The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 214, Part II, 3 November 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 214, Part II, 3 November 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

* UNION TREATY DRAFT APPROVED BY BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY
CHAMBER

* MONTENEGRO INTRODUCES GERMAN MARK

* DEL PONTE URGES ARRESTS OF MORE WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS

End Note: MONITORS EVALUATE UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UNION TREATY DRAFT APPROVED BY BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY
CHAMBER. The lower house of the Belarusian National Assembly
unanimously passed a draft treaty on a union between Russia
and Belarus, Reuters reported. Leonyd Kozyk, President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka's representative for the union with
Russia, said before the vote that "the union treaty...is a
new stage in our relations with Russia, creating the basis
for integration." Kozyk said, however, that Belarus is
disappointed by the sluggish pace of integration and that
differences remain in customs regulations and trade levies.
He added that Russia still refuses to provide Belarus with
oil and gas at "domestic" prices. And he noted that
Belarusian citizens have been active in the discussion of the
draft treaty, although he did not say how. PB

EU CONCERNED WITH BELARUSIAN RIGHTS RECORD. An EU mission on
a visit to Minsk said on 2 November that it is "concerned
about the overall unsatisfactory record of human rights in
Belarus," dpa reported. EU delegation head Rene Nyberg said
"the inability of the authorities to shed light on
disappeared [members of the opposition] is of particular
concern." Hugues Mingarelli, the European Commission service
head, said "our common objective is a free and just 2000
election." The EU also announced that Belarus has agreed to
accept EU funding to support free media and independent
unions. It is the first major agreement between the EU and
Belarus since Brussels curbed cooperation with Minsk two
years ago on account of its human rights record. The EU
program earmarks $5.5 million for media and unions in
Belarus. PB

U.S. URGES FREE AND FAIR RUNOFF ELECTION IN UKRAINE. The U.S.
State Department on 2 November called for Ukrainian officials
to ensure a free and fair second round of presidential
elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. The State
Department said such an election would contribute to
Ukraine's development as a stable democracy. In other news,
ITAR-TASS reported on 2 November that Russian Premier
Vladimir Putin telephoned President Kuchma the same day to
congratulate him on his showing in the first round of the
election. A press spokesman said the two also discussed
bilateral trade matters. PB

UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS DETAIN SUSPECTED KUCHMA ASSASSIN. The
Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said on 2 November that it
has arrested a man suspected of planning an attack on
President Leonid Kuchma, AP reported. The SBU said the man
has admitted to having accomplices. It did not release his
name. During the election campaign, several opposition
candidates claimed there were plots to assassinate them, but
no evidence was produced and such reports were dismissed as
an election ploy to gain sympathy from voters. The only
attack against a presidential candidate occurred on 2
October, against Natalya Vitrenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4
October 1999). PB

ESTONIAN MINISTER SEEKS TAX RELIEF FOR U.S. ENERGY INVESTOR.
Estonian Economics Minister Mihkel Parnoja has asked the
Environment Ministry for a significant reduction in the
resource taxes and pollution compensation fees that are to be
levied on NRG Energy, the U.S. company that plans to
privatize a power plant in the northeastern Estonian city of
Narva. According BNS on 2 November, a spokesman for the
Estonian Green Movement claims that NRG Energy is unwilling
to pay the proposed fees and the Economics Ministry is
calling on the Environment Ministry to meet the investor
half-way. Raivo Vare, Estonia's chief negotiator in talks
with NRG Energy, said the request was not made by NRG but
rather was prompted by concern about the future in Estonia of
oil shale-based energy production. MJZ

LATVIAN SECURITY POLICE CHIEF RESIGNS. Imants Bekess has
submitted a letter of resignation to Interior Minister Mareks
Seglins, after only two months in office, according to LETA.
Seglins accepted his resignation on 2 November, and appointed
Bekess's deputy, Janis Reiniks, as acting chief. Bekess said
he resigned for "wholly personal" reasons and denied that he
was pressured to leave his post. Andris Skele's government
had demanded action from Bekess and the security police in
stopping the contraband gasoline trade, and comments by
government officials following Bekess's resignation reflect
impatience on that score. BNS reported that opposition deputy
Janis Adamsons had earlier claimed that unnamed parties tried
to force Bekess to allow compromising materials to be purged
from security police archives, while deputy Oskars Grigs
announced that Skele himself exerted pressure on Bekess.
Skele, however, vehemently denies that was the case. MJZ

LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA WANTS BALTICS AS 'GRAY
ZONE.' Indulis Berzins claimed in an interview published in
the October/November issue of the Nordic Council magazine
"Politik i Norden" that Russia "wants to retain the Baltic
countries as a gray zone...because in the event Moscow
becomes much stronger again it may use different mechanisms
than now to increase its influence in the region," BNS
reported on 2 November. Berzins said that as long as Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania remain outside the EU and NATO, a zone
of instability and insecurity will exist in the Baltic Sea
Region. He added that the Nordic countries should work to
ensure that Latvia is included in the first round of EU
expansion. MJZ

FORMER RUSSIAN PREMIER PRAISES LITHUANIA. Baltic and Russian
agencies reported on 2 November quoted Yevgenii Primakov,
leader of the Fatherland-All Russia electoral bloc, as saying
after his meeting with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus
that he regards Lithuania as an excellent partner for Russia.
Of the three Baltic countries, Lithuania has the closest
relations with Russia, according to Primakov. The former
Russian premier assured Adamkus that the State Duma will
ratify the Russian-Lithuanian border agreement. Primakov also
said that with regard to the deal giving U.S.-based Williams
International a stake in Lithuania's oil sector, Adamkus
assured him that Lithuania is open for contacts with Russia
and that Lithuania does not wish to have a one-sided
orientation in trade and investment. AB

POLAND'S RULING PARTIES COMPROMISE ON TAX DEAL. The junior
member of Poland's governing coalition, the Freedom Union
(UW), said on 3 November that it has accepted a modified
version of the UW's tax reform plans proposed by its ruling
partner, the Solidarity Election Action (AWS), Reuters
reported. The row between the two parties over tax reforms
had threatened the stability of the government. Deputy
Premier and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz, who is also
the leader of the UW, said the compromise is "more evidence
of our goodwill." Balcerowicz indirectly threatened to pull
his party out of the government unless the UW's tax plan is
accepted. Under the revised plan, personal income tax
brackets would be lowered to 19 percent, 29 percent, and 36
percent next year, to 19 percent, 28 percent, and 35 percent
in 2001, and to 18 percent and 28 percent the following year.
The UW had wanted to introduce the two-bracket system one
year earlier to spur economic growth. PB

POLISH SUPPORT FOR JOINING EU FALLS... A survey taken in
October showed that only 47 percent of respondents would back
Poland's entry into the EU if a referendum were held on the
issue, PAP reported on 2 November. In a similar poll taken
one year ago, 64 percent of respondents said they supported
the country's entry into the union. PB

...AS UNEMPLOYMENT RISES. The National Labor Office reported
on 2 November that last month the number of unemployed rose
by 34,000 people to 12.1 percent of the workforce. The
highest unemployment rate was recorded in Warmia and Mazury
Province, in northeastern Poland, where 21.4 percent of
workers are jobless. PB

MINOR OPPOSITION PARTIES WANT TO DISMISS CZECH GOVERNMENT.
The Freedom Union and the Christian Democratic Party are
ready to submit a no confidence motion in Milos Zeman's
cabinet, Czech media on 2 November quoted Jan Ruml and Jan
Kasal, the chairmen of the two parties, as saying. They
noted, however, that the two formations do not have enough
votes in the parliament to submit such a motion (the support
of 51 deputies would be required, while the two parties have
38 deputies in the lower house). Ruml and Kasal called on
deputies representing the largest opposition formation, the
Civic Democratic Party (ODS), and the ruling Social
Democratic Party to support the motion. But ODS chairman
Vaclav Klaus, in an interview with Czech radio, called the
proposal a "theatrical gesture" and said he does not believe
any ODS deputy will join the initiative. MS

EU PREPARED TO DISCUSS 'TRANSITION PERIOD' WITH CZECHS.
German Foreign Ministry State Secretary Christoph Zoepel told
CTK on 2 November that the EU is prepared to discuss with the
Czech Republic a "transition period" with regard to the
question of the purchase of land by EU nationals. He added
that in order for such a period to be introduced, Prague must
produce "proof" that such a transition period is really
needed. Zoepel said the belief that allowing foreigners to
purchase land would result in soaring prices is "biased" but
he added that in exchange the EU might demand a transition
period for the free movement of the Czech labor force in the
EU. Zoepel was speaking after meeting in Prague with Czech
Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of EU negotiations Pavel
Telicka. MS

VERHEUGEN SAYS SLOVAK REFORMS PACE WILL DETERMINE EU
MEMBERSHIP. Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner in charge of
enlargement, told journalists in Bratislava on 2 November
that there is no opposition in the EU to Slovakia's beginning
membership negotiations as early as 2000. He said the pace at
which Slovakia adopts the necessary reforms will determine
whether it is accepted as an EU member. Prime Minister
Mikulas Dzurinda said his country's strategic goal is to
catch up with the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, and
become a member of the "fast track" group, CTK and AP
reported. Verheugen also said Slovakia must work hard in
reforming its civil service and other administrative sectors
as a precondition to EU membership. He praised the
government's decision to close down the two nuclear reactors
at Jaslovske Bohunice within the next decade. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT CALLS FOR REFORMS, GOVERNMENT UNITY. In his
"state of the nation" address to the parliament on 2
November, Rudolf Schuster said economic reforms must
continue, even if they cause a temporary drop in the
government's popularity. Schuster blamed the former
government of Vladimir Meciar for much of the present
economic malaise but added that Dzurinda's cabinet is also at
fault for being slow in rectifying its predecessor's mistakes
and for divisions within the coalition. The president also
commented that decisions are often taken at party level
rather than at that of the cabinet, making the coordination
of their implementation difficult. And he said that high
unemployment is Slovakia's most serious problem and reflects
"failed or unfinished social transformation." MS

MOSCOW SLAMS BUDAPEST OVER NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMMENT. Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told
journalists in Moscow on 2 November that Russia is "seriously
concerned" about Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban's recent
comment in an Canadian newspaper saying that NATO nuclear
weapons might be deployed on Hungarian territory in an
"emergency situation," Interfax reported. Those remarks,
Rakhmanin continued, are a "direct violation of the Russia-
NATO Founding Act, in which NATO countries confirmed they had
no intentions, plans, or causes to deploy weapons in the
territories of new members." He added that they also
"directly confirm Russia's concerns relating to NATO
enlargement." Orban had told the Canadian newspaper that the
alliance needs nuclear weapons "because of the uncertainties
around the future of Russia" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1
November 1999). MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MONTENEGRO INTRODUCES GERMAN MARK... The Montenegrin
government on 2 November introduced the German mark as its
second legal currency (see "RFE/R" Newsline," November 1999).
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and other officials
from the republic said Montenegro was forced to take the step
to protect itself from bad monetary policy and instability in
neighboring Serbia. Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip
Vujanovic said the move has "absolutely nothing to do" with
"destructive" measures such as "secession," Radio Montenegro
reported on 2 November. Meanwhile, Djukanovic said the move
will "increase the time span" during which Montenegro can
wait for changes in Serbia before taking further steps toward
independence. VG

...WHILE U.S. EXPRESSES 'UNDERSTANDING'... The U.S. State
Department on 2 November expressed understanding for
Montenegro's currency decision. A State Department official
said the U.S. "recognizes the serious economic concerns" that
led Montenegro to such a decision. The official added that
the move "underscores the need for democratic change in
Yugoslavia." VG

...AND MOST YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS KEEP QUIET. Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic made no official mention of developments
in Montenegro on 2 November after a meeting with Serbian
President Mirko Marjanovic, according to a Radio Belgrade
report cited by the BBC. Instead, Milosevic congratulated
Marjanovic on his efforts to reconstruct the country after
the NATO bombing. The same day, however, the Yugoslav United
Left party, which was formed by Milosevic's wife, denounced
Montenegro's currency decision as the work of "separatists,"
Tanjug reported. Meanwhile, opposition Serbian Renewal
Movement spokesman Ivan Kovacevic welcomed the Montenegrin
decision and said Serbia should also introduce the German
mark. Kovacevic said Montenegro's efforts to redefine its
relationship with Serbia do not represent a threat to the
existence of the Yugoslav federal republic. VG

STUDENTS DEMONSTRATE IN BELGRADE. Between 2,000 and 3,000
Serbian students marched through the streets of Belgrade on 2
November to demand early elections. The rally, which was
organized by 16 student organizations, was one of the first
student-led rallies since the winter of 1996-1997.
Demonstrators marched past the headquarters of the governing
Socialist Party chanting calls for Yugoslav President
Milosevic to be sent to the international war crimes tribunal
in The Hague. VG

SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES ASK EU TO LIFT SOME SANCTIONS.
During a 2 November meeting with EU representatives in
Budapest, a group of Serbian opposition politicians called on
the EU to lift some of its economic sanctions against
Yugoslavia, MTI reported. Slobodan Vuksanovic, deputy
chairman of the Democratic Party, said the group repeated its
request that the EU "differentiate between the Milosevic
regime and the Serbian citizens, as the latter do not deserve
to be punished." VG

YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES RELEASE BRITISH CORRESPONDENT. A British
correspondent for "The Times" newspaper was released from
prison on 2 November because of health problems, the Serbian
Justice Ministry told Beta. Dessa Trevisan had been sentenced
to 10 days in jail the previous day for travelling in
Yugoslavia without a valid entry stamp in her passport (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November 1999). Trevisan described
conditions in the Belgrade prison as "inhumane" but added
that she was not mistreated during the night she spent in
jail, AP reported on 2 November. She said the judge told her
British passports are "not appreciated" in Yugoslavia. VG

STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR CALLS FOR 'RESTRUCTURED'
SANCTIONS. The international community's coordinator for the
Balkan Stability pact, Bodo Hombach, said on 2 November that
while sanctions against Yugoslavia have been "effective,"
they need to be restructured to minimize the impact on
average Serbs. VG

U.S. DIPLOMAT CALLS FOR AN END TO ANTI-SERB VIOLENCE IN
KOSOVA. William Walker has condemned recent attacks on ethnic
Serbs in Kosova, AP reported on 2 November. Walker is well
known and well respected among ethnic Albanians in Kosova for
having condemned Serbian violence against Albanians in the
province before the NATO bombing campaign began in March.
Walker, who is on a visit to Kosova, said attacks on Serbs in
the region play "into the hands of Milosevic." However, he
also said the overall situation in Kosova has improved since
he was last in the province. "When I was here before it was
night, and now I think it's day," he commented. VG

DEL PONTE URGES ARRESTS OF MORE WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS... Carla
del Ponte, the chief prosecutor for the Hague-based war
crimes tribunal, on 2 November urged SFOR troops in Bosnia-
Herzegovina to engage in a "more active effort" to arrest war
crimes suspects, Reuters reported. She added that the
tribunal will issue more indictments next year. Since 1996,
SFOR has arrested 14 war crimes suspects and killed two
others while trying to arrest them. Some suspects, including
former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, are still at
large. Del Ponte, who is on a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina,
said that SFOR Commander Ronald Adams assured her that SFOR
will continue to support the tribunal's efforts. VG

...WHILE ADAMS ANNOUNCES REDUCTION IN SFOR TROOPS. Adams on 2
November announced that SFOR troop strength will be reduced
by one-third by April 2000 because of the improving security
situation in Bosnia. There are currently about 30,000 troops
from some 40 countries supervising the peace in Bosnia-
Herzegovina. VG

TUPURKOVSKI OFFERS TO STEP DOWN OVER ELECTION RESULT.
Democratic Alliance chairman Vasil Tupurkovski on 2 November
offered to step down as party leader after finishing third in
the Macedonian presidential elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
2 November 1999), Reuters reported. He described his offer as
a "normal gesture" for a politician who fails to achieve a
stated goal. Tupurkovski added that his party is re-examining
future relations within the governing coalition, of which the
alliance is a member. The relatively poor showing of Deputy
Foreign Minister Boris Trajkovski in the vote is causing
strains within the governing VMRO-DPMNE, according to a
source close to the government cited by Reuters. VG

IMF GIVES ALBANIA POSITIVE ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT. A visiting
IMF delegation on 2 November announced that economic growth
in Albania is expected to reach 8 percent this year, while
inflation will be around zero by the end of the year, dpa
reported. The delegation said the budget deficit is under
control and the government has made "notable progress" on its
privatization program. The news agency also reported that the
positive economic results are largely a result of the
increased foreign assistance and hard currency flowing into
the country as a result of the Kosova crisis. Albanian
Finance Minister Anastas Angjeli said the government has
agreed with the IMF that economic growth and inflation will
total 8 percent and 3 percent, respectively, next year. VG

ALBANIAN POLICE CONDUCT BORDER AREA SWEEP. Albanian police
arrested 21 people in a 2 November sweep through the
northeastern part of the country near the border with Kosova,
dpa reported. The detained persons are suspected of smuggling
as well as involvement in a series of robberies of ethnic
Albanians from Kosova. The sweep comes as Albania prepares to
sign an agreement with Germany on the repatriation of some
200,000 Kosova Albanians. The Kosovars are to pass through
Albania on their way home. VG

ROMANIAN SUPREME COURT QUERIES LAW ON ACCESS TO SECURITATE
FILES. The Supreme Court on 2 November appealed to the
Constitutional Court to consider the constitutionality of the
recently passed law on access to the files of the former
secret police, Mediafax reported. The law does not allow
access to the files of employees of the post-communist secret
services, with the exception of the directors of those
services and their deputies. The Supreme Court says that this
restriction infringes on Article 31 of the constitution,
which provides for the freedom of information. The
Constitutional Court will consider the appeal on 28 November.
MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES LUCINSCHI. Dumitru
Diacov on 2 November said the government will ask the
parliament to vote confidence in it on 4 November. He also
accused President Petru Lucinschi of having organized an
anti-parliamentary campaign, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau
reported. Last week, the legislature rejected the
government's draft law envisaging budget cuts as well as
bills on the privatization of five of the country's leading
wineries and the Chisinau cigarette factory. Diacov, who
heads the formerly pro-presidential For a Democratic and
Prosperous Moldova Bloc, said that if these laws are rejected
again, the cabinet will resign because that would mean an end
to financing from the IMF and the World Bank. In such a case,
he added, responsibility will rest with Lucinschi and those
parties and independent deputies who support him. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER IN FRANCE. Ivan Kostov said after talks
with his French counterpart, Lionel Jospin, and President
Jacques Chirac in Paris on 2 November that he is "leaving
France very happy," BTA reported. Kostov told journalists
that Jospin assured him that the EU will start accession
talks with "all applicants of the second wave" at the same
time. He said that France's "categorical position" is that
all those countries, including Bulgaria and Romania, will be
invited to join the EU. Kostov discussed with Chirac EU
conditions for starting negotiations with Bulgaria. He said
that they both agreed that "progress in economic reforms will
be no problem." Kostov said that France "will not be the
country to press" for closing down the Kozloduy nuclear
plant, and he noted that Jospin expressed readiness to offer
Bulgaria "expert assistance" on the matter. MS

END NOTE

MONITORS EVALUATE UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS

by Lily Hyde

	Monitoring organizations unanimously agree that voting
in Ukraine's 31 October presidential election was conducted
in a peaceful and orderly fashion. The Committee of Ukrainian
Voters (CVU), the International Republican Institute, and a
joint statement by the Council of Europe and the OSCE all
said that their monitors had seen minor infringements of the
election law but these were insufficient to affect the
outcome. They agreed that most violations seemed to be the
result of ignorance or incompetence rather than deliberate
fraud.
	The CVU did not gain official accreditation for its
monitors because the Ukrainian government was giving such
credentials only to foreign or international groups. The OSCE
has called this discrepancy a "backward step" in the election
law. But the CVU managed to send to polling stations some
16,000 people accredited as journalists.
	Igor Popov, head of the CVU, said that those observers
found a large number of violations of the election law...but
our general conclusion is that these violations have not
significantly influenced the results of the election. We want
to emphasize that the candidates who will go on to the second
round were those really supported by Ukrainian voters."
	Popov noted that the gap between the first and second
places, taken by incumbent Leonid Kuchma and challenger Petro
Symonenko, and the third place is so large that the 300,000
to 400,000 votes considered questionable by the CVU could not
invalidate the results.
	The CVU's Yevhen Radchenko divided violations into three
types: electioneering on voting day, misconduct in the voting
and counting processes, and, worst of all, interference by
government officials.
	"The third group of violation, to our mind, is the most
serious and dangerous that we detected," he commented. "These
are violations committed by officials who are not legally
participating in the election process. These officials often
directly or indirectly intervened in the election process."
	In polling stations across the country, many election
committees consisted of employees from one government
institution, while committee heads were most often Kuchma
appointees. For example, in one polling station in Irpin, a
small town just outside Kyiv, more than half of the committee
members worked at the forestry institute at which voting took
place, and the head of the institute was present all day
during polling as an official observer for Kuchma. Speaking
to RFE/RL, the institute head said he had told all his staff
to cast their ballots for Kuchma. But he rejected the idea
that his presence during voting in any way influenced the
vote.
	All the monitoring groups expressed deep concern at the
conduct of the election campaign, which, they said, was
characterized by media manipulation, illegal government
participation, and even violence. The OSCE's report was
especially damning on government interference prior to
voting. It said that political intervention on behalf of
incumbent President Kuchma had been undertaken by security
forces, the post office, and housing authorities.
	Simon Osborne, head of the OSCE mission in Ukraine, told
journalists in Kyiv on 1 November that the election observers
mission received "numerous verified reports that public
officials in state institutions were campaigning in favor of
the incumbent president."
	For example, Osborne said, "observers noted that heads
of state administrations in eight oblasts at various levels
openly urged voters to vote for the president." Furthermore,
the election mission "received numerous allegations that
postal workers were distributing campaign materials for
President Kuchma and that [housing authority] employees were
canvassing support for the incumbent president in at least
four oblasts. In the latter case, the involvement in the
election campaign could easily be perceived as intimidation,"
according to the OSCE official.
	The OSCE also heavily criticized the lack of independent
coverage in state-run media. The organization said this
reporting overwhelmingly favored Kuchma.

The author is an RFE/RL corespondent based in Kyiv.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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