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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 126, Part II, 29 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 126, Part II, 29 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

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Headlines, Part II

* NO MONEY TO PAY WAGES IN BELARUS?

* SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO HOLD RALLY

* UCK ABIDES BY DEMILITARIZATION PLAN

End Note: ISOLATING SERBIA: AN EFFECTIVE APPROACH?
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

NO MONEY TO PAY WAGES IN BELARUS? Addressing the
National Assembly last week, Finance Minister Mikalay
Korbut said his ministry is unable either to pay wages
or finance the purchase of medicines, RFE/RL's
Belarusian Service reported on 28 June. Former Labor
Minister Alyaksandr Sasnou told RFE/RL that Korbut's
statement may mean a change in the ongoing practice of
extensive money emissions whenever the government faces
financial difficulties. Sasnou suggested that the
country's main proponent of such emissions, National
Bank Chairman Pyotr Prakapovich, may have recently
fallen from grace with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Prakapovich told the National Assembly the same day that
owing to a lack of foreign credits, the bank issued 50
trillion Belarusian rubles (some $200 million) in the
first half of 1999 "to ensure economic growth." JM

MAHILEU RESIDENTS HELP IN HAY-MAKING. Following the
example of the Brest Oblast administration, the Mahileu
City Executive Committee has issued a directive ordering
all enterprises in the city to help in this year's hay-
making. As in Brest, the minimum required output is 200
kilograms of hay per capita. According to RFE/RL's
correspondent in Mahileu, city residents are
participating in hay-making for fear of losing their
jobs. However, the correspondent noted, farm managers in
Mahileu Oblast need money rather than a new labor force
or equipment. Workers at some collective farms in the
region have not been paid since February. "Peasants
openly admit that they go to work on collective farms
only to steal something for their own farmsteads, from
which they feed their families," the correspondent
reported. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT LAMBASTES PARLIAMENT FOR POPULISM.
Leonid Kuchma said on national television on 28 June
that the Supreme Council "is turning into an instrument
of political fighting in which open demagoguery and
populism have become usual tricks," ITAR-TASS reported.
He added that this trend has become particularly evident
since the onset of the presidential election campaign.
Speaking on the third anniversary of the adoption of the
Ukrainian Constitution, Kuchma noted that most problems
in Ukraine arise from the "improper implementation" of
the basic law. He gave himself credit for issuing
economic decrees over the past three years to address
economic problems not covered by laws. The 120 decrees
or so that he signed have helped "to soften the blow
delivered by the world financial crisis to the country's
economy and create the basis for its steady economic
growth," he argued. JM

UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS RALLY TO DEMAND WAGE PAYMENT,
KUCHMA'S OUSTER. Only some 1,000 communist supporters
gathered in Kyiv on 28 June (Constitution Day) to demand
the payment of pension and wage arrears and the
resignation of the incumbent president. It had been
expected that as many as 15,000 would take part in the
rally. One of the placards at the protest read "Kuchma,
the guarantor of genocide," a taunting reference to the
constitutional provision pronouncing the president "the
guarantor of the constitution." JM

ESTONIAN AUSTERITY BUDGET PASSES. The Estonian
parliament on 28 June finally passed the 1 billion kroon
($67 million) negative supplementary budget in its third
and final reading. The vote, which fell along political
lines, was 53 to 41. While the opposition proposed 46
amendments, the government had already earmarked extra
money to agriculture and cut funds for the construction
of government buildings. However, the opposition did not
resume the delaying tactic it had used during the second
reading, whereby it called for a 10-minute recess after
the nearly 600 amendments it had introduced (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 28 May 1999). But it did manage to end the
session before the debate on accession to the WTO could
get under way, "Postimees" reported. MH

ESTONIAN OFFICER FOUND GUILTY IN KURKSE ACCIDENT. A
Harju county court on 28 June found Lieutenant Jaanus
Karm negligent in the deaths of 14 soldiers during a
training exercise in Kurkse in 1997. Following an
emotional trial, the court sentenced Karm to four-and-a-
half years in prison for exceeding his authority and
failing to heed orders from his superiors on the
exercise in question. ETA reported that Karm's lawyers
intend to appeal the verdict. Many of the families of
the victims expressed disapproval of the harsh sentence
and plan to send a protest letter to President Lennart
Meri, "Eesti Paevaleht" reported. MH

REGIONAL LEADERS GATHER IN RIGA. Presidents Lennart Meri
(Estonia), Valdas Adamkus (Lithuania), and Aleksander
Kwasniewski (Poland) were in Latvia on 28 June to meet
with outgoing Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis and
President-elect Vaira Vike-Freiberga. The meeting of the
four current presidents focused on EU and NATO
enlargement, as well as on Kosova. The presidents called
for Latvia and Lithuania to join Estonia and Poland in
the "fast-track" group for EU enlargement in order to
"consolidate the power of the northern wing of the
European Union," ETA quoted Adamkus as saying. The three
visiting presidents also praised Ulmanis for his work
toward Baltic cooperation. President-elect Vike-
Freiberga also held separate meetings with each of the
three visiting presidents. MH

POLISH COAL-MINING SECTOR PLUNGES DEEPER INTO RED.
Deputy Economy Minister Jan Szlazak said on 28 June that
from January-May 1999, Poland's coal-mining sector
chalked up losses of some 900 million zlotys ($230
million), PAP reported. The total debt of Polish coal
mines amounted to 17.6 billion zlotys at the end of May.
The main reasons for this year's poor results were
declining demand and falling prices for coal. Szlazak
added that some 30,000 miners will leave the sector this
year, two-thirds of whom will take advantage of benefits
offered under a special social package. JM

CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS CSSD POSITION ON
ELECTORAL LAW 'UNACCEPTABLE.' Ivan Langer, deputy
chairman of the opposition Civic Democratic Party
(ODS), told "Mlada fronta Dnes" of 28 June that the
position of the ruling Social Democratic Party (CSSD)
on amending the electoral law is "unacceptable" to the
ODS. Langer said that his party cannot agree to
amending the law only next year, as demanded by the
CSSD. He said that unless a compromise is found there
could be "serious discussions" in his party about
maintaining its agreement with the CSSD that allows
the latter to rule as a minority government. Premier
Milos Zeman responded that he "firmly believes" the
CSSD position is in line with the agreement between
the two parties and does not threaten it. MS

ZEMAN CRITICIZES HAVEL FOR KOSOVA VISIT. Zeman told
journalists on 28 June that Havel should not have
visited Kosova without an official invitation from
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, CTK reported.
Zeman said that the UN Security Council, the G-8, and
other international organizations all consider Kosova
to be an integral part of Yugoslavia. "An invitation
from a head of state is necessary to visit any part of
any country," he argued (see also below). MS

SLOVAK ROMA SEEK ASYLUM IN FINLAND. More than 300
Slovak Roma have arrived in Finland over the last four
days to request political asylum there, CTK, reported
on 28 June, citing the Finnish FNB/STT agency. The
asylum-seekers arrived by air via Budapest and Prague.
They were directed to a refugee camp. The Finnish
authorities have not yet started investigating the
requests. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO HOLD RALLY. Vladan Batic, who is a
leading official of the Alliance for Change coalition of
opposition groups, said in Belgrade on 28 June that the
opposition will stage a rally in Cacak the following
afternoon. Participants in the rally will demand the
immediate resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic and "early, free, and fair elections," Batic
added. He stressed that if Milosevic does not call early
elections under OSCE supervision, the alliance will do
so itself and form a parallel government, "Danas"
reported. Dragan Milovanovic, who heads Serbia's only
independent labor union, said that members of his union
will join the protest in Cacak. He added that workers
will "no longer work for peanuts, nor will they help
rebuild the country for free," Reuters reported. The
alliance expects at least 10,000 people to attend the
rally, "The Daily Telegraph" reported. PM

UCK ABIDES BY DEMILITARIZATION PLAN. A KFOR spokesman
told Reuters in Prishtina on 29 June that Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) forces have met the deadline,
which was midnight the previous day, for establishing
sites where they will turn in their weapons and for
"gathering" in designated "assembly areas." Outside
these areas, UCK soldiers are not allowed to wear
uniforms or carry arms under the demilitarization plan
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 1999). The fighters
may keep only pistols and non-automatic hunting rifles
in remote rural areas. The KFOR spokesman added that
"we have every reason to believe that the UCK is in
compliance" with the plan. He had no details on how
many weapons the UCK has turned in, nor did he give an
exact number of storage sites and assembly areas. He
did say, however, that there are approximately 10
storage sites and five assembly areas in the British-
patrolled sector alone. FS

CALL FOR PROTECTION OF SERBS IN KOSOVA. Serbian Orthodox
Patriarch Pavle, Archbishop Artemije, and Kosova Serbian
leader Momcilo Trajkovic recently sent an open letter to
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and several Western
leaders urging that KFOR better protect Serbs in Kosova,
AP reported on 28 June. The letter noted: "It is hard to
understand how it is possible that in spite of the
presence of at least 20,000 members of KFOR, the worst
crimes ever are taking place [against local Serbs]." The
three Serbian leaders added that "it is necessary that
[ethnic] Albanian leaders understand that those who are
responsible for the crimes against Serbs will be treated
in the same manner as those who are responsible for
crimes" against Kosovars. The three stressed that the
"Serbian community is ready to cooperate [with the
international community]...only if the basic security is
secured." If it is not, the letter continued, the Serbs
will have to provide their own security. PM

COOK APPEALS TO SERBS. British Foreign Secretary Robin
Cook said in a statement to the Serbian media on 28 June
that Milosevic is chiefly responsible for Serbia's
problems and "is nearing the end of the road." Milosevic
has a "record of sustained, unrelenting failure. The
human cost of this appalling decade [of his rule] can
scarcely be calculated." Cook added that "the Yugoslav
economy is in ruins, Milosevic's friends and family have
stolen or appropriated millions of dollars for their own
selfish purposes." The Serbs should now replace
Milosevic and "rejoin the European high road to peace
and prosperity." PM

ALBRIGHT OPTIMISTIC ON KOSOVA. U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright told a meeting of the Council of
Foreign Relations in New York on 28 June that "by
meeting massive ethnic cleansing in the Balkans with a
red light, we make it less likely that NATO will be
called upon to use force in the future.... Until now,
independence has seemed the only alternative to
repression. But in the future, Kosovars will have
something they have never had, which is genuine self-
government." She added: "some [people] hope, and others
fear, that [Kosova] will be a precedent for similar
interventions [by NATO] around the globe. I would
caution against any such sweeping conclusions." PM

CURFEW INTRODUCED IN TWO MORE TOWNS. U.S. KFOR
peacekeepers introduced a curfew in Gjilan and Vitina
beginning 28 June in order to reduce incidents of the
looting and burning of properties owned by Serbs and
Roma. Italian KFOR troops had introduced such
restrictions in Prizren the previous day (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 28 June 1999). PM

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL WARNS AGAINST FORCED RETURN OF
REFUGEES TO KOSOVA. Amnesty International issued a
statement on 29 June in New York saying that a return to
Kosova is not a solution for all refugees currently in
camps in Macedonia and Albania. The human rights
organization urged international aid organizations to
pay special attention to the needs of elderly people,
women, children, disabled people, and victims of
torture. The statement stressed that the refugees need
information that will "allow them to make an informed
choice about return and the rights to which they are
entitled." It suggested that "the international
community should continue to provide protection to those
refugees unable to return [and supply them with]
identity documents...to benefit from further protection
programs." The UNHCR resettled about 380 refugees from
Macedonia on 28 June and 370 the following day. Most of
them were from Prishtina and Ferizaj. FS

UCK TORTURE CHAMBER FOUND? German KFOR peacekeepers in
Prizren recently found what they suspect is a torture
chamber used by the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), the
"Berliner Zeitung" reported on 28 June. Three Roma, who
told peacekeepers that the UCK tortured them, took KFOR
troops to the site. In New York, Human Rights Watch said
in a statement on 26 June that there is evidence that
UCK members have been involved in the rapes and murders
of an unspecified number of Serbs and Roma. The report
added that there is not enough evidence to suggest that
the UCK leadership "orchestrated" the attacks, but it
called on UCK commanders to punish individual
wrongdoers. PM

CALL FOR TRUTH COMMISSION. Wolfgang Ischinger, who is a
Balkan expert and a state secretary at the German
Foreign Ministry, said that Kosova needs a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission on the South African model,
the "Berliner Zeitung" reported on 28 June. He stressed
that the Serbs in particular must confront their recent
past. PM

YUGOSLAVIA PROTESTS HAVEL'S KOSOVA VISIT. The state-run
news agency Tanjug on 28 June quoted unnamed Yugoslav
Foreign Ministry officials as saying that Czech
President Vaclav Havel's visit to Kosova on 27 June was
"unacceptable." The officials said the visit had
"circumvented usual diplomatic procedure" because it was
not announced in advance. They added that it constituted
a "gross interference in Yugoslav internal affairs."
Havel was the first head of state to visit Kosova since
the deployment of KFOR. FS

YUGOSLAV ARMY DISMANTLES CHECKPOINTS. The Yugoslav army
on 28 June dismantled checkpoints that it had set up
several weeks ago along Montenegro's borders with Bosnia
and Albania, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service from
Podgorica. The move follows the federal parliament's
recent decision to end the "state of war" that was in
effect during NATO's bombing campaign. It is unclear why
the soldiers did not dismantle checkpoints on the border
with Croatia. Many Serbs opposed to the government of
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic nonetheless
believe that the legislature will soon pass laws to
maintain restrictions on both the media and the
political opposition that the authorities imposed under
the state of war. PM

CROATIAN FARMERS' PROTEST CONTINUES. Farmers continued
to block many important roads in various parts of
Croatia on 29 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June
1999). A farmers' union spokesman told RFE/RL that road
transportation in some parts of Croatia could soon come
to a complete standstill. A meeting between union
leaders and Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa on 28 June
ended inconclusively. Matesa told the state-run news
agency Hina that the talks will continue. PM

STRIKERS STOP CIVILIAN AIR TRAFFIC TO TIRANA. Tirana's
airport ground staff went on strike on 28 June, blocking
all civilian air traffic into Albania. The strikers are
demanding a 50 percent wage hike. Aircraft carrying
humanitarian and emergency medical aid, as well as those
transporting Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, will be
allowed to land at the airport, assistant air traffic
controller Genc Xhunga told Reuters. FS

ROMANIAN RULING PARTY QUERIES NATO COMMANDER'S
STATEMENT. First Deputy Chairman of the National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) Gabriel
Tepelea said on 28 June that the PNTCD wants the U.S.
to offer an "official explanation" for the statement
attributed to NATO Supreme Commander Europe General
Wesley Clark (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June 1999). In
that statement, Clark suggested that the 1920
Versailles Treaty agreement is "outdated." Tepelea
said he finds it "hard to believe" the general made
such a statement in Budapest, "the more so as U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, during her
recent visit to Romania, said Romania's sovereignty
and integrity could not be questioned," RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER'S CANDIDACY FOR PARTY CHAIRMANSHIP
QUESTIONED. Responding to Premier Radu Vasile's recent
announcement that he may run for the chairmanship of
the PNTCD at the next party congress, scheduled for
January 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1999),
PNTCD chairman Ion Diaconescu noted that the congress
will be held shortly before the start of the electoral
campaign, adding that therefore "it would be a grave
situation if the party were [subject to tensions] and
torn by internal conflict at that time, " RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN MINORITY LEADERS WORRIED ABOUT SPREAD OF
XENOPHOBIA, ANTI-SEMITISM. In an interview with
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau on 28 June, Minority Affairs
Minister Peter Eckstein-Kovacs said the recent warning
by the National Minorities Council against xenophobia
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1996) was prompted by
nationwide dailies' biased reporting on the Romany and
Hungarian ethnic minorities and anti-Semitism
displayed by such weeklies as "Romania mare" and "Atac
la persoana." Dorel Dorian, who represents the Jewish
minority in the parliament, said that "Atac la
persoana" now has local editions in several provincial
towns. He also noted that the dailies "Cotidianul,"
"Natiunea," and "Romania libera" as welll as the
private television stations Antena 1 and Tele 7 abc
often adopt an anti-Semitic stance. Dorian said there
may be a connection between such reporting and the
desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the plundering of
synagogues. Both politicians called on the government
to prosecute those who are involved in racial
incitement. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CONTINUES DRIVE TO CHANGE
PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM. Addressing the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe on 25 June,
President Petru Lucinschi said his drive to change the
existing system to a presidential one is prompted by
the "inefficiency" of the parliamentary system. Noting
that in the last eight years Moldova has had eight
cabinets, he said that each change has meant a
"destructive confrontation" between the government and
the parliament, Infotag reported. On 28 June,
Lucinschi told journalists in Chisinau that he will
soon set up a commission on amending the constitution,
which he expects to come up with proposals within a
month. Thereafter, he said, he will submit to the
Constitutional Court a draft amendment to the basic
document to issue an opinion on that proposed change.
Lucinschi said that either the parliament approves the
amendment by the necessary two-thirds majority or he
will call a referendum on changing the constitution.
MS

WORLD BANK DISBURSES MOLDOVA LOANS. The World Bank's
board of directors has approved the disbursement of
two tranches of a loan to Moldova aimed at promoting
the privatization of the country's agricultural,
industrial, and energy sectors, Flux reported on 26
June. The two tranches total $40 million. The board
also approved the disbursement of a $11.1 million loan
intended for social protection. In other news, the
National Agency for Energy announced on 25 June that
the price of gas will increase by 45.1 percent,
electricity by 19 percent, and heating by 23.3
percent. The agency said that the hike, which goes
into effect as of 1 July, was necessitated by the
devaluation of leu by almost one-third since prices
were adjusted in December 1998. MS

FIRST KFOR TROOPS TRANSIT BULGARIA. Some 200 Polish
KFOR peacekeepers have arrived in Bulgaria on their
way to Kosova, AP and Reuters reported on 28 June.
They crossed the border at Russe, arriving by train
from Romania. This was the first of several trains
expected to transport the 900-strong Polish
contingent, which will join the U.S. troops in
southern Kosova. MS

END NOTE

ISOLATING SERBIA: AN EFFECTIVE APPROACH?

By Christopher Walker

	In remarks directed to the Serbian people earlier
this month, U.S. President Bill Clinton announced that,
"as long as [Slobodan Milosevic] remains in power...we
will provide no support for the reconstruction of
Serbia."
	The United States and key European allies
reiterated this position earlier this month in Cologne,
Germany, during the summit of the world's seven major
economic powers and Russia. At the same time, the EU
announced its intention to provide $1.5 billion over the
next three years for the reconstruction of Kosova. While
the prevailing sentiment among the Western powers is to
isolate Belgrade, the Russians are making an effort to
have Serbia included in any post-conflict reconstruction
efforts.
	Although the thought of providing support of any
kind to Milosevic--an indicted war criminal--is anathema
to the U.S. and most EU members, a decision to
effectively quarantine Serbia from all but the most
basic of humanitarian assistance will certainly delay
the speed with which the entire Balkan region can be
reconstructed.
	In many ways, progress in the Balkans has been in a
holding pattern since the disintegration of Yugoslavia
as Milosevic has systematically attacked, destroyed, and
then cast off those territorial parcels of the former
Yugoslavia inhabited by ethnic Serbian minorities
outside Serbia proper.
	During this time the international community has
been frustrated in its effort to come up with a coherent
and resolute approach to the region's problems. First
and foremost, Milosevic has proven a thorn in the side
of the international community. A series of economic
sanctions and periods of diplomatic isolation have
characterized the West's policy toward Belgrade since
the beginning of this decade. Although tough economic
sanctions on Yugoslavia have been in place in one form
or another since 1992, the diplomatic isolation of
Milosevic has not been seamless.
	In fact, U.S. and European policy-makers have often
sent mixed messages to the world audience regarding the
Serbian leader. On the one hand, they have claimed that
Milosevic is the root of the problem. On the other,
these same Western countries have at crucial moments
over the past years embraced him--among other things to
negotiate peace agreements in Bosnia-Herzegovina and
Croatia--thus conferring credibility on the very person
they claim is most responsible for destabilizing the
Balkans. In Kosova, Milosevic remained crucial to the
cessation of hostilities, though much of the diplomatic
contact with him was made through Russia once the NATO
campaign began.
	While the West's isolation policy has manifold
drawbacks, its periodic cooperation with Milosevic has
caused its own "collateral damage." Within Serbia,
members of the opposition and others fighting for the
establishment of civil society communicated their strong
displeasure with the West's partnership with Milosevic
at Dayton, arguing it undercut their efforts to bring
about democratic habits at home. In a similar regard,
reform-minded Croats have expressed frustrations
regarding President Franjo Tudjman--a leader with weak
democratic credentials--whose inclusion in the Dayton
accords and largely benign treatment from the West has
handicapped the democratic reform movement in Croatia.
	Outside Serbia, a policy of isolation adversely
affects neighboring countries, which bear the brunt of
Serbia's instability. While these countries may have
little affection for Milosevic, they recognize that the
prolonged denial of assistance to Serbia will continue
to negatively impact their own economic recovery. In
recognition of this fact, at the outset the evolving
Balkans' reconstruction plan is specifically directed
toward "frontline" countries such as Albania, Macedonia,
Bulgaria, and Romania, as well as other impacted
adjacent territories, including Montenegro and, of
course, Kosova.
	This dynamic is not limited to Serbia and the
Balkans. The same holds true for Belarus, whose
neighbors--including Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland--are
greatly concerned about the effects of that country's
diplomatic and economic isolation on regional stability.
Not surprisingly, more than any other leader in the
region, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka--a
kindred spirit of Milosevic--offered the Serbian leader
the warmest public embrace and encouragement.
The most vexing question for the international community
is whether the more intense isolation of Milosevic
proposed in the post-Kosova conflict period will enable
democratic forces within Serbia to regroup and encourage
average Serbs to get rid of their leader.
	Until now, the strategy of sanctions, embargoes and
isolation has in many ways played into Milosevic's hands
by allowing him to deflect blame for the sorry state of
the Serbian economy on the West, as well as perpetuate
the notion of Serbian victimization.
	By and large, each cycle of crisis during the past
decade has enabled Milosevic to reconsolidate his power.
Ultimately, a policy of isolation comes down to the
Western leaders' calculation--and hope--that Milosevic
has finally overplayed his hand, and that the grim
results of the Kosova conflict and continued economic
hardship in Serbia will lead to Milosevic's fall from
power. If history is any guide, one should not expect
his demise in the near term.

The author is a New York-based analyst specializing in
East European affairs (intrel@aol.com)
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