Republika Srpska

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Republika Srpska
Република Српска
Seal of Republika Srpska
Flag Seal
Anthem: Моја Република[1]
Moja Republika
My Republic
Location of the Republika Srpska (orange) and Brčko District (green) within Bosnia and Herzegovina.a
Location of the Republika Srpska (orange) and Brčko District (green) within Bosnia and Herzegovina.a
Capital Sarajevo (Istočno Sarajevo)[2] (de jure)
Banja Luka (de facto)
Largest city Banja Luka
Official languages Serbian, Bosnian and Croatianb
Government Parliamentary system
 •  President Milorad Dodik
 •  Prime Minister Željka Cvijanović
Legislature People's Assembly
 •  Proclaimed 9 January 1992 
 •  Recognized as
part of Bosnia
and Herzegovina
14 December 1995 
 •  Total 24,857 km2
9,597 sq mi
 •  Water (%) n/a
 •  2013 census 1,326,991 d[3]
 •  Density 53,3/km2
155/sq mi
Currency Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (BAM)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 •  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Calling code +387
b. The Constitution of Republika Srpska avoids naming the languages, instead listing them as "the language of the Serb people, the language of the Bosniak people and the language of the Croat people." (because there is no consensus whether this is the same language or three different languages) [4]
c. Including refugees abroad.
d. Excluding Republika Srpska's 48% of the Brčko District

The Republic of Srpska (Serbian: Republika Srpska / Република Српскa, pronounced [repǔblika sr̩̂pskaː]) is an administrative entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of two administrative entities, with the other administrative entity being the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[5] The de jure capital of Republika Srpska is Sarajevo, the de facto capital is Banja Luka.


In the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian languages, Republika Srpska means "Serb Republic". The second word is a nominalized adjective derived by adding the suffix -ska to srb-, the root of the noun Srbin, meaning Serb. The -ps- sequence rather than -bs- is a result of voicing assimilation. Although the name Republika Srpska is sometimes glossed as Serb Republic[6] or Bosnian Serb Republic (Serbian: Republika Bosanskih Srba / Република Босанских Срба),[7] and the government of Republika Srpska uses the semi-Anglicized term Republic of Srpska in English translations of official documents, western news sources such as the BBC,[8] The New York Times,[9] and The Guardian[10] generally refer to the entity as the Republika Srpska.

In a July 2014 interview for Press, Dragoslav Bokan claimed that he, Goran Marić, and Sonja Karadžić (daughter of Radovan Karadžić) came up with the name Srpska as requested of them by Velibor Ostojić, then-Minister of Information of the entity.[11]


Serbian Autonomous Provinces from 1991-92, created in rebellion against the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Territories which were controlled by Army of Republika Srpska during the war compared with current borders.

In a session on 14–15 October 1991, the Parliament of Bosnia approved the "Memorandum on Sovereignty", as had already been done by Slovenia and Croatia. The memorandum was adopted despite opposition from 83 Serb deputies, belonging to the Serb Democratic Party (most of the Serb parliamentary representatives) as well as the Serbian Renewal Movement and the Union of Reform Forces, who regarded the move as illegal.[12][13]

On 24 October 1991, the Serb deputies formed the Assembly of the Serb People in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Skupština srpskog naroda u Bosni i Hercegovini) to be the highest representative and legislative body of the Serb population,[14][15] ending the tripartite coalition.

The Union of Reform Forces soon ceased to exist but its members remained in the assembly as the Independent Members of Parliament Caucus. The assembly undertook to address the achievement of equality between the Serbs and other peoples and the protection of the Serbs' interests jeopardized by decisions of the Bosnian parliament.[14] On 9 January 1992, the assembly proclaimed the Republic of the Serb People of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika srpskog naroda Bosne i Hercegovine), declaring it part of Yugoslavia.[16]

On 28 February 1992 the assembly adopted the Constitution of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the name adopted instead of the previous Republika srpskog naroda Bosne i Hercegovine), which would include districts, municipalities, and regions where Serbs were the majority and also those where they had allegedly become a minority because of persecution during World War II. The republic was part of Yugoslavia and could enter into union with political bodies representing other peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[17]

The Bosnian parliament, without its Serb deputies, held a referendum on the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 29 February and 1 March 1992, but most Serbs boycotted it since the assembly had previously (9–10 November 1991) held a plebiscite in the Serb regions, 96% having opted for membership of the Yugoslav federation formed only by Serbia and Montenegro.[18]

The referendum had a 64% turnout and 92.7% or 99% (according to different sources) voted for independence.[19][20] On 6 March the Bosnian parliament promulgated the results of the referendum, proclaiming the republic's independence from Yugoslavia. The republic's independence was recognized by the European Community on 6 April 1992 and by the United States on 7 April. On the same day the Serbs' assembly in session in Banja Luka declared a severance of governmental ties with Bosnia and Herzegovina.[21] The name Republika Srpska was adopted on 12 August 1992.[22]

Radovan Karadžić (left), former president of Republika Srpska, and Ratko Mladić (right), former Chief of Staff of the Army of the Republika Srpska, both charged with war crimes, including genocide, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

The political controversy escalated into the Bosnian War, which would last until the autumn of 1995. According to numerous verdicts of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia the former president of Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadžić, is currently under trial.[23] The top military general, Ratko Mladić, was arrested on 26 May 2011 in connection with the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.[24]

The war was ended by the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, on 21 November and formally signed in Paris on 14 December 1995. Annex 4 of the Agreement is the current Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognising Republka Srpska as one of its two main political-territorial divisions and defining the governmental functions and powers of the two entities. The boundary lines between the entities were delineated in Annex 2 of the Agreement.[25]

Between 1992 and 2008, the Constitution of Republika Srpska was amended 121 times. Article 1 states that Republika Srpska is a territorially unified, indivisible and inalienable constitutional and legal entity that shall independently perform its constitutional, legislative, executive, and judicial functions.[26]

Impact of war

The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina resulted in major changes in the country, some of which were quantified in a 1998 UNESCO report. In the non-Serbian region, 50% of homes were damaged and 6% destroyed while in the Serb region, 25% of homes were damaged and 5% destroyed.[by whom?][citation needed] Some two million people, about half the country's population, were displaced. In 1996 there were some 435,346 ethnic Serb refugees from the Federation in Republika Srpska, while another 197,925 had gone to Serbia. In 1991, 27% of the non-agricultural labor force was unemployed in Bosnia and this number increased due to the war.[27] In 2009 the unemployment rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina was estimated at 29% according to the CIA's The World Factbook.[28]

Republika Srpska's population of Serbs had increased by 547,741 due to the influx of ethnic Serb refugees from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former unrecognised state of Krajina region in the new Republic of Croatia.[29] Ethnic cleansing reduced the numbers of other groups. Serb police, soldiers, and irregulars attacked Muslims and Croats, and burned and looted their homes. Some[who?] were killed on the spot; others were rounded up and killed elsewhere, or forced to flee.[30]

The number of Croats was reduced by 135,386 (the majority of prewar population), and the number of Bosniaks by some 434,144. Some 136,000 of approximately 496,000 Bosniak refugees and expulsees, forced to flee the territory of what is now Republika Srpska, have returned home.[31]

As of 2008, 35% of Bosniaks and 8.5% of Croats had returned to Republika Srpska, while 24% of Serbs who left their homes in territories controlled by Bosniaks or Croats, had returned to their pre-war communities.[32]

In the early 2000s discrimination against non-Serbs was alleged by NGOs and the Helsinki Commission. The International Crisis Group reported in 2002 that in some parts of Republika Srpska a returnee is ten times more likely to be the victim of violent crime than is a local Serb.[33] The Helsinki Commission, in a 2001 statement on "Tolerance and Non-Discrimination", pointed at violence against non-Serbs, stating that in the cities of Banja Luka[34] and Trebinje,[35] mobs attacked people who sought to lay foundations for new mosques.

Non-Serbs have reported continuing difficulties in returning to their original homes and the assembly has a poor record of cooperation in apprehending individuals indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.[36]

Organizations such as the Society for Threatened Peoples, reporting to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2008, have made claims of discrimination against non-Serbian refugees in the Republika Srpska, particularly areas with high unemployment in the Drina Valley (Srebrenica, Bratunac, Višegrad, and Foča). Separate schools for Croats and non-Croats were formed, and ethnic Croat students are taught using a Croatian curriculum, whereas Serb and Bosniak pupils are taught according to the curriculum prescribed by Bosnia and Herzegovina.[37]

According to the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, European Union Police Mission, UNHCR, and other international organizations, the security in both Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is at present satisfactory, although some minor threats, real or perceived, can still influence the decision of individuals as to whether they will return to their pre-war addresses, or not.[32]



The Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL) between Bosnia and Herzegovina's two entities essentially follows the front lines at the end of the Bosnian War with adjustments (most importantly in the western part of the country and around Sarajevo) defined by the Dayton Agreement. The total length of the IEBL is approximately 1,080 km. The IEBL is an administrative demarcation uncontrolled by military or police and there is free movement across it.[citation needed]


Under the Law on Territorial Organization and Local Self-Government, adopted in 1994, Republika Srpska was divided into 80 municipalities. After the Dayton Peace Agreement the law was amended to reflect changes to borders: it now comprises 63 municipalities.[citation needed]

Panoramic view of Banja Luka.
Square in front of the government building in Banja Luka.

The largest cities in Republika Srpska are (2013 census):[3]


The Dinaric Alps dominate the western border with Croatia. Mountains in Republika Srpska include Kozara, Romanija, Jahorina, Bjelašnica, Motajica and Treskavica. The highest point of the entity is peak Maglić at 2,386 m, near the border with Montenegro.


Trebišnjica, one of the longest sinking rivers in the world

Most rivers belong to the Black Sea drainage basin. The principal rivers are the Sava, a tributary of the Danube that forms the northern boundary with Croatia; the Bosna, Vrbas, Sana and Una, which flow north and empty into the Sava; the Drina, which flows north, forms part of the eastern boundary with Serbia, and is also a tributary of the Sava. Trebišnjica is one of the longest sinking rivers in the world. It belongs Adriatic Sea drainage basin. Skakavac Waterfall on the Perućica is one of the highest waterfalls in the country, at about 75 metres (246 ft) in height. The most important lakes are Bileća Lake, Lake Bardača and Balkana Lake.[citation needed]

Protected areas

In Republika Srpska are located two national parks, Sutjeska National Park and Kozara National Park, and one protected nature park, Bardača. Perućica is one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe.[38]


Ethnic structure of Republika Srpska according to the 1991 census.

The first post-war census was the 2013 population census in Bosnia and Herzegovina, earlier figures are estimates.

Population composition[39]
Year Total Males Females Births Deaths
1996 1,391,593 12,263 10,931
1997 1 409 835 13,757 11,755
1998 1,428,798 679,795 749,003 13,527 12,469
1999[note 1] 1,448,579 689,186 759,351
2000[note 1] 1,469,182 14,191 13,370
2000 1,428,899 695,194 733,705
2001[note 1] 1,490,993 13,699 13,434
2001 1,447,477 704,197 743,280
2002 1,454,802 708,136 746,666 12,336 12,980
2003 1,452,351 706,925 745,426 10,537 12,988
2004 1,449,897 705,731 744,166 10,628 13,082
2005 1,446,417 704,037 742,380 10,322 13,802
2006 1,443,709 702,718 740,991 10,524 13,232
2007 1,439,673 700,754 738,919 10,110 14,146
2008 1,437,477 699,685 737,792 10,198 13,501
2009 1,435,179 698,567 736,612 10,603 13,775
2010 1,433,038 697,524 735,514 10,147 13,517
2011 1,429,668 695,884 733,784 9,561 13,658
2012 1,425,571 9,978 13,796
2013 1,326,991(2013 census) 9,510 13,978

Ethnic composition

Ethnic Composition
Year Serbs  % Muslims  % Croats  % Yugoslavs  % Others  % Total
1991[40] 869,854 55.4 440,746 28.1 144,238 9.2 75,013 4.8 39,481 2.5 1,569,332
Largest cities of Republika Srpska (2013 census)

Banja Luka
Banja Luka

Rank City Municipality Urban population


1 Banja Luka City of Banja Luka 199,191
2 Bijeljina City of Bijeljina 114,663
3 Prijedor City of Prijedor 97,588
5 Doboj City of Doboj 77,223
4 Istočno Sarajevo City of Istočno Sarajevo 76,569
7 Zvornik City of Zvornik 63,386
6 Gradiška Municipality Gradiška 56,727
8 Teslić Municipality Teslić 41,904
10 Prnjavor Municipality Prnjavor 38,399
9 Trebinje City of Trebinje 37,385
11 Derventa Municipality Derventa 30,177
12 Foča Municipality Foča 29,811


Employed persons in Republika Srpska 2000–2013[41]

The currency of Republika Srpska is the Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (KM). It takes a minimum of 23 days to register a business there, whereas in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina it often takes several months. Gross domestic product (PPP) was estimated in 2010 at about US$7,895 per capita, but growth in the particular area was measured as being the highest in Bosnia, with 6,5%.[42]

GDP of Republika Srpska 2006–2011 (mil. KM)[43]
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
3,373 3,666 4,208 4,560 5,116 5,763 6,546 7,352 8,490 8,236 8,318 8,682 8,584 8,760 8,831
Participation in total BiH economy
28.54% 28.92% 30.10% 30.98% 31.98% 33.47% 33.56% 33.44% 34.10% 33.98% 33.54% 33.78% 33.36% 33,32% 32.66%

Foreign investment

An agreement on strategic partnership has been concluded between the Iron Ore Mine Ljubija Prijedor and the British company LNM (a major steel producer, now part of ArcelorMittal). Russia's Yuzhuralzoloto Gruppa Kompaniy OAO signed a strategic partnership with the Lead and Zinc Mine Sase Srebrenica. Recent foreign investments include privatisation of Telekom Srpske, sold to the Serbian Telekom Srbija for €646 million, and the sale of the petroleum and oil industry, based in Bosanski Brod, Modriča and Banja Luka, to Zarubezhneft of Russia, whose investment is expected to total US$970 million in coming years.[44]

On 16 May 2007, the Czech power utility ČEZ signed a €1.4 billion contract with the Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske, to renovate the Gacko I power plant and build a second, Gacko II.[45]

As of September 2012, the President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, has signed an agreement with the Russian company Gazprom to build a part of the South Stream pipeline network and two gas power plants in the entity.[46]

External trade

External trade of Republika Srpska (mil. euros)
(not including trade with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Brčko District)[47][48][49]
Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Exports 306 289 312 431 578 788 855 983 855 1,114 1,309 1,214 1,331
Imports 868 1,107 1,165 1,382 1,510 1,411 1,712 2,120 1,825 2,072 2,340 2,294 2,330
Total trade 1,174 1,396 1,477 1,813 2,088 2,199 2,567 3,103 2,680 3,186 3,649 3,508 3,662
Coverage (%) 35 26 27 31 38 56 50 46 47 54 56 53 57

Taxation and salaries

Since 2001, Republika Srpska initiated significant reforms in the sector of the tax system, which lowered the tax burden to 28.6%, one of the lowest in the region. The 10% rate of capital gains tax and income tax are among the lowest in Europe and highly stimulating for foreign investment, and there are no limits on the amount of earnings. Increasing the number of taxpayers and budgeted incomes, and creating a stable fiscal system, were necessary for further reforms in the fields of taxation and duties; this area is a priority goal of the RS authorities. VAT has been introduced in 2006. Income tax is 46% in the RS, compared to nearly 70% in the Federation, and the corporate tax rate is 10%, compared to 30% in the Federation. These tax advantages have led to some companies moving their business to RS from the other entity.[42]

File:Просјечне плате РС 1996-2010.PNG
Average net wages (KM) in Republika Srpska 1996–2010[50]

Republika Srpska saw accelerated salary growth in 2008. The average net salary in 2008 amounted to KM 755 (€386), which represents an increase of 29% compared to 2007 average. High inflation rate in 2008 caused the difference between the nominal and the real salary growth to be higher than in 2007. Average net salaries in Republika Srpska saw a real growth of 21.8%, since 2008 inflation measured by Consumer Price Index was 7.2%. Marked salary growth was particularly contributed to by salary growth in individual economic sectors, especially in public sector. Regarding pensions in Republika Srpska, their growth in 2008 kept pace with salary trends. The average pension in 2008 amounted to KM 294 (€150), which is larger by 27.8% (y/y). Somewhat higher pension growth in the RS might be explained by significantly faster growth of contributions of the PDI Fund. The average wage as of January 2013 stood at KM 810.0 (€415).[citation needed]


According to its constitution, Republika Srpska has its own president, people's assembly (the 83-member unicameral People's Assembly of Republika Srpska), executive government (with a prime minister and several ministries), its own police force, supreme court and lower courts, customs service (under the state-level customs service), and a postal service. It also has its symbols, including coat of arms, flag (a variant of the Serbian flag without the coat of arms displayed) and entity anthem. The Constitutional Law on Coat of Arms and Anthem of the Republika Srpska was ruled not in concordance with the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina as it states that those symbols "represent statehood of the Republika Srpska" and are used "in accordance with moral norms of the Serb people". According to the Constitutional Court's decision, the Law was to be corrected by September 2006.

Although the constitution names Sarajevo as the capital of Republika Srpska, the northwestern city of Banja Luka is the headquarters of most of the institutions of government, including the parliament, and is therefore the de facto capital. After the war, Republika Srpska retained its army, but in August 2005, the parliament consented to transfer control of Army of Republika Srpska to a state-level ministry and abolish the entity's defense ministry and army by 1 January 2006. These reforms were required by NATO as a precondition of Bosnia and Herzegovina's admission to the Partnership for Peace programme. Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the programme in December 2006.[citation needed]

External relations

Milorad Dodik, the president of the Republika Srpska

In September 2006, Republika Srpska officials signed a "special ties agreement" with Serbia aimed at promoting economic and institutional cooperation between Serbia and Republika Srpska (RS). The accord was signed by Serbia's President Boris Tadić and Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica, former RS President Dragan Čavić, and RS Prime Minister Milorad Dodik. Tadić and Koštunica, accompanied by several ministers and some 300 businessmen, arrived in Banja Luka on two special planes from Belgrade, in what was seen as the biggest-ever boost to strengthening ties in all spheres of life between the Republika Srpska and Serbia. The Serbian Komercijalna banka and the Dunav osiguranje insurance company opened branches in Banja Luka and the Serbian news agency Tanjug also inaugurated its international press center in Banja Luka.[citation needed]

The document set out steps taken by Serbia and Republika Srpska officials to increase economic and political ties. It is similar to a previous one signed in 2001 between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska, which envisaged close cooperation in matters of economy, defense, education, as well as allowing for dual citizenship for the residents of RS, according to a statement released by Serbian government.[citation needed]

The agreement gives Republika Srpska, the same status in relation to Serbia as the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. "This agreement will stabilize the relations between countries in the region and it will promote economic, political, and cultural relations between Serbia and Republika Srpska", Čavić told reporters after the signing ceremony. Koštunica added "We have long waited for this day", and insisting that the agreement would not be "a dead letter on paper", but would "live and be useful to the citizens of Serbia and Republika Srpska".[citation needed]

Representative offices

Representative offices of the Republika Srpska worldwide.

In February 2009, Republika Srpska opened a representative office in Brussels. While European Union representatives were not present at the ceremony, top Republika Srpska officials attended the event, saying it would advance their economic, political and cultural relations with the EU. This notion has been strongly condemned by Bosniak leaders, saying that this is further proof of Republika Srpska distancing itself from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The president of Republika Srpska, Rajko Kuzmanović, told reporters that this move did not jeopardise Republika Srpska's place within Bosnia and Herzegovina. He added that Republika Srpska merely used its constitutional right "to open up a representation office in the center of developments of European relevance". Republika Srpska maintains official offices in Belgrade, Moscow, Stuttgart, Jerusalem, Thessaloniki, Washington D.C., Brussels, and Vienna.[51][52][53]


Saint Stephen is the patron saint of the Republika Srpska.

According to the Law on Holidays of Republika Srpska, public holidays are divided into three categories: entity's holidays, religious holidays, and holidays which are marked but do not include time off work. The entity holidays include New Year's Day (1 January), Entity Day (9 January), International Workers' Day (1 May), Victory over Fascism Day (9 May) and Day of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (21 November).[54]

Religious holidays include Christmas and Easter according to both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars for, respectively, Serbian Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics, as well as Kurban Bajram and Bajram for Muslims. Holidays which are marked but do not include time off work include School Day (the Feast of Saint Sava, 27 January), Day of the Army of the Republika Srpska (12 May), Interior Ministry Day (4 April), and Day of the First Serbian Uprising (14 February).[54]

The most important of the entity holidays is Dan Republike, which commemorates the establishment of Republika Srpska on 9 January 1992. It coincides with Saint Stephen's Day according to the Julian calendar. The Orthodox Serbs also refer to the holiday as the Slava of Republika Srpska, as they regard Saint Stephen as the patron saint of Republika Srpska. The holiday has therefore a religious dimension, being celebrated with special services in Serbian Orthodox churches.[55] Republika Srpska does not recognize the Independence Day of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1 March).[56]



Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Banja Luka

The oldest and largest public university in Republika Srpska is University of Banja Luka established in 1975. The second of two public universities in Republika Srpska is University of East Sarajevo. After the end of the Yugoslav wars several private institutions of higher education were established, including: American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slobomir University and University Sinergija. The Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Republika Srpska is the highest representative institution in the Republika Srpska of science and art founded in 1996. National and University Library of the Republika Srpska is a national library, located in Banja Luka. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MSURS) houses a collection of Yugoslav and international art and is located in Banja Luka.


Sport revolves mostly around team sports. Among the most popular sports are football, basketball, volleyball, handball and tennis. The main football clubs in Republika Srpska are FK Borac Banja Luka, FK Leotar, FK Slavija, FK Rudar Prijedor and the others. Banja Luka is one of the most famous handball centers in the Balkans. RK Borac Banja Luka won the European Champions' Cup in 1976. and EHF Cup in 1991. RK Borac Banja Luka players have won 6 Gold Olympic medals for former Yugoslavia. Notable sportspeople born in what is now Republika Srpska include footballers Tomislav Knez, Velimir Sombolac, Mehmed Baždarević and Milena Nikolić; handball players Đorđe Lavrnić, Milorad Karalić, Nebojša Popović, Zlatan Arnautović and Danijel Šarić; basketball players Ratko Radovanović, Slađana Golić and Nihad Đedović; boxers Anton Josipović, Slobodan Kačar and Tadija Kačar; table tennis player Jasna Fazlić; shot putter Hamza Alić; and taekwondo practitioner Zoran Prerad.[citation needed]

A panorama of the Borac Banja Luka stadium



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Includes Brčko District


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