30 january 2013

Dmitry Medvedev attends a national assembly of the Emergencies Ministry and civil defence forces leadership in Krasnogorsk

Dmitry Medvedev’s address:

Good afternoon to everyone once again. We have assembled here to talk about how to ensure the security of our citizens within the framework of the Ministry for Emergency Situation, Civil Defence and Disaster Relief. This issue is a national priority, which the Government of the Russian Federation is constantly monitoring. We have assembled here to take stock of the work that was done last year and to formulate assignments for the near future.

The year 2012, as probably each year, was difficult in its own way. It saw large-scale disasters, such as the flooding in the Krasnodar Territory, mudslides in Dagestan, forest fires in the Siberian and Far Eastern Federal Districts, and fires at different agencies, including the Defence Ministry. Regrettably, hundreds of people died and thousands were affected by the consequences. The amount of direct damages done by natural disasters and accidents has exceeded 200 billion roubles. This country clearly needs an effective emergency warning system. That sort of information must be communicated urgently to ensure that relevant decisions are made without delay. The executive order, On Creating a Comprehensive Emergency Warning System, was signed last November. This system should be launched before January 1, 2014, and should provide each person in hazardous areas with all vitally needed information. The consolidated emergency call system, or System 112, should be vigorously introduced and developed. You know, colleagues, that similar systems are operated in other countries, where they have proven themselves well. They make it possible to provide comprehensive and prompt aid, which is very important in certain situations. It is also extremely important to train people to follow security regulations and self-help techniques, which is a priority for your ministry. This work should be addressed at all levels, including, importantly, the municipal level. On the ground, it is easier to spot the accumulated problems and take steps to avert disasters. You know full well that occasionally feats of valor are committed in situations where you just have to fight against the results of someone’s negligence or complacency.

Much has been done in this country to enable us to deal with the consequences of various natural calamities as quickly and as efficiently as we possibly can. There is the National Crisis Control Centre (I visited it last October), which has modern equipment and a well-trained staff: its operations are quite impressive. The federal districts and regions have established networks of everyday control centres that can promptly react to and cope with emergencies. But these centres should be constantly upgraded to meet the requirements of the times, both technologically and legally.

The Emergencies Ministry is continuing to receive state-of-the-art equipment as a result of the Government’s policies. We have done much in this regard in recent years, approving numerous important resolutions. I think that this has helped the ministry to attain its main goals. More than 8 billion roubles will be allocated for these purposes in 2013. I also would like to say that the ministry has a good track record cooperating with various agencies, including the Ministry of Defence. I think that this pooling of efforts is the right approach. This takes place all over the world because it is simply rational by government considerations. Being the largest country in the world, Russia needs this by all means.

We know full well how important mobility is for rescuers. One of the main goals for this year is for the Emergencies Ministry to establish an aeromobile task force to respond to large-scale emergencies and fires through the use of modern technologies. The civil defence system’s capabilities should be used to the fullest as well. Its undertakings and the relevant rules must be strictly complied with in full measure by all officials and, of course, by the general public.

Colleagues, the ministry’s employees saved more than 200,000 people last year. This is probably the most positive and important result and it is this result that makes people grateful. More than 2 million people have been provided aid by the national rescue service.

Rescuing is one of the most humane occupations on this planet. All of you work selflessly; you work honestly, often putting your health and even your life at risk. Thanks to your efforts, Russia possesses one of the most powerful emergency services in the world. And it is not only the matter of equipment that was mentioned earlier today (although, let me repeat it, the equipment should indeed be modern and I’d even say super-modern). It is the people who matter the most. I would like to say that our people are grateful to you and proud of you.

Today we will award government and agency decorations to some of you who are present here. I’d like to thank all of you for your service and wish you success. Now let us begin the award ceremony.


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Vladimir Puchkov: Mr Medvedev, ladies and gentlemen. In his address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin defined our main task – to create a wealthy and prosperous Russia. Therefore, ensuring individual and national security is the main mission of the Integrated Emergency Prevention and Response System (RSChS). The past year was complicated and tense and required extra efforts on behalf of RSChS, but it has coped with its tasks.

Last year the Emergencies Ministry saved over 214,000 people from fires, accidents and other emergencies. It cleaned up 136 large-scale natural and man-made disasters and extinguished 96 major fires that threatened residential communities and critical facilities. The number of fires was reduced by 3.2%, which means that 5,600 fires that could bring disaster to people have been prevented. The number of deaths was reduced by 3.3%, which means that 393 people were able to go home to their families. Some 150,000 people were saved during traffic accidents. Now the ministry responds to every other traffic accident. It is working in close cooperation with the relevant services of the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Healthcare and other agencies. The death rate in water accidents was brought down by 10% (626 lives) and the number of such accidents was reduced by 12% (minus 863). Mine rescue brigades decreased the number of accidents at the mines they are in charge of by almost a quarter. They completed 547 missions and 499 victims received adequate medical aid underground – in mines and metallurgical facilities. Over 40,000 explosive ordnances, including 469 air bombs, were defused, preventing them from wreaking havoc on people. As for international activities, we conducted more than 60 humanitarian and rescue missions, evacuating Russian citizens from different parts of the world.

We established a modern system of crisis management centres. The National Centre for Crisis Management conducted 158 important events with the participation of government bodies. It coordinates the operations of 45 RSChS functional sub-systems and emergency response resources in practically all of the 83 regions of this country. The Government transferred over 14 billion roubles to 26 regions from its Reserve Fund. People received these funds as support for their families and compensation for lost essentials. More than 160,000 were paid lump-sum allowances, and 695 families received houses and flats paid for by government-issued vouchers. Socially important facilities and housing were built or repaired in emergency-hit areas.

Functional and territorial sub-systems also carried out a large amount of emergency recovery work and fire fighting. Practically all federal agencies, regional governors and most of the regional authorities took active part in this work on a daily basis.

Overall, the RSChS fulfilled all of its tasks in 2012. Rescue services prevented humanitarian disasters in the Krasnodar Territory, Siberia and the Far East, to name a few. Fire and rescue brigades ensured the steady socio-economic advance of the regions and the country as a whole. RSChS, the nation’s main backup system, coped with its tasks of preventing and responding to emergencies and fires. At the same time we must take steps to develop the RSChS and civil defence for implementing tasks outlined in presidential orders and for responding to threats predicted for 2013.

First, the most important priority of our work is to develop and improve the legal framework. This is the foundation for forming and implementing state policy on security in everyday life. The heads of federal executive bodies and regional governors should elaborate the legal and organisational aspects of the operation of oversight bodies and forces of the Integrated Emergency Prevention and Response System (RSChS) in the regions and specify the levels of response to disasters established by the latest amendments to the federal law. Last year, the Republic of Tatarstan, the Kamchatka Territory, the Kaluga, Kursk, Rostov, Tomsk, Yaroslavl and Tyumen regions, as well as other regions, St Petersburg and Moscow made a good contribution to improving the legal framework.

Now, municipal entities. We ought to extend practical and system-wide assistance to local bodies not only for creating a municipal regulatory framework but also the mechanisms for the practical implementation of the statutes on financial, material, technical and other support. Municipal entities need your consistent support.

Second. The development of the disaster response system, including threats of cyclical natural phenomena. It is necessary to elaborate proper procedures at all levels of the Integrated Emergency Prevention and Response System (RSChS) so that every individual can get timely, high-quality assistance anywhere in our vast country.

Following the President’s decision, RSChS units have been staffed in order to tackle disasters, including in potential flood zones in Russia. Meanwhile, it is also necessary to work on all issues and problems in the regions ahead of the coming floods. In the second half-year, I ask the heads of all levels of government to prepare and plan large-scale exercises on disaster relief, primarily with respect to cyclic disasters. The response systems in the Republic of Mordovia, Khakassia, in the Stavropol and Primorye Territories, on Kamchatka, in the Murmansk Region and in Moscow worked very effectively when confronted with these disasters last year. I would also like to note the quality of the work of functional subsystems of the Ministry of Healthcare, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other federal agencies.

Last year, the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief set response time thresholds for fire-rescue and other units: up to 60 seconds – for units tackling emergency situations and fires; the start for rescue work in towns – up to 10 minutes, in rural areas – up to 20 minutes. The Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief also proposes that we establish similar requirements for all RSChS and fire-fighting units in Russia. By the way, last year the total response time for all our units was reduced, and currently the response time in towns is 9 minutes 40 seconds. In rural areas, we comply with the standards on large-scale disasters and fires, and start the relief efforts within 20 minutes. Every second of delay costs lives.   

Third. It is necessary to continue to improve the system of oversight over functional and territorial RSChS subsystems, and improve the coordination of actions, forces and equipment. 

Mr Medvedev has already noted the organisational work of the National Control Centre in crisis situations; meanwhile we have many tasks to further develop control systems in the regions. Currently, a centralised automatic fire-rescue control system is in operation; it is based on the crisis control centres of the territorial bodies of the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief. In our view, this practice should be promoted to all oversight bodies and RSChS forces in provinces. I ask regional governors to create modern RSChS oversight agencies to solve tasks on the regional, municipal and operational levels and exclusively on the basis of crisis control centres of the main regional directorates of the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief. This will reduce local agency personnel and improve the efficiency of the whole system of anti-crisis oversight in Russia. I want the heads of regional centres to ensure oversight and expert support in solving this problem.

Fourth. The implementation of the plan for creating and developing the forces and equipment of the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief, the plan approved by the President of the Russian Federation, is the key area of our activity. This year we are due to conclude the formation of the federal rescue service of the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief to provide relief in large-scale emergency situations and conduct international humanitarian missions. It is also necessary to conduct a range of measures on improving the preparedness and efficiency of forces and equipment. Primarily these are units which take daily tours of duty. Their total personnel includes  51,000 people using over 13,000 units of rescue and fire-fighting vehicles and equipment. It is also necessary to increase the number of personnel and improve the equipment of rescue units of the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief and RSChS in remote regions.

This year it is also necessary to continue to form comprehensive fire-rescue centres in large cities of Russia. I also request that the North Caucasus Military Rescue Formation be completed in 2013 and deployed in the area of Mineralnye Vody. The personnel, vehicles and equipment should meet the needs of a whole range of rescue work and fire fighting activities. It is necessary to create a powerful canine service and a special cavalry rescue unit to work in the mountains, in the republics of Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Circassia, North Ossetia and other regions of North Caucasus.

It is necessary to pay special attention to the developing tourist cluster. The growth of the number of shifts of rescue units will make it possible to support all remote territories. In addition, we must organise the operation of mine rescue units and resolve the issues of their social support. For the first time in decades, a residential building for mine rescuers was commissioned in Novokuznetsk last year and their micro-district was renovated. It is also necessary to conclude work on creating living conditions for auxiliary mine rescue teams providing security for technology processes, primarily underground, in difficult conditions, as well as on metallurgy and construction facilities according to the new federal law which is coming into effect shortly. I ask regional governors, heads of territorial bodies to take this work under their personal supervision.  

It is also necessary to pay special attention to improving the uniforms of fire fighters and rescuers who work under difficult conditions of contamination and…

Firefighters and rescue workers operating in contaminated areas in extremely cold or hot temperatures should be properly equipped.

The current exhibition features new multifunctional types of equipment used in difficult environments. Please identify the best models, hold open testing and discuss which ones should be adopted for use by firefighters, rescue workers and other emergency relief professionals. Also, please continue to implement the programme  for re-equipping the Emergencies Ministry’s relief teams with the latest multifunctional firefighting vehicles and equipment in accordance with Government decisions. Mr Medvedev mentioned that over 8 billion roubles in additional money was allocated in 2013 alone.

Protecting infrastructure facilities and promising economic projects in the Arctic zone is another challenge faced by the system. To this end, the Emergencies Ministry along with the Defence Ministry are forming integrated rescue centres in northern Russian regions.

I set specific targets in this sphere in Murmansk, on Saturday, January 26. I asked the heads of territorial bodies and regional centres to develop separate programmes for polar regions and allocate proper financial resources and supplies. Also, please keep a close eye on how the decisions with regard to the Murmansk Region are being implemented. The Murmansk Region Governor is in this room; we had the chance to discuss this issue this morning.

Fifth. Emergencies prevention and risk management are high on our list of priorities. The formula is perfectly simple and straightforward: rescuers come and minimise risks. Regions with minimal risks attract investors and banks, which is helpful for growing regional economies, creating new jobs, expanding the social infrastructure, generating more taxes and moving forward in general. We have formed a comprehensive emergency monitoring and forecasting system in Russia. We have implemented innovative technology based on innovative principles of the intelligent GLONASS system. The Stavropol Territory, the Kursk Region and the Sakhalin Region, the Republic of Tatarstan and the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania have done a great job in this regard. I would like to thank our colleagues at the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Regional Development, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Healthcare, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Defence and other federal agencies for their help and painstaking efforts in getting this work done. Frankly, some of the people in this audience deserve criticism. In order to increase the effectiveness of preventive measures in the Russian regions, it is imperative that we adopt a series of measures, including ones to ensure the safety of the World Student Games in Kazan, which is a task of paramount importance for all RSChS territorial and functional subsystems. We will hold a field meeting of the Government Commission for Emergency Prevention, Emergency Relief, and Fire Safety Kazan on February 12 in Kazan, where we will check the level of readiness of all command centres, forces and systems.

The next phase of our work is Sochi. In order to prevent emergencies, I want the heads of the Russian regions to put in place integrated security and survival systems. Pilot projects have already been established in St Petersburg, the Vologda Region, the Kursk Region and other regions and have proved their effectiveness. I would like the heads of the Emergencies Ministry’s territorial units to team up with the Russian regions in order to carry out emergency prevention measures and provide them with specific practical and methodological support in achieving this important goal.

Oversight and enforcement are important in preventing emergencies and fires. This is how the Emergencies Ministry is positioning the work of inspectors. Their main objectives are prevention, relief and support. As part of this work, I want inspectors to improve their effectiveness, ensure the transparency of all procedures, the accessibility and clarity of information, and remove all administrative barriers.

It's time to finish this work and achieve the result we were looking for. Also, please make the enforcement and oversight authorities publicly accountable for the results of their inspections and associated costs in accordance with the objectives outlined in the presidential address to the Federal Assembly. The number of inspections, primarily inspections of small and medium-sized businesses, should be reduced by a factor 10. This should be done by simplifying forms and procedures for drafting safety declarations, introducing independent risk assessment using the Internet and other modern technology. Believe me, this is an achievable goal, and one we need to get done this year.

Increasing the level of readiness of the civil defence system is one of the biggest challenges facing the system. Civil defence resources should primarily be used for providing relief during natural and man-made emergency situations, as well as for protecting people and territories. The Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Federal Customs Service did particularly well in this area in 2012. The authorities in St Petersburg, the Tula Region, the Chelyabinsk Region, the Republic of Adygea, Karachayevo-Circassia and the Trans-Baikal Region, to name a few, also did well.

However, I would like to ask the heads of the executive bodies at all levels: colleagues, please pay attention to civil defence. We need a socially-oriented and modern civil defence. Also, I request that the goals set by the President during the nationwide civil defence drill conducted on October 4, 2012 - the day of the 80th anniversary of Civil Defence in Russia - be achieved. On that day, we conducted drills and training, met with children, students and employees. Over 10 million people gained additional knowledge and skills related to personal safety and the prevention of everyday dangers and threats.

Seventh. Training our people in survival skills is a very important task. People from all walks of life undergo training in these skills. We hold annual Safety School classes and Young Rescuer field camps. Over 2.2 million children and teenagers gained practical skills for coping with extreme situations. The first international Safety School competitions attended by children from 11 countries were held in the Moscow Region. The All-Russian integrated warning and information system in crowded places is also effective in teaching people survival skills in emergency situations. Today, it brings safety information, weather forecasts, warnings and other useful information to 64 million people on a daily basis. This is a very good figure.

Regions, such as Kamchatka, the Trans-Baikal Territory, the republics of Udmurtia, Komi, Ingushetia, the Kursk, Volgograd and Chelyabinsk regions, Moscow and St Petersburg did great in training their people. There are though some people in this room whom I could criticise for poor civil defence training results, especially the training of key personnel. I would like to ask the leaders of the regions to focus on training such key personnel and local RSChS forces. Also, the Emergencies Ministry and the regions should conduct additional classes this year and properly train the heads of local governments on issues of crisis management and measures to protect human life and health.

Next, creating a 112 emergency call system is another important task. A law has been adopted that identifies the powers of all authorities in creating such a system. In order to consolidate the resources of the federal and regional budgets, a special federal programme has been put together that provides for the allocation of funds from various sources and clearly defines all the tasks that we need to achieve stage-by-stage before 2017. I would like to ask the executive regional authorities to team up with the Emergencies Ministry, the Ministry of Communications and other federal agencies and create such a system in major cities in 2013 and draft plans to spread it further. I would like to ask the heads of territorial bodies of the Emergencies Ministry to organise specific and constructive methodological help in resolving this issue.

Eighth. Fire safety issues remain the focus of our attention. I am confident that the federal targeted programme Fire Safety in the Russian Federation for the Period up to 2017, adopted on December 30, 2012, will give new impetus to addressing fire safety issues. The total funding for this programme comes to 204 billion roubles, and every rouble from this federal programme will go towards protecting the lives and health of the Russian people.

Once implemented, the programme will help us attain a new level in ensuring fire safety in Russia. The heads of the Russian regions should adopt and implement regional targeted fire safety programmes in 2013. Creating volunteer fire departments is also an important aspect of the work of the RSChS. To date, laws on volunteer fire departments have been passed in 82 Russian regions. There are over 39,000 public associations that bring together over 800,000 volunteers. Volunteers have 21,000 vehicles and units of equipment. In 2012 alone, they received more than 6,500 vehicles and units of equipment. Special words of gratitude go to all the heads of the Russian regions who are helping to create and maintain volunteer fire departments, especially in remote areas, on a daily basis.

In 2013, we will need to focus on improving the level of preparedness of volunteers and enhancing the quality of individual training, equipment and readiness to do what needs to be done.

Next is international cooperation from firefighters and rescuers where the Russian Emergencies Ministry holds the leading position with the focus on major functional and territorial emergency relief subsystems operated by the RSChS. We provided relief to major emergencies and humanitarian disasters in 2012 across the globe. The Emergencies Ministry has started building an international crisis centre network. This network will be based on the Russian-Serbian humanitarian centre in the Balkans, centres in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba, as well as the existing system run by the Russian National Centre for Crisis Management in Emergency Situations, which is already up and running in the UN headquarters in Geneva. The Emergencies Ministry’s initiative to establish support centres for humanitarian activities in the Asia-Pacific region is supported by the authorities.

In addition, we plan to build base centres for coordinating humanitarian relief on almost all continents under the auspices of the UN. These initiatives are being promoted together with the relevant UN institutions. Russia’s experience and our knowledge in creating integrated national rescue services is in big demand across the globe.

The innovative principles underlying Russian emergency humanitarian relief need to be applied internationally. Russian rescue techniques, Russian products and safety equipment should be promoted on the international market. The mechanisms for implementing bilateral and multilateral agreements should also be taken to a new level.

Finally, social security for firefighters and rescue workers is a top priority for the ministry. Social obligations to staff will be established and implemented in full. A new system of pay was put in place on January 1, including better medical services and socioeconomic benefits for our employees. The heads of territorial bodies are personally responsible for the social sphere. I would like the heads of the Russian regions to plan and carry out additional measures to improve the social security of rescue workers in 2013. They are paid from the budgets of the Russian regions and municipalities and work to protect the lives and health of the Russian people.

Colleagues, the priorities for 2013 have been identified and you can see them on your screens. Please make sure that they are implemented in a consistent and high-quality manner.

In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to the members of the Government Commission for Emergency Prevention, Emergency Relief, and Fire Safety, the members of the public council and advisory board of the Emergencies Ministry, the heads and specialists of the RSChS’ functional and territorial subsystems and the media. Special words of gratitude go to our veterans, who have created the best possible emergency and rescue service not only in Russia but on a global scale and put into it their knowledge and professionalism, as well as their hearts and souls.

This is my first time speaking as a minister from this rostrum to such a high assembly. Believe me, I’m nervous and I feel the responsibility. I thank all of the Emergencies Ministry team members and all of the RSChS team members for the work that you did in 2012. I’m confident that the tasks we've been set by the President and the Government, as well as all the problems faced by us, will be successfully achieved and resolved by the functional and territorial subsystems at the highest level. That concludes my report. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Allow me to say a few words in closing. Mr Puchkov outlined the ministry’s key goals, which were discussed today as part of the national assembly to summarise the results of the Integrated Emergency Prevention and Response System (RSChS) and implement civil defence measures. I will not go over each one, since they have been discussed in detail, but I will still comment on three of them.

First, it’s important to acquire proper equipment in order for the ministry to be in a position to do its work. Of course, we need the latest designs. Money needs to be spent effectively. I recall that in 2010, some unprecedented decisions were taken. I took these decisions following the well-known events of the summer of 2010 when, frankly, we were confronted with a shortage of equipment in a number of areas. At that time we took these decisions, expecting similar natural disasters in the future. Related work continued in 2011 and 2012, and I believe that it was useful. The Ministry's technological level, which even before had been decent, has considerably improved, and it has very dependable technological level now. However the Ministry should spend these 8 billion roubles reasonably and purchase what it really needs, so that the Ministry could act professionally and adequately.

Moving on, there are two positions included in the report that I think are extremely important for the future, and I mentioned them in my opening remarks. I'm referring to Service 112. We have been working on this for a long time; this process is being dragged out indecently, it is high time to conclude this process – this idea should be finalised or abandoned. But it is no good giving it up, because this is an approach practised throughout the world; therefore it should be completed. Please focus on creating a telecommunications infrastructure, which was mentioned in the minister’s report; and pay close attention to equipping first aid services, with your support, because these two positions are interlinked. It is also very important to form a volunteer fire-fighting system, and the minister mentioned this too. These are effective assistants who work honestly and selflessly. Therefore we should use international experience and develop this project in accordance with the law that has been adopted relatively recently and that is currently in operation.   

And the last point. Here Mr Puchkov mentioned the theme of inspections. The theme is a complex one, there has always been an ample public response to it. On the one hand, we all understand that minimising the number of inspections seems to be favourable for the business climate, for the enterprises operating in various areas, on land, in regions. On the other hand, I do not want ministerial departments to interpret my idea as an instruction to give up inspections. We know dozens of deplorable cases that have occurred because some enterprises either failed to follow the instructions of your agencies, or these agencies failed to issue such instructions for some reason. Therefore very effective oversight is needed to prevent future problems. It is necessary to conduct preventative measures, which are extremely important in the activity of the Emergencies Ministry, in order that these measures produce their positive effect. 

Colleagues, I wish successful work to your convention, at which there will be many interesting discussions. Good luck, serve well, and see you later! 

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Following his address, Dmitry Medvedev presented Emergencies Ministry employees with government decorations.

Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, I believe that we should congratulate our friends once again and wish them success. Of course, I would like to thank all of you for your hard work in 2012 and hope that the current year will be equally successful for all employees (albeit less eventful professionally). But accidents are unavoidable, and therefore let me wish you success and good health.

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Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited an exhibition of new equipment and technology for Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief rescue teams. For instance, the Prime Minister was shown a new computer system for simulating emergency situations. This system is also used to prevent accidents and disasters and to train rescue workers.

Moreover, the Prime Minister was shown rescue worker uniforms for various types of search-and-rescue missions in a variety of climates, including a uniform for rescue teams that will be used at the Sochi Olympics.

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