Muslims beat up two Croats, who are members of the Bosnian federal army, on the road linking Jablanica and Doljani. PM FIRES SWEEP DALMATIAN ISLANDS. Croatian Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa visited the island of Korcula on 9 August, where a fire destroyed large tracts of forests and olive groves in the course of the previous four days. Firefighters meanwhile succeeded in containing the blaze. Another fire engulfed about one-third of the surface of the neighboring island of Lastovo, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Korcula. PM ALBANIA TO SCREEN ARABS. In the wake of the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on 7 August, Deputy Minister for Public Order Ilir Cano told "Zeri i Popullit" of 9 August that the Office of Foreigners' Control has already begun to screen "all" Arabs living and working in Albania. Cano noted that there has been a large influx of Arabs in recent years but that the authorities have not checked on each individual's background or activities. Parliamentary speaker Skender Gjinushi said, however, that "there are no Islamic fundamentalists in Albania." The governing Socialists recently criticized former President Sali Berisha for joining the Organization of the Islamic Conference and for inviting in Islamic charities during his presidency from 1992- 1997, dpa wrote. Many Arabs and Iranians work with charities or businesses in Albania. While a majority of Albanians are of Islamic heritage, religious life is only slowly reemerging. Prominent is the moderate Bektashi sect. PM POLL SHOWS ALBANIAN CORRUPTION WIDESPREAD. Almost 90 percent of those questioned in an opinion poll said that they believe there is massive corruption, ATSH news agency reported on 8 August. Some 45.7 percent said they feel that corruption has spread throughout the civil service. Some 21 percent identified the state administration as particularly corrupt, while 17.7 percent said that the judiciary is the worst. Furthermore, many respondents said that they had paid bribes to employees in the health system. According to a report by the Albanian Consumer Association (SHKSH) that included the poll results, a doctor's house visit costs between $1 and $2, while operations can run up to $70, which is the equivalent of one month's salary. An average citizen may pay about $1 as a bribe to obtain a birth certificate and between $50 and $200 to receive a business license. FS ALBANIA TO PRODUCE AMMUNITION FOR TURKEY. Albanian and Turkish defense ministry officials signed an agreement in Ankara on 3 August providing for the production of ammunition for Turkey in a factory in Polican. Turkey will assist the company by upgrading its machinery and technology. The deal will allow the metallurgical factory there to increase its number of employees from the current 300 to 800. Most Albanian factories of all sorts are have been gutted by looters or lie idle. FS ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ATTACKS PARTY COLLEAGUES. Defense Minister Victor Babiuc on 7 August said that those who suggest that "Romania should buy second-hand reconditioned helicopters are persuaded that a modern army can be equipped with weapons bought at the flea market." He reacted to declarations by fellow Democratic Party Transportation Minister Radu Berceanu and party vice chairman Bogdan Niculescu Duvaz, who said the deal with Bell Helicopters Textron for purchasing 96 helicopters under license with the US firm acquiring a 70 percent stake in the Gimbav Brasov factory that would produce the helicopters must be reviewed. Berceanu spoke after returning from Israel, where he accompanied premier Radu Vasile and where the hosts suggested that Romania might cut a better deal by buying U.S. helicopters reconditioned in Romania in a joint venture with Israel, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WILL NOT INTERVENE OVER DISPUTED HUNGARIAN STATE UNIVERSITY. Presidential counselor Petru Berteanu on 7 August said President Emil Constantinescu will not attempt to "in any way influence" the decision on setting up a Hungarian state university, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He said the decision belonged to the parliament and the government. Berteanu also denied that Constantinescu supports the dismissal of Education Minister Andrei Marga, as demanded by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) because of his opposition to the Hungarian state university. Spokesmen representing all of UDMR's partners in the ruling coalition said they oppose the project. Meanwhile, on 8 August, UDMR chairman Bela Marko again said that Marga's opposition makes his presence in the government "incompatible" with the agreement signed by UDMR's partners in the coalition. MS MOLDOVAN-GAZPROM TALKS END IN CHISINAU. Moldova's debt for Russian gas deliveries will be paid mostly in cash, with barter payments being reduced to a minimum, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August at the end of talks conducted in Chisinau by Vasilii Fadeev, a member of Gazprom Board of Directors. Moldova will transfer to Gazprom government bonds to the value of $90 million with an annual interest rate of 7.5 percent, as well as a controlling block of shares in the Gazsnabtransit joint enterprise, which will be set up with the participation of Russian gas producers. An agreement is to be signed in September. RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported the same day that Moldova pledged to pay $25 million by the end of the year, in monthly $5 million installments. The total Moldovan debt to Gazprom is $214 million, while the Transdniester, whose representatives attended the talks, owes $380 million. MS ZHIVKOV FUNERAL ATTENDED BY SOME 10,000 IN SOFIA. Todor Zhivkov was buried in Sofia on 9 August, with some 10,000 mourners attending the obsequies organized by the Socialist Party, Reuters and AFP reported. The ceremony was held in Sofia's main square and a smaller crowd followed the coffin to the cemetery, where the former communist dictator was buried near the grave of his wife, who died in 1972. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party's daily "Duma" on 8 August reappeared in tabloid format after failing to be published for four days. An editorial on the same day said the government has ordered the Rodina printing company to stop the publication of "Duma," and claimed that other periodicals with large debts to Rodina were not subjected to the same treatment. MS BULGARIA TO SLASH THREE ZEROS FROM CURRENCY. The government and the Currency Board on 6 August decided to drop three zeros from the Bulgarian national currency, the lev, as of 1 July 1999, BTA reported. National Bank governor Svetoslav Gavriiski said that as of that date, the lev will equal one German mark and that this will simplify financial transactions and reduced expenses for banks. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said the decision had been taken in coordination with the IMF and the World Bank and it symbolized the stability of the Bulgarian currency and financial system. MS END NOTE LANGUAGE ON TRIAL by Jan Maksymiuk In 1997, the Belarusian National Assembly passed a law "On the Press and Other Media," which allowed the government in May 1998 to issue a warning against the biweekly "Nasha Niva." An independent newspaper published entirely in Belarusian and with a circulation of some 5,000, "Nasha Niva" was launched by its chief editor, Syarhey Dubavets, in Vilnius in 1991. The newspaper is printed in Minsk and distributed by the state network of kiosks and, to a lesser extent, by the editorial staff. It uses the traditional Belarusian orthography, which was changed by decree under Joseph Stalin's regime in 1933. The media law, passed by the National Assembly in 1997 and amended in January 1998, explicitly prohibits the press from "distorting the generally accepted norms" of the language in which it publishes. In a bid to forestall what seemed like preparations to close down his newspaper, Dubavets filed a lawsuit against the State Press Committee in June, demanding the warning be revoked as "groundless." He argued that the term "generally accepted norms" is void since there is no legally binding standards for spelling in Belarus. The case is to be heard at the Higher Economic Court on 12 August. If the newspaper loses the case and persists in using the pre-1933 spelling, it can be banned after receiving another two warnings, according to the amended media law. The "Nasha Niva" case, which in most countries would doubtless be regarded as a bizarre example of overregulation by the state, strikes a very tragic note in today's Belarus. Belarusians are gradually losing their language and cultural identity. The number of Belarusian-language books and periodicals has plummeted to a very low level since the May 1995 referendum, which granted Russian the status of an official language, along with Belarusian. The state, which from 1991 to 1994 did a great deal to promote both the formerly neglected Belarusian culture and education in the Belarusian language, has practically ceased to support either under Lukashenka. For example, in 1994 there were 220 schools in Minsk whose language of instruction was Belarusian. Two years later, their number had shrunk to fewer than 20. Those students who want to receive a higher education in Belarusian will be hard put to achieve that aim, since Russian is the language of instruction in virtually all university departments in Belarus. Lukashenka has made a point of ostentatiously promoting Russian-language and Soviet culture in Belarus. In a widely quoted statement, he once asserted that "one cannot express anything deep in Belarusian." Non-Sovietized Belarusian culture and the Belarusian language are developed and supported mainly by non-governmental organizations and an ever dwindling number of intellectuals. "Nasha Niva" is one of the champions of that movement. Speaking Belarusian in Belarus is not only a means of communication but also a political declaration of loyalty to the country's indigenous cultural and historical heritage in defiance of the ruling regime. The fundamental dividing line in Belarus is not between "democrats in general" and the Lukashenka regime; rather, it is between democracy- supporting "Belarusian nationalists" and the Sovietized and Russianized segment of society led by former Communist Party functionaries. "Having forced the national symbols--the coat of arms [knight-in-pursuit] and the [white-red-white] flag--to go underground, the government of the Republic of Belarus has now declared war against the non-Soviet Belarusian orthography," Dubavets wrote in the 15 June 1998 issue of "Nasha Niva." He also expressed bitterness toward those Belarusian intellectuals who "have voluntarily remained in the Belarusian SSR in terms of spelling." The pre-1933 orthography was used at schools among some 2 million Belarusians in pre-war Poland and has never been abandoned by the Belarusian Diaspora. Dubavets is not the only one to oppose the 1933 orthography reform. The "Belarusian Language Encyclopedia," published in Minsk in 1994, states that the 1933 reform focused "not so much on reflecting the specifically national character of the Belarusian language as on bringing its orthography in line with the Russian orthographic tradition." In a wider sense, the 1933 ban on the traditional Belarusian spelling reflected Stalin's idea of merging the globe's cultures into one with a single language. Presumably, that culture was to be Soviet and the language Russian. In this way, the Belarusian language became a victim of Stalin's futuristic vision. Some of the best-known Belarusian linguists have come out in support of the spelling used by "Nasha Niva." International human right organizations have protested, pointing that the State Press Committee's warning violates international law--in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is a signatory. But such protests are unlikely to carry much weight with the court. Most "Nasha Niva" supporters fear that, as one columnist put it, "no linguistic or even legal arguments are of any importance" in this case. It is the language that is on trial, not the spelling. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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