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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 111, Part II, 8 June 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 111, Part II, 8 June 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 * DRAFT BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION TREATY DOES NOT ENVISION PRESIDENCY * ALBRIGHT BRINGS KOSOVAR RIVALS TOGETHER * BELGRADE WANTS TO MONITOR RETURNEES End Note: NATO WANTS MORE THAN WORDS FROM HUNGARY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE DRAFT BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION TREATY DOES NOT ENVISION PRESIDENCY. Working commissions have agreed on a final draft of the Belarusian-Russian union treaty, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 7 June. Alyaksandr Kozyr, head of the International Affairs Commission in the Belarusian Chamber of Representatives, told RFE/RL that the draft treaty stipulates the creation of a "soft confederation," whereby both countries preserve their sovereign state functions and supranational bodies will be of an advisory character. The document does not provide for the posts of president or vice president of the union. Rather, the union is to be governed by a body consisting of the presidents, prime ministers, and parliamentary heads of the two countries. A union parliamentary assembly will be formed from deputies delegated by each parliament. JM KUCHMA'S RIVAL COMPLAINS OF OBSTACLES IN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. Oleksandr Moroz, head of the Ukrainian Socialist Party and a presidential hopeful, has accused the authorities of blocking his presidential campaign, AP reported on 7 June. Moroz said the Central Electoral Committee is refusing to give him forms to collect the required signatures supporting his candidacy. "We are facing a deliberate and planned campaign aimed at preventing my participation in the elections," the agency quoted Moroz as saying. The same day, the Supreme Court began considering Moroz's complaint that he has received only 110,000 forms, instead of the necessary 260,000. "I know that the strategy of Kuchma's present team is to prevent me from registering [as a presidential candidate]," Moroz told the 5 June "Zerkalo nedeli." JM TURKMENISTAN PRESSES UKRAINE TO REPAY GAS DEBT. Turkmenistan is demanding that Ukraine either pay its debt for gas supplies in 1998, totaling $120 million, or restructure the sum into a "sovereign debt," the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported on 8 June. Turkmen sources estimate that Ukraine's debt for gas supplies in 1999 so far exceeds $300 million, while the total debt for Turkmen gas received by the end of 1998 stands at $450 million. Turkmenistan halted gas supplies to Ukraine last month. JM ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER CALLS FOR EASING RESIDENCE PERMIT RULES. Juri Mois told U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Melissa Wells on 7 June that the regulations for issuing residence permits should be eased. According to BNS, the minister called for the normalization of the country's demographic situation and a less rigorous permit application process. He also emphasized the need to remove bureaucratic problems in the application process. MH LATVIAN PARLIAMENT CALLS EXTRAORDINARY SESSION. The Presidium of the Latvian parliament called for an extraordinary session to be held on 16 June to debate the language law. For Fatherland and Freedom (TB), a member of the ruling coalition, sponsored the motion, which was supported by most members of the non-coalition People's Party and some of the Social Democratic Workers' Party, BNS quoted TB deputy Juris Dobelis as saying. The People's Party had originally come up with the idea, which the TB had supported. However, as backing an opposition motion constitutes a violation of the coalition agreement, the TB itself officially introduced the motion. President Guntis Ulmanis appears to support the measure, saying "I think the parliament has all the cards in [its] hands to adopt the law before the summer recess," according to BNS. MH LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS CONTROVERSIAL OIL AMENDMENTS. Valdas Adamkus on 7 June signed the controversial amendments allowing Lithuania to sell the majority stake of its oil industry. The parliament passed the motion after a heated debate. Only the former ruling coalition of the Conservative Party and Christian Democratic Party supported the motion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999). Opposition politicians called on the president to veto the amendments, saying that otherwise they will challenge them in the Constitutional Court. MH LITHUANIA TO SUE FOR EMBASSY BUILDINGS? Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis has said that the government should sue to reclaim embassy buildings taken over by Russia. The buildings in question, located in Paris and Rome, fell into Soviet hands after the illegal annexation of Lithuania and the other two Baltic States by the USSR. Despite both Italy and France's adhering to the "non-recognition" policy, the embassy buildings were turned over and transformed into Soviet diplomatic buildings. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia "inherited" the buildings. Landsbergis introduced a parliamentary resolution calling for the legal action, according to BNS. MH POLISH DEPUTY MINISTER RESIGNS BEFORE LUSTRATION VERDICT. Deputy Transport Minister Krzysztof Luks tendered his resignation on 7 June in connection with his lustration statement, which was questioned by the lustration prosecutor, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported. Luks denied that he had collaborated with communist-era secret services, adding that "he has nothing to reproach himself for and is calmly waiting for a [lustration] court verdict." Luks explained that he resigned in order not to make "any trouble for his party," the Freedom Union. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek has accepted Luks's resignation. Also on 7 June, Pope John Paul II visited Torun, the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus, and praised the astronomer's "On the Movement of Heavenly Bodies." That book was denounced by Vatican in 1616 and removed from the list of forbidden publications only in 1822. JM CZECH PREMIER WANTS NATO TO PROTECT SERBS FROM 'UCK TERRORISM.' Milos Zeman told journalists in Plzen on 7 June that an international force must enter Kosova "as soon as possible" once Serbian troops leave the province in order to "protect Kosovo Serbs from possible terror by the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK)." Zeman said no one has yet addressed this problem and that his view of the UCK is "not very kind." "Just as we condemned Serb terrorism against the Kosovo Albanians, there is now a real threat of UCK terror against the local Serbs," CTK quoted him as saying. MS U.S. EMBASSY CRITICIZES CZECH POLICE FOR POOR PROTECTION. In a statement released on 7 June, the U.S. embassy in Prague said it "regrets" that Czech police were able to intervene only some 30 minutes after demonstrators attacked its building last weekend (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999)," CTK reported. However, the embassy said it was "deeply grateful" to members of police forces who tried to protect the building "at the risk of their health." The statement said that the U.S. "supports freedom of expression in democratic societies" but argued that "mob wild rioting is a perverse abuse" of that freedom. Deputy Foreign Minister Hynek Kmonicek told the U.S. charge d'affaires that his ministry is "sorry" for the attack. Meanwhile, Czech officials said they plan to prosecute 25 people who threw stones that broke the embassy's windows, AP reported. MS FORMER SIS OFFICIAL RELEASED FROM DETENTION. Jaroslav Svechota, the former Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) official who confessed to involvement in the abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999), has been released from detention, Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner told CTK on 7 June. Pittner said Svechota "should be pardoned" by Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, who has that prerogative until President-elect Rudolf Schuster is sworn in next week. Pittner also said Svichota has "in a way confirmed" suspicions that former Premier Vladimir Meciar was involved in the abduction. He added that it is not, however, Svichota's testimony but rather that of former SIS chief Ivan Lexa that will be "decisive" in establishing who ordered the kidnapping. Lexa, who is in detention, is denying any involvement and refusing to provide testimony. MS SLOVAK DEPUTY DISSENTING FROM RULING COALITION. Robert Fico, a parliamentary deputy of the junior coalition Democratic Left Party, says Slovak politicians must spare the public "political circuses" and follow "a policy of bread." In an interview with the Czech daily "Hospodarske noviny" on 7 June, Fico said such "circuses" include the envisaged language law and the scandals surrounding Lexa and former Interior Minister Gustav Krejci. He added that the ruling coalition is showing "arrogance" toward the parliamentary minority and is still using "revenge arguments" in its political discourse. MS HUNGARY BACKS CONTINUED NATO ACTION IN YUGOSLAVIA. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth told NATO Deputy Secretary-General Klaus-Peter Klaiber in Brussels on 7 June that NATO must push through its Kosova peace plan because Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has "repeatedly misled the international community in recent years." Nemeth said Hungary has offered to contribute a 260-strong police unit to a possible peacekeeping force in Kosova. In other news, President Arpad Goncz proposed to U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen during a visit to the Pentagon on 8 June that Budapest become the "center for the reconstruction" of southeastern Europe. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBRIGHT BRINGS KOSOVAR RIVALS TOGETHER. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met in Cologne on 8 June with the rival Kosovar leaders Hashim Thaci from the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League of Kosova, and Rexhep Qosja of the United Democratic Movement of Kosova. It was the first meeting between Rugova and the other two Kosovar leaders since the Rambouillet talks in March. Albright said later at a joint press conference with Thaci that "these representatives of the [Kosovar] political leadership have told me without any ambiguity that they will meet the key commitments made at Rambouillet." She added that the four discussed plans to set up a civilian administration in Kosova "under a special representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan," Reuters reported. FS THACI SAYS UCK WILL NOT ATTACK RETREATING SERBS. Thaci said at the press conference with Albright in Cologne on 8 June that "the UCK very soon will declare that it will refrain from attacking any retreating Serbian forces." Albright confirmed that she received the same message from Thaci during their earlier meeting. Thaci also promised that the UCK will "give up its military functions" once an international peacekeeping force moves into Kosova. Albright said "the [UCK] will demilitarize and enter into a process of transformation [into becoming primarily a political organization. Kosova's] political leaders will, I hope, cooperate to make [Kosova] truly democratic." FS UNHCR: SITUATION INSIDE KOSOVA DETERIORATING. A spokeswoman for the UNHCR said in Skopje on 8 June that recently arrived refugees report an upsurge in fighting between Serbian forces and the UCK. She did not say where the refugees have come from. The spokeswoman added: "We are getting stories of people being bused repeatedly to the border only to be turned around and sent back where they came from. Many, many people trying to get out are being prevented by Serb authorities and by the increased fighting," Reuters reported. PM SERBIAN POLICE INTRODUCE NEW TORTURE REGIMEN. In Kukes, recently arrived refugees told aid workers that Serbian police "have come up with a new mix of brutality and bureaucracy" to torture Kosovar males in Mitrovica prison, Reuters reported on 8 June. Police "call in Serbian boys as young as 12 years old to beat and humiliate [Kosovars] for five days before dumping them at the border with Albania." The police also force the Kosovars to sign statements in which they "confess" to being terrorists, "as if [the police] could one day use these documents to keep [the Kosovars] from ever returning home," the news agency continued. Aid workers said that they have no idea why the Serbian police have introduced this program of "sadism sealed with red tape." Some recently arrived refugees added that new prisoners arrive at Mitrovica as soon as others are released. PM BELGRADE WANTS TO MONITOR RETURNEES. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Belgrade on 8 June that Serbian border police and customs officials must remain in Kosova in order to ensure that only legitimate refugees come back once a peace settlement is concluded. He stressed that the Serbian authorities must keep out "people from Albania proper...including those separatists and terrorists who are active over there and will come and start chasing Serbs," Reuters reported. PM SERBIAN FORCES SHELL MACEDONIAN VILLAGE. Some 30 mortar shells hit the ethnic Albanian village of Jazince on the border with Kosova in northwestern Macedonia on 7 June, Reuters reported. Some buildings were damaged but no one was injured. One local man told reporters that the Serbian forces "like to play games with us, to kill Albanians." In recent weeks, many Kosovars have illegally crossed into Macedonia in the Jazince area. In Taipei the following day, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski played down the shelling incident, adding "this is the first time [Serbian forces have shelled a Macedonian village].... I believe this is no big threat to our national security because there are 16,000 NATO soldiers to help keep stability in Macedonia and the number will increase in the near future." PM SERBIAN ARTILLERY HITS TARGETS DEEP INSIDE ALBANIA. Serbian forces fired seven artillery shells about 25 kilometers into northern Albania on 8 June, an OSCE spokesman told Reuters. The shells hit a village near Bajram Curri, but no casualties were reported. The previous day, two U.S. B-52 aircraft bombed Serbian artillery positions inside Kosova after the artillery fired numerous shells into Albania. FS ALBANIA'S MEIDANI URGES NATO TO CONTINUE BOMBING. President Rexhep Meidani on 7 June urged NATO to intensify its bombing campaign and force Milosevic to implement the peace agreement. Meidani argued that "this language is the only language...Milosevic's regime understands." He told Reuters that the failure of the Kumanovo talks between NATO and Yugoslav generals was "predictable" and that it is likely that further meetings will also produce nothing. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sokol Gjoka told an RFE/RL correspondent that "this is not the first time that the Belgrade government has tried to back out of agreements it signed earlier under pressure of the international community." He added that Milosevic "is trying to gain time and carry out his [war] aims." FS MONTENEGRO SEEKS TO BAR RETREATING SERBIAN FORCES. An unnamed "senior government figure" told Reuters in Podgorica on 7 June that the Montenegrin authorities have "asked NATO not to allow Serbian forces [leaving Kosova] to come through here. There is no need for that- -they can go directly to Serbia without setting foot here." The Montenegrin authorities have frequently said that they fear that Milosevic will try to stage a coup in order to take control of their mountainous republic. PM THREAT TO MILOSEVIC 'FROM THE BOTTOM'? Neither the politically "servile" army leadership nor the divided opposition constitutes the chief political threat to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 8 June. If there is any serious challenge to the Yugoslav leader from inside the political establishment, it comes from Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, the daily continued. The principal threat to Milosevic comes "from below," namely from ordinary soldiers who have deserted their units in Kosova and from ordinary citizens who have come to realize that 12 years of Milosevic's rule have meant four lost wars and much destruction. The newspaper notes that Milosevic's hold on the provinces has weakened over the years, and that most small- and medium-sized cities are governed by the opposition. PM SOUTH AFRICA: MILOSEVIC 'NOT WELCOME.' Officials of the South African Foreign Ministry have informed the Yugoslav embassy in Pretoria and the domestic press that Milosevic "will not be welcome" at the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki, which is slated for 16 June. The South African officials noted that the government is legally obliged to arrest Milosevic and deport him to The Netherlands because the Hague-based war crimes tribunal recently indicted him, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" noted on 8 June. In London, "The Sunday Times" recently reported that Milosevic's son Mirko has transferred nearly $3 million to bank accounts in South Africa in preparation for a move by the Milosevic family to that country. Observers note that Serbian business interests in South Africa have grown in recent years. PM BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMES SUSPECT FLOWN TO HAGUE. NATO peacekeepers arrested Dragan Kulundzija near Prijedor on 7 June and sent him to The Hague. The war crimes tribunal indicted him in 1995 for having allegedly killed, tortured, or sexually abused Muslim and Croatian prisoners while he was a commander at the Keraterm concentration camp in 1992. Kulundzija is also charged with "unlawfully seizing and imprisoning" people and holding them under "inhumane conditions." PM MUSLIMS, SERBS ELECT GOVERNING BODY IN SREBRENICA. The 42-member Srebrenica town council elected a government consisting of nine Muslims, nine Serbs, and a Muslim chairman on 7 June, Reuters reported. Ambassador Robert Barry, who heads the OSCE's mission to Bosnia, called Srebrenica "perhaps the most symbolically important town" in that state. He added that "if reconciliation can occur here in Srebrenica, it can occur anywhere in Bosnia." Bosnian Serb forces seized Srebrenica in 1995 and subsequently killed possibly up to 7,000 of its Muslim inhabitants, primarily males. The killings have been widely described as the largest single atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II. Srebrenica is now located in the Republika Srpska. Former residents living in various parts of Bosnia elected the current town council in 1997. The 24 council members who are Muslims continue to live in Muslim-held territory. PM ROMANIAN COURT REHABILITATES FORMER TOP COMMUNIST SPY. The Supreme Court on 7 June quashed two death sentences handed down to Lieutenant-General Ion Mihai Pacepa, former deputy chief of the communist secret police's Foreign Intelligence Department. Pacepa was sentenced by a military tribunal after his defection to the U.S. in 1978. The sentences had been appealed by the Prosecutor- General's Office on grounds of "inconclusive evidence." Pacepa's lawyer told the court that his client had been sentenced for "high treason" while he had "only betrayed the secrets of the Ceausescu clan, which was at the helm of the country at the time," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Observers say the annulment of the sentences is part of Romania's effort to improve its chances of being admitted to NATO. MS ALBRIGHT POSTPONES ROMANIAN VISIT. A Foreign Ministry spokesman on 7 June said U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has postponed a short visit planned for the next day because of the Kosova crisis. Also on 7 June, President Emil Constantinescu discussed with Prime Minister Radu Vasile Romania's participation in the reconstruction of Yugoslavia. Constantinescu recently said Romania could help with exports of cement, metallurgical products, and electricity, whose supply exceeds demand on the Romanian market. MS PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF MOLDOVAN LOCAL ELECTIONS RUN-OFFS RELEASED. The Central Electoral Commission on 7 June announced that the preliminary results of the local election run-offs held one day earlier show that independent candidates are leading the field in mayoral races, having gained 19.1 percent. Of the political parties taking part in the election, the Bloc of Communists, Agrarians, and Socialists led the field with 12.1 percent, followed by the Democratic Convention of Moldova (7.3 percent), the Centrist Alliance (9.4 percent ) and the Party of Democratic Forces (5.1 percent). All other political formations scored 2 percent or less. MS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO PARLIAMENTARY RESOLUTION. Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea told journalists on 7 June that President Petru Lucinschi views the parliamentary resolution accusing him of breaching the constitution as "an attempt to exercise pressure on the Constitutional Court" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). The court has yet to rule on the legality of the 23 May non-binding referendum. In other news, Flux reported that Ukraine will not renew electricity supplies to Moldova as long as the government in Chisinau persists in refusing to offer state guarantees that it will pay off its $16.2 million debt by the end of 1999. Citing a government official in charge of energy supplies, the agency said that since Romania and the Transdniester are unable to cover Moldova's consumption needs, electricity shortages are likely to continue. MS END NOTE NATO WANTS MORE THAN WORDS FROM HUNGARY by Michael J. Jordan Ask the average Hungarian about history, and he'll likely recount the centuries of suffering at the hands of foreign invaders. Thus when Hungary joined NATO on 12 March, it seemed motivated less by the desire to join the "winning" side of the Cold War than by the wish for a future of guaranteed security. It was cruel irony when on 24 March, just 12 days after Hungary's induction, NATO launched its first air strikes against Yugoslavia. Hungary was de facto at war with its southern neighbor. More than two months later, the Hungarians, to their consternation, find themselves being dragged deeper into the war. While the public generally supports the NATO air campaign and the free use of Hungarian air space, recent opinion polls show a solid two- thirds of the public opposes any attack from Hungarian soil. An even larger number resist the possible use of Hungarian troops in either a ground offensive or peacekeeping mission. But the public outcry falls on deaf ears in Brussels and Washington. With NATO prodding Hungary to meet its alliance obligations, while dangling the carrot of a significant role in post-war reconstruction of the Balkans - the Hungarian leadership consented to the first launch of fighter aircraft from Hungarian air bases. Last month, 20 of 24 U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornets arrived in southern Hungary. Equipped with laser-guided bombs, the Hornets began flying combat missions on 28 May. Turkey, another NATO member, was more enthusiastic about granting access to its bases last month. If no peace agreement is forthcoming, missions from there may begin this month, although Turkish aircraft are already flying missions out of Italy. These are the latest steps in what NATO officials describe as an intensified assault on the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Hungarians officials are lending their support to the stepped-up air campaign. "This is exactly the kind of NATO we wanted to join 10 years ago, one that stands for a certain set of values," said Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, as he inspected the F-18s last month. "And now, NATO is fighting to defend those values." Meanwhile, the mood among Hungarians has turned fatalistic. This is especially evident in Taszar, the small village adjacent to the air base where the NATO aircraft are stationed. The base has also served as the staging ground for NATO's peacekeeping mission in Bosnia since late 1995. "We never wanted them here, but nobody asks what the simple people want," says retired truck driver Laszlo Kalmar, as an F-18 roars overhead. "More and more people around here are talking about World War III." While Mr. Kalmar and others in Taszar fear they may now be targets for Yugoslav missiles, there is no denying the strategic value of Hungary in NATO's military operation. Hungary is the only NATO member that borders Yugoslavia (it is, in fact, an island within the alliance in that it borders no other NATO state). Its proximity to Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital (100 miles away), and other key cities makes NATO aircraft in Hungary more "deployable" if quick action were needed. And were NATO to invade with ground forces, the flat terrain and short distance between Hungary and Belgrade is vastly more appealing than the rugged mountains that separate Kosova from both Macedonia and Albania. For now, at least, Hungary will host only aircraft. Taszar is also awaiting as many as 18 A-10 Warthog aircraft, "tankbusters" that could do low-flying dirty work against Serbian forces on the ground in Kosova. These would be used instead of the 22 Apache attack helicopters now based in Albania, which U.S. President Bill Clinton recently described as too "risky" to use against the Serbs. NATO officials say the launch of combat missions from Hungary and Turkey would serve two purposes: it relieves the workload at NATO's base in Aviano, Italy, and opens up two new fronts against Milosevic. Elsewhere, NATO aspirants Romania and Bulgaria, both next door to Yugoslavia, are allowing free use of their air space. But Greece, which sympathizes with its Orthodox Christian brethren, the Serbs, has been the only NATO member to refuse use of its air space. Hungary has signed on, but with deep reservations about how that move will affect the 350,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Vojvodina, the northern province of Yugoslavia that was Hungarian territory until a post-World War I treaty. Vojvodina may indeed become a more central issue as the search for a settlement to the Kosova conflict continues. Both Vojvodina and Kosova had autonomy within the old Yugoslavia until Milosevic abolished it in 1989. Hungarians on either side of the border fear that if a peace resolution for Kosova fails to address Vojvodina's status, as the Dayton peace deal in 1995 failed to address Kosova, the seeds may be sown for a future Balkan conflict. If anything, recent comments by right-wing Hungarian politicians have only inflamed the situation. One ultra- nationalist lawmaker, Istvan Csurka, pushes for Hungary to protect the Hungarian minority with a border "revision" that would annex parts of Vojvodina. And Zsolt Lanyi, the chairman of the parliament's Defense Committee, went so far as to suggest "statehood" for both Vojvodina and Kosova. Many observers denounced the statements. "It is untimely," said Gernot Erler, deputy parliamentary leader of Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party, "because it reinforces the Serbian nationalist belief that the world cooperates in order to disintegrate Yugoslavia." 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