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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 202, Part II, 15 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 202, Part II, 15 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 * UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ALLIANCE PICKS TWO CANDIDATES * KOSOVARS TRY TO STORM BRIDGE IN MITROVICA * UN SAYS NATO CAUSED NO ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE IN SERBIA End Note: AUSTRIA'S EX-COMMUNIST NEIGHBORS RESPOND TO HAIDER'S ELECTORAL SUCCESS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ALLIANCE PICKS TWO CANDIDATES. The presidential election alliance of Yevhen Marchuk, Oleksandr Moroz, Volodymyr Oliynyk, and Oleksandr Tkachenko agreed on 13 October that Oliynyk and Tkachenko will support Moroz in the 31 October ballot and that Marchuk will run independently, Interfax reported on 14 October. However, it is unclear from that agreement whether the four will eventually pick a single candidate. According to Tkachenko, the alliance wants to ensure greater security for its members and will make a "final decision" on a single candidate closer to the election day. Tkachenko expressed the view that three candidates will "doubtless" withdraw from the race. And according to Marchuk's aide Anatoliy Murakhovskyy, "there is hope" that the four will field a single challenger against incumbent President Leonid Kuchma. JM OCTOBER POLLS SHOW KUCHMA, VITRENKO IN THE LEAD. In a poll conducted by Socis Gallup from 30 September to 12 October among 1,200 Ukrainians, 43 percent of respondents said they will vote for Leonid Kuchma. Natalya Vitrenko received 20.9 percent support, Petro Symonenko 14.8 percent, Oleksandr Moroz 8.1 percent, and Yevhen Marchuk 5.2 percent. In a poll carried out from 1-8 October by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Studies and the Social Monitoring Center among 3,076 Ukrainians, Kuchma received 33.6 percent support, Vitrenko 15.8 percent, Symonenko 13.6 percent, Moroz 8.2 percent, Marchuk 5.2 percent, and Tkachenko 4.9 percent. JM UKRAINE CRITICIZES PACE REPORT ON ELECTION CAMPAIGN. The Foreign Ministry on 14 October criticized a report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the presidential campaign in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1999), Interfax reported. "Perhaps the conclusions of the PACE rapporteurs would have been more consistent and objective if [the rapporteurs] had stayed in Ukraine for a longer period and not turned down proposed meetings with the Foreign Ministry, the Justice Ministry, and the State Tax Administration," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. JM UKRAINE REPORTS SLOWER RATE OF ECONOMIC DECLINE. The State Statistics Committee on 14 October reported that Ukraine's GDP shrank 1.7 percent in January-September 1999, compared with the same period last year. The country's GDP fell 2.9 percent in the first eight months of 1999, but in September it was up 4.6 percent, compared with September 1998. JM OSCE CHAIRMAN URGES DIALOGUE IN BELARUS. OSCE rotating Chairman Knut Vollebaek has called on the Belarusian authorities to take the necessary steps to resume talks between the government and the opposition, Belapan reported on 14 October. According to Vollebaek, the authorities should meet the following conditions for continuing a dialogue with the opposition: clarify the disappearance of opposition activist Viktar Hanchar, release former Premier Mikhail Chyhir, and stop oppressing the independent press. Meanwhile, the opposition is preparing a "freedom march" in Minsk on 17 October as a show of popular support for political dialogue in Belarus. The authorities have refused to allow the opposition to hold the march in downtown Minsk. Instead, the march will take place at a location far removed from the city center. JM TURNOUT HIGH IN EARLY VOTING FOR ESTONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Officials have announced that from 11-13 October, the period of early voting for the local elections, 9.3 percent of voters cast their votes. Over those three days, 85,829 citizens (representing 10 percent of eligible voters who are citizens) and 11,370 non-citizens (representing 5.8 percent of eligible voters who are not citizens) cast their votes. Non-citizen permanent residents are allowed to vote in the local elections. The main voting day is 17 October. Meanwhile, a Tallinn court is planning to fine 13 parties for failing to provide required documentation on contributions they received Those parties could be fined up to 100,000 kroons ($6,943) each, "Eesti Paevaleht" reported. MH LITHUANIAN BUDGET CUTS APPROVED. The Lithuanian parliament on 14 October voted by 72 to 18 to cut this year's budget by 450 million litas ($112.5 million) to a total of 6.76 billion litas. Opposition Social Democratic parliamentary deputy Aloyzas Sakalas said that "the budget reduction cannot wipe out the principal problems that led the state to [its] current plight," ELTA reported. Other opposition deputies argued the cuts are not enough, suggesting the deficit is already close to 1 billion litas, BNS added. MH POLAND 'SATISFIED' WITH EU ANNUAL REPORT. Deputy Economics Minister Andrzej Ananicz and Poland's chief EU membership negotiator Jan Kulakowski said on 14 October that they are satisfied with the European Commission's assessment of Poland in its annual report on candidate countries' preparations for membership, PAP reported. "The report suggests that target dates set by the government to end accession talks and join the EU [in 2003] are realistic," Reuters quoted Kulakowski as saying. While praising Poland's economy, the report criticized the slow pace of bringing Polish legislation into line with EU standards and unsatisfactory progress in combating corruption, implementing privatization, and restructuring the country's agricultural, coal mining, and metallurgical sectors. JM HAVEL SAYS CZECH REPUBLIC NEEDS MAJORITY GOVERNMENT. Czech President Vaclav Havel told journalists after meeting European Commission Ambassador Ramiro Cibrian in Prague on 14 October that the Czech Republic needs a majority government and that both politicians and the public must show greater interest in the process of EU integration, CTK reported. Cibrian informed Havel of the EU's assessment of the Czech Republic's progress toward integration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 1999). Havel said the assessment reveals the need to have a "confident and energetic government," which is possible only if the cabinet can "rely on a parliamentary majority." The Social Democrat (CSSD) minority government, he said, "lacks these qualities." Havel also said he doubts whether most Czech politicians and the public understand the "seriousness of the situation" revealed by the EU report. He said the politicians' commitment to EU integration will determine whether the Czech Republic is a "full participant in European integration or whether it remains closed in its sleepy provincialism." MS CZECH PREMIER RESPONDS TO EU REPORT. Following the release of the EU annual report on candidate countries' progress toward membership, Prime Minister Milos Zeman told journalists on 14 October that "we have no reason for...optimism. A lot of work needs to be done, not only in the field of foreign policy but also in internal matters," CTK reported. The same day, dpa quoted EU commissioner in charge of enlargement Guenter Verheugen as saying that it is "particularly disturbing" that the construction of the wall in Usti nad Labem separating Romany and other citizens "was completed on the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall." "We do not want to see any more walls in Europe," Verheugen told Czech Ambassador to the EU Josef Kreuter. He said he considers the wall to be "a violation of human rights that you are expected to observe." MS FRENCH FAR-RIGHT LEADER VISITS PRAGUE. Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, told journalists in Prague that "globalization liquidates nations" and particularly those with deep European roots. "That is why it is necessary for nationalists of all countries to unite," he said, adding that he wants a Nationalist International to be set up under the name of "Euronat." Le Pen criticized Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider and Italian post- fascist leader Gianfranco Fini for being ready to betray the nationalist interest by entering coalition governments. He said he considers the Republican Party (SPR-RSP), which invited him to Prague, to be "an equal partner." SPR-RSP leader Miroslav Sladek said he wants to be "Le Pen's good apprentice," CTK reported. MS SLOVAK CABINET TO BE TRIMMED? Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) leader and Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky told journalists on 14 October that he is "pleased" to see that the Party of the Democratic Left is now also supporting the KDH proposal to reduce the number of ministers in the cabinet. He said that the KDH made the proposal as early as 27 May so that the cabinet would set an example at a time when budgetary cuts are leading to the reduction of the labor force in many areas. Asked whether he would lose his seat in the cabinet as a result of a reorganization, Carnogursky said he does not believe this will happen, since only he represents the KDH in the cabinet. Although Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda has returned to the KDH, he is "above all the representative of the Slovak Democratic Coalition," SITA quoted him as saying. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KOSOVARS TRY TO STORM BRIDGE IN MITROVICA. Some 3,000 ethnic Albanians on 15 October tried to force their way across the Ibar River bridge that links the Albanian and Serbian parts of Mitrovica, Reuters reported. French KFOR troops and Italian riot police fired stun grenades and tear gas to force the Kosovars back, according to AP. Other KFOR soldiers fired into the air to warn Albanians and Serbs alike to stay back from the bridge. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Ethnic Albanians demand an end to what has become in effect a partition of Mitrovica into a northern Serbian sector and a southern Albanian one. PM ANNAN CALLS FOR MULTI-ETHNIC KOSOVA. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in Prishtina on 14 October that his goal is to promote a multi-ethnic Kosova. He added that the UN is "not here to prepare the people for independence." Local media have recently suggested that the UN will soon share administrative authority with Hashim Thaci of the former Kosova Liberation Army, which seeks independence. Annan is on a Balkan visit that has already taken him to Bosnia. PM ALBANIA'S MILO WARNS AGAINST NEGLECTING KOSOVA. Foreign Minister Pascal Milo said in Tirana on 14 October that the international community should devote as much energy and attention to the post-war reconstruction and development of Kosova as NATO did to its military action against Serbia in the spring. He also appealed to Kosovars not to engage in violence lest they jeopardize their chances of eventually achieving a political settlement in the province, dpa reported. PM TURKISH PRESIDENT VISITS KOSOVA. Suleyman Demirel told representatives of Kosova's 60,000 ethnic Turks in Mamusa on 15 October that they should live in harmony with their Serbian and Albanian neighbors. He also visited Turkish troops stationed nearby. Kosova was part of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 500 years. Many of the province's ethnic Turks have long resented what they regard as attempts by ethnic Albanians to assimilate them. PM NEW LICENSE PLATES FOR KOSOVA. UN police began issuing new license plates in Kosova on 15 October. The aim is to control a growing market in stolen cars, AP reported. Most cars have no license plates. Owners often claim that Serbian forces confiscated their license plates and registration papers, but UN officials believe that many cars were stolen in Western Europe or from local Serbs. PM SERBS MOVE PRISHTINA UNIVERSITY FACULTIES. The Serbian government decided on 14 October to "temporarily" move the Serbian faculties of Prishtina University to northern Mitrovica and Krusevac, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM SERBIAN OPPOSITION AGREES ON ELECTION TERMS. Representatives of most Serbian opposition parties signed an agreement in Belgrade on 14 October in which they set down their demands to the government for holding early elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 1999). The opposition wants a round- table with the authorities to discuss an early ballot but did not set a deadline for the government to respond. This is the first time in 10 years that the opposition has agreed on a common electoral platform, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Elsewhere, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj said that his Radical Party is willing to discuss key issues with other parties. He did not elaborate. PM SERBIAN PRESIDENT STONED IN NIS. Some 6,000 angry protesters hurled stones at Serbian President Milan Milutinovic in Nis on 14 October. He reopened a bridge damaged by NATO air strikes in the spring of 1999. Milutinovic, who is an indicted war criminal, said "the reconstruction of Serbia does not mean only rebuilding but also making changes. [We need to introduce] a modern market economy and inter-ethnic equality, and to strengthen and develop democratic institutions," Reuters reported. Protesters booed him in June in Nis, which is Serbia's third largest city and an opposition stronghold. PM UN SAYS NATO CAUSED NO ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE IN SERBIA. Pekka Haavisto, who heads UN environmental investigators in the Balkans, said in Stockholm on 14 October that NATO's spring air campaign did not produce an ecological catastrophe, as the Milosevic regime has claimed. Haavisto noted that Serbia was already a heavily polluted country before the war. He added that previous pollution and the effects of bombing have produced dangerous situations in Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad, and Bor. PM SFOR PEACEKEEPERS STONED IN MOSTAR. Angry ethnic Croatian civilians pelted an unspecified number of SFOR troops with stones in Mostar on 14 October, injuring four of the soldiers. At least one civilian was hurt, but the circumstances are unclear, Reuters reported. The peacekeepers were searching a weather station, police building, television station offices, and other unspecified sites for illegal weapons. A NATO spokesman said in Sarajevo that "local authorities have consistently failed to tackle illegal activities, making it necessary for SFOR to act in the Mostar area...to ensure the peaceful establishment of a multiethnic and law-abiding community in the Mostar area," AP reported. The spokesman provided no details of the mission. Western Herzegovina, of which Mostar is the main city, has traditionally been the home of the most militant Croatian nationalists in the Balkans. Since 1995, local officials and armed paramilitaries have doggedly resisted the international community's attempts to enable Muslims to return to their homes in western Herzegovina. PM PETRITSCH CALLS ON BOSNIAN OFFICIALS TO VACATE APARTMENTS. A spokeswoman for the international community's Wolfgang Petritsch said in Sarajevo on 14 October that local politicians who live in apartments belonging to other people should vacate the premises. She noted that such a move would demonstrate their personal commitment to respecting the Dayton peace agreement, which guarantees the right of refugees to go home. Petritsch's office receives "daily" complaints from persons wanting to return to their apartments but who are unable to do so because government officials are living in them, she added. The process of enabling refugees to go home would receive a great boost if officials and government workers would set an example, "Oslobodjenje" commented. PM TUDJMAN SEEKING SPECIAL TREATMENT AT VATICAN? Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has asked that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who is the Vatican's "foreign minister," personally administer Holy Communion to him and his party in the crypt beneath St. Peter's when Tudjman visits Italy later in October, "Jutarnji list" reported on 15 October. The Zagreb daily cited "Church sources" as saying that it is not common for visiting foreign dignitaries to "order" a Mass, to specify who is to say it, or to ask for it to be held in the crypt. The Vatican has included a Mass in St. Peter's in Tudjman's schedule "in order not to have a diplomatic scandal," the newspaper added. The schedule does not give any particulars regarding the Mass. Tudjman uses Roman Catholic events for his own political purposes but does not claim to be a religious man. He has long sought to keep the Church from acquiring a voice in politics. PM CROATIAN GOVERNMENT WANTS MORE TV AIR TIME? A majority of the members of the government said they oppose Croatian public television's (HRT) rule that news coverage given to individual government officials be counted as part of the air time allotted to their respective political parties. Foreign Minister Mate Granic, who disagreed with his colleagues, said that HRT's policy is fully in keeping with international standards, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. HRT is widely regarded as a mouthpiece of the governing Croatian Democratic Community. PM CROATIAN OIL COMPANY TO CALL IN DEBTS. The state-owned oil monopoly INA is seeking to call in debts, which now exceed $200 million, AP reported on 14 October. The biggest debtors are the state-owned electric company, which owes $28.6 million, and the Petrokemija plant, whose debts amount to $21.4 million. It is unclear what INA will do if customers fail to pay. The oil company itself has made losses of more than $58 million in the past eight months and has debts amounting to $114 million. PM ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN CHINA. Andrei Plesu met with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and Foreign Minister Tang Jianxuan in Beijing on 14 October, the BBC reported, citing Xinhua. According to the Chinese news agency, Plesu said Romania "firmly supports" China's position on both Taiwan and Tibet (Plesu had visited the latter before arriving in China). Mediafax, however, quoted him as saying that relations between Romania and China remain good "despite differences." Plesu noted that economic relations are "lagging behind" the two countries' political relations. Plesu and Tang signed an agreement for a "$600,000 non-refundable credit" to Romania, according to Mediafax. MS ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT DECIDES TO COMPENSATE ANTI-COMMUNIST GUERRILLAS. The Chamber of Deputies on 14 October approved a law on the rehabilitation of and compensation to those who used military means to resist the Communist regime. Under the law, that compensation will be equal to that received by those who were political prisoners under communism. The law was drafted by 17 deputies representing the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic and has still to be approved by the Senate. Observers note that the law is controversial because many anti-Communist guerrillas of the late 1940s and the 1950s were Iron Guard members or sympathizers. Persons (or their descendants) eligible for compensation must first apply for rehabilitation. If they are rehabilitated, all confiscated property must be returned to them (or their descendants). Those executed or killed in prison after being captured are to be granted the title of "Martyr-Hero." MS MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OKAYS INITIATIVE TO AMEND CONSTITUTION. The Constitutional Court on 14 October ruled that the initiative of 39 parliamentary deputies to amend the basic law is in accordance with constitutional provisions, Infotag reported. Under existing legislation, the initiative can be moved in the legislature six months after the court's ruling. The aim of the initiative is to stop President Petru Lucinschi's drive to switch to a presidential system by strengthening the powers of the government. The proposed amendments stipulate that the government will have the right to ask the parliament to pass legislation under emergency procedure. In addition, the parliament will be able to grant the government temporary legislative powers. MS BULGARIAN PREMIER SAYS COUNTRY MAY HAVE TO AMEND CONSTITUTION. Addressing the parliament on 14 October, Ivan Kostov said Bulgaria may have to amend its constitution "because some of its provisions do not allow access to the EU," AP and BTA reported. Kostov did not specify which articles of the basic document must be amended, but earlier he had suggested that it may be necessary to strike the provision forbidding the sale of land to foreigners. Kostov added that the problem of the Kozloduy nuclear plant will have "to be sorted out" with the EU, saying "we have no option..., we must not miss this chance." MS END NOTE AUSTRIA'S EX-COMMUNIST NEIGHBORS RESPOND TO HAIDER'S ELECTORAL SUCCESS by Michael Shafir The electoral success of Joerg Haider's far-right, populist, and xenophobic Freedom Party in Austria's 3 October parliamentary elections triggered different reactions from that country's former communist neighbors. Only Istvan Csurka, leader of Hungary's Justice and Life Party, dared go as far as to openly voice satisfaction, saying he was "delighted" with the results because "all nations have a right to defend their own living space and their particular way of life against foreigners." In this context, Csurka used the Hungarian equivalent of the Nazi term "Lebensraum," for which he had been harshly criticized in the past. And he suggested that the Austrian elections might foreshadow Hungary's future political scene, in which "the liberals could be swept out from the parliament." The event was ignored by like-minded parties elsewhere in the region. In Slovakia, the National Party (SNS) was preoccupied with an internal power struggle that saw its former leader, Jan Slota, replaced by Anna Malinkova, a woman--the ultimate insult to the macho Slota. But as the daily "Pravda" remarked on 6 October, Malinkova is much closer to Haider than the coarse Slota ever was. And like Haider, she will probably embark on a process of making the party's image more sophisticated, while conserving its ultra- nationalist, anti-minority, and anti- European integration postures. In the Czech Republic, the anti-German postures of Miroslav Sladek's Republican Party (SPR-RSC) would not allow that group to display pro-Haider sympathies. After all, the SPR-RSC was dealt a serious blow when it was revealed that, its rhetoric notwithstanding, the party had been financed from the purse of the German ultra-right Republicans. At the time of the Austrian elections, the SPR-RSC was preparing for a visit by the leader of France's National Front chairman, Jean Marie Le Pen, which began on 14 October. Haider's rhetoric against European integration (or, as Csurka calls it, his "anti-globalism"), his insistence on property restitution to German-speakers forced to leave Austria's neighboring countries, and his demands that the status of the largely insignificant German minorities there be improved are reason enough to make those countries' governments apprehensive. Even without Haider, those countries' relations with Vienna are strained: Austria threatens to veto EU accession unless the controversial nuclear plants at Krsko (Slovenia), Temelin (Czech Republic), and Mochovce and Jaslovske Bohunice (Slovakia) are immediately shut down. And there is also the problematic issue of the 1945 Benes decrees, which an Austrian government that includes the Freedom Party would pursue far more rigorously than has been the case to date. Indeed, on 13 October, in London, Haider said the Czechs' admission to the EU could not proceed before they abrogated those decrees. Just as applause for Haider came only from Budapest, so did the strongest criticism. Prime Minister Viktor Orban on 6 October said that Haider's position against EU enlargement "is in conflict with Hungary's own interests." "To put it bluntly," he continued, "we are interested in an Austrian government coalition made up of parties...supporting Hungary's EU membership." Reactions from Slovenia were initially more restrained. Foreign Minister Boris Frlec on 4 October said he feared the elections "could have awe-inspiring consequences, particularly for the Slovenian ethnic minority" in Austria. But two days later, Premier Janez Drnovsek expressed the hope that Haider may "turn out to be more pragmatic and reasonable than the initial impression suggests." By 12 October, however, Deputy Foreign Minister Franko Juri was calling Haider's post-electoral statements on Austrian-Slovenian relations "blackmail." Intimidated by the prospect of an Austrian veto against its EU membership, Slovak Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jan Figel on 5 October said he does not expect Haider to enter the government but Bratislava "will discuss [contentious issues] with any democratically elected government." Jaroslav Volf, leader of the Social Democratic Party had said the previous day that Haider's electoral success "could not please him" but it at least demonstrated that "political extremism does not apply to Slovakia alone." The bluntest comment came from Estonia. Alluding to criticism of his country's treatment of the Russian minority, Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves commented on 11 October that "if a political force similar to the Freedom Party had come second in elections in Estonia, one can well imagine what a row the OSCE would have made." In the Czech Republic, there was unexpected "fallout" from the Austrian elections. On 4 October, Premier Milos Zeman remarked that the vote demonstrated that a party advocating "xenophobe and racialist moods" can garner serious support even in an economically prosperous country and that this was "food for thought." Freedom Union Deputy Chairman Petr Mares volunteered the comment that a de-facto two-party coalition has also emerged in the Czech Republic and that, as in Austria, this may push the electorate to support a radical alternative. Only in the Czech case, Communist leader Miroslav Grebenicek would play the role of Haider. Mares's ideas were unexpectedly embraced by Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader Vaclav Klaus. He said that the elections' outcome demonstrated that Austria's 13-year-old "grand coalition" of the Social Democratic Party and People's Party has "lasted too long." While refraining from criticizing the results, Klaus was ready to use them to embark on ending a partnership that was only 16 months old but, doubtless according to his viewpoint, has also "lasted too long." The minority government of the Social Democrats has been ruling by the grace of the ODS. That grace's time is now up. Vienna politics have thrown Prague politics into turmoil, but not for the first time in history. And that, to quote Zeman, is indeed "food for thought." xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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