News for January 22nd, 1997

The Belgrade student stand-off with police cordons in Kolarceva Street continued Wednesday. At 18:00 hours the students entered their 4 day of the "blockade against blockade" action. The Steering Board of Student Protest 96/97 announced a counter-cordon of former police inspectors will be formed in front of the riot police line.

In the seventy fifth hour of the continuous standing of the students of Belgrade in front of the police wall in the city centre one-year old Nikolina Savkovic broke the wall by squeezing through the legs of the policemen. The Belgrade students, who last Sunday at 18pm for the forth time began the action "Breaking the police wall" or "wall against the wall" after the police have prohibited the protest walks, loudly greeted the accomplishment of their one-year old citizen.

16 Deans and 5 Institute Directors of the University of Belgrade have signed a petition demanding that the UofB Chancellor resign. They urged all other UofB deans and institute directors to join them Wednesday at 21:00 and actively support the students in Kolarceva Street who are facing police cordons.

The Union of Dramatists of Serbia asked its members on Wednesday to gather and join the students vigil in front of police cordons in Kolarceva Street.

The musicians of Serbia shall join the students tonight and in this way support them in their "cordon against cordon" action. A gathering of the Society of Composers in Serbia, professors of the Musical Academy in Belgrade, teachers of music and various artist was scheduled for 22:30 in front of the Kolarcev National University. Once together they shall walk to Kolarceva street. and stand between the police and students' cordon in symbol of support to the students.

Serbian Independent Association of Journalists appealed to all journalists to join the students standing in front of the police cordon on January 23. The gathering of the journalists is scheduled for 23:55, in Makedonska street (next to Radio Index and Radio B92).

The students of the School of Physics in Belgrade supported the Student Protest 96/97, its demands and the plan for the compensation of lectures, by referendum, the Protest Board of the Faculty of Science and Mathematics announced today. It is stated in the announcement that the students' referendum has also been taking place at the School of Defectology from 11:00 to 13:00 daily and that it will last until the majority of students express their opinions about the protest. The committee which was counting votes at the School of Physics consisted of Milan Damjanovic, Vice Dean in charge of the classes, Nada Acimovic, the school's secretary, Darko Radovancevic, the Student Vice-Dean and Biljana Talijan, student.

John Cornblum, the assistant of the American Secretary of State, talked today with the leaders of the Student Protest from Belgrade and expressed his full support for their demands, reports Reuters.

John Satack, Assistant to the American State Secretary for the Human Rights met with the delegation of the student protest 96/97, presently in the US. During the course of the conversation he stated that the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will be "forced to recognize the results of the local elections". Satack said that the american administration is not considering what has already been established, but what will happen afterwards, it is said in the announcement of the press service of the Student Protest 96/97. The delegation of the Student Protest also met with the Congressman Alfons D'Amato yesterday. The Belgrade students insisted that the sanctions do not be imposed to FR Yugoslavia, because it would be "a tragedy to all democratic forces".

Branko Todorovic - Bata Bane, the former Vice President of the Executive Board of the City Assembly in Nis and one of the former Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) officials in Nis stated that the members of this party tried to forge the local elections in Nis, and that they received the instructions to do so from the leaders of the SPS in Belgrade. "Preceding the elections, some of our members were summoned, I wouldn't like to quote their names, and ballots which they were supposed to put into ballot boxes at the polling places were given out to them", Todorovic said in an interview which was published in the latest issue of the "Nedeljni Telegraf".

The citizens of Belgrade this evening too at 19.30 in the many parts of the town took part in the action of making noise during the crucial News 2 of the Radio-television of Serbia. In many parts of Belgrade the citizens invited today by the leaders of coalition "Zajedno" are on the pavements in the protest walk.

The "Zajedno" coalition invited the citizens of Belgrade to, starting tonight, protest on the sidewalks of the crossroads where they already assembled previously. "Our victory is near and for this reason we are appealing to the citizens not to be tricked by the provocations by the police. We will remain wise and merry, because it is the best way to our victory", it is stated in the announcement of the "Zajedno" coalition.

Vesna Pesic, one of the leaders of the oppositional "Zajedno" coalition, said today, during the 64th protest rally in the center of Belgrade, that the regime wanted to change the law in order to introduce receivership into the municipalities in which the opposition had won, while the legal procedure was on. She added that the citizens would not comply with that.

One of the leaders of the coalition of opposition "Zajedno", Vuk Draskovic said today that in the case the regime declares the state of emergency, this coalition is going to return all mandates and will not take part in the elections. On the sixty forth day of protest of citizens of Belgrade and the coalition "Zajedno" for annulment of the results of the second circle of the local elections, in front of 10000 citizens on the Republic square, the leaders of coalition repeated that the dialogue with government would be possible only after the recognition of the results of the second circle of local elections of November 17.

"Our final goal is the reform of our country; the recognition of our victory in the local elections is only a small move towards that goal," opposition leader Zoran Djindjic told the Czech daily 'Pravo', Wednesday. Mr. Djindjic announced the "institutionalization of the democratic movement" would be the next step of the opposition coalition Zajedno. He stressed that the opposition must not allow this movement to peter out and must maintain the momentum of the protests until all the November election results were restored and the opposition was granted access to the media.

Zoran Djindjic, one of the leaders of the oppositional coalition "Zajedno" stated that he told Klaus Kinkel, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs that Serbia may use Germany's help only after the system changes and the question of economic reforms is raised. "If you desire to aid Serbia, we can start talks about the way the Serbian economy can be helped, the moment the political system has altered", Djindjic said in an interview to the latest "Nedeljni Telegraf", in which he told a part of his conversation with the Chief of German Diplomacy.

The students of Nis University will carry out the action of blocking the junction in front of the building of National Theater in Nis tomorrow, which is a gesture of protest against the violation of the electoral will of the citizens of Serbia, announced the Student Protest board. The students appealed to their professors and the citizens of Nis to join them in this action. "The latest events in Belgrade undeniably show that the authorities are not prepared to solve the crisis in Serbia in a legal way," stated the members of the board.

Sparks flew between the Serbian and Montenegrin Presidents during the last session of the Supreme Yugoslav Defense Council on January 15, Nedeljni Telegraf reported on Wednesday. "The daily demonstrations by a part of the Serbian opposition in some cities in Serbia are a result of an alliance of foreign and local enemies who want to topple the current government illegally and establish a regime led by foreign dictators. The participation of serving army officers in the demonstrations should be completely prevented, because the army should be non-partisan and belongs in the barracks. Only thus can the unity of the Yugoslav Army be preserved, which should be its chief contribution to the solution of the current crisis in Serbia," said Serbian President Milosevic, according to Nedeljni Telegraf.
In his reply, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic warned that any postponement of the recognition of the report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) would lead to the isolation of the FRYugoslavia and to further less predictable damage. He stressed that Montenegro had already been adversely affected by the crisis as economic deals with foreign partners had been frozen until a solution to the emergency in Serbia was found. He stressed that the Yugoslav Army should not interfere in the current political dispute and warned President Milosevic that the army had been misused in the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia, but should remain untarnished this time, reported Nedeljni Telegraf.

A statement from the opposition coalition Zajedno demanded on Wednesday that the Serbian Goverment permits the new city council of Kragujevac to take over Radio Television Kragujevac and the local daily Svetlost. The Socialist Party has appealed the ruling of the Economic Court in Belgrade that returned the local television station and newspaper to the elected representatives of the citizens of Kragujevac.

Spokesman for the US State Department Nicholas Burns stated Tuesday night that the US were still concerned by the actions of the Serbian Government, Reuters reported. Mr. Burns stressed that government procrastination over the contended local election results by abuse of legal procedures could not be seen as democratic in any way. Mr Burns also warned that the international community would not react positively to the use of violence against demonstrators in Serbia.

The opposition coalition Zajedno announced on Wednesday that the city television of Nis would no longer be under the complete control of the Nis City Council as was the case during the previous local government's term of office. Zajedno suggested that the Nis city television company should seek private investors to give them financial independence and thus prevent the city council from using it as a mouthpiece.

Radio B92 received a note from the Police Academy in Belgrade on Wednesday. The note informed us that the Police Academy will present the management of Student Protest 96/97 with two books: "Police and Rights and Obligations, A Manual for Easy Communication Between Citizens And The Police" and "Manual." The note also said that several copies of the books be handed out to the commanders of the riot police cordons in Street. The manuals, which are used for teaching in the Police are to be distributed by the academy's chief, Dragoljub Tatomirovic, former head of the Serbian Interior Ministry, to show support for the students' protest and to combat bootlegging and fraud.

The Assembly of educational employees in Novi Sad who are members of the Independent Syndicate of the Educational Employees in Vojvodina, reached a decision late last night that the classes in the elementary and high schools in Novi Sad be completely suspended starting January 24th. The Syndicate demands the payoff of all the unpaid salaries, the wages increase and the urgent alteration of the elementary and high school Law. In Novi Sad, which has the majority of two thirds of the "Zajedno" coalition representatives in the Parliament, the city authorities have supported all the teachers' demands.

The United States have tried to put the issue of the political crisis in Serbia on the agenda of the Security Council in the past few days, but Russia has turned it down, the Beta news agency discovers today from the well informed sources in the United Nations headquarters. The American Diplomacy has attempted to raise the Serbian issue at the meeting of the Security Council, and to make a resolution on this question, but Russia refused it, justifying this decision with the explanation that "it is Serbia's internal affair".

Ivan Busnijak, the Czech Ambassador in FR Yugoslavia, made a statement in Kikinda today that the citizens' protests in Serbia contributed to the change of opinion towards Serbia in the world. During his visit to Kikinda Busnijak will visit the cultural institutions, as well as a few enterprises.

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia accused today the authorities in Serbia of violating human rights. The regime which has annulled the electoral will of the people, which banns the justified protest rallies, bashes and illegally arrests citizens bears most of the responsibility for the violation of human rights and for the negative consequences the recent events may have for Serbia, announced the Helsinki Committee. The Helsinki Committee qualified as "provocation" yesterday's announcement of the Serbian Government, in which it was stated that the elections in the eight cities in which, according to the OSCE report, the opposition won, were conducted according to law.

In its final winter session in Rome today, Socialist International adopted a resolution in which it was stated that peace and stability require full democratic evolution in all the countries of former Yugoslavia. It was also stated that International was concerned about "the difficult political and institutional situation in Belgrade". International expressed its "full support for the oppositional forces and the students, who offer a new and democratic image of Serbia by their action". Socialist International demanded of the authorities in Belgrade to accept the suggestions given by the OSCE and to recognize the results of the local elections of November 17, especially the victory of the opposition in the cities mentioned in Felipe Gonzales' report.

Vesna Pesic, president of the Civil Alliance of Serbia (GSS) and one of the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition, stated that the protests in Serbia were the result of "the awareness of nonexistence of elementary democracy". She made this statement in the session of Socialist International in Rome today. According to her statement, Milosevic "will not give up his power easily, so it is necessary to continue putting pressure on him."

Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, told press on Wednesday that the Socialist appeal against the Electoral Commission's decision, which granted victory in the Belgrade City Assembly to the opposition coalition Zajedno, was a clear sign that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has refused to respect the OSCE recommendations. According to Mr Kostunica, the further delay in reaching a solution to the current political crisis in Serbia indicates that President Milosevic has not even considered the possibility of stepping down. Mr Kostunica warned however that this would eventually happen and predicted that President Milosevic's end might be dramatic if not tragic.

Mihajlo Svilar, the new mayor of Novi Sad, says that he will make an effort to achieve the depolitization of the City Assembly and the city government and claims that "there will be no vengeance nor political retaliation from the opposition". Svilar said in an interview to today's "Vecernje Novosti" that he feels as a mayor to all the residents of Novi Sad, and not just "to the members of some parties" and that he will point his work in that direction.

The "Zajedno" coalition expressed its gratitude to the employees of the Sanitation Department who cleaned the streets "noisily, thus expressing support to the citizens of Belgrade" last night. "The 'Zajedno' coalition guarantees to all the sanitation employees that it will apply all its power to solve this organization's problems immediately after the constitution of the city government", the announcement states.

Aleksandar Ivovic, the President of the Syndicate of the Metalworkers of Serbia (SMS) announced the protest gatherings of the employees in the metallurgist complex, since the public organizations and the Yugoslav Army haven't yet paid their debts, which presently account to as much as 200 million dinars.

Several thousands citizens of Kragujevac surrounded today the building of the Radio-television and the publishing firm "Svetlost", expressing in this way their protest against the intention of the RTS (Serbian National Radio-television Network) to take over that information firm. The RTS has dismissed the newly elected management of the RTV Kragujevac and announced the arrival of new managers. Around 200 policemen prevent the citizens from approaching the building, and it is estimated that around 50 policemen are posted inside the building.

The newspapermen which were in the "Svetlost" building read this evening a letter to the students and citizens that circled the building of the Radio and TV and the press-building "Svetlost" to show their protest about the intentions of the Radio-television of Serbia to take over this company. "Since 14 o'clock we have been waiting to the manager Vidosav Stevanovic, who was placed by the city Assembly. We are going to wait until the manager and the mayor Veroljub Stevanovic appear. The wall made by policemen makes impossible the contact of above signed newspapermen with citizens. Although the members of the police behave correctly, we are prevented from leaving the building", is written in the letter.

The mayor of Kragujevac Veroljub Stevanovic invited tonight citizens to protest because of the incident with local television by blocking the city with cars at 14pm.

After today's fifty third protest gathering in the centre of Sabac the citizens organized "prison walk" on the city square.

The President of the city board of the Democratic party of Nis Aleksandar Krstic invited citizens today to block at 14 o'clock 3 accesses to the town on the highway. Krstic invited citizens of Nis on the protest meeting of 15000 men to go to the places to block by car or to walk. "We have to protest until every city and municipality is returned its electoral results", said Krstic.

In a very tense atmosphere, in Jagodina tonight there was one more protest rally of the coalition "Zajedno" because of the annulment of the results of the second circle of local elections. The followers of the opposition began gathering earlier than before because the news that the leading party was going to constitute the city Assembly ran the town. After the usual information and a few speeches, 3000 demonstrators began the walk. During this there were 10000 spectators, who from the windows and the balconies of the surrounding buildings waited the contact of the people with police. At 18.40pm met "eye to eye" the walkers and the policemen who did not have the necessary marks. The mandators of the coalition "Zajedno" demanded a warrant which says that they may not walk the streets and pavements. The citizens who did not get the answer broke the first police wall, and after 10 meters the second one. The third police wall stopped and blocked the way to one group of the demonstrators. There were the "contra-blockades" of the demonstrators. In the general mess and chaos were about 5000 people. Police finally withdrew, after what a happy group of people returned singing to the main street and the city centre,where the protest quietly stopped.

The citizens of Kikinda held their 24th protest meeting against the annulment of the results of the local elections in Serbia, late last night. They expressed their discontent with the annexation of the "Komuna" Publishing Organization to the Radio-Television of Serbia, which was performed after the opposition had won at the local elections in Kikinda. After a short walk through the city streets, a police cordon prevented the demonstrators from returning to the plateau before the "Komuna" building. The citizens of Kikinda will gather at the city square again tomorrow.

The followers of the opposition in Pirot tonight too protested on the city square demanding the acknowledgement of the results of the local elections of the November 17. According to the report of the commission of the OEBS,on the local elections in Pirot won the coalition "Zajedno". The Court denied to this coalition one mandate and thus made doubtful the victory of the opposition.

Strong police forces prevented today the citizens of Koceljevo from taking the protest walk along the streets of that town.

A protest rally will be held in front of Yugoslav general consulate in Timisoara, Romania, as a gesture of protest against the violence used by the police against the demonstrators in Belgrade, announce Romanian newspapers today. The rally has been organized by the Association for the Defence of Human Rights "Timisoara". The organizers announced that a ten-minute protest walk was planned as well.

Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, heir to the Serbian throne stated in an interview to the Zagreb weekly "Globus" that the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic never showed respect for the Serbian people. "When he loses his power, Milosevic should be put into house arrest", Aleksandar said and expressed the opinion that "Milosevic would have ordered the shooting at the demonstrators long ago if it hadn't been for the outside pressure".

Vojislav Seselj, President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) talked with Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of the National Front of France (NFF) in the Yugoslav Parliament today. Seselj pointed out during the course of the conversation that the "Zajedno" coalition did acquire power in more than 30 towns in the second rounds of the local elections, but that "the regime in Serbia attempted to annul the results from November 17th with the assistance of the courts and to open the third, fourth, fifth and even a sixth electoral round, and so chaos was created". He said that the radicals demand that "the competent state officials" recognize the second round results. "If the court has annulled the results, than a higher court authority must give them back, and not the administration of the regime, as was attempted", Seselj said.

The president of the Serbian radical party (SRS) Vojislav Seselj said today that it is high time for the "incapable left regime to go" and that on the this year's parliamentary and presidential elections SRS would beat the left parties as well as the coalition "Zajedno". In the full hall "Pinki" of Zemun on the rally of the Serbian-French friendship organized by SRS because of the visit of the leader of the French National front Jean Marie La Pen - Mari Lepen, Seselj accused the government for the "treason of the national interests, the lost of Serbian territories, the economical ruining the country ", as well as for "destroying the legal system". "It is high time Serbia gets out from the crisis, and this year that could happen. If this does not occur, Serbia will have friends like Lepen and other sincere friends throughout the Europe", said Seselj.

The professors of the Musical school "Dr. Vojislav Vuckovic" from Nis have been boycotting classes from this morning, demanding the dismissal of the present Principal Branislava Petrovic Markovic. They pointed out that they cannot and will not be subjects to Markovic Petrovic, who practiced her function and power of Vice President of the Socialist Party of Serbia City Board at the school as well.

Today's "Daily Telegraph" from London ascertains that "for the first time in more than three weeks violence occurred in the streets of Belgrade" when "the police in downtown Belgrade clashed with the prodemocrat demonstrators during the all-night student protests" "The Daily Telegraph" also states that "the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is hoping that the crisis, caused by the annulment of the local elections' second rounds, will be neutralized by legal complications, considering that the complaints against the annulments of electoral victories of the opposition in Belgrade are being transferred like 'hot potatoes' among the Municipal Court, the Supreme Court and the Electoral Committee".

In the today's article discussing the yesterday's meeting of Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of the National Front of France (NFF) with Vojislav Seselj, president of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) in Belgrade, today's "Guardian" from London ascertains that Le Pen "appealed to the nationalists from over the world to unite, but he immediately realized that the boundless patriotism is a strange doing, especially at the Balkans", the BBC Radio transmits in its Serbian language program.

The president of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic would "soon offer a compromise to the coalition "Zajedno", says today the French journal "Liberation". Relying on the "sources of the Belgrade opposition", the journal says that "Milosevic in the beginning of January was separately visited by the leaders of oppoˇition Zoran Djindjic and Vuk Draskovic and that he offered them to enter the government of national unity." "Circles close to the opposition", which quotes the French journal, "also say that these meetings, which two leaders deny, were not publicly revealed because they did not give any results."

Yugoslavia represents the crucial counterbalance for Albanian separatism and Turkish claims on the Balkans, but only if its internal stability, which was maintained by the "authoritarian leadership" of President Slobodan Milosevic until a short time ago, is sustained, writes the "Ta Nea", a Greek pro-government newspaper, today. The conservative "Katimerini" newspaper criticizes indirectly Greek media for showing little interest for "rebellious inventiveness and persistence of the demonstrators" in Serbia, by which the protesters "obviate and deride the bans imposed by the police and the police rule".

Rasim Ljajic, president of the Party of Democratic Action of Sandzak estimated that the protest of the students and of the "Zajedno" coalition represent the commencement of huge changes in Serbia. Ljajic talked with Tina Koidonov, Second Secretary of the US Embassy in Belgrade and with Mirko Gaspary, political counselor, in Novi Pazar yesterday.

The academician Zlatibor Petrovic, President of University Council in Belgrade, handed in his resignation, reports Radio B92 today. Petrovic said that the latest events in Belgrade influenced his decision, adding however that he would not sign the petition of support for the demands of the students of Belgrade University, who have been protesting against the disrespect of the will of the people for 62 days now. In his resignation, Petrovic explained that after the long session of the University Council on January 15, he consulted his cardiologists, and that he could not hold the position of the President of the University Council any longer.

Branimir Aleksandric, Head of the Commission for autopsy at the Institute of Forensic Medicine and lecturer at the School of Internal Affairs in Zemun, confirmed today that on January 20 he received a notice of dismissal from that school. Aleksandric told a press conference in the office of the Humanitarian Law Foundation that Momcilo Talijan, the director of that School, had personally suggested him to resign from his job as a lecturer for forensic medicine and to explain his resignation with "to much work".

Dragoljub Micunovic, president of the Democratic Center (DC), stated today that the regime in Serbia had decided to foster the crisis in the country instead of accepting the OSCE suggestions. The authorities make no efforts whatsoever to put the political crisis to an end, said Micunovic, pointing out that the behaviour of the Republic Government, which demanded the dialogue between the authorities and the opposition and acted if it had nothing to do with the current crisis, was "ridiculous".

Vesna Pesic, one of the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition, is of the opinion that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic could provoke riots at Kosovo in order to divert the attention of the public from the crisis in Belgrade. According to her words, it could mean the end of the democratic movement in Serbia. "Kosovo could mean a dangerous turn; the whole movement would in that case assume the quality of aggressive right-wing nationalism," stated Vesna Pesic in her interview for Austrian radio.

Dragan Veselinov, president of the People's Farmer Party (NSS), stated today that "growing dissatisfaction with the economic situation in rural regions is turning into political resistance against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic".

The Social-democrat Youth (SDO) expressed their approval of the decision of Student Alliance of Novi Sad University that an additional examination term should be organized for all the students participating in the Protest. In their statement, the youth of the Social-democrat Union (SDU) stated that, contrary the Student Alliance in Belgrade, the Student Alliance in Novi Sad had proved it is an organization the aim of which is the defence of students' rights and interests.

After the "Zajedno" coalition assumes the rule in Nis, former high officials of the City Assembly will have to find new jobs. "Since they have no alternative functions, Milovan Dimitrijevic, president of the City Assembly, and Ljubinko Milanovic, the secretary of the Assembly, have practically been left without jobs," announced representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition to a press conference.

The representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition in Nis stated today that unless Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic admitted the truth, which was demanded by the whole world, they would consider him personally responsible for concealing the electoral theft. "It would mean that Serbian President is ready to sacrifice the whole people, which would, should sanctions be imposed again, be left without a chance to be saved," said Toplica Djordjevic, one of the leaders of the Democratic Party in Nis, to a press conference.

Ljubisa Ristic, president of the Yugoslav United Left (JUL) and Mirjana Markovic, president of the Head Office of the JUL, talked today with the presidents of those municipalities and municipal boards in which that party, after the victory in the local elections, has formed the municipal governing organs. It was concluded that the realization of the program of the JUL in those municipalities and providing better and more secure living conditions for the citizens should be the example of responsible, qualified and honest fulfilling of public offices, reads the announcement of the JUL.

The syndicate of the officials employed in the organizations and organs of the Federation sent an open letter to Federal prime Minister Radovan Kontic, in which they protested against the new and additional delay in the payment of their wages, as well as against the decrease in the wages.

Dragutin Velickovic, Chancellor of Belgrade University, publicly invited today the representatives of the Student Protest 96/97 for a conversation, announced the Chancellor's office. The meeting between Velickovic and the representatives of the Student Protest is supposed to take place at 11:00 tomorrow, report the media in Belgrade.

Radomir Lazarevic, president of the City Electoral Committee (GIK) in Belgrade, said today that the GIK had preliminarily verified nine more mandates for the Assembly of Belgrade from 10 which have not been verified by now. One mandate was not discussed by GIK yet because the materials of the complaints of coalition "Zajedno" of Vozdovac are in the First municipal court, said Lazarevic on the press conference. Today on the session of GIK from 9 verified mandates 4 were won by the coalition Yugoslav left (JUL) and the Socialist party of Serbia (SPS), 4 coalition "Zajedno" and 1 by the Serbian radical party, said Lazarevic.

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