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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 7, Part II, 12 January 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 7, Part II, 12 January 1999 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 Headlines, Part II * FORMER SLOVAK MINISTER SHOT DEAD * PROMINENT KOSOVAR JOURNALIST KILLED * ROMANIAN MINERS ESCALATE CONFLICT End Note: IS THE COLD WAR REALLY OVER? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE IMF TEAM ARRIVES IN KYIV TO DISCUSS RESUMING LOAN TRANCHES. An IMF mission arrived in Kyiv on 12 January to decide whether the fund should resume disbursing a $2.2 billion loan. After releasing $335 million, the IMF suspended the loan last November because of Ukraine's poor tax collection and sluggish economic reforms. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko said on 11 January that "practically all agreements with the IMF have been implemented," but Ukrainian news agencies offered a different picture. Ukrainian News reported that Ukraine has met only 20 of the IMF's 141 requirements. In particular, the government has not yet halted subsidies to public utilities and transportation, announced it will collect taxes in cash only, reduced tax privileges, or boosted privatization efforts. Analysts predict that Ukraine in 1999 may be forced to default on its foreign debt if the fund decides not to resume releasing loan tranches. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS ABOLISHING PRESIDENCY? Supreme Council Deputy Chairman Adam Martynyuk told journalists on 11 January that this week the parliament may consider abolishing the post of the Ukrainian president, Ukrainian News reported. According to Martynyuk, deputies will be asked to vote on whether the parliament should debate a constitutional amendment that reinstates a parliamentary republic and abolishes the presidency. If at least 226 deputies support that motion, the Constitutional Court will be asked to rule on the "constitutionality of the issue," Martynyk added. The amendment may be considered during the parliamentary session that begins on 2 February. JM NEWSPAPER ACCUSES UKRAINE OF STEALING RUSSIAN GAS. The 12 January "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that every day Ukraine "steals" Russian transit gas worth $5 million from gas pipelines on Ukrainian territory. According to the newspaper, 2.5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas in transit to Europe "vanished" from Ukrainian pipelines in December 1998 alone. The report says the figures are taken from two messages sent by Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev on 10 January to Ukrainian Prime Minister Pustovoytenko and Supreme Council speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko. "One has the impression that the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers is purposely seeking to destabilize relations between Gazprom and the European gas market.┼ How long is such an outrageous practice going to continue?" "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quotes Vyakhirev as asking Pustovoytenko. JM MINSK SAYS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN 1999 'LEGALLY UNFOUNDED.' The Justice Ministry has said the opposition Supreme Soviet's decision to hold presidential elections on 16 May 1999 is "legally unfounded" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 1999), Belapan reported on 12 January. The ministry says the Supreme Soviet did not observe the house procedures, which require a quorum for adopting valid resolutions. That requirement, according to the ministry, cannot be met since a majority of the former parliament's members lost their status as Supreme Soviet deputies when they joined the National Assembly or took over government posts. Meanwhile, chairwoman of the Central Electoral Commission Lidziya Yarmoshyna told the pro-government "Sovetskaya Belorussiya" on 12 January that the opposition election initiative aims at "deceiving and misleading the voters" during the ongoing local election campaign. JM EU AMBASSADORS TO RETURN TO MINSK ON 17 JANUARY. Ambassadors of the five EU nations that have embassies in Belarus--France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, and Italy--will return to Minsk on 17 January, sources in the British and German embassies told Interfax and dpa on 11 January. They will return to Belarus for the first time since 22 June 1998, when they left Minsk in protest over their eviction from the Drazdy housing compound, which had been declared President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's residence. The return of the EU ambassadors follows an agreement concluded by the EU and Belarus last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 December 1998). JM BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION GETS READY TO CONVENE ON 29-30 JANUARY. Belarusian opposition parties and non- governmental organizations are electing their representatives to a Congress of Democratic Forces of Belarus, which is scheduled for 29-30 January in Minsk, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 11 January. Representatives of more than 100 NGOs in Vitsebsk Oblast have chosen 40 delegates to the congress and proposed launching a nationwide social and political movement, called "For Belarus," with the aim of defending Belarusian sovereignty and "deposing the country's bankrupt leadership in a nonviolent way." The Belarusian Popular Front, the country's largest opposition organization, announced on 10 January that it will send 100 of its activists to the congress, but as "representatives" rather than full-fledged delegates. JM ECONOMIC DOWNTURN IN ESTONIA EXPECTED TO CONTINUE IN FIRST HALF OF 1999. The Estonian Market Research Institute predicts that the economic downturn witnessed in the fourth quarter of 1998 will continue during the first half of this year, ETA reported on 11 January. As a result of the Russian financial crisis, industrial output and retail trade fell below 1997 levels in the period September-December 1998, while demand for Estonian products was low both on domestic and foreign markets. The institute predicts that over the next six months the situation will get worse before it begins to improve. On a brighter note, it says there is no economic crisis in Estonia. Interest rates are expected to fall and share prices to increase while the volume of foreign direct investment is expected to reach last year's level. JC ESTONIA'S PROGRESSIVE PARTY TO EXPEL 'DESERTERS.' The Council of the Progressive Party has announced that it will expel those members of the party who have opted to run on the list of the Country People's Party (EME) in the March general elections, ETA reported on 11 January. Following the November 1998 ban on electoral alliances, both the EME--a member of the four-party ruling coalition--and the Progressive Party, led by minister without portfolio responsible for nationality issues Andra Veidemann, announced that they will compete on their own tickets in the elections. The latest poll, however, shows that while the Country People's Party currently has 9.5 percent backing, the Progressive Party would not clear the 5 percent hurdle for entry to the parliament. JC VAN DER STOEL IN RIGA. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel, on a three-day visit to the Latvian capital, has met with the Latvian parliamentary Human Rights and Social Issues Committee to discuss the draft state language law, BNS and LETA reported on 11 January. The committee is currently preparing the bill for its second reading. Committee chairman Antons Seiksts told reporters that Van der Stoel made no new recommendations regarding the law and that whereas one year ago he had objected to any regulation of use of the state language in the private sphere, the OSCE official now says that such use can be regulated in so far as the interests of workers and consumers are concerned. At a meeting with the parliamentary Education, Science, and Culture Committee, Van der Stoel said that in adopting the laws on education and the state language, Latvia must honor the international obligations it has undertaken. JC LATVIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1999 DRAFT BUDGET. The cabinet on 11 January approved this year's draft budget, which foresees revenues at 1.41 billion lats ($2.82 billion) and expenditures at 1.47 billion lats, LETA reported. Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans told journalists that pushing the budget through the parliament will a "difficult task," but he added that he does not think there is anything in the draft to which the parliament might strongly object. JC KRISTOPANS ASKS PARLIAMENT TO POSTPONE DEBATE ON PORK QUOTAS. The premier on 11 January asked the parliament to postpone its debate on the government-proposed quotas on imports of pork and live pigs from Estonia and Lithuania, LETA reported. That debate was scheduled to take place on 14 January. According to one of Kristopans's advisers, the issue of pork quotas will be reviewed by the cabinet on 12 January. The decision comes on the heels of Kristopans's meeting with Estonian Premier Mart Siimann in Tallinn last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 January 1999). JC SOLIDARITY'S COALITION PARTNER DEMANDS DISMISSAL OF TWO MINISTERS. The Freedom Union (UW), the coalition partner of the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), is demanding that two AWS ministers be dismissed from the cabinet, Polish media reported on 11 January. The UW says that Jerzy Kropiwnicki, head of the government's Center for Strategic Studies, and Kazimierz Kapera, minister for family affairs, should be sacked because on 8 January they backed a bill that would slow down privatization and thereby is in conflict with the government's policies. "The UW is reacting hysterically. Its politicians voted against government-proposed measures in the past and we did not tear our hair out," Solidarity spokesman Piotr Zak commented. Government spokesman Jaroslaw Sellin said the two ministers will keep their posts. JM KWASNIEWSKI MEETS WITH ARAFAT. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski visited the Palestine National Authority area and met with Palestinian President Yasir Arafat in Ramallah on 11 January, Polish media reported. Arafat said Palestinian independence will be declared in May. Kwasniewski avoided a question about his response to the plan to declare Palestinian independence, saying that Poland backs negotiations that will lead to solutions "acceptable to all." At the same time, Kwasniewski promised to increase the number of grants to Palestinian students in Poland and to offer Poland's expert and financial assistance in restoring Palestine, "Gazeta wyborcza" reported. JM CZECH GOVERNMENT BLOCKS "RACIST WALL.' The government on 11 January announced it will block the construction of a fence in Usti nad Labed that would have separated an apartment block housing Roma from the rest of the neighborhood. Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky said the cabinet will first attempt to persuade the town council to abandon the plan and then use legal means to prevent the plan's implementation, CTK reported. The government also decided to postpone until March the search for a solution to the removal of a pig farm in Lety from a site intended for the construction of a memorial to several thousand Roma interned there between 1939 and 1943. The farm is an important source of income for local residents, who oppose its closure. Government Commissioner for Human Rights Petr Uhl, responding to a call by the International Romani Union for governments to provide compensation to Romani Holocaust victims, said such compensation "was not only a financial but a moral question as well." MS FORMER SLOVAK MINISTER SHOT DEAD. Police in Bratislava on 11 January said an unidentified gunman shot dead Jan Ducky, former economy minister and head of the state gas industry (SPP), Reuters and AP reported. Ducky served in the cabinet headed by Vladimir Meciar until mid-1996, resigning his post to become head of the SPP. He was dismissed from that post in November 1998, after Meciar's defeat in the general elections in September. While serving as economy minister, Ducky was criticized by the then opposition parties for alleged involvement in questionable privatization deals. As SPP head, he was criticized for the terms of several deals he negotiated with Russia's Gazprom company. Premier Mikulas Dzurinda told journalists that Ducky's murder may be "a signal" sent to the government not to investigate past violations of the law. He said the cabinet is determined to find Ducky's killers, CTK reported. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE PROMINENT KOSOVAR JOURNALIST KILLED. Unidentified gunmen killed Enver Maloku in Prishtina on 11 January. Maloku headed the Kosova Information Center (KIC) news agency, which reflects the views of moderate shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosova. No one has claimed responsibility for the death of Maloku. Regional and international media reports suggest that Kosovar extremists may have been responsible for the killing. KIC reported in its obituary of Maloku that he survived an assassination attempt in July 1998 but that the authorities have yet to investigate the incident. Maloku was a journalist with the Albanian-language section of Radio-Television Prishtina until the Serbian authorities closed it in 1990. He joined KIC when it was founded in 1991 and headed it after 1993. KIC's obituary called Maloku "a man of integrity┼[whom] we will sorely miss." PM UCK TO BEGIN FREEING PRISONERS? A spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) said in Geneva on 11 January that the guerrillas "might" soon free some of the eight Yugoslav soldiers whom they have held since the weekend as prisoners of war (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 1999). The UCK's goal remains to obtain the release of nine guerrillas held by the Serbs, the spokesman added. Belgrade's independent Radio B-92 quoted one of the Serbian captives as saying that the UCK is treating them well. PM VOLLEBAEK WARNS UCK THAT 'TIME IS SHORT.' Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, who holds the rotating OSCE chair, said in Belgrade on 11 January that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agreed to an extension of the deadline for the UCK to release the eight men before the Yugoslav army intervenes to free them. Vollebaek did not specify what either the original deadline or the extended date are, but he stressed that "it is very important that the UCK knows that we are very short of time." The next day in Prishtina, he called on the UCK to release the men unconditionally. Deutsche Welle quoted OSCE representatives as saying they warned the Yugoslav military not to try to free the prisoners because the UCK is holding the men in a remote mountainous area covered in ice and snow. PM ALBANIA OFFERS MEDIATION IN HOSTAGE CRISIS. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sokol Gjoka said in a statement on 11 January that Albania is working to help resolve the hostage crisis in Kosova. He added, however, that the international community must exert pressure on Belgrade to "stop the war" there, "Albanian Daily News" reported. Gjoka described the hostage crisis as "a grave incident that sets tensions spiraling" but "should not be viewed separately from the course of other [recent] serious incidents." He was referring to Serbian attacks on UCK positions in northeastern Kosova earlier this month. FS RUGOVA'S PRIME MINISTER WANTS UCK INVOLVED. Shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi told AP in Tirana on 11 January that a "future government of Kosova must be formed with the participation of all political forces, including the [UCK]." Bukoshi is the third high-ranking Kosovar politician to meet with Prime Minister Pandeli Majko this year. The other two are the UCK's political representative Adem Demaci and the nationalist Rexhep Qosja, who is a prominent academic and leader of Kosova's United Democratic Movement, which is in opposition to the LDK. Majko is trying to persuade all Kosovar political forces to adopt a joint strategy. He has also invited Rugova to Tirana (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 January 1999). FS ALBANIA CHARGES YUGOSLAVIA WITH AIRSPACE VIOLATIONS. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry accused federal Yugoslavia on 11 January of violating Albanian airspace, Reuters reported. He said that a plane flew 500 meters into Albania near the village of Morina, which is located close to the road linking Kukes with Prizren. It was the second airspace violation in three days (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 11 January 1999). FS KOSOVA SERBS TO GO OWN WAY? Some 500 members of Kosova's Serbian minority attended a meeting in Prishtina on 11 January to protest what they said was their "abandonment" by Milosevic and the Belgrade authorities. Momcilo Trajkovic, who heads the local Serbian Resistance Movement, said that time has come for the Serbs of Kosova "to take things into their own hands." He stressed that the Serbs "have nowhere to go and do not want to leave" the province. Trajkovic argued that the Serbs must use only peaceful means and should set up as soon as possible a Serbian National Council headed by Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije. The council would represent the Serbs of Kosova at any talks dealing with the province's future, BETA news agency reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 January 1999). Artemije called for talks with the ethnic Albanians. He stressed that his goals are "a democratic Serbia in a democratic Balkan region in a united Europe." PM POPLASEN WARNS NATO OF POSSIBLE REPRISALS... Hard-line Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen wrote in a 11 January letter to U.S. General Montgomery Meigs, who is NATO's top commander in Bosnia, that "nobody can take responsibility for the possible reactions of disturbed and dissatisfied citizens." He was warning SFOR peacekeepers that Bosnian Serbs might seek revenge for the recent killing by NATO soldiers of Dragan Gagovic, who is a Bosnian Serb indicted war criminal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 1999). Poplasen called the killing "the deliberate liquidation of one more Serb who had no chance to prove his innocence." NATO troops have evacuated "all foreign staff" from Foca, where the killing took place, AP reported on 11 January. The local mayor described the atmosphere there as tense. PM ...WHILE WESTENDORP HOLDS FIRM. The international community's Carlos Westendorp said in a statement issued in Sarajevo on 11 January that "appropriate measures must be taken against those individuals responsible for inciting or committing violent acts against the international community." He was referring to an attack by angry Serbs on the UN police station in Foca following the killing of Gagovic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 1999). PM ZAGREB WARNS ARBOUR. Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Ljerka Mintas Hodak said on Croatian Television on 11 January that Louise Arbour, who is the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor, was unjustified in her recent public criticism of Croatia's record of cooperation with the court (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January 1999). Mintas Hodak charged that Arbour had tried to act as prosecutor and judge at the same time. The deputy prime minister stressed that Croatia will cooperate with the court in keeping with the provisions of the constitution and Croatian "national interests." PM SUSPECTED CROATIAN SMUGGLER ARRESTED. A police spokesman said in Zagreb on 11 January that police arrested Zeljko Maglov in Split the previous day. Maglov is wanted on charges of running an international smuggling ring that stole 34 luxury cars, $200,000 worth of staple foods, and 2,000 liters of oil before police broke it up in 1997. Maglov was arrested that year but jumped bail before his trial. Police suspect that the former military police commander involved more than a dozen military and police officials in his smuggling operation, AP reported. In one incident during the Croatian offensive of 1995 in Krajina, he "captured" some 2,000 hams in the Drnis area, "Jutarnji List" added. PM ROMANIAN MINERS ESCALATE CONFLICT. Striking miners in the Jiu Valley have rejected an agreement reached the previous day by a miners' delegation and the government, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 11 January. According to that agreement, the mining company's $355 million debt to the state budget would be written-off provided the miners agreed to a cost-cutting program for the mining industry. The miners demand that President Emil Constantinescu intervene to solve the conflict and that either the president or Premier Radu Vasile travel to the valley for negotiations by no later than 12 January. MS EXTREMIST ROMANIAN SENATOR TO LOSE PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY? Prosecutor-General Mircea Criste has begun proceedings to lift the parliamentary immunity of Greater Romania Party (PRM) chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor on charges of "insulting the authorities." In a an open letter to the miners last week, Tudor sharply criticized President Constantinescu, Senate Chairman Petre Roman, and Industry and Trade Minister Radu Berceanu, saying, among other things, that Constantinescu will "soon be behind the same bars" as miners' leader Miron Cozma before his trial. Cozma is a member of the PRM. Tudor may also lose his immunity over his appearance on private Tele 7abc on 8 January, when he presented an alleged "diary" of actress Rona Hartner attesting to an affair with Constantinescu. Hartner said the diary was forged, and a presidential spokesman denied the allegations. Criste announced his office will launch legal proceedings against Tudor on slander charges. MS FORMER ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER TO STAND TRIAL. The Supreme Court on 11 January backed an appeal by the Prosecutor-General's Office against a lower court's decision in November 1997 to suspend proceedings against Victor Stanculescu. The former defense minister was charged with fraud and complicity to fraud in connection with the purchase of telecommunications equipment for the army during his term in office from 1990-1991. The proceedings were suspended on the grounds that a minister cannot be charged without the approval of the parliament or the country's president, Mediafax reported. In other news, the National Statistics Board reported that inflation in 1998 was 40.6 percent, just below the government forecast of 45 percent. MS IMF RESUMES LENDING TO MOLDOVA. Mark Horton, the IMF representative to Moldova, announced on 11 January that the fund will resume lending to Moldova, Infotag reported. Horton said a $35 million tranche will be disbursed later this week. A $190 million three-year loan to Moldova was approved in May 1996, and the IMF released three $52.5 million tranches between then and July 1997, when disbursement was halted owing to the country's poor economic performance. Horton said the IMF is now "commending" Moldova for having adopted strict financial policies and for having approved a "cautious" state budget for 1999. At the same time, the fund urged the speedy implementation of privatization programs and of reforms in the health and education systems, the pension system, and public administration. Flux reported that the World Bank has also resumed loans to Moldova, approving a $35 million loan for structural reform and privatization. MS FORMER BULGARIAN KING ROBBED IN SOFIA. Thieves stole a cellular telephone belonging to former King Simeon II and jewelry belonging to his daughter from their hotel room in the Bulgarian capital, dpa reported on 11 January, citing the daily "Standart." The former monarch's third visit to his country ended last weekend. MS END NOTE IS THE COLD WAR REALLY OVER? by Paul Goble A leading Russian foreign policy analyst has suggested that the Cold War is not yet over, an argument that not only challenges most assumptions about that conflict but also underscores the difficulties its participants may have in cooperating in the future. Writing in the current issue (No. 5, 1998) of the Russian foreign policy journal "International Affairs," Sergei Kortunov argues that the Cold War has not been about ideology or the containment of the Soviet Union, as Western writers claim, but rather reflects the West's "total rejection" of "the legitimacy and legality of historical Russia." Kortunov, who is the vice president of the Russian Foreign Policy Association, makes a number of points in support of this position. He says that Moscow won World War II "as Great Russia not as a Red Empire." He insists that neither the Soviet Union nor Stalin had any ambitions after 1945 and that that the West rejected all Moscow's efforts to ease conflict. And he argues that the West not only continued but expanded on the Nazi approach toward Russia by promoting the idea of "mythical" states to dismember the Russian heartland. Indeed, he says, "the world anti-Russian center moved from Berlin to Washington" following the defeat of Nazi Germany. Consequently, no right-thinking Russian, Kortunov adds, can accept the idea that the West has been "right" during the Cold War because that would mean not simply "the renunciation of Communism" but the acceptance of "the fallacy of the entire Russian historical idea--of the entire Russian Orthodox idea in history." That, in turn, would mean accepting what he suggests is the Western view of Russia as an evil empire or even--and here he quotes former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski--"a redundant country." Unfortunately, Kortunov goes on, "the most democrats" in Russia itself do not deny Moscow's "defeat" in the Cold War or conceal their "joy" over it or even their role in bringing it about. And he cites with approval the observation of one Russian analyst that "it is much more convenient for the 'democrats' to pretend that the West has never carried on an unrelenting struggle against our former motherland, Russia-USSR, and that it was only by our own efforts that we destroyed the 'evil empire.'" Kortunov argues that any fair-minded assessment will show that "strictly speaking, the Russian Federation was 'fighting' against the USSR on the side of the West" and that only after the 1991 breakup have some Russians begun to recognize that they have been helping the West to pursue an anti-Russian rather than anti-Soviet strategy. On the one hand, Kortunov's article offers nothing new. All his arguments have been made by Soviet ideologues in the past and by Russian nationalist writers in more recent times. And all his positions have been dismissed by the most serious scholars in both Russia and the West. On the other hand, Kortunov's argument is striking both substantively and politically. Substantively, his suggestion that the Cold War is not over and will continue until the West accepts Russia's legitimacy and even its moral equivalence highlights the deep suspicion many Russians now have about the West. Politically, the appearance of this article in Russia's premier foreign policy journal, one addressed not only to its own diplomats but also to the West, indicates that ever more people among the Russian political elite share Kortunov's anti-Western positions. And by providing ideological justification for those in Moscow who want to adopt a tougher line against the West, Kortunov's argument may become a self- fulfilling prophecy, exacerbating tensions between East and West to such an extent that he and others will be seen as justified in claiming that the Cold War is not yet over. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 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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