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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 198, Part II, 11 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 198, Part II, 11 October 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 * POLISH COALITION TALKS YIELD 'SLIGHTLY ROTTEN' COMPROMISE * FATE OF ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT UNCERTAIN * LEADING SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES TO BOYCOTT EU MEETING End Note: SHADOWS OF STATUES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE DRAFT TREATY ON BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION UP FOR DISCUSSION... Leanid Kozik, Belarusian representative to the Belarus-Russia Union structures, said on 8 October that public discussion of the union treaty draft, which was published last week, will be continued until the end of October. According to Kozik, media debates will be held, and the Union Executive Committee offices in Minsk and Moscow will collect comments by public associations and individuals. Belarusian presidential aide Mikhail Sazonau said that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, "will discuss the draft, taking into account public opinion, by the end of November." Sazonau added that they may sign the treaty then. Meanwhile, a Belapan poll held in Minsk in late September showed that 56 percent of respondents oppose the union state while 21 percent support it. JM ...WHILE BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION SAYS DRAFT 'SURRENDERING INDEPENDENCE.' The Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) has issued a statement saying that the draft treaty of the Belarus- Russian "surrenders independence of our country," Belapan reported on 10 October. According to the BNF, Belarusian "traitors" are planning to unite Belarus with the country that "has got stuck in a bloody imperialistic war in the Caucasus and disgraced itself through corruption scandals." The BNF said the draft stipulates that Belarusian troops will have to fight on Russia's side in the Caucasus, while Russia's "occupation army" will be deployed in Belarus. The BNF believes that neither the Belarusian people nor the international community will recognize the "traitorous anti- Belarusian papers" signed by the "illegitimate usurper and his puppet pseudo-parliament." JM CIS COUNTRIES TO COOPERATE ON FREE-TRADE ZONE, COMBAT TERRORISM. Prime ministers or their deputies from the CIS countries (with the exception of Belarus) met in Yalta, Crimea, on 8 October to discuss the introduction of a CIS trade-free zone. The participants signed an agreement on reducing customs regulations and other deals oriented toward making the CIS a free-trade zone, AP reported. CIS foreign ministers met in Yalta separately to discuss measures in combating terrorism and crime. They signed a statement pledging to join the 1998 international convention on combating terrorism. Russian Premier Vladimir Putin commented that Belarus's absence at the summit was due to "technical reasons" and "had nothing to do with the development of CIS processes," according to Interfax. JM RUSSIA'S IVANOV HAILS RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE... Following his 9 October visit to Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said relations between Moscow and Kyiv are nowadays characterized by a "different atmosphere" and can be called "fraternal," AP reported. Ivanov discussed with his Ukrainian counterpart, Borys Tarasyuk, the implementation of agreements on the Black Sea Fleet, consular relations, steps to combat terrorism, and the situation in Chechnya. Ivanov said Russia will support Ukraine's bid to become a temporary member of the UN Security Council in 2000-2001. Commenting on Ukraine's presidential election, Ivanov said incumbent President Kuchma's re-election would boost bilateral relations. JM ...WHILE UKRAINE'S TARASYUK BEMOANS 'LACK OF TIME' TO ADDRESS JOINT ISSUES. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said in a 9 October television link between Moscow and Kyiv that "the main problem in Ukrainian-Russian relations is lack of time to address problems that have piled up as a result of the emergence of new states," ITAR-TASS reported. Referring to speculation about Ukraine's possible accession to NATO, Ukrainian Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko said during the same television program that Ukraine "is not and will not be joining any blocs." He added that Ukraine's "non-bloc" status is written into the constitution and "no one will be able to change the constitution, now or in the near future." JM LATVIAN PRESIDENT IN ICELAND. Visiting Reykjavik from 7-11 October, Vaira Vike-Freiberga met with President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and Prime Minister Davith Oddsson. Grimsson proposed that the Nordic Council be enlarged to include the Baltic States, which would mean dispensing with the current cooperation formula of "Five plus Three" and having a membership total of eight, BNS reported. Prime Minister Oddsson stressed Iceland's support for Latvia's NATO integration. Vike-Freiberga also took part in the conference "Women and Democracy at the Dawn of the New Millennium," discussing the role played by women in the Baltics. She also praised both U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for their "commendable initiative and strong personal commitment" to promoting women's issues. MH LUKOIL PULLS OUT FROM LITHUANIA. The Russian oil giant LUKoil announced on 8 October that it is pulling out of Lithuania. BNS quoted a spokesman for LUKoil as saying "we are withdrawing our proposals because we have not received any response.... Apparently, our proposals are unacceptable to the Lithuanian government." He added that LUKoil crude shipments will transit Lithuania only if they benefit the company. LUKoil insisted on acquiring a 33 percent stake in Mazeikiai Oil, Lithuania's oil-processing company, and joint operating rights. The government is currently negotiating with the U.S. company Williams International, which is seeking a majority stake in Mazeikiai Oil. President Valdas Adamkus's spokesperson noted that this is not the first time LUKoil has threatened to pull out from Lithuania, according to ELTA. MH POLISH COALITION TALKS YIELD 'SLIGHTLY ROTTEN' COMPROMISE. In a bid to avert the collapse of Jerzy Buzek's cabinet, the coalition of the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW) agreed on 10 October to minor changes in the cabinet lineup and to new government policies. "The compromise we reached is slightly rotten but we sorted out...the way the coalition is managed," Reuters quoted UW spokesman Andrzej Potocki as saying. The coalition agreed to sack only Environmental Minister Jan Szyszko and Deputy Economy Minister Jan Szlazak, both from the AWS. It also agreed to keep Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz of the UW (whom the AWS wanted removed) and not to create an AWS- proposed ministry for regional development and housing. Buzek said after the talks that "the most important problems have been resolved," but he admitted he is worried by the "lack of cohesion of the government." JM END OF CZECH 'OPPOSITION AGREEMENT' IN SIGHT? The main opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has called on the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) to hold talks on the country's political situation. ODS leader Vaclav Klaus said on 8 October that "time has come for a fundamental turnabout." He said the country is "less and less stable," people are "more and more dissatisfied," and there is a threat of economic stagnation, CTK reported. After meeting with President Vaclav Havel on 10 October, Klaus said his party will not be satisfied with "mere cosmetic changes" in the government. Prime Minister Milos Zeman on 8 October approved the call for talks and said that if the ODS withdraws from its agreement with the CSSD, the latter party will "immediately start talks" with other parties to form a coalition. On 11 October, Zeman told the daily "Lidove noviny" that he does not rule out a "grand coalition" with the ODS but "only as a last resort." MS CZECH PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION LEADER DISAGREE ON CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES. During their 10 October meeting, Havel and Klaus discussed constitutional changes proposed by the ODS and the CSSD that would curtail the presidential powers, CTK and AP reported. Havel said later that the talks "identified the one area where there is no agreement" between himself and the opposition leader. He also said the constitution must not be "changed in a hurry." But Klaus denied the basic document would be changed hastily, pointing out that a ODS-CSSD commission has been discussing the envisaged changes for 16 months. He said he had explained to Havel that the proposed changes do not stem from personal opposition to the president. MS FORMER SLOVAK SIS CHIEF FILES COMPLAINT WITH EUROPEAN COURT. Ivan Lexa, former chief of the Slovak Intelligence Service, has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, saying prosecutors and investigators have violated his constitutional rights by calling him a criminal in the media, AP reported on 8 October, citing the daily "Sme." Both Interior Minister Ladislav Pinter and chief investigator Jaroslav Ivor responded by saying they have never called Lexa a criminal. Lexa is under investigation for his role in the 1995 abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son and for other suspected crimes. MS SLOVAKIA ALLOWS CZECHS TO REGAIN CITIZENSHIP. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda told journalists on 8 October that the Interior Ministry has taken "organizational measures" to allow some 251,000 Czech citizens to get back their Slovak citizenship, CTK reported. Dzurinda said that the Czech parliament approved a law on dual citizenship last summer, but Slovakia does not need to do so and must only take "organizational measures" for such citizenship to be available. MS BELGIAN DEPUTIES EXAMINE SLOVAK ROMA SITUATION. A delegation of Belgian deputies and representatives of non-governmental organizations met with Deputy Prime Minister in charge of human rights Pal Csaky on 9 October to discuss the situation of the Slovak Roma and the reasons for their recent exodus to Belgium, SITA reported. CTK reported the next day that after meeting with Roma representatives in Kosice, delegation member Josi Dubie said the recent deportation from Belgium of Slovak Roma violated international human rights conventions and that his Ecolo (Green) party will leave the coalition if such incidents recur. MS SOCIALIST CANDIDATE WINS IN HUNGARIAN BY-ELECTIONS. Hungary's major opposition Socialist Party (MSZP) won a parliamentary seat at the 10 October by-elections in the town of Siofok. MSZP candidate Jozsef Hazas received 49 percent of the vote, 2.5 percent more than his major opponent, Mayor Arpad Balazs, the joint candidate of FIDESZ, the Independent Smallholders, the Democratic Forum, and the Christian Democratic Federation. MSZP chairman Laszlo Kovacs said his party's victory against the entire spectrum of the right wing indicates that the Socialists are pursuing the correct policy. The by-election in Szekesfehervar was declared invalid because turnout was less than 25 percent. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FATE OF ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT UNCERTAIN. By a vote of 295 to 261, Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano won re-election in a challenge by Prime Minister Pandeli Majko in Tirana on 10 October. Majko had previously said he would resign from the government if he failed to defeat Nano. But party officials told Reuters that Majko may reconsider in view of the narrow margin of his defeat. Observers suggested that Nano managed to hold on to power because of his control over extensive patronage networks. Similar ties recently enabled Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha to win re-election as well. Many Albanians and foreigners blame the rivalry between and authoritarian leadership styles of Berisha and Nano for the polarization of political life. FS/PM ALBANIAN POLICE PLEDGE TO FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIME. Interior Minister Spartak Poci said on 8 October that the police will spare no efforts in their fight against powerful and often elusive criminal gangs. He noted, however, that "there has been a lot of pressure from some state officials to release some gangsters after the police have arrested them," dpa reported. Poci did not elaborate. He noted that a team of U.S. experts will soon arrive in Albania to instruct police, and that some Albanian police will receive training in the U.S. Meanwhile, a bomb damaged a central Tirana bar popular with Socialist leaders. No one was injured. PM LEADING SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES TO BOYCOTT EU MEETING. Spokesmen for the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) and the Democratic Party said in Belgrade on 11 October that their respective parties will not attend a meeting with EU foreign ministers later that day in Luxembourg, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The spokesmen said they object to EU demands that they promise to extradite to The Hague Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and other indicted war criminals once the opposition comes to power. An SPO spokesman told the BBC that if the opposition parties agree to the EU's demands, they will open themselves to charges by Milosevic and his supporters that they have betrayed fellow Serbs to Western countries. The previous day, the pro-Milosevic "Politika" accused prospective participants in the Luxembourg meeting of being "puppets" of the Western countries that bombed Serbian targets in the spring. Observers note the opposition needs financial, political, and technical support from abroad to wage a successful election campaign. PM HOW MANY SERBS WILL ATTEND? Spokesmen for the Serbian Orthodox Church said in Belgrade on 11 October that the Church will not send representatives to Luxembourg. They said the reason is that the Church leadership has yet to discuss the EU's invitation to attend the gathering, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In Podgorica, Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said that he and Foreign Minister Branko Perovic will represent Montenegro at the gathering. The EU had invited President Milo Djukanovic, who is an outspoken critic of Milosevic, to head the Montenegrin delegation. In Belgrade, an unnamed Serbian opposition politician told AP on 11 October that Washington pressured the EU into demanding that the Serbian opposition pledge to extradite war criminals. But representatives of several smaller opposition groups stressed that they will go to Luxembourg in any event. PM EU TELLS SERBIA: NO MAJOR AID WITH MILOSEVIC. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the private Serbian news agency Beta that the U.K. "remains firmly resolved not to make Milosevic's position easier.... Serbia should not expect any significant help in reconstruction so long as Milosevic is in power," AP reported on 11 October. In Bari, Bodo Hombach, who is the coordinator for the EU's Balkan Stabilization Pact, said two days earlier that the EU does not want to isolate Serbia but that it is increasingly impatient for change there. Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema said that the international community should have acted to isolate Milosevic earlier than it did. The Italian leader stressed that Serbia is welcome to become a major actor in Balkan affairs again but only once it is no longer led by indicted war criminals. PM DRASKOVIC DEMANDS 'RESULTS' ON ACCIDENT. SPO leader Vuk Draskovic said in Belgrade on 9 October that he may "take matters into my own hands" if the authorities do not quickly identify and punish those responsible for the recent traffic accident that he says was an attempt to kill him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1999). He said the police report on the accident is a cover-up. Police officials claim that Draskovic and his colleagues were driving at 150 kilometers per hour and were thereby at least partially responsible for the deaths of four of his party. The police have yet to identify the driver or owner of the truck that swerved in front of the SPO leader. PM SOCCER FANS PELT OPPOSITION LEADERS WITH BEER CANS. Some 20,000 people crowded central Belgrade on 9 October to celebrate the Yugoslav national team's 2-2 draw against Croatia in Zagreb in the qualifying match for the European cup championships. The draw enables Yugoslavia to advance to the next stage in the play-offs. Leaders of the opposition Alliance for Change led 5,000 people through the streets in an anti-Milosevic protest that merged with the crowds celebrating the soccer victory. Soccer fans then threw beer cans at several opposition politicians who tried to speak to the gathering. In Zagreb, police arrested 69 persons in conjunction with post-match violence, which resulted in damage to 11 trams and one bus. PM SERBIAN AGENTS INTO KOSOVA? A spokesman for the Kosovar provisional government, which is sponsored by the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), said in Prishtina on 10 October that Serbian secret services are attempting to destabilize Kosova. He charged that the agents provocateurs have recently arrived in the province in ever increasing numbers. He added that the Yugoslav army has failed to respect the demilitarization of the border region between Serbia and Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM KOSOVARS REBURY MASSACRE VICTIMS. Some 500 ethnic Albanians attended the reburial of 27 people in Plocica on 9 October. Uniformed, armed leaders of the newly formed Kosova Protection Force, who are former UCK officers, addressed the gathering. Serbian forces shot 13 of the victims at short range after they fled the shelling of their village in 1998. PM BOSNIAN SERB GOVERNMENT SLAMS MILOSEVIC MEETING. The office of caretaker Prime Minister Milorad Dodik issued a statement on 10 October saying that the government does not approve of the recent meeting of three Bosnian Serb leaders with Milosevic. The three are parliamentary speaker Petar Djokic, ousted Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen, and Zivko Radisic, who is the Serbian representative on the Bosnian joint presidency. PM TUDJMAN'S PARTY BLOCKS AGREEMENT ON ELECTORAL LAW. Officials of the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) on 8 October rejected an opposition request that top officials of state-run television resign their membership in the HDZ. The opposition has demanded the depoliticization of the only nationwide television broadcaster as a key component of electoral law reform. Opposition parties and foreign observers agree that state-run television broadcasts are heavily biased in favor of President Franjo Tudjman and the HDZ. PM FORMER ROMANIAN PRESIDENT NOMINATED AS 2000 CANDIDATE. The opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) voted at the party's national conference on 9 October to nominate former President Ion Iliescu as its candidate in next year's presidential elections, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Iliescu promised that when the PDSR returns to power, it will "not replace today's profiteers with its own." He harshly attacked the ruling coalition's economic policy and warned PDSR members against the "dangers of euphoria" over polls predicting the party's return to power in 2000. Adrian Nastase, who was re-elected PDSR first deputy chairman, said the party intends to "stop the process of de- industrialization and revise the role of the state in the economy." MS MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS ASK LUCINSCHI TO FOREGO CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE. The leaders of the four parliamentary groups have called on President Petru Lucinschi to give up his plan to revise the constitution and introduce a presidential system, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 8 October. The appeal was signed by For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc leader Dumitru Diacov, Democratic Convention of Moldova leader Mircea Snegur, Party of Democratic Forces Chairman Valeriu Matei, and Communist leader Vladimir Voronin. The four warned that "society is being dragged into hot debates that only amplify political confrontation, inflicting considerable damage on the country and its international prestige." MS BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS NATIONALISM 'USELESS.' Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova, addressing students in Blagoevgrad on 8 October, said the Kosova conflict has demonstrated that it is not enough for Bulgaria to be "an enclave of stability in the region," BTA reported. She noted that the country must be "surrounded by stable, democratic countries" to avoid being held "hostage" to its neighbors' problems. In the new context of European integration, she continued, "nationalism is useless" because it "gives the false impression of protecting national interests" but in fact jeopardizes them. She pointed to the example of neighboring Serbia: "The more Serbian public opinion was pushed to uphold the slogan 'One country for all Serbs,' the more disunited the Serbs became. The more the idea of Great Serbia was raised, the less plausible it grew." MS END NOTE SHADOWS OF STATUES by Michael Shafir During a visit to Bucharest in late July, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi agreed with his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, on a symbolic gesture: a "historical reconciliation park" would be set up in the Transylvanian town of Arad, and its foundation stone would be jointly laid by the two countries' premiers. Moreover, the park would include both a monument commemorating 13 Hungarian generals executed in Arad by the Austrians in 1849 and statues of Romanian historical figures in Transylvania. Martonyi had raised the issue of the monument with Plesu, emphasizing its considerable historical significance to Hungarians. Plesu, one of the more enlightened members of the government, readily obliged. The agreement was reconfirmed at a meeting in Timisoara of the two countries' justice ministers, Valeriu Stoica and Ibolya David, who announced that the foundation stone would be laid on 6 October, the 150th anniversary of the generals' execution. Bucharest and Budapest apparently overlooked two "small details": the part of the continent in which the neighboring states are located and the timing. As Timothy Garton Ash recently remarked in an interview on German television, when Americans say "that is history," they mean that things have lost their relevance. When it comes to Eastern Europe, Ash remarked, "that is history" means that trouble is around the corner. Indeed, the manipulation of history has a long tradition in Eastern Europe. When an election is looming, as is the case in Romania, such manipulation is bound to be an almost irresistible temptation. The monument to the generals is also history. Known as "Hungarian Liberty," it is composed of a group of statues of the 13 generals, whom Hungarians consider to be the "martyrs" of their nation. The monument is the work of sculptor Gyorgy Zala and was unveiled in Arad in 1890. The trouble is that one nation's "martyrs" are the other's "villains." The Transylvanian Romanians fought on the side of the Austrians for most of the 1848-1849 Hungarian "liberation war." After World War 1, when the region became part of Romania, the National Liberal Party government of Ionel I. C. Bratianu decided in 1924 to dismantle the monument, on the grounds that the generals had massacred some 40,000 ethnic Romanians, which the Hungarians vehemently deny. Since then, the monument has been stored in a military fort and has deteriorated considerably. Its restoration may take as long as three years. For some time, both the ruling coalition parties--with the inevitable exception of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania--and the nationalist opposition have been courting the ethnic Romanian electorate in Transylvania ahead of the 2000 elections. The opposition could not possibly miss an opportunity to outbid the coalition. Ever ready to contribute to the minimization of the Holocaust, Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor said that the intention to open the park and reinstate the monument is comparable to "demanding that the Jews erect a statue of Hitler at the Auschwitz concentration camp." The Party of Romanian National Unity "firmly condemned" the agreement, saying it is "humiliating...for the Romanians' national dignity.'" The Alliance for Romania commented that it was "surprised by the tactless decision," which "undermines the [Romanian-Hungarian] reconciliation spirit, since it may create inter-ethnic tensions." And the Romanian National Party announced that it opposes reinstating "the Greater Hungary monument" in Arad "or anywhere else in Romania." The main opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), as usual jumping on the nationalist band wagon when it serves its purposes, said the monument has a "profound anti-national and anti-Romanian character." PDSR First Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase accused the ruling coalition of being "an accomplice in serving the interests of Hungarian revisionism." PDSR leader and former President Ion Iliescu, for his part, warned Vasile to stay away from the ceremony, claiming that the Hungarians are "setting a trap" to make claims on Transylvania. The main blow, however, came from the Democratic Party, a member of the ruling coalition. The Democrats said that reinstating the monument would "bring back the tragic memory of a Transylvania where the national rights of Romanians were not recognized." More important, Democrats on the Arad town council joined the opposition in passing a resolution expressing opposition to making available the land earmarked for the park. In face of this opposition, Vasile backed down. Citing health reasons, he designated Stoica to represent him at the stone-laying ceremony. Orban, who on 5 October arrived in Arad and attended an evening function organized by the UDMR, left the same night, delegating David as a "fittingly appropriate" representation. Stoica responded the next morning by announcing that he would not be taking part in the ceremony and by designating the local prefect to represent the government. In the end, the ceremony of laying the foundation stone did not take place. What did take place, however, was a demonstration by PRM sympathizers, who heckled David and members of the Hungarian delegation as they left a church where they had attended Mass and as they laid wreaths at an obelisk dedicated to the generals' memory. Chanting nationalist slogans, the demonstrators were unlikely to have been impressed by the reaction of Plesu's ministry. Deeming "the manipulation of national sentiment for the purpose of building political capital" to be "irresponsible," spokeswoman Simona Miculescu said the two countries' relations must not be influenced by "fears of historical shadows or the shadows [cast by] statues." Perhaps they shouldn't, but they nonetheless are. 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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