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Volume II Number 22 (December 4, 1997)

Russian Federation
Executive Branch
Susan Cavan
Armed Forces
LtCol Dwyer Dennis
LCDR Curtis Stevens
Newly Independent States
Mark Jones
Western Region
Mark Jones
Central Asia
Monika Shepherd
Baltic States
Kate Martin

"I announce here for the first time that, unilaterally, we will reduce the quantity of our nuclear warheads by one third"
Barely had President Yel'tsin made his surprise announcement in Stockholm of the unilateral reduction of Russian nuclear stockpiles, when his spokesman Yastrzhembsky launched his own spin on the comments. (United Press International, 2 Dec 97; Nuclear reductions would be a parallel process, said Yastrzhembsky, not unilateral. (RIA-Novosti, 2 Dec 97) The president was evidently fatigued when he made his remarks.

He must also have been fatigued last October, when he announced that Russia would sign the International Land Mines ban. (ITAR-TASS, 10 Oct 97) There is currently no expectation that Russia will assent to the treaty at the signing ceremony this week in Canada. (Agence France Presse, 30 Nov 97;

Evidently most news agencies have learned to take the Russian president's remarks with a grain of salt. Most stories (See for example The Associated Press, 3 Dec 97) on Yel'tsin's Stockholm pledge added his spokesman's caveats and backpedaling. This presidential pattern of mis-speaking, or making unsustainable promises, when abroad may hint at more serious problems with the president's health, mental acumen, or perhaps his sense of humor.

Mitina credits close family relations for appointment
Viktoriya Mitina, widely viewed as an outsider vaulted into the Kremlin during the recent corruption-inspired reshuffle, held a press conference to discuss her appointment to Yel'tsin's staff. Noting her longtime support of Yel'tsin's political career, Mitina also cited her close relationship with Yel'tsin's daughter and advisor, Tatiana Dyachenko. She referred to their relationship as being like "sisters, or rather, Tatiana is my niece." (Kommersant-Daily, 25 Nov 97; NEXIS)

Mitina added that she and Kremlin Chief of Staff Valentin Yumashev were on a "first name basis". While Mitina replaces First Deputy Chief of Staff Kazakov, the position will be downgraded to a deputy chief of staff for regional affairs, leaving Yuri Yarov as the sole first deputy to Yumashev.

Speaking of Yumashev, rumors abound as to his involvement in the Chubais book deal scandal. The ouster of Boris Berezovsky seems to have forced mutual friends of Chubais and Berezovsky to make difficult choices. According to some reports, both Yumashev and Dyachenko sided with Berezovsky. In Moscow News, Yumashev is quoted as saying to the reformers (after the dismissal of Berezovsky) "Now you will see your own destruction...." (Moscow News, 27 Nov 97; Russian Press Digest, NEXIS)

Other reports suggest that Yumashev used his position as chief of staff to allow Procurator-General Skuratov and MVD Chief Kulikov critical access to Yel'tsin, in order to display incriminating documents, before Chubais could mount a response. (Komsomolskaya pravda; 18 Nov 97; NEXIS)

Chubais has recently received both compliments and expressions of confidence in his newly-reduced role in the government from President Yel'tsin. Through the looking glass that is Russia however, that appears to be more a signal of willingness to sacrifice the privatization tsar, than a true vote of confidence in him.

Nemtsov says "without a Tsar in Russia, there is discord"
First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov repeated a form of the oft-heard "strong hand" argument for Russian rule by suggesting that Russia is un-governable without autocratic authority. (NTV, 19 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-321)

When questioned further on his views about constitutional monarchy, Nemtsov stated "Many features of it already exist in our lives today. They already exist. Look at the Russian constitution and compare it with the constitution of 1905." Nemtsov added "There must be strong power, executive power."

American detained on espionage charges
The Russian Security Services have detained an American citizen on suspicion of espionage. Richard Bliss, an employee of Qualcomm, was, according to a company statement, assembling a radio communications system near Rostov-on-Don, when arrested by FSB officers. (BBC, 4 Dec 97; NEXIS) The FSB claims he was gathering information on sensitive missile guidance systems.

Bliss was officially charged with spying on 5 December, but released by the FSB the following day. FSB officials claim they still intend to prosecute Bliss, who could face 20 years in detention. (The New York Times, 7 Dec 97)

by Susan J. Cavan

Russia deploys troops to Stavropol-Chechen border security zone
Russian Interior Minister Anatoli Kulikov announced that a Russian regiment of about 1500 men would deploy in the Kurskaya district on the administrative border between Stavropol territory, southern Russia, and Chechnya. This is the same location where a battalion was previously based. This decision was made during a meeting of representatives of Stavropol territory law enforcement agencies on Thursday, 13 November. The purpose of the troops is said to be one of fighting terrorism and crime. (Interfax, 1241 GMT and 1257 GMT, 13 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-317)

Rosvooruzheniye may lose monopoly on Russian arms export...
Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Mikhail Fradkov has announced that the number of Russian arms exporters will gradually swell to accommodate the increase in arms manufacturing enterprises capable of conducting independent export activity. He claims that present conditions permit the demonopolizing of foreign trade operations. Fradkov did say that Rosvooruzheniye would remain the main exporter of military goods, but described two special exporters, Promeksport and Rossiyskiye Tekhnologii, as already operational. (Delovoy mir, 13 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-317)

...but still directing the show on the world market
Rosvooruzheniye's lead role is quite apparent on the world scene, staging a significant display at the Dubai-97 air show in United Arab Emirates 16-20 December. This was the first time that the Russian defense industry was represented by Rosvooruzheniye there. Six Russian aircraft provided daily demonstration flights, including the Su-37MR which has controllable vector thrust and was described by local press as "sky sovereign" for aerobatic stunts. Rosvooruzheniye will attend Southeast Asia's largest arms show, Lima-97 of Malaysia, for the third time 2-7 December. Displays will include a Kilo-class submarine for the first time and will represent 26 major Russian companies. (Delovoy mir, 14-17 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-321, and ITAR-TASS, 1817 GMT, 24 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-328)

The announcement of the dissolution of the arms export monopoly is interesting in light of the criticism levied against Rosvooruzheniye during an interview with Valentin Trofimov, a Russian arms export specialist, published on 6 November. (FBIS-SOV-97-310) As this Digest previously covered, Trofimov directly faulted Rosvooruzheniye's monopoly of arms exportation as reason for inefficiencies and failures in the world arms market. Perhaps Russian state officials read his interview and in time will heed his advice. Actual implementation of direct arms sales by Russian defense companies is likely quite a way down the road.

by LtCol Dwyer Dennis


Sergeev concerned over quality of recruits
Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev has voiced concerns about the quality of conscripts. He noted that ten years ago less than 10% of conscripts lacked secondary education. Today the figure is nearing 50%. Additionally, 10% of today's conscripts are drug addicts and 20% have a criminal record. He also noted most conscripts had little knowledge of the great Russian writers and composers. He called for those in the arts to help raise the prestige of military service. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 0835 GMT, 12 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-316)

Russia cannot afford landmine ban?
Despite announcements by President Yel'tsin that Russia will join the worldwide ban on landmines, Defense Minister Sergeev said Russia cannot afford to destroy landmines and continue the costly destruction of chemical and nuclear weapons required by other accords. Also of concern was the 60 million mines Russia uses to secure its lengthy borders. (Agence France-Presse, 1230 PST, 14 Nov 97;

Strategic forces modernization slowly moves ahead
The first Russian Topol-M missile system will be placed in experimental combat duty in December near Tatishchevo, the Saratov region, according to Defense Minister Sergeev. The Topol missile which used to be produced in the Ukraine is now wholly manufactured in Russia. Eventually the Topol-M will be deployed in 90 silos currently housing the RS-20 ICBM (SS-18 Satan NATO classification). Other Topol-M missiles will be deployed on mobile launchers. (ITAR-TASS, 1920 GMT, 14 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-318)

A new SLBM, RSM-52V (SS-NX-28 NATO classification), exploded four seconds after launch from Nenoks testing grounds in the Arkangelsk region. This was the fourth test of the new missile which is being produced by the Makeev Engineering Center. Similar missiles used to be manufactured in the Ukraine but are now being produced in Russia. The missile is being developed for Russia's next generation of ballistic missile submarines. (Interfax, 1059 GMT, 21 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-325, and Monitor, 24 Nov 97)

Human rights conference highlights hazing
A conference held in Moscow on 17 and 18 November on the observance of human rights in the armed forces of democratic states highlighted the many abuses occurring in the Russian military. Chairman of the Army and Society Association Nikita Cheldymov presented statistics for the first nine months of 1997. During this period 1037 servicemen were killed, 2106 injured, and 1408 were victims of hazing. 314 suicides also occurred during this period. The number of suicides among officers was up 28% compared to the same period last year. (Interfax, 1142 GMT, 19 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-323)

by LCDR Curtis R. Stevens

Committee unsure of its mandate

It has been eight months since the CIS Committee on Conflict Situations was set up by the CIS heads of state, but it has still not been able to put together a draft charter. Representatives from CIS member countries meeting in Minsk admitted that they do not know if they should make the committee a consultative body or a decision-making organ. They also weren't sure if the heads of state mandate authorized them to exercise control over the entire CIS peacekeeping process (Belapan, 12 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-316).

The lightning speed and resoluteness of this committee aside, these discussions will most likely end up as most other CIS initiatives. Even if the group figures out its mission, it is highly unlikely that any of the CIS states except Russia, Belarus, and Armenia will support or follow the resolutions it eventually adopts.

Military committee discusses technical cooperation
The CIS Military-Technical Committee, a bureau in the Joint Staff for Coordinating Military Cooperation between CIS States, met recently to discuss issues of technical cooperation among CIS military organizations. Representatives from member defense departments, armaments industries, and scientific organizations participated in the discussions. Lieutenant General Aleksei Moskovsky, chairman of the committee, reported that he was acting with the authority of the Council of Heads of State to develop a joint logistics and training base capable of supporting CIS peacekeeping units (ITAR-TASS, 18 Nov 97; FBIS-UMA-97-322).

CIS air defense training plan set
On 19 November, representatives of the Coordinating Committee on Air Defense Issues, an element of the Council of CIS Ministers of Defense, announced the training plan for the joint air defense system for the upcoming year. The committee also set goals for the "establishment" of the Georgian, Kyrgyz, and Tajik systems, as well as the modernization of the Armenian, Kazakh, and Uzbek systems (ITAR-TASS, 19 Nov 97; FBIS-UMA-97-324).

Kuchma speaks on conflicts with legislature
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma used the occasion of a state awards dinner to highlight the divergent views he and the Ukrainian legislature have when it comes to running the country. As an example, Kuchma suggested that 7 November should be declared a Day of Memory and Reconciliation to remember those killed as a result of the Bolshevik revolution. The Supreme Council, however, rejected the proposal, preferring to remember Soviet times in a milder light. During a speech at the dinner, Kuchma concluded that, "The legislature ... is now openly striving for conflicts. I would even say that it is programmed to incite conflicts. Certain legislators consider conflicts the best way to win votes in the coming election" (Uryadovyy Kuryer, 13 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-323).

Kuchma threatens to overturn Crimean parliament decisions
President Leonid Kuchma said a considerable number of decisions adopted by the Crimean parliament run counter to the Ukrainian Constitution, called them "intentionally destructive," and vowed to have them declared illegal. Examples of the resolutions include: "On the Results of the First Congress of Crimean Germans", "On the Establishment of the Title of Honorary Citizen of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea", and "On the Use of the Russian Language on the Territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea" (ITAR-TASS, 24 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-328).

Minister implicated in murder
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka indirectly accused former Agriculture Minister Vasili Leonov and head of the Rassvet agricultural company Vasili Starovoitov of involvement in the murder of Yevgeni Mikolutsky, former chairman of the Mogilyov region's State Control Committee and Lukashenka's close friend. Leonov was arrested at his ministry office on 11 November on charges of corruption (Interfax, 14 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-318).

President issues decree to control companies
President Lukashenka issued edict No. 591, "On the Special Right of the State to Participate in the Management of Joint-Stock Companies," on 19 November. The implementation date is 1 January 1998. The edict grants the government or local administrations the right to exert control over the activities of joint-stock companies in which the state owns shares. This right will be exercised by appointing government representatives to the companies' boards who will be authorized to veto the boards' decisions (Belapan, 20 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-324).

So much for equal time
The Belarusian government banned marches by any groups which opposed President Lukashenka's edict to disband the 13th Supreme Soviet. The edict was issued one year ago and several groups petitioned to march in opposition to the decision. A procession of the Belarusian Patriotic Youth Union, a group who supports Lukashenka and his edict, was allowed to proceed (Radio Minsk, 0500 GMT, 23 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-327).

In a related story, a Belarusian court ordered the opposition newspaper, Svaboda, to close its doors. The court stripped the paper of its registration certificate and fined its publishers 1 million Belarusian rubles for libeling senior government officials, "hurting the honor and dignity of citizens public, and...[advocating the] toppling the state authorities." The paper has been published since 1990 (Interfax and Radiostantsiya ekho, 1300 GMT, 24 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-328).

Military accord signed with Hungary
In a move sure to startle officials in Tiraspol as well as Moscow, defense ministers Gyorgy Keleti of Hungary and Valeriu Pasat of Moldova signed an agreement in Budapest to establish military links between the two countries. The agreement creates a chance for closer cooperation between the two countries' armed forces. Hungary, of course, has tentatively been accepted into membership in NATO (MTI, 24 Nov 97; FBIS-EEU-97-328).

Smirnov on peacekeepers
Transdniestr leader Igor Smirnov has apparently insisted on the stationing of Ukrainian peacekeepers in the contested region. Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi has requested the same thing in the past, and President Kuchma said, "Since both Moldova and Transdnestr have addressed us, we support the idea." Up to a company of Ukrainian peacekeepers may be stationed near the Dubossary bridge because the area is populated with ethnic Ukrainians (Interfax, 24 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-328).

by Mark Jones

Kazakhstan, Iran agree on Caspian Sea issues

During his visit to Iran at the beginning of November, Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Yerlan Edrisov and his Iranian counterpart, Morteza Sarmadi, discussed the issue of the Caspian Sea's legal status and how its resources should be developed. Both men agreed that no more unilateral actions should be taken by any of the five littoral states to develop the sea's resources. Sarmadi suggested that the deputy foreign ministers of all the littoral states should hold an emergency meeting to discuss this issue, and that the final decision should be reached by consensus. The Kazakh deputy foreign minister, for his part, stated that all matters regarding the Caspian Sea should be decided unanimously by the five littoral states (IRNA, 1630 GMT, 1 Nov 97; FBIS-NES-97-305).

On 3 November, the two men signed a protocol which states that the Caspian Sea belongs to the five countries which border on it, that only the governments of these states have the right to decide upon the sea's legal regime, and that this decision should be reached unanimously. They also agreed to cooperate in the sphere of Caspian oil and gas development. The Kazakh deputy foreign minister also noted that Iran offers the possible shortest route for transporting Kazakhstan's oil and gas supplies to the Persian Gulf (IRNA, 2156 GMT, 2 Nov 97; FBIS-NES-97-306).

Although Deputy Foreign Minister Edrisov's words do make it sound as though the Kazakh government is coming perilously close to siding with Iran, Russia, and Turkmenistan on the issue of the Caspian Sea's legal regime, this could also simply be a strategy to win enough Iranian goodwill to secure more investments in Kazakhstan's oil and gas resources. The "unilateral action" that both deputy foreign ministers find so objectionable most likely refers to Azerbaijan's successful efforts to develop its own Caspian oil resources. The Kazakh government's aim may not necessarily be to prevent Azerbaijan from developing the rest of its Caspian oil fields, but simply to slow the pace of Azerbaijani development efforts down long enough to allow Kazakhstan to catch up and implement its own oil and gas projects.

Hungarian president in Kazakhstan to discuss natural gas deliveries
Hungary's President Arpad Goncz arrived in Kazakhstan on 2 November (ITAR-TASS, 1404 GMT, 2 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-306) in order to discuss the 1.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas which the Kazakh government was supposed to ship to Hungary in payment for residential buildings and production plants which the Hungarian government built in Tengiz in the 1980s. When the USSR collapsed, Russia assigned the debt for these buildings and factories to Kazakhstan's newly independent government. According to the original agreement between the Hungarian and Soviet governments, Hungary was to be repaid with 1.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The Kazakh government undertook to honor this agreement by dispatching 101 billion cubic feet of gas to Hungary via Russian pipelines, but the Russian government did not allow the gas to reach Hungary, and instead appropriated it as payment for debts which Kazakhstan allegedly still owes Russia (Kossuth Radio, 1000 GMT, 4 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-308). The Kazakh government has promised to settle its debts to Hungary and a presidential decree on the matter will be forthcoming in the near future, which will allow negotiations to begin to determine the size of the debt and the repayment schedule (MTI, 1608 GMT, 11 Nov 97; FBIS-EEU-97-315).

Civilian repatriation complete; UTO troops still waiting on border
The repatriation of civilian refugees from Tajikistan who had fled to Afghanistan during the civil war has been declared complete by the Tajik mission of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The repatriation process ended on 15 November, when the last 180 refugees crossed over from the Afghan border town of Kampisahi to Tajikistan's Shaartuz District (located about 200 km south of Dushanbe) via the Uzbek city Termez. A total of approximately 10,000 refugees have returned to Tajikistan from Afghanistan since the repatriation process began last summer (Interfax, 0918 GMT, 15 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-319).

However, there are still approximately 260 United Tajik Opposition (UTO) troops left in northern Afghanistan, waiting to return to their home country where they are to be integrated into Tajikistan's national army. No definite date has been set for their reentry, and according to the terms of the military protocol set out in the inter-Tajik peace agreement, the troops must register and hand in their weapons before they will be permitted to cross back into Tajikistan (Interfax, 0918 GMT, 15 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-319). Russian border troop units patrolling Tajikistan's Qala-i Khum region (located in Gorno-Badakhshon Oblast', about 190 km east of Dushanbe) have reported that at least four different UTO units of 10-15 men each have approached the border and may be planning to cross in the near future, with or without an official sanction to do so. The Russian border guards have been given the order to shoot at UTO troops which attempt to return to Tajikistan illegally. The UTO units currently remaining in Afghanistan are in danger of running out of food and medical supplies, and it is unlikely that they will be able to survive if they are forced to spend the winter in Afghanistan (BBC, 18 Nov 97; Monitor, 20 Nov 97).

Turkmenistan forms consortium for pipeline project to Pakistan
On 25 October the "Agreement Between the Shareholders of the Company 'Central Asia Gas Pipeline Ltd'" was signed in Ashgabat. The Central Asia Gas Pipeline Ltd consortium (Centgaz) consists of the Turkmen government and six foreign companies: Unocal Corporation (United States), the Delta Oil Company (Saudi Arabia), the Hyundai Corporation (South Korea), the Itochu Corporation and Inpex (Japan), the Crescent Company (Pakistan), and Russia's Gazprom. This agreement formalizes Centgaz's responsibility for the construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan's Dovletabad gas deposits across western Afghanistan to the Pakistani town Multan (over 1,270 km). The construction costs are estimated at $2 billion. Once the pipeline is completed, it will be capable of supplying 15 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Pakistani power stations and petrochemical plants. This volume is expected to rise to 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and there are plans to extend the pipeline to New Delhi, India and to build a highway and railway along the same route. President Niyazov declared that the building of this pipeline will finally allow peace to be achieved in Afghanistan. The Taleban, as well as the northern alliance of Afghan commanders, fully support the pipeline project (Turkmen Press, 1300 GMT, 28 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-301).

Turkmen-Iranian oil pipeline to begin functioning in December
Turkmenistan expects its recently completed 200 km gas pipeline to Iran to become operational by 15 December. The pipeline's construction began in October 1995, and it is the first pipeline project to be completed in Turkmenistan since the collapse of the USSR. The project cost $195 million, 80% of which was financed by the Iranian government. Turkmenistan will repay its share of the cost with natural gas deliveries during the first three years that the pipeline is in operation. The Iranian and Turkmen governments are also considering forming a joint company to explore and develop their Caspian hydrocarbon resources (ITAR-TASS, 1655 GMT, 1 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-305).

Uzbek president comments on Tajikistan's latest internal conflict
Speaking to reporters on 30 October, President Karimov once again denied any Uzbek involvement in Tajikistan's internal affairs, including allegations that members of the Uzbek military have been providing refuge and support to Col. Mahmud Khudoiberdiev and his militia. The Uzbek president characterized Tajikistan's current conflict as a power struggle between President Rahmonov's Kulabi faction and other regional factions (he did not specify which factions, other than Col. Khudoiberdiev's supporters), and implied that Kasim Babaev's (former associate of Col. Khudoiberdiev) statement about receiving aid from the Uzbek military elite had been obtained under duress during his interrogations by the Tajik KGB. President Karimov further explained that President Rahmonov and his fellow Kulabis were trying to preserve their own influence over the country by discrediting the Uzbek government (Interfax, 1548 GMT, 30 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-303).

Immediately after declaring that Tajikistan's present troubles were its own "internal affair," President Karimov stated that he wished to remind Dushanbe's leaders with whose help it was that they were able to attain their positions. He then added that Uzbeks make up 25% of Tajikistan's population and that there is no clear border between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. President Karimov ended his comments by accusing an outside power of creating inter-ethnic conflicts in Central Asia in order to cause relations between the countries in the region to deteriorate. When asked whether he was referring to Russia, President Karimov replied that the reporter knew which country he was talking about, and then warned the reporter not to provoke him (Interfax, 1548 GMT, 30 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-303).

by Monika Shepherd

Participation in NATO activities on the rise

Unwilling to take "not yet" for an answer, the Lithuanian government has tried to retain NATO's attention and goodwill, and has demonstrated the country's continued interest in the alliance in a variety of ways. Representatives of Lithuanian governmental departments and ministries--including foreign affairs, internal affairs, defense, finance, transportation, environment, communications and information--met with NATO officials in Brussels to discuss a wide range of possible cooperative ventures. (Baltic News Service Daily Report, 1400 GMT, 11 Nov 97). The following day, Ambassador Linas Linkevicius, now in charge of the recently established Lithuanian mission to NATO, presented his credentials to Secretary-General Javier Solana. (BNS Daily Report, 1400 GMT, 12 Nov 97). An adviser to the mission, Eitvydas Bajarunas, reported that Lithuanian had participated in approximately 160 NATO events, including war games.

While working to create as NATO-friendly a face as possible, Lithuania also has been courting allies, with some success. During a meeting with the Lithuanian ambassador to the US, Stasys Sakalauskas, President Bill Clinton pledged continued support of Lithuania's bid to enter NATO. (BNS Daily Report, 1700 GMT, 12 Nov 97) While that statement of support offered no surprises, another such statement sprang from a different corner. According to the Baltic News Service (12 Nov 97), the newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta reported that Russia must accept NATO enlargement chiefly because attempts to stop the alliance's expansion have failed and caused the neglect of other portions of Russian foreign policy.

Clearly the Duma leadership does not number among the subscribers to the newspaper's stand. Gennadi Seleznev, speaker of the Russian lower house of parliament, said that Russia will revise its accords with NATO if the alliance offers membership to the Baltic states. (ITAR-TASS, 1243 GMT, 11 Nov 97; FBIS-SOV-97-315)

by Kate Martin

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