Stari Grad - Results from #126
Friday, 24 September 2021

Forbes 30 Under 30 Chef Mario Mandarić Plans Next Move: Digging Wells in Uganda

September 24, 2021 - Forbes 30 under 30 chef Mario Mandarić is trying to do something meaningful before his 30th birthday and decided to swap the high-class clientele of Hvar for Uganda, where he will dig wells this offseason.

After a successful season at Hvar restaurant Passarola, young Croatian chef Mario Mandarić, recently included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list, plans to spend the next few months digging wells in Uganda, reports

"One morning, I scrolled through Facebook and came across information that in Uganda, children are dying from infectious diseases due to lack of drinking water. Then I researched and realized that Uganda ‘lies on the water’ because of the Nile river source. Some companies dig those wells, but that drilling is expensive. So I started inquiring, I found out a little more about it; I saw that Uganda is beautiful. I sent a couple of emails to some associations and Caritas, and I was contacted by Amar Gader, who has dug more than 200 wells so far. Digging a well costs from eight to 12 thousand dollars," says Mandarić for Index.

The chef plans to go to Uganda with his restaurant team, fund one well, and launch a campaign to raise money to dig a few more wells. He says that he wants to do something big before his 30th birthday and that he will finance the digging of one well, but that his goal is to dig at least five of them.

“Since I have nothing to do until next season, it occurred to me to do a crowdfunding campaign, raise money, and dig as many wells as possible when I’m already there. Then, if there is still money left, I plan to leave Amar to continue digging those wells even after we leave," adds the chef, who also plans to organize a humanitarian dinner in Split.

“I don’t like to fall into monotony after the season; I don’t like routines. I want something exciting. I think I can influence someone to help. It is better to travel and help someone than to travel and spend money," concluded Mandarić.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Coastal Zagreb Fantasy: Delete Sava River, Insert Gulf into Kvarner Bay

September 24, 2021 - Can you imagine if Zagreb had a coastline instead of being landlocked? TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac shares his coastal Zagreb fantasy through the magic of really, genuinely terrible photoshop.

With autumn officially here, both on the calendar and evidenced by less stable weather, Zagreb is returning back to the spotlight. Students are arriving from all over to the biggest university in the country, and Zagreb is also a city where many come for job opportunities outside of the tourist season. Add the fact that as capital, Zagreb is also the centre of politics, science, culture, art, economy, and more, makes the city the place to be. It is the beating heart of the country (although many would agree that further decentralisation should be welcomed).

However, despite being a big, metropolitan, open-to-diversity city, Zagreb is far from perfect. Many issues were left unchanged by the late Mayor Milan Bandić (followed by a series of alleged corruption arrests), expensive real estate, and other political and social troubles one can expect in a big city. That said, a much bigger problem for this writer is that Zagreb sadly isn't a coastal city.

Imagine how awesome would it be if Zagreb had its own exit to the Adriatic Sea, combining all the benefits of a capital city with the seaside. The joy of the Adriatic air, sea-trade transport income, maybe a bit of fishing, and of course, places to jump in and swim and chill on a hot summer day (yes, there are the Bundek and Jarun lakes, but that's just not it).
It's a fantasy I couldn't which more more, particularly during heat waves which can be absolutely unbearable in Zagreb.

The little gulf that could...

So, how would that work outside of mere wishful thinking?

Well, there is a simple natural explanation that would relieve Zagreb of its land locked status, if only it had happened at the right place. The gulf.

As defined by Meriam-Webster, a gulf is a part of an ocean or sea extending into the land. In international terms, the Gulf of Mexico is the biggest gulf in the world, with an impressive 5,000 kilometre long coastline. Croatia has countless bays, such as Kvarner Bay. While Britannica warns that the difference between gulf and bay is not clearly defined, it is implied that bays are much smaller than gulfs. Following that, we can establish the fact that Croatia currently has bays, but not gulfs. 

However, imagine if there was a gulf through Primorje-Gorski kotar County, all the way from Kvarner Bay (by the south side of Krk Island) to Zagreb (which could be called Zagreb Bay). It wouldn't break any world records, but it would allow Zagreb an exit directly to the Adriatic sea. Have a look yourself at this terribly photoshopped map of Croatia.


An illustration of the imaginary Gorski kotar Gulf © Ivor Kruljac / Total Croatia News

The gulf could be called the Gorski kotar Gulf. And yes, this alternate reality would sink a significant number of small towns and villages, but the benefits of the gulf wouldn't contribute only to Zagreb. The population could settle along the gulf and live from fishing and from the trade provided by these connections. Who knows, maybe the economy would be better.

Zagreb's island and natural lakes 

How would Zagreb look with this geographical twist? Well, Zagreb is currently divided into the old town and Novi (new) Zagreb via the Sava river. But, with the gulf imagined as portrayed (terribly) on a photoshopped Google map, the Sava would be gone. Novi Zagreb would be an island in Zagreb Bay, while the old town would have an exit to the sea and be connected by land to Northern Croatia. The bridges across the Sava would, in this reality, go over Zagreb's channel.

In order for it to work, Jarun lake, located to the west of the old town, as well as Bundek lake in Novi Zagreb, should probably be natural lakes instead of artificial ones to provide water for the population in the past, allowing for the very first human settlements. The south of Novi Zagreb, given the depth of sea it would have in this little fantasy world, could serve for bigger cargo ship traffic while the Zagreb challen between the two sides (where the Sava currently flows) could be used for smaller boats and, of course, swimming and enjoying the refreshing seawater.


The view of the "coastal" Zagreb channel instead of the Sava river © Ivor Kruljac / Total Croatia News

The pollution-block

Given the fact that eastern Zagreb is both an industrial zone and also has the Jakuševac junkyard from the Novi Zagreb side, the waters in Zagreb clearly wouldn't be the cleanest in the country. Similar to the industrial Rijeka, whose residents often go to nearby Opatija or Lovran to enjoy the cleaner side of the Adriatic.

It's often noted that locals who actually live in coastal cities don't really go swimming that often. Maybe the same thing would apply to the imaginary coastal Zagreb's citizens too? In reality, we will never know as Zagreb is as landlocked as Switzerland or Austria is. But, one can dream big before accepting reality and booking a holiday on the lovely coast Croatia already has.

Given how beautiful the coast already is, it's not good to get too greedy.

Yes, Zagreb doesn't have a sea, but it has so many other interesting things to see and do. Learn more in our TC guide

For more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Sisak Earthquake Photo Exhibition: Between Two Waitings by Miroslav Arbutina Arba

September 23, 2021 - The Sisak earthquake photo exhibition titled "Between Two Waitings" by Miroslav Arbutina Arba shows the horror of the 2020 earthquake in Sisak through documentary photos with an artistic touch.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake on December 29 that severely damaged Petrinja and Sisak has traces which haven't faded as repairs and re-construction are still very much needed, and the Sisak earthquake photo exhibition will surely highlight the stark reality of post-earthquake life.

With Prime Minister Andrej Plenković promising earlier in September to accelerate post-earthquake reconstruction, a return to normal life in Sisak (architecture-wise) is yet to happen.

Meanwhile, as suffering is known to produce art, citizens of Zagreb (who also are not strangers to earthquakes) can closely observe the damage Sisak went through at Zagreb's Museum of Contemporary Art (MSU). In honour of European Heritage Day (September 18), MSU is hosting the Sisak City Museum by presenting the exhibition ''Between Two Waitings'' by famous Sisak photographer Miroslav Arbutina Arba. The exhibition opened on September 20, and it can be viewed until October 10.

The showcased photos which are part of the Sisak earthquake photo exhibition are a product of Arbutina being hired by the Culture Ministry to document the damage caused to cultural heritage for the purpose of evaluating the damage and producing documentation. As TCN reported earlier, the quake damage to cultural heritage in Central Croatia is estimated at €640 million.

''Arbutina gave a significant contribution to reconstruction efforts after the earthquake. His photos are, first and foremost, a witness to what happened, but with a clear artistic context. Photographing for the sake of documenting damage, he also found other motives that a regular observer does not notice. These motives, although they may exist in the documentary context, are nonetheless part of the same mosaic,'' wrote Vlatko Čakširan of the Sisak City Museum, who is also the curator for the exhibition on the MSU website.

''Those who haven't experienced this catastrophe probably think that losing your house is the worst thing, but it isn't. To me, the worse thing was expecting another new earthquake, that time of uncertainty between the two strikes,'' said Arbutina explaining the name of his exhibition.

Arbutina was born in Sisak on January 5, 1959. He took an interest in photography in the '80s when he got a Russian camera, a Lubitel, as a gift. Like many people in Sisak, he worked in a local ironware factory until he decided to try his hand at making a living solely from photography, taking industrial photos for brochures, etc.

During the Homeland War, he started working for various newspapers and other agencies. Enrolled in various projects (such as ''How Fish See Us'' where he took underwater photos of fish and plants in the Kupa river), his work received various rewards, and he moved from digital photography to experiment with the older technics of photography.

Learn more about Croatian Art Galleries in Zagreb, Dalmatia, Istria and Slavonia on our TC page.

For more about art in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

New Referendum Bill

ZAGREB, 23 Sept 2021 - The government on Thursday sent a referendum bill to parliament with the aim to improve the vague referendum legislation, notably concerning referendum petitions by people's initiatives.

The bill aligns the legal aspects of referendums with the constitution, removes the shortcomings and vagueness of the current law, and ensures referendum transparency and openness, as well as a more effective influence of citizens in political decision making, Justice, and Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica, said at a cabinet meeting.

The bill incorporates recommendations from the Council of Europe Venice Commission, he added.

For the first time, the bill systematically regulates the institute of referendum questions, including which legal prerequisites they must meet, of which the State Election Commission (DIP) will be in charge.

The bill regulates the establishment of a referendum initiative's organizing committee and the obligation to register the initiative with DIP.

Signature collection extended from 15 to 30 days

The bill extends the period for collecting signatures petitioning for a referendum from 15 to 30 days and regulates the number of locations where they can be collected. The number will be decided by local government, depending on the population.

The bill defines what a voter signature is and which signatures are considered valid as well as the signature verification procedure. The number of valid signatures will be published by DIP 30 days since their submission to parliament.

The bill also defines the deadline for calling a referendum. Parliament will be obliged to do so within 30 days of DIP's publication that enough signatures have been collected.

Counterproposal to referendum question will be possible

Following the Swiss model, the bill introduces direct and indirect proposals by the representative body as a result of which parliament, at the proposal of its constitution and political system committee, will be able to initiate within 30 days the formulation of a counterproposal to the referendum question, Malenica said.

For the first time, in line with Venice Commission recommendations, the bill defines who the participants in the referendum activity are and which actions are considered referendum activity.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Beroš: Number of Inoculated Health Workers Up

ZAGREB, 23 Sept 2021 -  Health Minister Vili Beroš informed a cabinet meeting on Thursday that the number of health workers who have been inoculated has increased, adding that almost 90% of doctors have been vaccinated against COVID.

"So far nine out of ten doctors in Croatia have been vaccinated. Last week the increase in the number of people inoculated in the healthcare sector was two and a half times greater than the week before that."

"With 68% of health workers inoculated, and those who have obtained immunity after recovering from COVID, and with the introduction of COVID certificates in the healthcare system in October, I expect all processes within the hospital system to function normally," Minister Beroš said.

He said that hospitals were successfully managing the challenges of the fourth wave of the epidemic and gradually increasing their capacities. The Split hospital is under a lot of pressure with a large number of the gravest COVID cases and with only 10% of hospitalized patients being vaccinated.

Croatia has so far administered 3,388,015 doses of vaccines, and 53% of the adult population has been vaccinated, with 49.82% having received both doses.

Waiting lists reduced 31%

Beroš said that waiting lists had been reduced by 31% compared to the pre-pandemic period. This can be attributed to fewer patients coming in for examinations.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović recalled that the national COVID response team had allowed conferences and fairs to be held in closed premises as an important economic activity. That could be expanded if we have a greater number of citizens who have been vaccinated, he said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Nurses Protest in Downtown Zagreb

ZAGREB, 23 Sept 2021 - Members of the nurses union protested in downtown Zagreb on Thursday, saying there was no Health Ministry plan to improve their status and that they were being threatened and forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

They pointed to problems with inadequately paid overtime, job classification, accelerated retirement, and the recognition of university education.

Nurses said they were aware of their responsibility towards patients but that due to everyday fatigue and stress, they were becoming patients themselves.

They said COVID certificates in healthcare were unenforceable and that the rate of vaccination was so high that the minister was not allowed to say it publicly.

"How did we work for a year and a half without a vaccine, testing, and enough gear? People didn't exactly die because irresponsible nurses infected them," one nurse said, asking the minister if layoffs were next. "There are too few of us anyway. There is a shortage of at least 8,000 and you are doing nothing about it."

Minister: Protest is legitimate, but facts shouldn't be manipulated with

Health Minister Vili Beroš said the union protest by some nurses was legitimate but that they should not manipulate with facts.

He said the payment of overtime was regulated by a supplement to the collective agreement and the payment of overtime arrears was agreed upon a few days ago in communication with the unions.

Beroš reiterated that there was no coercion to get vaccinated but said that everyone working with sick people must know that they could infect them.

"We want to prevent that but in a reasonable way," he said, adding that those who have not recovered from COVID and refuse to get vaccinated or tested most probably will not get paid. "However, I don't think there will be such people."

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Plenković: I Will Not Accept Theory of Media Freedom Being Stifled in Croatia

ZAGREB, 23 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that he will not accept the theory of media freedom being stifled in Croatia, referring to a comment by Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Mirela Ahmetović's assessment that banning someone from writing is unprecedented pressure on the media.

"It's not normal and it isn't possible to accuse the government because of a ruling by one judge on a temporary measure in one case. The government, the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), none of us has anything to do with the judge's decision on that temporary measure... I reject such insinuations, even about influence on the State Attorney's Office, let alone such an influence on the courts, that there is some intention to stifle media freedom," Plenković said after meeting with the generals, commanders, and officers from the Flash military-police operation.

After the nonprofit portal H-alter in the past few weeks ran a series of articles by reporter Jelena Jindra problematizing the work of a Zagreb center for the protection of children and its head Gordana Buljan Flander, Zagreb Municipal Court judge Andrija Krivak issued an injunction ordering H-alter to stop publishing articles about Buljan Flander.

Plenković said that Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek had given a brilliant statement about the court's decision and that he supports her in that.

The government advocates full media freedom, there are legal means to counter the temporary injunction, he said.

"I won't even go into the essence nor the decision, let alone accepts theories that media freedom is being stifled in Croatia. That is out of the question. That is not true," he added.

Asked whether the court's decision was stifling media freedom, Plenković said the Zagreb Municipal Court needs to be asked that.

"What has that got to do with us? It is a temporary injunction issued by a court. It is not a political decision by anyone here," he said and added that Minister Obuljen Koržinek said everything that had to be said about that.

Asked whether this could mean that anyone could seek the courts to ban someone from writing about them, he said that he doesn't think that is the case nor practice.

"I believe that media freedom in Croatia is such that everyone breathes freely," he said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Dubrovnik-Bulgaria Connection: Scientific View on Art and History Ties

September 23, 2021 -The Dubrovnik-Bulgaria Connection stretches through centuries. A lecture by the Ivo Pilar Social Research Scientist Vinicije Lupis reveals some interesting details on their shared art and history.

Connections between Dubrovnik and Bulgaria date back to as early as the 13th century. These connections weren't just in a common, political sense, but also in the sense of art and cultural exchange, as noted by Georgius Bulgarus, a Bulgarian blacksmith that stayed in town back in 1218. 

This fun fact is the opening of an invitation from the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute to free up your schedule on September the 23rd for a lecture on the connection between Dubrovnik and Bulgaria by Vinicije B Lupis. The event starts at 19:00 at the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute's Dubrovnik location, at the address: Od Kaštela 11.  

Vinicije B. Lupis graduated in history and archaeology back in 1992 as well as in art history and theory in 1995, both times at Zadar University. Along with his MA on Ston's liturgy silver (1998) and his Ph.D. on the topic of the skull relics in the reliquary of the Dubrovnik Cathedral (2004), Lupis began his professional work in 1992 as a conservatory archaeologist in Split and then moved to work in Dubrovnik's Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments.

''Since 2007, Lupis has worked for the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute, and from 2008 on, he has been the Head of the institute's Dubrovnik location. He has published hundreds of scientific papers and several books on the topic of sacral heritage, the art history of Dubrovnik and Boka Kotorska (Montenegro). He is the editor of multiple magazines and almanah's, and as an outside associate of the Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), he gave his contribution to documentary series on Dubrovnik's history and heritage,'' reads the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute on its website. 

With the lecture being held in Croatian and as such not being very accessible to non-native-speakers, its worth noting some of the interesting key facts about Dubrovnik and Bulgaria that will be the subject of Lupis's lecture.

Lupis analyses the Renaissance painting of the Lady with Christ from the St. Kevork Armenian Church in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. He dated the picture to be from the beginning of the 16th century and connected it to the Dubrovnik painting circle (which is additionally interesting since this painting is the first renaissance painting in all of Bulgaria). The same church also holds the Engolpion (a medallion with an icon in the centre worn around the neck by Orthodox and Eastern Catholic bishops), which is close to the Dubrovnik-style of production at that time. This is just one example of Dubrovnik's influence on Bulgarian artistic heritage. 

''The (Bulgarian) National gallery in Sofia holds the work of Croatian painters from the Dubrovnik area such as Vlaho Bukovac and Mato Celestin Medović. Dubrovnik as a place of inspiration is especially important for Bulgarian painters such as Bencho Yordanov Obreshkov and Mario Zhekov. Zhekov, the most significant Bulgarian marinist, painted an entire series of Dubrovnik landscapes,'' explains the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

This should come as no surprise as the City of Dubrovnik, throughout its history, nurtured relations with various kingdoms and states. These include, as noted by the online edition of Croatian Encyclopedia, the then-Croatia, the Venetians, the Normans, and many others. Dubrovnik also became an independent republic, and history remembers the state for its great diplomacy ( which is valued by Croatian diplomats even today) and for abolishing slavery as early as 1416.  

As TCN previously wrote, the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute's scientists also made excellent connections with the Slovakian science community and explored the history of relations between the two countries. It has also since expanded its connection in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in Montenegro with regards to the ethnic Croats of Boka Kotorska.

Learn more about Croatian Art Galleries in Zagreb, Dalmatia, Istria & Slavonia on our TC page.

For more about history in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Gordon Ramsay Verdict on Croatian Cuisine in 90 Seconds (VIDEO)

September 23, 2021 - The Gordon Ramsay verdict on Croatian cuisine is here, summarized into a 90-second video with many 'mmms', 'oh my god!', and 'that's incredible!' 

The adventures of the British chef took him to Croatia in the third season of "Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted". In search of unusual cuisines, Ramsay visited 10 new destinations this season, including Texas, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Finland, Iceland, and, of course, the Croatian region of Istria.

During his culinary mission, Gordon has to work hard to learn new flavors and unusual combinations and be in top shape for the final clash with local chefs. Namely, Ramsay must provide his own ingredients, that is, to catch and harvest what he will cook - with minimal help from locals.

Despite all the accolades and Michelin stars, he breaks through the boundaries of his endurance and skills and even encounters a few problems along the way.

The Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted Croatia episode aired in Croatia as part of the National Geographic program on September 19.

On the untouched Croatian peninsula of Istria, Ramsay - who visited Croatia for the first time - was welcomed by famous Croatian chef David Skoko and learned the secrets of Istrian cuisine.

Ramsay, among other things, went diving, fished from an old wooden boat, picked olives, hunted for truffles, and even milked a donkey!

The ending features a cooking duel in which he uses indigenous products such as fresh eggs, goat cheese, and olive oil to create a truly authentic meal. 

The famous chef even learned a bit of Croatian during his time in Istria, thanks to David Skoko's son Anton. The talented chef twists his tongue trying to pronounce words such as susnjezica (sleet) and kukuruz (corn), making his young teacher Anton laugh. 

But all jokes aside, what did Ramsay think about his first encounter with Croatian cuisine? You can see the Gordon Ramsay verdict on Croatian cuisine in 90 seconds below.


For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

First Croatian Cannabis Museum to Open in Zagreb

September 23, 2021 - The first Croatian Cannabis museum will soon open in Zagreb, which will cover more than 400 m2 and have two floors, an outdoor space, and parking for all visitors.

Jutarnji List spoke to Tvrtko Kračun, the founder and co-owner of the store, where you will find the largest selection of CBD oils and other CBD products.

The museum opening is scheduled for mid-December. It will be located in the building opposite the Ministry of the Interior on Petrinjska Street, which additionally attracted the public's attention.

"We did not intentionally go into it and wait for the space next to MUP to be vacated. We have been looking for adequate space with a parking lot near the city center for a long time because we believe that our museum will be interesting for tourists. We did not want to be in the 'focus' like, for example, on Ilica. Still, we wanted a space that would provide visitors with a 'casual' atmosphere while enjoying educational lectures in the open air," said Kračun, who admitted that the idea of a hemp museum came after visiting the Zagreb Chocolate Museum with his daughter.

"I liked how Mrs. Ružica did it, and I thought why not apply something like that to hemp and educate people. This is one of the changes I want to see, and not for Croatia always to be the one to follow the trends last," he explains.

The first floor will introduce visitors to the hemp plant, its morphology, species, and subspecies and will highlight the history of its use in different cultures. Through the wall of fame and the wall of shame, visitors will get to know various significant figures from history and, for example, find out the status of hemp during the Prohibition era.

"Visitors could be interested in the information that Yugoslavia was the largest producer of hemp in Europe. We will try to educate them about hemp in Slavonia and explain how it turned into a ghost at some point," Kračun explains.

On the second floor, through three separate rooms, the museum will educate visitors about medical use, examples from other countries on the use of hemp, provide information from proven scientific research on the economic impact and impact on human health - both positive and negative. Finally, in the third separate room, the museum will explain what the future holds and in what ways the plant could be used - for example, why eco-blocks are essential and what hemp materials are eco-friendly.

"We plan to use the outer part of the space for lectures and workshops that will be exclusively educational. We plan to bring lecturers with experience, both domestic and foreign," said Tvrtko Kračun, who revealed that they plan to have four employees in the museum.

"Our goal is to educate the public about hemp. I want to emphasize that we do not persuade to consume but present scientific facts and emphasize science, medicine, and the economy. For this reason, we decided to provide free entrance to the museum to employees of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, we plan to talk to institutions and, if they are interested, include them in lectures that will be held at the museum because our goal is to provide scientifically proven positive and negative facts in one place," explains Kračun, who is pleased with the success of his Hemps stores.

"We worked very well during corona, and our webshop contributed to that. We had a space on Radićeva Street that we exceeded with our products in less than three months, so when more space was freed at the bottom of Radićeva, we moved the store there. Our Cannabis club is also progressing very well; we have several thousand members," he said. 

Anyone who joins the Cannabis Club for free, in addition to receiving discounts on Hemps products, will also be able to actively participate in the selection of exhibits at the Cannabis Museum and contribute to its appearance. Namely, they will vote which exhibitions and people are important to the industry that should be prominently displayed in the museum.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

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