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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 77, Part II, 21 April 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 77, Part II, 21 April 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 * UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT AGAIN DECLINES TO BREAK TIES WITH NATO * ALBRIGHT: NO TALKS WITH MILOSEVIC * ALBANIAN, YUGOSLAV ARMIES CLASH AT KOSOVA BORDER End Note: EBRD TAKES TOUGH NEW STANCE ON INVESTMENTS, LOANS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT AGAIN DECLINES TO BREAK TIES WITH NATO. The Supreme Council on 20 April failed to pass a motion calling on the government to suspend cooperation with NATO. The legislature voted six times on the communist-proposed motion, but the leftists were unable to muster the required 226 votes. This was the second time this month the Council tried to pass such a bill. Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said the same day that Ukraine's foreign policy of integration into European and Transatlantic structures remains unchanged. Tarasyuk added that Yugoslavia has so far not responded to either Ukraine's peace proposals for Kosova or Kyiv's invitation to Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 19 April 1999). JM RENATIONALIZATION OF ENERGY SECTOR IN UKRAINE? The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office has asked the judiciary to revoke privately owned stakes in six regional energy companies and return them to the state, AP reported on 20 April. "As a lawyer, I ascertain that gross violations were made during the privatization of these companies," Deputy Prosecutor-General Olha Kolinko said. The demand follows President Leonid Kuchma's decision last week to fire senior government officials over alleged abuses of authority in the energy sector. Ukraine's 27 regional energy companies are considered to be among the country's most attractive properties, since each has a monopoly or near monopoly on electricity supplies in its region. JM OSCE CRITICIZED FOR IGNORING BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION. Andrey Sannikau, Belarusian former deputy foreign minister and leader of the Charter-97 opposition group, has criticized the OSCE mission in Minsk for avoiding a clear stance on the "most topical problems of the Belarusian situation," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 20 April. Sannikau took part in a Washington human rights seminar on the role of the OSCE missions in Kosova, Bosnia, and the former Soviet republics. According to Sannikau, the OSCE mission in Minsk "simply ignores the most essential political dates of 16 May and 20 July." The opposition Supreme Soviet scheduled presidential elections in Belarus for 16 May, as stipulated under the 1994 constitution, which it observes. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's term in office expires on 20 July. JM ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES DEBATE OVER CUSTOMS TARIFFS. Lawmakers have voted to postpone until the end of next month the debate on the bill providing for the introduction of new customs tariffs, ETA reported on 20 April. The law, which was drafted by the opposition Country People's Party, foresees, among other things, a 43 percent tariff on imports of pork, butter, and cheese and a 49 percent tariff on imported eggs. The government has rejected the bill, arguing that it contravenes the norms of the World Trade Organization, which Estonia is seeking to join. JC PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE BACKS KAMALDINS. The Latvian parliamentary defense and internal affairs committee has voted five to four to support the re-election of Lainis Kamaldins as director of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, ELTA and BNS reported on 20 April. Last month, Kamaldins was at the center of a controversy following his suggestion that Latvian Jews may have been involved in the 1998 bombing of the Riga synagogue. The National Security Council, however, voted shortly thereafter to nominate Kamaldins for another term in office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and 25 March 1999). The parliament is due to vote on his re-election next week. JC LITHUANIAN PREMIER RESPONDS TO PRESIDENT'S CHALLENGE. Gediminas Vagnorius has issued a statement saying he is prepared to step down "to follow the country's strategic interests," Reuters and BNS reported on 20 April. That statement came one day after President Valdas Adamkus expressed no confidence in Vagnorius during an address televised nationwide (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 1999). "Stability must be maintained in the country, therefore the prime minister does not intend to contribute to the escalation of political tension, as he sees the interests of the state as a top priority," Vagnorius's statement read. Meanwhile, an extraordinary session of the parliament is to be convened on 21 April at which the ruling Conservatives will submit a resolution expressing confidence in Vagnorius. The opposition has already indicated it will vote against that motion. The Conservatives and their Christian Democrat allies, however, have a majority in the parliament. JC POLISH LAWYERS WANT TO GET RID OF FORMER COMMUNIST AGENTS. The Supreme Council of Advocates has called on lawyers who collaborated with the communist secret services during the period 1944-1990 to leave the profession. The appeal states that such collaboration "contravenes the most basic principles of lawyers' ethics." Lawyers constituted the largest professional group on the three lists of confessed collaborators published so far under Poland's lustration law. JM OPPOSITION DEPUTY MOVES TO LUSTRATE POLISH PREMIER. Tomasz Karwowski, parliamentary deputy of the right-wing Confederation for an Independent Poland-Homeland, has submitted a written application to the lustration prosecutor to start examining the case of Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. Karwowski claims to have "serious circumstantial evidence" that Buzek had contacts with the communist secret services, while Buzek denies the allegation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April 1999). Karwowski maintains that under martial law Buzek witnessed the arrest of a Solidarity leader activist but was not arrested himself. JM POLISH AIRLINES TO BE PRIVATIZED. The cabinet on 20 April approved a privatization plan for Poland's national air carrier LOT, PAP and AP reported. Treasury Minister Emil Wasacz said selected airlines will be invited to talks on selling 10 percent of LOT shares. The 10 percent stake will be sold in the fourth quarter of this year. The investor will be required to increase the airline's capital to 38 percent of LOT's expanded share capital. The state will hold a 52 percent stake and employees the remaining 10 percent. LOT's net profits in 1998 amounted to 1.9 million zlotys ($475,000). JM HAVEL SAYS FENCE SEPARATING ROMANY HOUSING NO SOLUTION... Czech President Vaclav Havel said on 20 April that a decision by a Romany organization and the city of Usti nad Labem to build a fence separating Roma from ethnic Czech residents "will not resolve anything," CTK reported. Havel said the problem between the two groups "is, of course, much deeper." Mayor Pavel Tosovsky and the chairman of the Romany Rainbow organization, Tibor Badi, agreed to the plan last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April 1999). PB ...PRAISES GOVERNMENT APPROVAL OF NATO REQUEST. Havel also praised the government for allowing NATO to use Czech airports for refueling planes, CTK reported. The parliament is to consider that request on 21 April, and approval is expected. Deputies will also consider a NATO request to allow a train carrying NATO ammunition and technical equipment to transit the Czech Republic on its way to Hungary. PB EU OFFICIAL UPBEAT ON SLOVAK PROSPECTS FOR EU. Hans van den Broek, the EU commissioner for relations with Central and East European countries, said in Bratislava on 20 April that he is optimistic about Slovakia's chances of making the "first wave" of EU applicants, Reuters reported. Van den Broek said at a press conference with Premier Mikulas Dzurinda that "Slovakia belongs in Europe, Slovakia has the resources and the capabilities." He added that the EU has "welcomed the change in [the political] climate in this country." And he commented that he expects a "success" at the EU summit in Helsinki later this year. PB SLOVAKIA ASKED TO ALLOW NATO TRAIN TO TRANSIT COUNTRY. The Slovak government was asked by NATO on 20 April to allow the passage of a train carrying NATO materiel through Slovak territory, AP reported. The government was expected to issue a decision on the request the following day. The train would come from the Czech Republic and would transit Slovakia on 22 April en route to Hungary. The government of Premier Dzurinda supports NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, although a poll released on 20 April showed that some 65 percent of respondents oppose them. PB RUSSIA RECALLS ITS AMBASSADOR TO HUNGARY. Russia has recalled its ambassador to Hungary for consultations and canceled a planned visit by Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi to Moscow in response to Budapest's holding up of a Russian aid convoy to Yugoslavia on 10 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 April 1999). Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath on 20 April described the decision as regrettable and expressed the hope that Russia will soon reconsider its stand. Defense Minister Janos Szabo's remark one day earlier that Hungary "will not hold any more talks with an unreliable Russian partner" on the overhaul of MiG-29 fighter jets may have contributed to Moscow's decision, "Nepszabadsag" speculates. MSZ GONCZ CANCELS TRIP TO NATO SUMMIT. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz will not attend the NATO summit in Washington because its program has been changed and will be more of a working meeting than a protocol event, presidential spokesman Andras Farago announced on 20 April. Goncz was to attend the summit as a guest of honor, rather than a member of the official Hungarian delegation, Farago explained. Goncz will visit the U.S. from 7-9 June at the invitation of President Bill Clinton. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBRIGHT: NO TALKS WITH MILOSEVIC. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington on 20 April that NATO will not negotiate with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the VOA's Serbian Service reported. She added that Yugoslavia needs a democratic government and that only a democratic government can expect Western assistance once the current conflict ends. Albright stressed that "President Milosevic is responsible for the ethnic cleansing and all the depravations that are taking place, and we have questioned how he is going to continue...while the [Hague-based] war crimes tribunal keeps working." She noted that the purpose of NATO's air strikes is not, however, to overthrow Milosevic but to enable the refugees to go home. PM BLAIR WARNS MILOSEVIC ON ALBANIA. In response to a question by an RFE/RL correspondent, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in Brussels on 20 April: "We have made very clear indeed...that any attempt to cause difficulty or damage to Albania we will do everything possible to prevent, and [we will] make sure we give [Albania] proper protection. And I would like to pay tribute to Albania for the unstinting work that it has done in circumstances of very great difficulty to make sure the refugees are properly looked after. And one of the purposes of this action we are taking is to make sure that this entire military machine of the Serbs and Milosevic is degraded so he is not able to threaten his neighbors." PM ALBANIAN, YUGOSLAV ARMIES CLASH AT KOSOVA BORDER. Yugoslav and Albanian soldiers exchanged fire for six hours near Qafe e Prushit in the Has Mountains on 20 April. It was the most serious clash between the two armies since the start of the Kosova crisis, Reuters reported. An OSCE spokesman said in Tirana that one Albanian soldier was injured in the fight. Previous clashes with Serbian troops involved chiefly the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). The Albanian army generally restrained from interfering. UCK and Yugoslav forces also clashed near Junik, inside Kosova close to the border, on 20 April. At least two UCK fighters were killed in the battle and 15 injured, RFE/RL's Albanian broadcasters reported. Kosovapress added that there were an unspecified but large number of victims on the Yugoslav side. FS APACHE HELICOPTERS ARRIVE IN ALBANIA. The first of 24 U.S. Apache helicopters arrived in Albania on 20 April, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The deployment of the "terrain-hugging" aircraft had been delayed due to torrential rains in Albania in recent days. The Apaches will be used mostly against tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery in Kosova. About 700 U.S. parachute troops arrived in Albania the same day to give ground support to the helicopters. In Warsaw, the Polish government decided on 20 April to send 140 mountain troops to northern Albania to help guard the NATO bases there, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. FS REFUGEE INFLUX FROM MONTENEGRO INCREASES. Nearly 2,500 Kosovar refugees arrived in northwestern Albania via Montenegro on 20 April, Reuters reported. It was the biggest single influx so far at the western part of the Albanian-Yugoslav border. Most of the refugees came from the region around Peja. At the Morina border crossing near Kukes, OSCE observers reported only a handful of refugees arriving. FS MONTENEGRO CHARGES YUGOSLAV ARMY WITH 'WAR CRIMES.' Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Dragisa Burzan said on a visit to the Rozaje area on 20 April that the recent killing of at least five Kosovar refugees and a Montenegrin citizen by Yugoslav troops there is "a war crime, a crime against humanity," "Newsday" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 1999). In Podgorica, Interior Minister Vukasin Maras said that General Milorad Obradovic, who commands the troops in Montenegro, must explain the killings, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Milosevic's Tanjug news agency reported that the army was pursuing UCK fighters in the area. Burzan visited three villages, from which soldiers had driven the ethnic Albanian and Muslim inhabitants. In Brussels, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said that the Yugoslav army has begun "ethnic cleansing" in Montenegro. PM SERBIAN PARAMILITARIES IN MONTENEGRO. An unspecified number of Serbian paramilitary troops has entered Montenegro near the border with Kosova, the BBC reported on 21 April. Kosovar refugees in the area said that they were "terrified" to learn that the paramilitaries were nearby. PM DJUKANOVIC REFUSES TO SUBORDINATE POLICE TO ARMY. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic called "unacceptable" and "out of the question" a demand by the Yugoslav army that the Montenegrin Interior Ministry place the pro-Djukanovic police under army command, the "Financial Times" reported on 21 April. Djukanovic added that the army must explain to the Montenegrin authorities the killings in the Rozaje area. PM CROATIA PROTESTS YUGOSLAV ARMY INCURSION INTO MONTENEGRIN BORDER ZONE. Croatian Ambassador to the UN Ivan Simonovic sent a letter to the Security Council on 20 April calling on Belgrade to withdraw the 300 troops who entered the demilitarized zone in Montenegro, which borders Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula. Simonovic wrote that he hopes for a diplomatic solution but added that "Croatia must be ready to use other means if necessary." The next day, however, an unnamed Croatian diplomat told Reuters that "everything that's happening is outside our borders. No damage has been done to us and Croatia is absolutely safe." The diplomat added that "this is a strictly internal Yugoslav matter. They have been very anxious to cut Montenegro off and now they have. This really puts the stranglehold on Montenegro." PM YUGOSLAV TROOPS CLOSE MONTENEGRO'S BORDER WITH CROATIA. A UN monitor in the Prevlaka area told Reuters on 20 April that the situation there is "delicate, sensitive and extremely tense." Earlier, Yugoslav troops took control over and closed the border crossing of Debeli Brijeg between Montenegro and Croatia near Prevlaka. Prevlaka is Croatian territory, but Belgrade wants it because it controls access to Yugoslavia's only deep- water naval base. Prevlaka and an adjoining strip of Montenegrin territory around Sutorina are demilitarized and under the control of a 28-member UN monitoring mission. PM OSCE REPORTS 'SYSTEMATIC ABUSE' OF KOSOVARS. A NATO spokesman said in Brussels on 20 April that Serbian forces are conducting a "safari operation" in Kosova to expel virtually the entire ethnic Albanian population. In Skopje, members of the OSCE's monitoring mission in Kosova issued a report based on interviews with 250 refugees. The monitors concluded that "total lawlessness" reigns in the province. Uniform accounts by refugees indicated that "large groups" of Yugoslav soldiers, paramilitary police, and irregulars carry out "a pattern of intimidation and harassment, combined with assaults, pillage, shelling, killingszh, and executions..., after which people flee or are simply told to leave." The study noted that "the number of reports on sexual assaults--including rape of groups of women--is increasing. Other reports include torture, ill-treatment, harassment, intimidation, and use of groups of people as human shields," the monitors' statement continued. The monitors also noted that some interviewees were able to identify their tormentors. PM GLIGOROV CALLS FOR 'STATE OF EMERGENCY.' Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov said in a television broadcast on 20 April that he wants the Supreme Defense Council to declare a state of emergency. He said that the current situation is "one of the most dangerous" since 1991, when Macedonia declared independence. He stressed that "dangers for Macedonia are growing" and that preserving "internal stability and external security" are top priorities for the authorities. He noted that some 4,000 NATO troops will arrive in Macedonia soon. Some 16,500 soldiers from the Atlantic alliance are already there. PM UNHCR DECLARES MACEDONIAN CAMPS FULL. A spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in Skopje on 20 April that all camps in that country are filled to capacity. The UNHCR had to leave up to 3,000 refugees without shelter in the no-man's land at the border. Another 3,000 arrived at a mountain hamlet, where the UN had no facilities for them, either. Members of both groups said that "thousands" more refugees are en route, AP reported. Inside Macedonia, some camps have three times more inhabitants than UNHCR standards allow. There are 25,000 people in the Brazda camp alone. Recent arrivals stay in tents outside the camp and are subject to harassment by local Macedonians resentful of the influx of ethnic Albanians. PM NATO HITS MILOSEVIC'S PARTY OFFICES. Aircraft from the Atlantic alliance attacked a high-rise office building in Belgrade on 21 April, causing considerable damage, the BBC reported. The building houses offices of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, his wife's Yugoslav United Left, and his daughter's radio station. Some of the targets of recent air strikes include factories and refineries controlled by his family or political allies. In Brussels, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said that the bombing campaign is likely to last for some time. In Washington, Secretary Albright expressed the same view. PM UN POLICE MONITOR BOSNIAN-MONTENEGRIN BORDER. UN police stepped up monitoring patrols along Bosnia's frontier with Montenegro on 20 April. The move came following reports by Kosovar and Sandzak Muslim refugees that Bosnian Serb police robbed and intimidated them en route from Montenegro to Sarajevo. In New York, Elisabeth Rehn, who is the UN's special envoy to Bosnia, said that many of the refugees are young males seeking to avoid the Yugoslav army draft. PM CROATIA ARREST WAR CRIMES SUSPECT. Croatian police arrested Dragisa Cancarevic in Vukovar on 20 April. He is the head of the local police in Borovo Naselje. The ethnic Serbian police officer is suspected of committing war crimes in Vukovar during the 1991-1995 war. PM ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, DEFENSE COUNCIL APPROVES NATO AIR CORRIDOR REQUEST. The Romanian government and the Supreme Defense Council on 20 April approved a NATO request to use Romanian air space for attacks on Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Premier Radu Vasile said the decision does not "question Romania's sovereignty over its own air space." Approval by the four-party ruling coalition makes passage in the parliament likely, as only the opposition Socialist Party and some nationalist parties have objected to the request. Also on 20 April, a group of prominent Romanian intellectuals urged Romanians to back the government's decision. The deputy chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Ralston, said in Bucharest the same day that Romania can count on NATO to defend it in the event of a threat from Yugoslavia. PB ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CONSULTS BULGARIAN COUNTERPART OVER NATO REQUEST. Emil Constantinescu telephoned with Petar Stoyanov on 20 April to discuss the NATO request that both countries give the alliance unlimited access to their air space, Rompres reported. Officials said Stoyanov has suggested that the two countries coordinate their stances toward the NATO request. PB BULGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY VOTE ON NATO REQUEST LOOMS AMID PROTESTS. Thousands of people rallied in downtown Sofia on 20 April to urge the parliament to reject a request by NATO to allow the alliance full usage of Bulgaria's air space, AP reported. Protesters chanted "NATO out of the Balkans" and other anti-NATO slogans. Thousands of people also demonstrated in the Black Sea port of Varna. Officials said the parliament may vote on the request on 21 April. PB END NOTE EBRD TAKES TOUGH NEW STANCE ON INVESTMENTS, LOANS by Ron Synovitz The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is taking a new tougher approach to lending and investing in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. The approach, a reaction to Russia's financial collapse in August, became apparent at the EBRD's board meeting in London even before plenary sessions began on 19 April. The EBRD was set up in 1991 to aid the market transition of the former communist states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. It has already adopted a conservative lending strategy, and bank funds are being used as leverage to influence government policies. But EBRD governors meeting in London this week are sharpening the strategy. They say they hope to instill financial discipline, better corporate governance, and long-overdue banking reforms in the 25 countries in which the EBRD operates. Leading the new strategy is EBRD President Horst Koehler, a former private-sector banker and state secretary in the German Finance Ministry. Koehler took the top post at the EBRD in September- -just weeks after Russia devalued its currency, defaulted on domestic government debt, and declared a moratorium on debt servicing to foreigners. The Russian crisis caused the EBRD last year to declare its first loss in six years--more than $225 million. More important, Koehler says, it taught the EBRD that its investments cannot be effective without macroeconomic stability, together with a reasonable legal and regulatory environment. On a country-to-country basis, that means governments must move their reform programs forward or forget about receiving money from the EBRD--one of the last remaining institutions willing to invest across the crisis-plagued region. Ukraine is a case in point. Koehler met with President Leonid Kuchma and other senior officials in Kyiv late last year to present the Bank's complaints about slow reforms there. At stake are four EBRD projects, worth nearly $200 million, that have been stalled in the Ukrainian parliament for more than a year. The EBRD also says it will not approve Ukrainian railroad and water management investments, worth another $70 million, until the bureaucratic barriers to the earlier projects are cleared. Lars Larsson, the director of the EBRD-administered Nuclear Safety Account, also is taking a tougher stance on aid recipients. Larsson says disbursements will go only to projects that expedite the closure of hazardous reactors in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Lithuania. Lithuanian Finance Minister Algirdas Semeta admitted there is increased pressure from the EBRD on the closure of the Ignalina nuclear plant. But Semeta, who opposes a shutdown without massive Western financial support, attributes Larsson's harder line to what he called "political pressure" from the EU "I don't think the EBRD, as such, is the decision- making authority concerning the Ignalina power station," he commented. "Actually, the owners of the [Nuclear Safety] Account itself, and other European Union countries, are the major political forces which dictate policies concerning Ignalina." In the telecommunications sector, the EBRD is trying to coax several governments to create the proper regulatory framework within which privatized firms can operate. Legal assistance was provided last year to Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania, and Poland. A contract for regulatory assistance has been finalized with Albania, and similar assistance is moving forward in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Georgia. EBRD projects that develop capital markets and improve corporate governance have been approved for the Czech and Slovak republics. Plans also have been finalized to work with the Russian Federal Commission for the Securities Market. That project will focus on developing capital market regulations and company laws. The aim is to increase the transparency of markets and improve corporate governance. Meanwhile, the EBRD is still trying to resolve a dispute over the privatization of the Slovnaft oil and gas monopoly in Slovakia. That dispute arose in 1995 when Slovnaft's state managers bought shares of the firm at a fraction of the price paid by the EBRD and other investors. EBRD officials cite Slovnaft as a classic example of how insider deals and the lack of transparency can damage the confidence of global investors in an emerging market economy. The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Prague. 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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