Ukraine’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ Reality

Exclusive: The horrendous fire in Odessa, killing dozens of ethnic Russians protesting against the U.S.-backed coup regime in Kiev, has lurched the country closer to full-scale civil war and disrupted the American media’s efforts to deny the existence of pro-regime neo-Nazis, Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry

As much as the coup regime in Ukraine and its supporters want to project an image of Western moderation, there is a “Dr. Strangelove” element that can’t stop the Nazism from popping up from time to time, like when the Peter Sellers character in the classic movie can’t keep his right arm from making a “Heil Hitler” salute.

This brutal Nazism surfaced again on Friday when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.

Peter Sellers playing Dr. Strangelove as he struggles to control his right arm from making a Nazi salute.

Peter Sellers playing Dr. Strangelove as he struggles to control his right arm from making a Nazi salute.

“Burn, Colorado, burn” went the chant.

As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading “Galician SS,” a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.

The death by fire of dozens of people in Odessa recalled a World War II incident in 1944 when elements of a Galician SS police regiment took part in the massacre of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka, which had been a refuge for Jews and was protected by Russian and Polish partisans. Attacked by a mixed force of Ukrainian police and German soldiers on Feb. 28, hundreds of townspeople were massacred, including many locked in barns that were set ablaze.

The legacy of World War II especially the bitter fight between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east seven decades ago is never far from the surface in Ukrainian politics. One of the heroes celebrated during the Maidan protests in Kiev was Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose name was honored in many banners including one on a podium where Sen. John McCain voiced support for the uprising to oust elected President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was in eastern Ukraine.

During World War II, Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-B, a radical paramilitary movement that sought to transform Ukraine into a racially pure state. OUN-B took part in the expulsion and extermination of thousands of Jews and Poles.

Though most of the Maidan protesters in 2013-14 appeared motivated by anger over political corruption and by a desire to join the European Union, neo-Nazis made up a significant number. These storm troopers from the Right Sektor and Svoboda party decked out some of the occupied government buildings with Nazi insignias and even a Confederate battle flag, the universal symbol of white supremacy.

Then, as the protests turned violent from Feb. 20-22, the neo-Nazis surged to the forefront. Their well-trained militias, organized in 100-man brigades called “the hundreds,” led the final assaults against police and forced Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives.

In the days after the coup, as the neo-Nazi militias effectively controlled the government, European and U.S. diplomats scrambled to help the shaken parliament put together the semblance of a respectable regime, although four ministries, including national security, were awarded to the right-wing extremists in recognition of their crucial role in ousting Yanukovych.

Seeing No Nazis

Since February, virtually the entire U.S. news media has cooperated in the effort to play down the neo-Nazi role, dismissing any mention of this inconvenient truth as “Russian propaganda.” Stories in the U.S. media delicately step around the neo-Nazi reality by keeping out relevant context, such as the background of national security chief Andriy Parubiy, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991, blending radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy was commandant of the Maidan’s “self-defense forces.”

When the neo-Nazi factor is mentioned in the mainstream U.S. press, it is usually to dismiss it as nonsense, such as an April 20 column by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who visited his ancestral home, the western Ukrainian town of Karapchiv, and portrayed its residents as the true voice of the Ukrainian people.

“To understand why Ukrainians are risking war with Russia to try to pluck themselves from Moscow’s grip, I came to this village where my father grew up,” he wrote. “Even here in the village, Ukrainians watch Russian television and loathe the propaganda portraying them as neo-Nazi thugs rampaging against Russian speakers.

“‘If you listen to them, we all carry assault rifles; we’re all beating people,’ Ilya Moskal, a history teacher, said contemptuously.”

In an April 17 column from Kiev, Kristof wrote that what the Ukrainians want is weapons from the West so they can to go “bear-hunting,” i.e. killing Russians. “People seem to feel a bit disappointed that the United States and Europe haven’t been more supportive, and they are humiliated that their own acting government hasn’t done more to confront Russian-backed militants. So, especially after a few drinks, people are ready to take down the Russian Army themselves.”

Kristof also repeated the U.S. “conventional wisdom” that the resistance to the coup regime among eastern Ukrainians was entirely the work of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, Kristof wrote, “warns that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war. But the chaos in eastern cities is his own creation, in part by sending provocateurs across the border.”

However, when the New York Times finally sent two reporters to spend time with rebels from the east, they encountered an indigenous movement motivated by hostility to the Kiev regime and showing no signs of direction from Moscow. [See’s “Another NYT ‘Sort of’ Retraction on Ukraine.”]

Beyond the journalistic risk of jumping to conclusions, Kristof, who fancies himself a great humanitarian, also should recognize that the clever depiction of human beings as animals, whether as “bears” or “Colorado beetles,” can have horrendous human consequences as is now apparent in Odessa.

Reagan’s Nazis

But the problem with some western Ukrainians expressing their inconvenient love for Nazis has not been limited to the current crisis. It bedeviled Ronald Reagan’s administration when it began heating up the Cold War in the 1980s.

As part of that strategy, Reagan’s United States Information Agency, under his close friend Charles Wick, hired a cast of right-wing Ukrainian exiles who began showing up on U.S.-funded Radio Liberty praising the Galician SS.

These commentaries included positive depictions of Ukrainian nationalists who had sided with the Nazis in World War II as the SS waged its “final solution” against European Jews. The propaganda broadcasts provoked outrage from Jewish organizations, such as B’nai B’rith, and individuals including conservative academic Richard Pipes.

According to an internal memo dated May 4, 1984, and written by James Critchlow, a research officer at the Board of International Broadcasting, which managed Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, one RL broadcast in particular was viewed as “defending Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the SS.”

Critchlow wrote, “An RL Ukrainian broadcast of Feb. 12, 1984 contains references to the Nazi-oriented Ukrainian-manned SS ‘Galicia’ Division of World War II which may have damaged RL’s reputation with Soviet listeners. The memoirs of a German diplomat are quoted in a way that seems to constitute endorsement by RL of praise for Ukrainian volunteers in the SS division, which during its existence fought side by side with the Germans against the Red Army.”

Harvard Professor Pipes, who was an adviser to the Reagan administration, also inveighed against the Radio Liberty broadcasts, writing on Dec. 3, 1984 “the Russian and Ukrainian services of RL have been transmitting this year blatantly anti-Semitic material to the Soviet Union which may cause the whole enterprise irreparable harm.”

Though the Reagan administration publicly defended Radio Liberty against some of the public criticism, privately some senior officials agreed with the critics, according to documents in the archives of the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. For instance, in a Jan. 4, 1985, memo, Walter Raymond Jr., a top official on the National Security Council, told his boss, National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, that “I would believe much of what Dick [Pipes] says is right.”

What the Reagan administration apparently didn’t understand three decades ago and what the U.S. State Department still has not seemed to learn today is that there is a danger in stirring up the old animosities that divide Ukraine, east and west.

Though clearly a minority, Ukraine’s neo-Nazis remain a potent force that is well-organized, well-motivated and prone to extreme violence, whether throwing firebombs at police in the Maidan or at ethnic Russians trapped in a building in Odessa.

As vengeance now seeks vengeance across Ukraine, this Nazi imperative will be difficult to hold down, much as Dr. Strangelove struggled to stop his arm from making a “Heil Hitler” salute.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

29 comments for “Ukraine’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ Reality

  1. MediaM
    May 8, 2014 at 09:29

    Excellent piece–depressing but true. The US mainstream media coverage of this situation has been abominable. I hadn’t read the Kristof article, but I’m not surprised. I don’t think that, generally, people know much about the Ukraine or the underpinnnings of this conflict. It is scary that the “paper of record” offers up this kind of spin. I recently read an excellent analysis (two parts, long but worth it) of the situation here:

    It is important that we spread the word about the kind of people we’re helping to fund and bring to power. Mujahideen, anyone?

  2. Olga
    May 8, 2014 at 04:13

    It’s not “ethnic Russian protesters”, they were people of different backgrounds, including jews. This conflict is based on “ukranian nationalism” etc., but the joke is of course that there are jews, russians and even afghani like Mustafa Nayem on the side of “Ukranian nationalism” and there are for instance turk-meshetins in Slavyansk, that are “prorussian protesters”.
    And ribbons are not black and red, black and red are colours of Right Sector, nationalists-extremists. The so cold George ribbon is back and orange, symbols of fire and ashes of war. And the potato bugs (that have never been in Eurasia, and are considered to be taken from state of Colorado, USA with some vegetable seeds, that’s why called colorads), someopne spread this around about the bugs, of course as a mass campaign for dehumanization and humiliation of victory over Hitler.

  3. jg
    May 7, 2014 at 15:49

    Ukraine: Massacre in Odessa – So-Called Pro-Russian Masked Gunmen Coordinated by Local Police

    Nazis in Ukraine

    The Obama regime could be the worst regime in the entire history of the United States. They have helped Al Qaeda connected Jihadists in Libya, Syria and elsewhere. They have installed neo-nazis in power in Ukraine. They have institutionalized a panopticon surveillance society without Constitutional rights. They have turned reality inside out through corporate media corruption. It is post-truth, post-sanity, post-law, post-morality Amerika. Heck of a job, Barrie.

    • Chuck
      May 13, 2014 at 01:25

      Well I would like to believe that it wasn’t Obama’s idea to do those horrible things, just as it wasn’t Ol’ Ronnie’s idea to trade drugs for guns. Deniability is more than plausible when you don’t actually have the skills and connections to pull off those kinds of capers.

  4. Thaddeus Hildebrand
    May 7, 2014 at 11:33

    Please keep speaking the truth!

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me

    Now they came for the Russians. Who will be next?

  5. Baldur Dasche
    May 6, 2014 at 22:54

    No? Why not? Where do you think the Right Faction get their financing – aside from America?

  6. Baldur Dasche
    May 6, 2014 at 22:53

    The unit of “elite” National Guard’ Being sent tto “resstore Order” in Odessa are just better organiozed and equipped mmembers of tthee Right Faction who havee bbeen ‘in training’ since tthee interim government mobilized tthe Maidan Toughs for its up-coming war with the ‘separatist terror”. The fox is now well and truly loose in the hen house.

    The recent Union Building outrage will look like an alley rumble the first time this unit is confronted. trhewy should have been used to ‘hurl back’ the as-yet-unrepresented ‘red horde’ over-scheduled to invade – but the Right Faction is too ‘elite’ to be used as cannon-fodder, or marytrs. Dying is for somebody else.

  7. F. G. Sanford
    May 6, 2014 at 18:19

    Can anyone comment? A recent story indicates Prince Bandar (Bush) has dispatched Takfiri fighters from Syria to Ukraine to aid neo-Nazi death squads in their efforts to ethnically cleanse Eastern Ukraine. Banderists will cook them, and I guess, the Syrian cannibals will eat them. It’s a “win-win situation” for the Kiev regime!

  8. Yaroslav
    May 6, 2014 at 16:13

    My colleage is calling to Ukraine:
    “Hey, auntie, how are you?”
    “Oh, OK, we are trying to store some food, prices are growing to heavens and there are a lot of armed guys around. They are saying that they defend us”.
    “Defend? From whom?”
    “From you! We said you are going to invade us”.
    “Oh, really? Say to an uncle – I want his bicycle”…

    They are kidding…
    Because the reality is a nightmare and absurdist…

  9. Angry Grandparent
    May 6, 2014 at 14:05

    C’mon, how many of you are actually surprised?

    Lets take a look back in history, American history to 1933 where the monied “elite” who admired the Nazi ideal tried to overthrow the US government and install a Fascista type government and embark on a militarisation of the US state.

    Lets take another look shall we, to the people who put Hitler into power, for some reason the average human being seems to think Hitler popped up in some Austrian alley somewhere, full of vim and vigour and wanting to take over the world, in reality he had a loose fitting crowd of anti-Jews and right wingers, many of them convicted sex offenders and homosexuals and America’s monied “elite” saw an opportunity to not only clean up financially by getting a crowbar into a resurging German economy but also to fight the dreaded foe of foes, the British empire. And that is how Hitler came into power, he was given money, power, resources, intelligence and this carried on all through the war, Bush’s grandfather was congressionally indicted for trading with the Nazi’s and collaboration but this was done as Germany surrendered, Bush’s grandfather who had acted as a money middleman and “fixer” saw the charges dropped and he cleansed his record by waiting a while then embarking on working for veteran groups who didn’t suspect he was making millions whilst German soldiers shot at their comrades.

    Now lets look to Ford Motor Corporation, one of the big “lies” of WWII, most Americans think the FoMoCo was nationalised by Hitler in Germany, how despicable of them to be sure but the reality is, that Henry’s son Erwin lived secretly in Berlin, was a frequent guest of the Hitlers and other party elite, oversaw the money transfer in gold and resources back to the US and even had his own private suite at the Chancellory and access to the higher echelon bomb shelters. Whilst US soldiers were ducking in the trenches from German vehicles, little did they know that the Ford engines powering those vehicles were being controlled by the monied elite in the US.

    Do we need to look further? Well a mention of Operation Paperclip in all its guises is worthy a mention here, the average American person is led to believe that Dulles used it to whisk away the Nazi secret rocketry and missile scientists as well as those used in the heavy water experiments and yes quite a few did end up, one notably became a deputy director of NASA as his SS past had been hidden. What the state department at the time tried to stop was Dulles bringing in more than just scientists, the British had already whisked away the proteges of Bormann to grab the Nazi rat lines and gold, the Russians had gotten the armour so America took all it could and ended up bringing to the US thousands upon thousands of former Gestapo, Gefepo, Abwehr, Jugend, SS and SD people and all were given new lives in the US if they could provide something of “use” which as it may could have been of scientific use but the Abwehr people knew stuff about the British for instance and so they were allowed in. the State Department rightfully said that many of the people being shunted in secretly had very dubious pasts and many of them were involved in atrocities, any person that had any type of expertise with the Russians were most definitely given a loving new home and so many thousands of Nazi’s were given not only a new name, new identity but also a position of some importance hence the example of how a former SS member could end up being second in command at NASA.

    So do your research folks, America has long found common cause with the Nazi’s, is it any coincidence that Schwarzeneggar’s father was in the SS, or Karl Rove’s father was a very senior Nazi party dignitary? When you see the militarised police and government agents do you not see something familiar? When the Rockefellers and the Fords et al in 1933 were thwarted at the very last moment did you think they had given up? McCarthyism was their second attempt and there have been several attempts over the years until along came 9/11, the second “Pearl Harbour” they had been waiting for, praying for and now they have the power and they are not sharing it any time soon with the people.

  10. May 6, 2014 at 13:25

    it is a commie jew coup that they try to cover up by saying they are nazis that took over the gov

  11. May 6, 2014 at 13:22

    the jew lover above did not mention the commie bolshvik jews killed all the poles ect before during and after all the wars and even assisted the ottomans

  12. May 6, 2014 at 13:08

    Finally, the good doctors sprang up over the “Victory Day” celebrations in Kiev:. Of course, Mr.President, it is not only possibul but absolutuly essential zat ve do not celebrate fictory over …Mein Fuehrer !

    Read my blog’s take on Washington Post’s coverage of Ukraine:

  13. Philip
    May 6, 2014 at 11:45

    So glad to see some reality reporting here. Yesterday I initiated a petition to the US Gov to stop supporting the neo Nazi regime in Ukraine. Here is the link if you wish to sign it:

    • May 6, 2014 at 11:50

      Another try to place the gov website for the petition.


      • MediaM
        May 8, 2014 at 09:39

        I want to sign this petition. But, please correct the spelling of the name of the Secretary of State from “Carey” to “Kerry,” and capitalize the “Congress.” I love that the petition is brief and to the point, but we also need to be accurate and respectful.

  14. Bruce
    May 6, 2014 at 11:08

    And just(ly) remember, Hitler’s brownshirts were once “only a minority”! Want to maximize these PNACi Yatzis with the order of Svoboda fries?

  15. stevieb
    May 6, 2014 at 10:39

    If they are”neo-nazis” as some suggest, them clearly the entire pro-coup apparatus -including it’s American and British supporters- are also “neo-nazis”…

  16. George Archers
    May 6, 2014 at 08:55

    Re; “Burning burns filled with Jews” hopefully the author reads this post and research Jedwabne pogrom.For the lazy ones–Polish Christians were terrorizing the Jewish and German (once lands) communities not the German military. By the way,up until 1940 USA was an alley of Germany same time funding France and England in declaring war 1938. Ever wondered why Germany invaded Poland?
    Notice Media new’s history repeats itself–just like Ukraine today. Poor Jews bad badder Russians.

  17. May 6, 2014 at 08:12

    …spot on ! BTW, are you guys following the saga of the cancelled parade in Kiev on the “Victory Day” ? It’s now something like Day of Prayer for the Fallen Comrades (of the Axis).

  18. chuckvw
    May 6, 2014 at 00:10

    This massacre will likely turn out to be far worse than has yet been reported, including rapes and executions by shots to the head. It should be investigated by an outside body. People apparently weren’t just trapped inside. They were chased from floor to floor and murdered. Some bodies were found burned only from the shoulders up on floors that were not involved in flame.

    But survivors and witnesses will not be believed because they are “separatists” and “terrorists”… The hypocrisy has seldom been as rank…

  19. F. G. Sanford
    May 5, 2014 at 20:15

    It is now public knowledge that there are FBI and CIA “advisors” assisting the illegitimate Yatsenyuk government. In violation of the Geneva agreement, rather than disarm Svoboda and Right Sektor units, the neo-Nazi putschists were incorporated into the government as a “National Guard”. There are also reports that western backed mercenary forces fitting the description of Academi/Xi/Blackwater types are operating in support of the putschist regime.

    Trapping civilians in buildings and burning them alive was a favorite tactic of SS Wermacht forces. Many of them were essentially mercenaries recruited into SS units from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Leon Degrelle’s Wallonian SS troops and Bandera’s Ukranians are among the most notorious. Having committed so many heinous war crimes, they knew they could expect no quarter if they surrendered. Consequently, they fought to the death, and were among Hitler’s most reliable assets. That heritage is openly celebrated in Western Ukraine.

    Putin could, in the spirit of reciprocity, provide FSB and GRU assets as well as other aid. But as war crimes and atrocities committed by armed forces against civilians continue to accumulate, he would be wise to remain detached. The truth is seeping out.

    Western media continues to hide behind the novel interpretation that unarmed civilians represent a “terrorist threat” to these neo-Nazi death squads. The Neocon destabilization tactic unfolding in Ukraine is the classic regime change strategy: agitation to provoke legitimate dissent, militarization of a faction within the movement, and false-flag violence intended to ignite an uprising leading to imposition of martial law. That is essential, because the puppet regime cannot win a fair election.

    But this time, they failed to assess historical, cultural and geopolitical realities. They chose a faction proud of its Nazi heritage. As the truth emerges, the United States is ever more deeply embroiled as a party to war crimes and atrocities. The world is watching, and as each day passes, Putin gains the moral high ground. American “exceptionalism” is digging its own grave.

    • Steven
      May 6, 2014 at 13:46

      They are not National Socialists. I don’t know about Bandera, but know for certain that Degrelle would never allow himself to be manipulated into supporting the neocon agenda.
      Those who would dismember and loot Ukraine have no political standards or ideology, just greed and bloodlust.
      The real enemy of the people all over the world is not nationalism and self-determination, but the international rapacious 1%.

      • F. G. Sanford
        May 6, 2014 at 17:04

        I guess Leon should have mentioned that to Hitler when Hitler personally pinned the Knight’s Cross on him and said, “If I could have a son, I would want one exactly like Leon Degrelle.”

    • Yaroslav
      May 6, 2014 at 15:28

      Yes, the world has tired of all this stuff, Europe is confused more and more, american politicians are digging their own grave. May be, it’s for better… But what’s the cost?

      Real humans, real deaths (awful deaths!) and real humanoid monsters…

  20. david t. krall
    May 5, 2014 at 19:58

    from: david t. krall
    email: [email protected]

    The hypocrisy is totally amazing but not surprising…when the US
    invaded Panama in 1990(?) was it not done under the pretext of “national security”…even arrested the president (and didn’t the prior one die under questionable circumstances…a plane crash…an “accident”….???) tonight on CBS Evening News a segment was shown with footage showing Russian “militants” (I guess it supposed to be a type of word association with “mutants”), where we are being shown one thing but being told with a closing statement just the opposite…one of the more interesting and illuminating parts was when the “temporary” mayor of one town was asked what he would like to tell America, he replied, “I would like to tell President Obama to stop sending arms and mercenaries…stop sending Blackwater”….of course no elaboration or comment was made as to why or how he would say this…I’m not surprised…wasn’t the head of the CIA (most assuredly with a contingent and entourage) in Ukraine, in and out like a capped DC or Marvel comic hero, a month or so ago? and also it was mentioned tonight that FBI agents are also in the Ukraine to help find for lost treasures…sure !!!… oh like the one that might “get away” like the ENTIRE Ukraine and not be set up to join NATO or The EU? I heard even UK is talking about dropping out of the EU…
    Those big banks and defense contractors and military/intell “friends” need a new
    market and playground, THE UKRAINE…
    …funny how it seems so similar but not being called “The Ukranian Spring”
    like the “Prague Spring” “the Polish” or “East European Spring” or “the Arab Spring”…I guess its only ‘spring” when the “weather” is good for us or in our favor….
    from: david t. krall
    email: [email protected]

  21. Yaroslav
    May 5, 2014 at 19:12

    Captain America, defeating evil Nazis in Hollywood blockbusters and ancle Sam, supporting bloody Ukrainian fascists… Democracy, I guess…
    And people just living in their country on the land of ancestors. They are burned alive, raped and killed at their homes. And women, and even children. Just now…

    And western “partners” seeking to punish Russia (oh, now’s canadian round).
    Gentlemen, you are bloody beasts…

    • Kiza
      May 6, 2014 at 05:45

      Yaroslav, you are spot on – they look like human beings, some almost like gentlemen in white shirts, but it is an insult to animals to call those beasts. Yet, they are a special kind – the calculated beasts. Robert Perry writes an honest expose, but he still slants it towards unintentional mistakes, group think, mistaken, uninformed and so on. It is nothing of the kind. The neocons, democrats and republicans will use anything and anybody to achieve their goals, be it Al Qaeda in Syria or the Banderaties in Ukraine. The neocon links to Nazism have been previously covered by Robert himself. But, Robert, how can you imply that this deliberate strategy by USG to saw chaos in Ukraine is a mistaken understanding and not a clear plan?

  22. Joe
    May 5, 2014 at 17:45

    The dividing lines in this region go back further than WW1. These same regions were the opposite sides of the Red v White Russian civil war while western Europe was celebrating the end of World War 1. One of the key centers of the White Russian faction was in Poland and what is now western Ukraine.

    The part about Bandera was an interesting indicator early in this crisis. I suppose there was always a chance that they simply had poor taste in heroes. But eventually, it seems like it walks like a nazi, quacks like a nazi, and burns people alive in union halls just like a nazi.

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