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Saturday, 28 December 2013
A Russian Moment 25 - The Vladimir Palace, Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: A Russian Moment

The former palace of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich at Tsarskoye Selo
Situated on Sadovaya ulitsa, in one of the oldest part of Tsarskoye Selo, not far from the Catherine Palace stands a small, yet elegant palace which resembles a classic Italian villa - the Reserve Palace.

The land in which the palace sits was presented by Tsar Alexander I to Prince Viktor Pavlovich Kochubey, in 1816. Alexander I was personally involved in the design of the palace, involving the construction of architects, first, Adam Menelaws (1753-1831) and later, Vasily Stasov (1769-1848). Many original drawings retain the mark of the Emperor's Hand. The construction of the palace was carried out between 1817 - 1824. 

The Kochubeys, who had five children traveled from their house on the English Embankment in St. Petersburg to their country palace at Tsarskoye Selo for the summer. In 1834, Emperor Nicholas I, appointed Viktor Pavlovich Chancellor of the State, but in June the same year he died suddenly of an angina attack on the way to his estate at Dikan'ka. After his death, the palace was purchased for the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich (the grandson of the Emperor), who was only 4 years old at the time.

At the end of 1858 the palace was bought by the Office of the Ministry of Court and in 1859 became officially named Tsarskoye Selo Reserve Palace.

In 1875, the Reserve Palace came into the possession of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (1847-1909), son of Tsar Alexander II. Vladimir commanded the St. Petersburg Military District, was a highly educated man, and well versed in the arts.

After a fire in 1867, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich ordered a restoration of the palace, employing the services of the Russian architect, Alexander Fomichev Vidov (1829-1896). In 1909, after the owner's death, the palace passed to his widow, the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. She had a bronze bust of her husband erected near the palace, and in 1910 permission was granted by Emperor Nicholas II to rename the Vladimir Palace .

After the 1917 Revolution, the palace was nationalized by the Bolsheviks. During World War II the palace was badly damaged, and reconstructed in the 1950s. In  the 1990s, the Vladimir Palace became part of the Tsarskoye Selo Museum-Preserve,  however, in July 2008, St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko ordered the palace be restored and designated as the Pushkin Wedding Palace. In 2009, the Prime Minister of Russia signed a decree which transferred ownership of the palace to St. Petersburg. On June 24, 2010, the day marking the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo, the newly restored Vladimir Palace hosted the opening of a new Palace of Weddings with the solemn registration and ceremonies of the first three couples. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:27 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 28 December 2013 6:41 AM EST
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Bust of Tsar Nicholas II Unveiled in Serbian Capital
Topic: Nicholas II

Bronze bust of Tsar Nicholas II at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Belgrade
A bronze bust of Tsar Nicholas II was unveiled on December 25th, during a ceremony at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (Russian House) in Belgrade, with the participation of the International Foundation of Unity of Orthodox Peoples.

The bust is the work of the eminent Russian sculptor, Vyacheslav Klykova. The artistic design of the pedestal monument was entrusted to the famous Serbian sculptor Miodrag Zivkovic. 

The bust was a gift from the International Fund for Slavic Literature and Culture to the Russian Center for Science and Culture marking two anniversaries: the 400th anniverary of the Romanov dynasty, and the 80th anniversary of Russian House in Belgrade. The latter, which opened in 1933, was originally called the Russian House of Emperor Nicholas II. The bust was prominently placed in the foyer of the library of the Russian House.

The 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty was marked by a series of cultural events in Belgrade this year. The ceremony was opened by the director of the Russian House, Mikhail Denisov, who welcomed generations of Russian immigrants, whose fate is deeply linked to Russia. He was joined with a representative of the modern-day Serbian Cossacks, Colonel Vojislav Vidakovic, who unveiled the bust.

The Head of the Church of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, Archpriest Vitaly Tarasjev and representing the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, Father Ignatius  Sretensky consecrated a bust of the Emperor. 

At the opening ceremony speeches were delivered by Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Alexander A.V. Chepurin and Ambassador of Belarus to Serbia, Vladimir N. Chushev.

The evening ended with a literary and musical composition dedicated to Nicholas II, performed by the Russian writer Stanislav Razumovskoj, and singer/musician Danilo Klyukina. Serbia holds strong links to Tsar Nicholas II, who came to the nations aid during World War I. After the Revolution and World War I, Serbia became home to many Russian immigrants. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:46 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 28 December 2013 4:58 AM EST
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Thursday, 26 December 2013
Faberge's Imperial Return
Topic: Faberge

Russia’s first Faberge Museum has opened in the renovated Shuvalov Palace on the banks of the Fontanka river, in St. Petersburg
The following article was originally published in the December 25th, 2013 edition of the St. Petersburg Times. The author Tatyana Poznyak owns the copyright presented below.
Within the stately halls of the renovated Shuvalov Palace on the banks of the Fontanka river, Russia’s first Faberge Museum has been established by The Link of Times cultural and historical foundation.

Founded in 2004 by Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, the foundation engages in projects related to the return of lost objects of cultural and historical significance to Russia. The most remarkable step the foundation has taken so far is the sensational acquisition by Vekselberg of the work by Carl Faberge (1846-1920), the Russian court jeweler.

Until 2004, the exceptional collection belonged to the heirs of the American newspaper magnate Malcolm Forbes, who for more than half a century collected the royal jewels. As a result of the Vekselberg acquisition, the legendary Forbes collection was saved from being broken up and then repatriated. It is this collection that has now become the nucleus of the display currently on view at the Shuvalov Palace, which was restored by the foundation for the purpose of housing the precious exhibits. The exhibition includes 4,000 works of decorative and fine art: Gold and silver jewelry, painting, porcelain and bronze. The collection, which took decades to assemble and continues to grow, is presented for the first time in the new Faberge Museum on Fontanka which, during the Soviet period, housed the Museum of Daily Life and then the House of Friendship and Peace.

At a conference that preceded the opening of the museum on Nov. 19, Vekselberg said that the event was an important milestone both for him personally and for everyone involved in this large-scale project. The founder of The Link of Times spoke with gratitude of former Governor of St. Petersburg Valentina Matvienko, who supported the idea of creating the museum in the former Shuvalov Palace and transferred control of the neglected building to the foundation. Reflecting on the challenging restoration of the historical interiors, which in 2006 employed several hundred restorers, Vekselberg said that he was pleased to see the full splendor of the palace reflected in a collection that is an integral part of Russian culture. To Vekselberg’s way of thinking, the Faberge Museum should become an active element of the city’s cultural life and add a new dimension to the city’s appeal.

“St. Petersburg is a city of museums, and I would like to see the Faberge Museum become an integral part of its historical and cultural space,” said Vekselberg.

Respected art historian and curator of the Faberge collection at the Moscow Kremlin, Tatyana Muntyan reminded the first visitors to the new museum that the Shuvalov Palace had for centuries belonged to the famous noble families of Vorontsov, Naryshkin and Shuvalov. Throughout its history, the palace had been filled with masterpieces of decorative art and has now once again become the repository of artistic treasures. She also noted that the collection of work by the world-famous Russian jeweler on display had been shown in many Russian cities but only now finds itself at home.

The collection of rarities, positioned across several galleries on the second floor of the Shuvalov Palace, is, without a doubt, one of the best of its kind in the world. The palace’s ceremonial Blue Hall contains vitrines filled with Faberge’s most famous bejeweled and enameled creations – the renowned imperial Easter eggs. These jewels, with their intricate surprises, are particularly valuable because of how they depict important events in Russian history: The coronation of the last Russian tsar, the 15th anniversary of the reign of Nicholas II and the First World War. In addition to the eggs made for the last Romanovs, the collection also contains Easter gifts the family gave to their friends and supporters, which are no less spectacular than the imperial objects.

The museum also contains some of Faberge’s most famous objets de fantaisie, including a bouquet of precious pansies in a vase made of rock crystal that looks as if it is filled with water, and a unique dancing figure made of different semi-precious stones, which wears jewelry and fantastic accessories. The display also showcases desktop clocks, enameled frames and silver pieces in the “original Russian style.”

According to Vekselberg, the members of the foundation spent the last nine years collecting the unique exhibits, “researching, acquiring and repatriating historically significant Russian works of art found abroad.” Among these findings were a miniature egg that belonged to the Greek King George I, brother of the Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna, objects created for Baron Leopold de Rothschild, mechanical playthings and other memorabilia.

In addition to rare works by Faberge, the Vekselberg collection also includes work by many other suppliers to the court, including the famous silversmiths Kurlyukov, Kuzmichyov and Semenova, jewelers from the Bolin family, and the goldsmiths Keibel and Spiegel. These and other renowned Russian goldsmiths and silversmiths made precious icons frames, some of which belonged to famous historical figures. In the Gothic Hall at the Shuvalov Palace, which was once the office of the count, there is a collection of ecclesiastical utensils. The museum also houses a collection of painted enamel by Fedor Rueckert, which has no equal in Russia in its breadth and rarity.

The pride of the remaining collections is a pair of monumental porcelain vases created by the Imperial Porcelain Factory. One of the pair depicts palace grenadiers in the throne room of the Winter Palace, while the other shows grenadiers in the throne room of the Tuileries Palace in Paris. The vases were presented to Casimir-Louis-Victurnien de Rochechouart de Mortemart, the French ambassador to Russia, by Emperor Nicholas I. Rounding out the permanent display, the Exhibition, Knight and other halls of the palace are hung with canvases by famous Russian and European painters, including Makovsky, Aivazovsky, Byullov, Korovin, Martin, Renoir and others.

The cave of Ali Baba pales in comparison to the glittering new Faberge Museum, which is now housed in St. Petersburg. Operating reduced hours through the end of the year while the museum finds its feet, regular opening hours are expected to be announced after the start of the new year.
For more information on the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg, please refer to the following articles;



 © St. Petersburg Times. 26 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:20 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 26 December 2013 10:04 AM EST
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Creating Replica of Alexander Nevsky Tomb will Cost 330 Million Rubles
Topic: State Hermitage Museum

The massive silver sarcophagus of St. Alexander Nevsky was relocated during Soviet times to the State Hermitage Museum where it remains (without the relics) today. The silver sarcophagus has become a matter of debate, since some believers demand to return the sepulcher to Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
The State Hermitage Museum needs 330 million rubles for creating the copy of Alexander Nevsky’s tomb.

This was announced by the museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky at the press conference on December 24. He hopes for patrons of art to donate the funds.

The copy of the tomb is planned to be transferred to Alexander Nevsky Lavra, whereas the original will stay in the Hermitage. The original sepulcher of Alexander Nevsky is presently exposed to restoration which costs 16.5 million rubles.  The works are expected to be completed by 2014, and then the Hermitage will be ready to start making the copy production, but the funds are not available yet. 

The sepulcher complex, which includes a sarcophagus, a gravestone, candlesticks and military trophies, is monument of Russian arts and crafts of the 18th century. After its creation in 1753 the tomb was located in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, but in 1922 it was moved to the Hermitage. In the Post-Soviet period the tomb became a matter of debate, since some believers demand to return the sepulcher to Alexander Nevsky Lavra, while art critics insist on keeping it in the museum. 

© 26 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:55 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 26 December 2013 9:20 AM EST
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Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Valuable Tsarist Russian Coins to Be Auctioned in New York
Topic: Auctions

Coins from one the world’s most prolific collections will be sold in New York on Thursday 9th January at Baldwin’s auction, in association with Dmitry Markov Coins & Medals and M & M Numismatics.

The collection was formed by Swede, Åke Linden. Born in Stockholm, but brought up in Karlskoga, he was a man of international stature, serving for a number of years as Assistant General Director of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), now the World Trade Organisation. He was inspired to start collecting coins as he travelled from country to country as part of his job and became intrigued by the volume and variety of different local currencies he encountered. His aim was to own an example of every type coin from every country in the world since 1850, and he set about the task with passion and a methodical and a single minded approach.

The auction includes several exceptional Russian coins from the collection, including potentially the most expensive in the sale. Struck to commemorate the 30th birthday of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, the 1876 proof-like gold 25 Roubles is one of only four large gold coin types issued by Imperial Russia. Of the four, the 25 Roubles coin is the rarest and most elusive, as only 100 pieces were struck. Depicting a crowned double headed eagle the present example is uncirculated and in exceptional condition. It is expected to sell for US$200,000 [Lot 1235]

An 1897 Imperial 10 Roubles and an 1895 Half Imperial 5 Roubles, both proof-like, uncirculated, and extremely rare, are two further examples of the impeccable taste of this discerning collector. The 5 Roubles is one of only 36 struck and each coin is estimated at US$100,000. [Lots 1313 and 1314]

Both the coins were produced as part of a set of major currency reforms, designed by famous Russian Finance Minister Sergei Witte, to firstly stabilise the Russian Rouble , and then to place it on the Gold Standard. Witte issued a series of special gold coins which had dual denominations and could be traded in European countries as part of the European Monetary Union. The reforms were hugely successful at providing stability and stimulating economic development.

Two further coins, a 1902, Gold 37 ½ Roubles – 100 Francs, the highest denomination of a Russian coin ever struck, and a 1896 Nicholas II Coronation Commemorative 2 ½ Imperials – 25 Roubles, were also produced during this period of reform and each is estimated at US$75,000. [Lots 1311 and 1312]

All four coins are part of the Åke Linden collection.

Elsewhere, a gold Paul I 1798 5 Roubles , formerly in the collection of the famous numismatist, the Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, is one of a number of coins in the collection from his assemblage. In choice uncirculated condition it is estimated at US$35,000. [Lot 1154]

Comprising every coin ever produced from the Russian Empire, the Michilovitch collection was subsequently seized by the communists. The gold and silver coins and medals were to be sold in Luzern in September 1939 but the sale was cancelled due to the outbreak of war. In 1951 the coins were catalogued by Baldwin’s for a Christie’s sale in London, while around that time a U.S. dealer negotiated a private treaty purchase of the copper coinage and sold that part of the collection to the Smithsonian Institution, where they remain. Coins from the Michalovitch collection are always eagerly sought by contemporary collectors. 
© Baldwins and Dmitry Markov Coins and Medals. 24 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:14 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 24 December 2013 9:33 AM EST
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Sochi Hosts Exhibition Dedicated to the Romanovs and Sports
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 6 seconds
Topic: Exhibitions
The Sochi Art Museum with the support of Ministry of Culture of Russia has launched the exhibition Learning Bodily Grandeur. Sports and the Romanov Family on loan from Peterhof. In the year of the 400th anniversary of the House of Romanov and in anticipation of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, the exhibition will focuses on two main themes – the emergence and establishment in Russia of different sports from the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century and the role of representatives of the Romanov dynasty in the development of physical culture in Russia.

“Until now we have imagined the Romanovs to be these opulent, lazy, idle rulers. But here we see that this is categorically untrue. Nicholas I began his work day at 7:00 AM but that was after a 40-minute workout with bayonetted weapons. This entailed an assortment of combat moves which we would now call hand-to-hand fighting,” Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky said at the opening ceremony.

The exposition, which includes 288 unique museum objects, is compiled in chronological order and demonstrates the sport hobbies of Russian emperors. Peter I was a lover of chess and billiards, Anna Ivanovna and Elizabeth Petrovna – passionate hunters and good shots, Catherine II – a fan of equestrian sports, Nicholas II – a supporter of tennis and cycling. The Peterhof collection includes a variety of exhibits: bicycles, sleds, models of yachts, firearms, skates, tennis rackets and croquet sets, among others.

At the beginning of the 20th century under the auspices of the Romanovs sports societies and clubs flourished in Russia. In 1900, Russia made its debut at the Summer Olympics in Paris. In 1908, at the London Olympics for the first time the Russian athletes won one gold and two silver medals.

The exhibition is being held at the Sochi Art Museum until 23 March 2014.
For more information on the Romanovs and sports, please refer to the following article;

The Romanovs and the Olympic Games 

© Russkiy Mir and Royal Russia. 24 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:04 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 24 December 2013 9:31 AM EST
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Sunday, 22 December 2013
Peterhof Museum Announces Reconstruction of Lower Palace of Nicholas II
Topic: Peterhof

Early 20th century watercolour of the Lower Palace (or Dacha) of Emperor Nicholas II at Peterhof
Some very interesting, yet exciting news from St. Petersburg this past week! According to the Russian online news agency City 812, the Director of the Peterhof State Museum Preserve, Elena Kalnitskaya made an announcement last week that the Lower Palace (or Dacha) of Emperor Nicholas II will be reconstructed and restored in the near future. According to City 812, the museum has already set the wheels in motion for the reconstruction of one of Nicholas II’s favourite residences, which currently lies in ruin in the Lower Alexandria Park on the shore of the Gulf of Finland.

After the Revolution, the palace became a museum until 1936. It was later used as a holiday home for the more privileged members of the NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs). During the Second World War the palace was badly damaged. During the 1960s it became a popular spot with monarchists and a decision was made by the local Soviet to blow the building up. 

In recent years, the Ministry of Culture announced a competition for the study of the ruins, in which the Russian firm Spetsproektrestavratsiya Institute won. As a result of the study carried out by the Institute, three options were suggested: first - a full preservation of the building, the second - a recreation of the building using different materials, and third - the reconstruction of a new building which preserves and implements the original ruins. According to the museum director, “The issue was discussed at a meeting in Moscow, where the third option was unanimously adopted. It will be a synthesis of history and modernity” - added Kalnitskaya. 

The new building will house a museum which will include a permanent exhibition dedicated to Tsar Nicholas II and his family as owners of the Lower Palace. The initiation of the reconstruction of the Lower Palace and duration of the project has yet to be announced. This is a very exciting story, one that I will be following closely in the weeks and months to come. 
For more information on the Lower Palace of Nicholas II at Peterhof, please refer to the following article;

Peterhof Discusses Future of Lower Palace of Nicholas II 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:20 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 22 December 2013 11:47 AM EST
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Palaces of the Romanovs - 4-Part Documentary
Topic: Palaces

A new series, The Palaces of the Romanovs will air on Russian television from December 23 - 26. The 4-part documentary series, which marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, tells the story of the family property of the Imperial family, including architectural complexes, garden and park ensembles, and the places visited by representatives of the dynasty. 

The series will focus on the architecture of the palaces, dachas, hunting lodges, and other residences, the history of each discuessed by curators, historians and archivists. The Imperial and grand palaces of the House of Romanov were located not only in Russia but also abroad - in Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Georgia, Uzbekistan. Many of them have been restored and turned into museums, but after the Revolution, and World War II, many were destroyed or simply fell into disrepair due to neglect. 

The palaces of the imperial family are outstanding monuments of history and culture. During their heyday they were repositories for great works of art, magnificent libraries, and served as venues for concerts and other performances. Many were considered artistic centres of the time. For centuries, the Romanov palaces were symbols of Russian statehood. The documentary series Palaces of the Romanovs gives viewers the opportunity to look at the estates of the royal dynasty as monuments not only to domestic architecture, but also as a way of life, cultural progress and social thought. The palace series also takes a look at the private day to day lives of their inhabitants, reflecting the tastes, ideological preferences, aspirations and sentiments of the prevailing era. The Russian emperors and empresses were people with their own personal views, personalities, tastes, and concerns showing that they differed little from others, they fell in love, raised children, developed their apartments and shared both their family joys and sorrows. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:43 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 22 December 2013 10:20 AM EST
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Music of the Great Dynasty Presented in Ekaterinburg
Topic: 400th Anniversary

Emperor Alexander II, Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna and Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich
On December 19th, the premiere of Music of the Great Dynasty was held at the Ural College of Music in Ekaterinburg. The event was sponsored by the Ural Region Ministry of Culture in honour of the 400th anniversary of the House of Romanov. 

The musical works created by Emperor Alexander II, Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna and Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich were performed during the concert.  

The first concert honouring the musical works of members of the Romanov dynasty was performed in 2009 in the Hall of Church Councils of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow by the orchestra "Globalis". The premiere performance was also timed to mark the 150th anniversary of the Russian Musical Society, which was the birth of Russian professional musical culture and the opening of the first music schools and conservatories in Russia.

With the support and participation of representatives of the Romanov family, known for both their musical tastes and generous financial support of the music society in the 19th century, the Romanov dynasty made significant contributions to the Russian musical culture. The musical creativity of members of the Russian Imperial family was virtually unknown outside of their own family circles before the Revolution. 

The Music of the Great Dynasty will continue the series of events dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Ural College of Music (Sverdlovsk music school at UGC) and will be the prelude to the celebration marking the 155th anniversary of the Russian Musical Society, which will be celebrated in 2014, also named the Year of Russian Culture. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:45 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 22 December 2013 9:01 AM EST
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Saturday, 21 December 2013
The Visit of the Head of the Romanov Dynasty to America
Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD

On December 9-14, 2013, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna made a visit to the United States of America on the occasion of the 400 th anniversary of the end of the Time of Troubles, the reestablishment of the Russian Sovereignty and the founding of the Romanov Dynasty. Her Imperial Highness was invited by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, President of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Her visit coincided with the celebration of the feast day of Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign.”
Click on the link below to read the full article and view the colour photographs;

The Visit of the Head of the Romanov Dynasty to America 

© Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. 21 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:39 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 21 December 2013 1:45 PM EST
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