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Go to the news section of Krakow Info to see the current stories from the city.

Selected Archive News Stories of 2002 from the Krakow Info Service

Year 2002 in News from Krakow Info

City Goes Dry August 16-19 
For the duration of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Krakow, from August 16 till August 19, there will be a ban on sale of all alcoholic beverages. The prohibition applies to stores as well as bars, restaurants, etc. 

18 Are Back, the Rest Still Wanted 
Eighteen rare and precious books stolen from Krakow’s 600-year-old Jagiellonian Library have been returned by Germany and brought back to the city under heavy police guard. They are part of scores of precious volumes found missing in April 1999 from Poland's most prestigious library. The mysterious theft from its renowned medieval collection stunned the country and remains unsolved with the rest of stolen books still missing. The returned volumes have suffered mutilation at the hands of fences and will undergo meticulous restoration once forensic examination is completed. They surfaced at an auction house in Koenigstein, near Frankfurt. Among the books is a 15th-century issue of ‘Cosmographia’ by Ptolemy worth some $570,000. Following the theft the Jagiellonian Library has spent $500,000 on electronic security systems. Its most valuable books stay in a safe and are available on microfilm only or in electronic version. 

Prince of Wales in Krakow 
Prince Charles visited Krakow June 12-13. On his first day in the city he opened an exhibition of British contemporary drawings, strode across the Grand Square, offered several handshakes and autographs to enthusiastic crowds, and dined with the Lord Mayor. On the second day the heir to the British throne saw landmarks of the revived Jewish quarter in the Kazimierz district and a utilization plant in the industrial Nowa Huta area, met youths in a job center and called upon lady proprietor of an ecological “sunflower farm” in Stryszow, village 44 km southwest of Krakow. It’s Prince of Wales’ second visit to Krakow, the first one took place in 1993. 

Poet Comes Home 
Adam Zagajewski, an outstanding Polish poet and novelist, returns to Krakow after twenty years he spent in Paris. Thus he joins the ranks of luminaries that migrated to the city by the end of the 20th c., such as Czeslaw Milosz, Nobel Literary Prize winner who moved in after half a century in California, and Slawomir Mrozek, world-renowned playwright who followed suit after a century quarter in Mexico. 

Multiplex Opening 
A brand-new, state-of-the-art 10-theater cinema multiplex opened by the Zakopianka shopping center at 56 Zakopianska street, the third one in roughly a year. The 2,450-seat, 500-sq-m-plus Cinema City has boosted the total number of seats in Krakow’s movie houses to 11,152. With an average of three shows seen per year by every inhabitant the city’s population ranks among Poland’s most ardent moviegoers. 

Young Masterstroke 
The 'festival of young art' takes place in Krakow through August 11. Its venues are scattered around the city, from downtown galleries to a fringe trade-fairs site at 38 Zapolskiej street where forty aspiring masters has got 5,000 sq. meters for their exhibits. The festival features sweeping display of the youngest generation in Poland’s fine arts

Maestro Finds Home 
British violin virtuoso of international renown, Nigel Kennedy, married in Krakow and settled down in the city. Krakow’s music-lovers rejoice. The maverick maestro has concerted regularly in the city over the recent years on visits to court his Polish fiancée and become their darling. Now, the mutual bond sealed, they hope for more. 

The Case of Missing Documents Rocked Krakow 
Curator of the Wawel Royal Castle’s state archive has been arrested in connection with a massive theft of historical documents. A long-trusted archivist is suspect of stealing some 300 old manuscripts since 1996. The bulk surfaced at various antiquarians in Krakow and Warsaw. The thief singled out autographs of historic figures such as Napoleon or the Polish kings; the items collectors prize most. The oldest missing documents date back to the early 16th century. 

Long Live the Tombs! 
New manager of Krakow’s municipal cemeteries wants to cancel plans for this year’s refurbishment of alleys and spend an equivalent of $50,000-75,000 thus saved on renovation of old tombstones. The pathway repairs would get again a go-ahead next year. The new manager replaced his predecessor in the wake of a squander-and-perks scandal. In 2002 the city graveyards’ budget amounts to some 11 million Polish zlotys, i.e. roughly $2.75 million. 

Krakow Municipality Considers Property Sale 
Krakow’s debt-ridden municipality contemplates a sellout of the commercial space it owns all over the city, i.e. 2,640 shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. that amount to some 332,000 sq. m with the total market value of $250 million or so. The idea is most welcome by the current lessees, provided they take precedence of other bidders. The rents they now pay add roughly $11.2 million a year to the municipal budget. 

Library Gets Books It Kept 
French heirs to the fortune of Poland’s aristocratic Sanguszko family gave up over 1800 ancient books and 19 manuscripts, their market value up to $150,000 at conservative estimation, to Krakow’s university Jagiellonian Library. The oldest print, ‘Sermones Pomerii de tempore’, a book of sermons issued in Hagenau, dates back to 1498. The donation constitutes the bulk of the most valuable part of the family’s book collection confiscated by communist authorities in the 1940s that has been deposited in the famous Krakow library. Remaining 600 volumes will undergo a thorough scientific examination before their return to the The Sanguszkos in 2007. 

Creditors Throw A Lifeline to the HTS Steel Maker 
Major creditors of Krakow’s mammoth HTS steelworks, the city’s largest industrial employer, have voted overwhelmingly to write off two fifths of the debts it owed them and thus save the massively indebted company from insolvency. The steel maker’s arrears amounted to an equivalent of $177.5 million or so. Under the deal HTS has promised to repay at once in full 707 creditors to whom it owes sums under 10,000 zlotys (i.e. about $2,350). The rest is to get sixty percent of the amount due in quarterly installments. HTS will need some $5.2 million a month to service that debt. Out of 1200-plus creditors 998 agreed to the deal. 

Krakow’s Municipality: Tenants Please Buy Your Apartments Dirt-cheap 
Krakow’s City Council has voted in new terms of the purchase of municipal apartments. Tenants may buy a flat they rent outside the historic Old Town district for as little as ten percent of the market value, or twenty percent when recently renovated by the municipality, payable in eight quarterly installments. Those living within the Old Town limits are granted less generous rebate of just 40-45 percent. The Krakow municipality owes over 25,000 apartments in the city, in that number some 200 Old Town’s ones. 

Krakow’s International Airport Made a Profit in 2001 
In 2001, despite the downturn throughout the world’s aviation business, the corporation that runs Krakow’s Balice international airport secured a profit to the tune of an equivalent of $1.54 million after tax. The shareholders duly decided to spend the whole amount on improvement of the airport’s facilities. 

Emperor Akihito Visited Krakow 
Japan’s emperor Akihito visited Krakow on July 11, accompanied by wife Empress Michico. The monarch saw the Mahggha Center of Japanese Art and Technology as well as a couple of the city’s tourist attractions, met some of its celebrities, and ate lunch with local notables. Krakow was part of the emperor’s state visit to Poland, being in turn a leg of His Majesty’s tour of the Central-Eastern Europe. 

Nigel Kennedy Takes Over the Krakow Philharmonics’ Artistic Directorship 
British maverick violin virtuoso, Nigel Kennedy, is the new guest artistic director of the Filharmonia, Krakow’s state philharmonic company. The maestro came up himself with the idea that has been eagerly embraced by the management. Mr. Kennedy has given up any salary for holding the post. The 46-year-old star violinist was once the pet student of late Yehudi Menuhin. He managed to sell a record-breaking two million copies of his 1989 CD. Over the last two years Nigel Kennedy has performed often in Krakow, mostly classical favorites but also in clubs with jazzmen or pop musicians. Recently the maestro has married to the city and bought a flat here, calling Krakow his “home of choice”. 

Get the Big Picture 
Two-million congregation expected at the August 18 open-air papal mass will be immortalized on one giant photo with John Paul II, each face distinct and recognizable. Shortly before the beginning of the service on Krakow’s huge Blonia commons at 10 a.m. eight special big-picture cameras put on an 8-meter scaffold are to take the snapshot at once, together covering the entire area. Later the eight separate images will be merged digitally into one picture. The project’s two authors, Slawomir Pultyn and Jerzy Rados, promise that everybody present will be able to identify himself on the resultant billboard 1,5 m x 7 m. 

Phillip Morris Discharges 400 Employees 
Krakow’s subsidiary of the Phillip Morris, the American tobacco giant, fires 400 of its current 1900 workforce. In part the reductions result from the overhaul of the company now under way that is to focus it on the core business with non-essential activities being delegated into spin-offs. The severance packages include a cash equivalent of minimum 6-month wages. 

Krakow Goes Hollywood 
Director Steven Soderbergh (‘Traffic’) and producer James Cameron, both Oscar winners, shoot with starring George Clooney a Hollywood movie based on novel ‘Solaris’ by Krakow’s Stanislaw Lem, the world acclaimed doyen of ambitious sci-fi literature. Mr. Soderbergh promises this Twentieth Century Fox picture to be a ‘2001: Space Odyssey’ and a ‘Last Tango in Paris’ merged into one. The no-nonsense Mr. Lem recoils at the very thought. The previous film adaptation of ‘Solaris’ was the one by Russian director Andrei Tarkovski in the 1970s. 

Leonardo’ Beauty Goes West 
The famed ‘Lady with an Ermine’, Leonardo da Vinci’s peerless portrait of a Renaissance beauty, left Krakow’s Czartoryskich Museum for as long as nine months. The 500-year-old masterpiece, arguably the best portrait by Leonardo and possibly the world’s finest female portrait ever painted, is to grace an exhibition in the Milwaukee Art Museum from September 13th through November 24th. The show called ‘Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland’ features 77 outstanding works of art from Polish nine museums and will go from Milwaukee’s MAM to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and San Francisco’s Fine Arts Museum. Besides Krakow’s ‘Lady with an Ermine’ the exhibition’s another sensation is Hans Memling’s ‘The Last Judgement’ from Gdansk. Leonardo’s belle has left for her American tour in the company of 21 other noted art treasures from various Krakow collections. They are expected back in the city by next May. On her last visit on the American soil in 1992 the ‘Lady with an Ermine’ proved the greatest sensation of Washington’s memorable ‘1492’ monumental exhibition. When displayed in Kyoto and Nagoya last autumn she brought in a combined total of 420,000 visitors, the record attendance in the history of Japanese museum shows. 

Mayor Isn’t in the Race 
It’s official–Krakow’s current mayor, Professor Andrzej Golas, has ultimately bowed out of running for another term, his second, in the nearing elections on October 27 when voters are to choose the office directly for the first time. Mayor Golas’ legacy as the head of the municipality since 1998 boils down mostly to impressive road investments, notably three new bridges spanning the Wisla (Vistula) river that divides the city. Nevertheless he has failed to secure endorsement of any significant party in the upcoming mayoral ballot. 

Poll Positioning in the Mayoral Race 
Campaigning before the October 27 local elections throughout Poland has begun in earnest. This fall first time ever Krakow’s citizens will vote directly their mayor in for a four-year term with his powers substantially increased. No wonder emotions run high as an array of political heavyweights eyes the office. Among those who has already entered the race are two current members of parliament who once held ministerial posts in the Polish government, a former governor of the Krakow province, and the former mayor of Krakow in years 1992-1998. The new electoral law introduced a two-tier mayoral elections across the country–when no candidate gets more than half the votes in the first round, the two hopefuls with the best scores go to the second and final ballot. 

Less Jobless 
Newest data on unemployment show the Malopolska Province’s rate of joblessness the lowest among Poland’s 16 departments. The unemployment varies between 8.1 percent in Krakow, the province’s capital, to 21.3 percent in the Nowy Sacz county, with the median rate of 13.4 percent for the entire region that translates into almost 202,000 people without work hunting a job. 

Hurricane Shatters a Landmark, Kills One 
Whirlwind has partly destroyed the ornate crest of Krakow’s famous 16th-century Cloth Hall amid the city’s central Grand Square on July 31. The disaster came when a giant billboard that had covered half the western facade of the Renaissance landmark fell and brought down a fragment of wall surrounding the roof together with its decorative stonework. Especially dismal is the loss of Santi Gucci’s five 1557 sandstone sculptures–two grotesque masks and three vases. Displaying a mammoth billboard with an ad of the Tchibo coffee brand upon one of Krakow’s premier landmarks over four summer months was the municipality’s idea to raise an equivalent of about $62,500 towards the Cloth Hall’s forthcoming $150,000 renovation. The latest damage may have added another $100,000 to the cost of the restoration. The unusual windstorm of July 31played havoc all over the city, felling trees, destroying property, and severing electricity lines. There was one fatality while six people proved seriously wounded. 

Krakow's Lagiewniki's Basilica of Divine Mercy Krakow's Lagiewniki's Basilica of Divine Mercy dominates the sanctuary. 
John Paul II's Visit 
Pope John Paul II has come to his native Krakow for a four-day visit on August 16. The consecration of the immense 1,600-sq-m, $15-million brand-new basilica at the city’s famous Sanctuary of the Lord’s Mercy in the Lagiewniki district is the main item on his August 17 agenda. The August 18 open-air Holy Mass on Krakow’s immense Blonia commons for up to two million faithful seems the most important event of the whole visit. His last day on the Polish soil, August 19, the Pontiff has devoted to a pilgrimage to the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska sanctuary 33 km southwest of Krakow to mark its 400th anniversary. Pope John Paul II, previous Krakow archbishop Karol Wojtyla, is said to be once a driving force behind the worldwide Catholic movement to worship the Lord’s Mercy with its center in the Lagiewniki sanctuary visited last year by over million pilgrims from all over the world. The vast Calvary sanctuary in the town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Europe’s largest such complex as well as Poland’s oldest one, listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, used to be destination of his frequent childhood pilgrimages.  

Mayoral Race Speeds Up 
On October 27 first time ever Krakow’s citizens will vote directly their mayor in for a four-year term with his powers substantially increased. No wonder emotions run high as an array of political heavyweights eyes the office. Among nine candidates that run for the office there are two current members of parliament who once held ministerial posts in the Polish government, a former governor of the Krakow province, and the former mayor of Krakow in years 1992-1998. The city’s current mayor since 1998, Professor Andrzej Golas, has opted out of the race after he failed to secure endorsement of any major party. He has backed a right-wing candidate with the biggest political clout, MP Jan Rokita, instead. 

Krakow’s Local Government Rush 
A stunning 34 independent electoral tickets has registered for the October 27 elections to Krakow’s city council, and this comes on top of up to ten main nationwide parties that also field their candidates. The main reason is new electoral law that shrinks the Krakow City Council from the erstwhile 72 members to just 43, so the race is fiercer than ever. The councilors will be elected by way of proportional representation but a list should get at least five percent of the votes to qualify. September 27 is the deadline for the committees that has registered with the electoral board to field the final lists of candidates in particular constituencies. Fingers crossed, some may fail to do it. 

Thousands Seek the Lord’s Mercy 
When His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, on his latest visit to Krakow last August, consecrated the imposing 1,600-sq-m brand-new basilica in the city’s famous Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in the Lagiewniki district, the shrine’s already immense popularity was further boosted. Last year it attracted about two million pilgrims from all over the world. Now several thousands come on an average day and up to 50,000 on Sundays and holidays, bringing a traffic nightmare in the area. 

white-water canoeing in Krakow
Krakow Has Got State-of-the-art White Waters 

A brand-new, state-of-the-art canoe slalom artificial white-water course has been completed by the Wisla (Vistula) river next to Krakow’s Tyniecki Landscape Park. The 320-m-long and 15-m-wide canal carries 15 cubic meters of water per second. It cost some $4 million to build. Besides being a venue for sports events and place where professional canoeist can practice the watercourse is to be a heart of new recreational area. 

Locals Say Bad Krakow Boroughs from Good Ones 
Locals surveyed recently in Krakow’s all 18 boroughs feel least secure in the Lagiewniki, Nowa Huta, and Bienczyce districts. By contrast most dwellers of the Bronowice, Lobzow, Grebalow, Grzegorzki, and Debniki quarters consider their neighborhood rather peaceful. Also over half of inhabitants of the tourists-frequented Old Town historic area think it safe enough. In seven of the eighteen Krakow boroughs less than 50 percent of their residents said pollsters they didn’t bother about crime in the vicinity, and in the Lagiewniki the ratio was just 22.7 percent. 

St. Catherina's church
Church Floor Collapses 

Visitors to the grand 14-century church of St. Catherine’s in the Kazimierz district, one of the area’s Gothic landmarks, are advised to watch their steps. Last Sunday the church’s tile floor collapsed near the entrance to the adjacent monastery cloister under a man that was hearing the Mass and he tumbled down the hole to a crypt. The cleft has been marked with tape as well as the floor by one of chapels where it showed a dent when examined after the accident. A thorough building inspection is still under way. Thanks to its splendid acoustics the church of St. Catherine’s used to be the venue for many classical music concerts

Welcome to the No-fly-for-fun Zone 
Poland’s Chief Inspector of Civil Aviation grounded Krakow’s fans of flying and parachuting when he suspended their Aeroklub Krakowski organization. The action was taken in the wake of a series of fatal accidents over the last twelve months and after the ensuing examination had found examples of misconduct. The activities of the aviation-sports club will stay frozen till the authorities’ decision to the contrary. 

City Council Said No to the Development Bill 
Krakow’s councilors failed to vote in, with 29 nays against 27 ayes, the guidelines for the city’s urban development on their last session before the upcoming local elections. Thus they have left the unfinished job to their successors to be elected on October 27th. The bill is crucial to developers since it constitutes a basis for issuing building permits. Under the country’s law the guidelines should be in place before January 1st when the erstwhile regulations will be void. Failure may result in practical development arrest. Hopefully the Polish parliament may extend the deadline once more. 

Like the Old Ones But Not the Old Ones 
The Cloth Hall’s five 16th-century sandstone sculptures destroyed in the July 31 whirlwind will be replaced with exact modern copies. Santi Gucci’s two grotesque masks and three vases were brought down when a giant billboard fell that had covered half the western facade of the famous Renaissance landmark. Shattered originals, pieced together again, are to go to a museum. 

Not So Fast Track The City 
Management Board resolved to repeat the bidding to build a 3.7-km leg of the 11.8-km ‘fast streetcar’ line in the downtown Krakow, much of it underground. Its construction should have started this autumn and cost some 40 millions euro. Yet procedures during the first bidding raised doubts of Krakow’s erstwhile mayor and he disqualified the winning consortium. This in turn displeased the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development that is to provide loans for the project. 

Brace Up for the Playoff in the Mayoral Race 
In the October 27 local elections Krakow’s citizens first time ever voted directly for the city’s mayor, with his powers now substantially increased. The race enticed five political heavyweights alongside seven also-runs. No wonder in the circumstances no one has secured more than half of the votes, which under the country’s electoral law necessitates a second round between the two most successful candidates. In the playoff on November 10 the favorite seems Mr. Jozef Lassota, Krakow’s former mayor in the years 1992-1998 and onetime MP. Yet he has a formidable challenger in the person of Professor Jacek Majchrowski, former dean of the Jagiellonian University’s law department and onetime governor of the Krakow province. Both run as independents even though their party affiliations are nobody’s secret. Mr. Lassota the local leader of the liberal Freedom Union (UW) whereas Prof. Majchrowski is member of the Alliance of Democratic Left (SLD). They got respectively 24 and 22 percent of the votes in the first round. 

Local Elections Has Produced Divided City Government 
On October 27 Krakow’s voters have elected their new 43-strong City Council by way of proportional representation. Out of 24 electoral tickets only 6 have managed to pass the 5-percent threshold and win any seats. Most successful with balloters proved the center-right Law and Justice (PiS) party that won 17.2 percent of all votes and got nine councilors. Even though the socialist Alliance of the Democratic Left (SLD) came close second with 16.9 percent score, the country’s electoral system awarded it ten seats in the city council. The far-right League of Polish Families (LPR) did surprisingly well with 16.1 percent and nine seats. The liberal-conservative Civic Platform (PO) disappointed with 13.7 percent while the Twoje Miasto ticket, led by the liberal Freedom Union (UW), secured 12.4 percent of the votes, and they have obtained seven seats each. From among multitude of independent tickets just one, Krakowska Platforma Samorzadowa, got through with 6.6 percent in the ballot and a single councilor. Bad weather contributed to low turnout of 35.1 percent. 

New Bridge Joins Krakow’s Two Banks 
Krakow has got a brand-new bridge over the Vistula river that divides the city in two. The 352-m-long and 15-m-wide, $3.4-million Most Wandy bridge in the eastern part of the city links the Nowa Huta district with the Biezanow neighborhood. Besides two lanes for motorists it has separate sidewalks for pedestrians. 

Professor Jacek Majchrowski Is Krakow’s New Mayor 
In the mayoral runoff on November 10 Prof. Jacek Majchrowski won 50.5 percent of votes and thus has become Krakow’s new mayor, the first one ever elected in a popular ballot. Under the country’s newly adopted law the mayor enjoys considerably enhanced powers vis-a-vis the city council, resembling ‘strong mayors’ of some American cities, such as New York. Mr. Majchrowski’s term will expire in 2006. His rival, Jozef Lassota, former Krakow’s mayor in the years 1992-1998 and former MP, who was considered a favorite, got 49.5 percent of votes in the close runoff. In the first round on October 27 they won 21.2 percent and 23.3 percent respectively, running against ten other candidates. The president-elect is former dean of the venerable Jagiellonian University’s law department and onetime governor of the Krakow province. He ran as independent even though he is member of the socialist Alliance of Democratic Left (SLD). Nevertheless Prof. Majchrowski managed to secure the endorsement of some right-wing politicians prominent in Krakow too. 

HTS Steelworks Goes Subsidiary 
The mammoth HTS steelworks on the eastern outskirts of Krakow, by the Nowa Huta district, have joined Poland’s three other major steel producers, all four state-owned, in a merger and ceases as an independent company with the end of the year. Since January 1, 2003 it will be part of the Polskie Huty Stali (PHS) concern with its headquarters in the city of Katowice. The HTS assets amount to roughly 60 percent of the total value of the new entity that comprises the bulk of the country’s entire steel industry. The Polish government deems the consolidation of the sector a precondition to the success of its pending privatization. 

Krakow’s Soccer Wonder Team 
Krakow’s best soccer team, Wisla, produced a major upset in the UEFA Cup’s third leg when it soundly defeated Germany’s renowned Schalke 04 in the playoff and cut the Germans off the ongoing competition. Especially, that previously Wisla had knocked down Italy’s venerable Parma. In the cup's 1/8 Krakow’s side will face Italy's Lazio in Rome on February 20, and again in Krakow on February 27. Wisla also tops the Poland’s Premier League table at the end of its autumn round and seems a favorite to win next year’s championship after the winter break. 

Rents Are Up 
Krakow’s landlords have recently raised rents for old-time tenants of flats practically across the board to an equivalent of $1.7 a month per sq. meter, which is the upper limit allowed by the country’s law. Sometimes it means a twofold increase for the city’s 20,000-plus occupants of private tenement houses, many of them impoverished pensioners or jobless. At the same time tenants of municipal apartments still pay monthly an equivalent of $0.88 per sq. m. The Krakow municipality currently assists some 12,000 households with low income, around 4,000 of them living in quarters owned by a private landlord, through partly refunding the rent. 

Krakow’s Landmarks Wait Their Cash Flow 
As every year Poland’s president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, earmarked an equivalent of $7.5 million in the country’s 2003 budget for the Krakow Monuments Renovation National Fund. The trustees have disbursed the sum among 86 refurbishment projects selected from 166 requests supplied. Biggest grants, from half million to 3/4 million dollars, will go next year for renewal of the Renaissance palaces at 17 and 24 Kanonicza streets and for works at the walls of the Wawel Royal Castle

Looking Forward to the New Year’s Eve Night 
On the New Year’s Eve night most Krakow dwellers either throw private ‘Sylwester’ parties or join some 100,000 other revelers in the city’s scenic central Grand Square. At the same time many opt for partying in the restaurant or club of their choice, and in the mid-December those have got hectic time to secure reservations at some popular places. This year’s typical selection ranges from $10 for disco and a glass of bubbles to $150 for live music and two gourmet meals on top of half bottle of vodka and half bottle of sparking wine. And for $25 you can dip the night away in a water park. 

Other Krakow's News Stories of the Past: 

Krakow Info Archive News of 2009

Krakow Info News of 2008

Krakow Info Archive News of 2007

Krakow Info News of 2006

Krakow Info News of 2005

Krakow Info News of 2004

Krakow Info News of 2003

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