NEWSLINK: “The Russian government blocks Navalny’s website, as Instagram caves to the censor’s demands and YouTube wavers” – Meduza

Montage of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Logos, adapted from image at nps.gov

“When the dust finally settled, the morning after Valentine’s Day, it was Instagram – not YouTube – that had complied with orders from Russia’s federal censor to delete content flagged as a privacy violation by a court in Ust-Labinsky. On February 9, Instagram was given three weekdays to delete 14 posts uploaded by a self-described escort who calls herself ‘Nastya […]

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NEWSLINK: “Expansion, Sanctions, and Opposition-Promotion: the West’s Failed Russian Transformation Strategy” – Russian and Eurasian Politics/ Gordon M. Hahn

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“… The West’s post-Ukraine crisis sanction meanwhile are intended to undermine the regime from above. The hope in Washington and Brussels is that by pressuring state and private oligarchs close to Putin or the Kremlin, some may withdraw their support and seek either to remove Putin in a coup or join the opposition and remove him in a revolution or […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Did the Trump Administration Pass the Buck on Sanctioning Russia?” [excerpt] – Russia Matters/David Szakonyi

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

David Szakonyi is an assistant professor of political science at George Washington University This week’s highly anticipated news on additional Russia sanctions landed with a thud. For weeks, both Moscow and Washington had been astir about the impending steps the Trump administration would take against Russia based on legislation reluctantly signed by the president nearly six months ago” and overwhelmingly […]

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Investors Take U.S. List Of Russian ‘Oligarchs’ In Stride — For Now

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – January 30, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-investors-brush-off-us-treasury-oligarchs-list/29007996.html) For months Russia’s business and political elite were fretting about the planned release of a U.S. list of potential Russian targets for fresh sanctions — including government officials and “oligarchs” purportedly close to the Kremlin. After that unclassified list […]

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Why The List Matters

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 31, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-why-the-list-matters/29009462.html) So by now we’ve all probably heard the initial reaction to the U.S. Treasury Department’s much-anticipated list of the most influential Russian officials and oligarchs who could be subject to future sanctions. It’s nothing more than a “who’s who” […]

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NEWSLINK: “DC Think Tanks Fail To Deliver Russian ‘Sanctions’ Smackdown, Market Up” – Forbes/ Kenneth Rapoza

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“… The bulk of the names on the list, including Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, VTB Bank president Andrey Kostin, and metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska, were all names on ‘black’ and ‘gray’ lists circulating between the State Department and Washington think tanks for months. Treasury said that the appearance on the list does not mean they are banned from traveling to […]

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NEWSLINK: “Washington added every Russian billionaire to its ‘list of oligarchs.’ Does that make sense? Who are these ‘oligarchs’?” – Meduza

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

“1. What Happened? … 2. Who does Washington consider an “oligarch” in Russia? … 3. But who are “oligarchs” really? It is just very rich business people? … 4. Who are Russia’s oligarchs? Where’d they come from? … 5. Is this the only definition of “oligarchy”? … 6. Does Russia have “oligarchs” today? …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia and Ukraine: More similar than either wants to admit” – bne Intellinews/Anders Åslund

“… Russians see themselves as economically superior while Ukrainians cherish their freedom. Yet … economically the similarities are greater than the differences. Their current fundamental problem is their absence of real property rights. … Russia experienced an attempt at serious market economic reform from 1991-94 … avoid[ing] Ukraine’s … hyperinflation in 1993. While Russia’s situation was bad, Ukraine’s was far […]

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Few Russians Think ‘Era of Oligarchs’ is Over

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 28, 2018) At Davos, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that there aren’t any oligarchs left in Russia, a declaration that has attracted a great deal of attention both in Russia and abroad but very little support among Russians who continue to see oligarchs as an evil force in their […]

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Who’s On The List? Russia’s Elite Nervous About New U.S. Sanctions

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – WASHINGTON – January 15, 2018 – also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-sanctions-list-putin-circle-elite-nervous/28976991.html) There’s a chill settling in over Moscow, and it’s not just the arctic temperatures that typically smother the Russian capital in January. As U.S. officials put the finishing touches on new financial and travel sanctions against Russia, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “For Some Russian Oligarchs, Sanctions Risk Makes Putin Awkward to Know” – Reuters

“The threat of new U.S. sanctions has spread anxiety among Russia’s wealthiest people that their association with … Putin could land them on a U.S. government blacklist …. drawn up by early next year … part of a sanctions bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress …. Although those included on the list would not automatically be sanctioned, six people … part of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin in the Boot; New sanctions are about to bite, and Russia’s elite are spooked; The personal sanctions against regime cronies are especially tough” – The Economist

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… CAATSA moderately increases the pressure …. It extends the restrictions on investing in new Russian oil and gas projects to the operations of Russian firms in third countries. … the effectiveness of these new sanctions, which the administration is allowed to pause until late January, is undermined by the fact that European firms have been ring-fenced from their effects. Gazprom … has […]

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A Billionaire Is Trying to Ignite a Revolution in Russian Education; Moscow’s outskirts will soon house a school that pledges to foster Russia’s future leaders

Moscow Aerial View Satellite Image File Photo, adapted from image at jpl.nasa.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Emily Erken – November 17, 2017) An education revolution could be coming to Russia. Its stage: the fields and forests on the outskirts of the country’s capital. In 2012, the Russian government incorporated large swaths of land into Moscow, nearly doubling the city’s already vast area. Dubbed New Moscow, the new space was soon auctioned […]

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Navalny Fund Publishes Retractions in Usmanov Libel Suit

Alisher Usmanov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 11, 2017) The Anti-Corruption Foundation has complied with a court order to publish retractions related to a video critical of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Foundation founder and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sued for libel in April by Uzbekistan-born Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov over allegations of bribery. Navalny is currently serving a 20-day jail […]

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Will New U.S. Sanctions Regime Finally Hit Putin and Those Closest to Him?

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 2, 2017) Western sanctions on Russia up to now have hit the ordinary people of that country, although not as hard as the countersanctions the Kremlin itself has imposed. But the Western actions have done less to affect those closest to Vladimir Putin who, unlike the Russian people, may be in […]

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NEWSLINK: “‘Do you know what memes are?’ Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s lawsuit against opposition leader Alexey Navalny goes to trial” – Meduza

Alisher Usmanov file photo

“On Tuesday, May 30, a Moscow court convened to consider the merits of a defamation lawsuit brought by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov against opposition politician Alexey Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Usmanov is demanding that Navalny retract multiple accusations he made in a recent investigation into corruption allegedly involving Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as well as allegations Navalny has […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Power brokers in the Kremlin jostle to succeed Putin; President’s authoritarianism has barred the rise of any challenger” – Financial Times/ Kathrin Hille, Henry Foy

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“More than 17 years after … Putin became president, the authoritarian system he built is showing signs of internal corrosion. … Navalny’s ambitions are not expected to undo … Putin’s re-election bid. But the uncertainty over what comes next is stirring ambitions and sparking jostling among power brokers in the Kremlin and across Russia. … Putin remains the supreme arbiter of Russia’s politics. […]

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Usmanov denies Navalny’s allegation of illegal transfer of mansion, land to SotsGosProyekt Foundation

Alisher Usmanov file photo

MOSCOW. April 12 (Interfax) – USM Holdings founder Alisher Usmanov says he transferred a plot of land and a mansion to the SotsGosProyekt Foundation in exchange for another plot of land for his sister. “My sister, Gulbakhor Burkhanova, […] wanted to live near me after the death of our parents. […] [Foundation head Ilya] Yeliseyev told me about Foundation projects […]

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Trump Lacks Room to Move on Sanctions on Russia, Economists Say

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andre Tartar, Anna Andrianova – April 3, 2017) What a difference three months can make. Donald Trump dropped enough hints during the campaign and in the run-up to his inauguration as U.S. president to turn most economists into believers in an imminent easing of sanctions imposed against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. But as scandals […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Oil is the cause of Russia’s outsized corruption problem” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“#Russia was wracked by protests over the weekend when an estimated 60,000 people took to the street in more than 80 cities large and small to decry rampant corruption. Russia does have an outsized corruption problem and its #oil wealth is to blame.  … the Russian government has identified corruption as probably the biggest drag on growth and has launched a […]

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The Russian Billionaires on Bloomberg’s Rich List; Only a select few of Russia’s oligarchs make it to the top of the world’s rich lists.

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – March 6, 2017) Russia is home to droves of millionaires, business owners and oligarchs: but only a select few make it to the top of the world’s rich lists. Just eight Russian businessmen have made it into the top 100 of Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Together, they boast an estimated net worth of […]

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How Does Conflict of Interest Translate Into Russian? It Doesn’t.

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Skrynnik – February 9, 2017) Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika gave his first detailed comments on the business owned by his eldest son, Artyom, and his younger son, Igor, in an interview last week. “Don’t you think it’s a delicate situation when a father – meaning you – serves on a high government post […]

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Russia Supreme Court Proposes Ban on Pre-Trial Detention for Economic Crimes

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 3, 2016) The plenum of Russia’s Supreme Court has proposed banning the arrest of individuals accused of several varieties of economic crimes, the Prime news agency reported Thursday. According to the proposal, suspects can still be detained, but cannot be kept in pre-trial detention if they stand accused of several economic crimes: commercial fraud, […]

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Ukraine’s Millionaire Officials Come Out of Hiding

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – October 31, 2016) If you believe his mandatory income and property declaration, Serhiy Melnichuk, a Ukrainian legislator with a military past, should be one of the wealthiest people in the world. The document says he holds 1 trillion hryvnias ($39 billion) in cash. That’s almost twice Ukraine’s planned revenue for this year and […]

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NEWSLINK RTBH: “Kremlin seeking to repatriate children of Russia’s elite, say reports”

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

Amid growing tensions between Russia and the West, Russian media have reported that the children of officials who are living abroad will soon have to return to Russia.

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NEWSWATCH: “Prokhorov’s Onexim says not selling all Russian assets” – Reuters

Mikhail Prokohrov file photo

Onexim Group, owned by tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, said on Monday a newspaper report suggesting it had decided to sell all its assets in Russia was inaccurate. * * * On Monday, Vedomosti newspaper had reported that Prokhorov was searching for buyers of all his assets in Russia, quoting multiple unnamed sources. Onexim owns stakes in aluminium giant Rusal, potash producer […]

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Billionaire Tycoon Prokhorov to Sell All Russian Assets

Mikhail Prokohrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 4, 2016) Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is to sell all of his Russian assets, the Vedomosti business daily reported Monday. Prokhorov’s ONEXIM investment group has various assets in mining, finance, energetics, development and the media. Its larger assets include a 20 percent stake at Russian company Uralkali, the world’s largest producer of potassium, and a […]

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Wealthy Russian Families Lose Up to 75% of Their Income in 2015

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 24, 2016) Wealthy Russian families lost between 25 and 75 percent of their income in 2015, the Vedomosti business daily reported Thursday, citing the Russian Wealth Report 2016. On average, families with an annual income between 15 million and 100 million rubles ($235,000 to $1.5 million) lost 45 percent of their revenue, according to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kudrin and Poroshenko will fail because corruption is the system in Russia, Ukraine” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

… The irony is that Russia and Ukraine find themselves in exactly the same place: both countries are suffering from an economic miasma and both need deep and far-reaching reforms if they are to prosper. The difference between them is that Russia is half way through the process and will very like actually make some more reforms, whereas Ukraine is at the […]

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Government incomes: Abyzov pulls into first place in 2015

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

MOSCOW. April 15 (Interfax) – Open Government Affairs Minister Mikhail Abyzov, the only member of the government on the Forbes list of billionaires, pulled ahead of other members of the government in terms of income last year, thanks to a near doubling of his own earnings and a decline for his main competitor, Alexander Khloponin. Abyzov and his wife had […]

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Panama Papers scandal: What was the reaction in Russia?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

Even though most Russian newspapers wrote about the discovery of the Panama offshore bank accounts belonging to politicians and businessmen close to Vladimir Putin, public reaction to the scandal was rather muted. Russians exchanged jokes and comments about the information policy of the main Russian TV channels, which, unlike the newspapers, did not report on the scandalous leak. (Russia Beyond […]

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Top U.S. Official: Ukraine Reforms Endangered By Oligarchs Fighting Back

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – WASHINGTON, March 15, 2016) A top U.S. administration official has taken pointed aim at the wealthiest Ukrainian tycoons, known as oligarchs, accusing them of undermining the country’s anticorruption reform efforts. Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European аnd Eurasian Affairs, warned on March 15 that, if efforts to liberalize the economy and fight endemic graft […]

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‘Why Didn’t You Run?’ – The Inside Story on the Arrest of Russian Billionaire Dmitry Kamenshchik

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – February 25, 2016) On the morning of Feb. 18, Dmitry Kamenshchik, Russia’s 27th-richest tycoon, packed a backpack with some spare clothes, a toothbrush, and shoes without laces – the essentials for a stint in prison. The billionaire owner of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport was unemotional, says his lawyer. Ten days earlier, three current […]

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A Fallen Russia Oligarch Sends Warning to Rest of Putin Insiders

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Irina Reznik – January 12, 2016) He was one of the most powerful men in Russia for a decade, an old pal of the president who oversaw a million workers and a rail network spanning 11 time zones. But then Vladimir Yakunin was suddenly out, ending a career that included a stint as an intelligence officer […]

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Back to the Uncertain Future for Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Dmitry Elovsky, Mikhail Fishman – December 17, 2015) The mob-style execution of Vladimir Petukhov, mayor of the Siberian oil capital Nefteyugansk, one summer morning in 1998 was not an unusual occurrence for the “wild 90s” era of Russian business. But it has returned to the spotlight as part of the reanimated prosecution of former Yukos […]

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Gazprom’s Miller Tops Russia’s Best Paid Executive List With $27 Million

Gas Facility file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 20, 2015) Russia’s highest-paid executive last year with earnings of $27 million was Alexei Miller, the head of natural gas producer Gazprom, according to a ranking published by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine on Thursday that showed a sharp fall in the incomes of many of Russia’s top corporate bosses. Miller, 53, bucked […]

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If the Russian Elite is to Preserve Itself, It Must Change,’ Gudkov Says

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 5, 2015) Many commentators are speculating on whether Russia’s elite groups, now threatened by Vladimir Putin’s policies, will find a way to remove him from office and install someone more to their liking. Andrey Piontkovsky has focused particular attention on this issue (nv.ua/opinion/piontkovskiy/putin-protiv-rossijskih-elit-78063.html). But this is only part of a larger […]

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Five Questions: The Arrest Of Ukrainian Oligarch Hennadiy Korban

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(RFE/RL – Anna Shamanska – November 3, 2015) The arrest of a close associate of one of Ukraine’s most powerful oligarchs has pundits and the public wondering whether President Petro Poroshenko is finally cracking down on corruption or merely trying to silence political opponents. Hennadiy Korban, the head of the anti-Poroshenko UKROP party, was initially arrested at his home on […]

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Putin’s Mafia Statecraft

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 27, 2015) In the past couple years, Russian hackers have launched attacks on a French television network, a German steelmaker, the Polish stock market, the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. State Department, and The New York Times. And according to press reports citing Western intelligence officials, the perpetrators […]

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Fitness training for dinosaurs; As austerity begins to bite, Russia’s state-owned firms are facing growing pressure to shape up

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Miller in Moscow – October 15, 2015) Though Vladimir Yakunin was sacked from his post as head of state-owned Russian Railways back in August, the shock is still reverberating through Russia’s biggest and most powerful companies. A long-time friend of President Vladimir Putin, Yakunin was thought to be one of the most influential […]

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Ukraine ‘breadbasket’ prepares for its next heyday

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Benjamin Rahr in London – October 7, 2015) Despite Ukraine’s 18-month old civil war and the loss of territories in the east of the country, it has impressively maintained its status as one of the world’s leading exporters of agricultural products. Now the pro-European government in Kyiv hopes that its agribusiness, bolstered by a […]

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Saakashvili for Prime Minister of Ukraine?

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – September 23, 2015) After 24 years of independence and two revolutions, the promise of reforms that would turn Ukraine from a kleptocracy enabled by Soviet-era institutions into, say, Poland still hasn’t materialized. Popular patience is wearing thin. So three months ago, President Petro Poroshenko sent his friend (and Russia’s bete noire) Mikheil Saakashvili […]

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Kids of Russia’s billionaires charge into business

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – September 14, 2015) It’s been just under a quarter of a century since the fall of the Soviet Union and in that time a relatively small group of men have become fabulously wealthy in the rough and tumble of Russia’s “wild capitalism”. As most of Russia’s tycoons are approaching […]

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