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October revolution in painting: ten major paintings

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Material dedicated to the centennial of the October Revolution of 1917, which became a turning point in Russian history. Today - about women revolutionaries, whose destinies crashed on a wave of terror.

Russian women in the 1917 revolution

Until 1917, Russian women had few options for the future.

Vera Zasulich - the first Russian revolutionary terrorist

Vera Zasulich was born in 1849 in the Smolensk province in a poor noble family. After graduating from the Moscow boarding school, she received a diploma of a home teacher, and soon moved to St. Petersburg, where she joined the revolutionary circles. She was repeatedly expelled from the capital, Zasulich spent two years under arrest in the Nechaev case (the history of the Nechaev circle formed the basis of the novel "Demons" by Dostoevsky).

Vera Zasulich was born into a noble family

In 1878, Vera Zasulich received an appointment with the city governor Fedor Trepov (six months earlier Trepov ordered the political prisoner Bogolyubov to be cut with rods) and wounded him with a shot from a revolver. For such a crime, from 15 to 20 years of hard labor was supposed, however, the jury passed an acquittal. The trial of Zasulich received worldwide resonance, the famous writer Oscar Wilde even wrote his first play “Faith, or the Nihilists” based on this story.

Zasulich shot at Trepov, who ordered the student prisoner to be carved

The very next day, the authorities realized it and the verdict was appealed, but Zasulich managed to hide with friends and then leave the country. Oddly enough, the vehement terrorist Vera Zasulich, during the time of emigration, became disappointed in terror and began to agitate sharply against this method of revolutionary struggle. Zasulich returned to Russia in 1905. During the October Revolution, she first accepted what happened, but then sharply criticized Lenin and his party, being a Menshevich. Zasulich died in 1919 from pneumonia. She was 69 years old.

Gesya Gelfman - participant in the assassination attempt on Alexander II

Gesya Gelfman grew up in a wealthy Jewish family and did not know any refusal. At 16, they decided to give her in marriage to her father’s financial partner, a wealthy timber merchant. Gesya did not want to get married according to her calculations, and on the last night before the wedding she ran away from home. She ended up in Kiev. In the early 1870s, being a student of obstetric courses at the university, she became interested in revolutionary ideas and joined the socialist circles.

Gesia Gel'fman was born into a wealthy Jewish family

Her apartment was safe for the underground. In 1875, Gelfman was arrested. She spent three and a half years in St. Petersburg - one and a half of them awaiting trial, and after it ended, she was sentenced to forced labor by a sentence in the Narodniks case. After serving the sentence, Gesu Gelfman was expelled from the capital, but she fled from surveillance and returned to Petersburg.

Gesya Gelfman was preparing an attempt on Alexander II

There she joined the terrorist group "Narodnaya Volya", lived in a dynamite workshop on Telezhnaya Street. It was there that bombs were made that were used in the assassination of Alexander II in March 1881. When after an attempt on the apartment came with searches, the husband Gelfman, Nikolai Sablin, managed to shoot himself, and Gesya was arrested.

The trial of the Pervartovtsy - participants in the assassination attempt on Alexander II

She was not hanged along with the other five Narodnaya Volya, as she was pregnant. The execution was replaced by hard labor, but soon after a difficult birth, Gesya Gelfman died of peritonitis in a prison hospital. This happened in 1882, Gelfman was not even thirty years old.

Maria Spiridonova - member of the Socialist Revolutionary Organization

The difficult fate of Maria Spiridonova gave reason to call her "revolutionary martyr." Spiridonova came to the combat wing of the Socialist Revolutionaries in the early 1900s. In 1906, she shot at the adviser to the Tambov governor Luzhenovsky. The Socialist-Revolutionary fired five bullets at him and was about to shoot the sixth, but the jumping Cossacks stunned her with rifle butts.

Eserka Maria Spiridonova in her youth

After the arrest, Spiridonova was brutally beaten and raped: reports of this caused a wave of indignation, a song that went to the people was composed about Spiridonova’s suffering. In anticipation of the execution - the Socialist-Revolutionary should have been hanged - she molded a doll from bread, hung it by a string and prepared for death, fearing that she would not be able to accept it with dignity. After 16 days of torture while waiting, she was informed that the execution was replaced by hard labor.

Maria Spiridonova spent the last 20 years of her life in prisons and links

Punishment Maria Spiridonova was serving in Nerchinsk, with other terrorists, as well as criminals. After the February coup in 1917, she returned to Petrograd and took a place in the Provisional Government. After the Bolsheviks came to power, Spiridonova was again arrested, and she spent the rest of her life in prisons and exiles. On September 11, 1941, she was shot in the forest near Oryol together with other political prisoners of the Oryol prison - at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War this was done to many "political" ones.

Ivan Vladimirov, “Taking the Winter Palace”

The work of the artist Ivan Vladimirov "The Capture of the Winter Palace" describes the events of the October Revolution. Soldiers captured the stronghold of the Provisional Government of the Winter Palace. They tear and toss the tsarist heritage of Russia, on the canvas you can see how the fighters shred the paintings depicting the emperors. It is worth noting that the “Russian Bastille” was defended by a group of cadets and 137 female drummers from the death squad: according to various estimates, the Winter Palace was guarded by 500 to 700 people. After the shootout and the Bolshevik offensive, resistance was suppressed and in the hands of soldiers, sailors and all comers it turned out to be the cultural heritage of the Russian Empire. Of course, many things were looted by the crowd, including the junkers defending the Winter Palace, but order was soon restored. Here is what American journalist John Reed writes on the subject, Ten Days That Shook the World:

“Fascinated by a stormy human wave, we ran into the palace through the right entrance, which went into a huge and empty vaulted room - the basement of the east wing, from which a labyrinth of corridors and stairs diverged. There were a lot of boxes. The Red Guards and soldiers pounced on them with fury, breaking them with their butts and pulling out carpets, curtains, linen, porcelain and glass dishes. Someone shouldered a bronze watch. Someone else found an ostrich feather and stuck it in his hat. But as soon as the robbery began, someone shouted: “Comrades! Do not touch anything! Do not take anything! This is a national treasure! ”He was immediately supported by at least twenty votes:“ Wait! Put everything back! Take nothing! Public property! ”Dozens of hands reached out to the robbers. Brocade and tapestries were taken from them. Two people selected a bronze watch. Things hastily, somehow fell back into the crates, where the sentinels got up without permission. All this was done completely spontaneously. Through the corridors and stairs, deaf and loud cries were heard fading in the distance: “Revolutionary discipline! National Treasure! ”

Returning to Vladimirov, it can be noted that he has a rather interesting series of works that describe in detail the events that unfolded in Petrograd 1917–1918: famine, interrogations, requisition, pogroms, horror of the common people.

Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, "Petrograd Madonna"

Petrov-Vodkin’s painting “The Petrograd Madonna” perfectly maneuvers between modernity and Renaissance motifs. The canvas depicts a woman with a child, in the background the scenes of post-revolutionary life unfold. Petrov-Vodkin interpreted a new era in the life of Russian society. But he did not seek to destroy the old world, he wanted to show the renewal of the world. Of course, in the picture you can see many details from his modern life. Nevertheless, episodes from past eras are also present in his picture. A woman with a child portrays the new future of Russia, but her image resembles the Virgin Mary, which should give this picture a certain archaic character. Here the artist’s enthusiasm for icon painting is manifested.

The Petrograd Madonna, written in 1920, refers to the mature period of Petrov-Vodkin's work. The artist’s image of the mother in the picture is not accidental: he was raised in a caring and loving family. He creates a generalized image of a Russian woman, collected by him from childhood memories. The women depicted by Petrov-Vodkin are always blush, full of life, they are full of health and radiate warmth and kindness. This image becomes the real ideal of Russian female beauty.

Vladimir Serov, “Statement by V.I. Lenin at the II All-Russian Congress of Soviets”

Soviet artist Vladimir Aleksandrovich Serov in 1955 devoted his work to one of the most important events of the October Revolution, which took place on October 25–26, 1917, to the II All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies. The congress revealed contradictions between the Bolsheviks, on the one hand, and the Mensheviks with the Social Revolutionaries, who were afraid of the growing influence of Lenin and his associates. The meeting itself took place during the revolutionary events in Petrograd. So, according to eyewitnesses, during the meeting, a roar of artillery was heard, the Menshevik Martov flinched, and announced:

“The civil war has begun, comrades! Our first question should be a peaceful resolution of the crisis ... the question of power is resolved through a military conspiracy organized by one of the revolutionary parties ... ”

Subsequently, the Mensheviks, right-wing Social Revolutionaries, delegates of the Bund left the congress and boycotted his work.

The congress itself determined the future of Russia for a long time. The first act of the congress was the appeal "To the Workers, Soldiers, and Peasants" in which it was reported that the "Provisional Government was deposed." The Bolsheviks proclaimed that all power passes to the Soviets of workers', soldiers' and peasants' deputies. The call for an immediate cessation of hostilities unfolding due to the outbreak of the First World War was the Peace Decree. The Bolsheviks laid the main emphasis on the fact that the parties should conclude just peace agreements without annexations and indemnities, that was precisely how they believed this brutal and cruel imperialist massacre should end.

The next step was the “Land Decree”, the main points of which were: nationalization of the whole land and “its conversion to all the public property”, confiscation of landlord estates and their transfer to the land committees and county councils of peasant deputies, transfer of land for use by peasants on principles egalitarianism, avoiding wage labor. The decisions on the abolition of the death penalty at the front, on the formation of the Council of People's Commissars, on the formation of revolutionary committees in the army also played an important role.

"Women are not united by gender, but by a desire for survival"

S.B .: Women all over the world are united not by gender, but by a desire for survival.

This is evident in revolutionary Russia, where the difficulties caused by the war and the fall of the tsarist regime could not leave women aside. At such a time, the thesis “Revolution is a man’s business” becomes irrelevant.

K.T .: The revolution is the most opportune moment for women to declare themselves and take part in politics on a par with men.

The Bolsheviks themselves pushed women to participate in the Russian revolution with their calls. They believed that the socialist movement is the surest way to achieve equal rights.

"Holiday8March is necessary"

It is believed that the celebration of International Women's Day on March 8th discredits women whose rights and desires are remembered only once a year. What do you think of this holiday?

S.B .: The history of women began to be written in the 60s of the twentieth century. This does not mean that before that women did not have a voice - they simply ignored him.

Therefore, the celebration of International Women's Day must exist in order to emphasize the strength and importance of women in the world community. Unfortunately, this is not enough in Britain.

Clara Zetkin’s speech at the Second International Socialist Women's Conference in1910, during which the activist proposed the establishment of a women's day.In the USSR, March 8 was celebrated in memory of the performances of female workers on February 23 (March 8), 1917. Since 1975, the UN has been celebrating the holiday in support of gender equality and the empowerment of women around the world. Each year is dedicated to relevant women's issues. "Women and changes in the labor market" is the theme of 2017.

K.T .: For many, the problem with the celebration of March 8 is that the rights and equality of women are allegedly remembered one day a year.

In my opinion, having a day, albeit one, when women have the opportunity to get together, inspire each other and draw attention to themselves, as happened in 1917, is very important.

Sarah Badcock - Associate Professor, Specialist in the History of the Late Imperial and Revolutionary Periods of Russia, University of Nottingham, author of the book Politics andljudiREvolutionary Russia. "Sarah pays special attention to the study of the role of ordinary people and local movements in the Russian Revolution.

Katie Terton -teacherQueens University in Belfast, author of publications on the history of the Russian Revolution and the women's movement. In the Forgotten Women book, Katie explores the role of the Lenin sisters during and after the Revolution.

Boris Kustodiev, Bolshevik

"Bolshevik" - a picture of the famous artist Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev. The work attracts attention in a straightforward manner-symbol. A Russian peasant walks in the streets of revolutionary Petrograd with a firm gait, and a crowd is waiting for him, waiting for change. But the artist does not know how these changes will affect the future of Russia.

In general, paintings on revolutionary subjects showed a new hypostasis of Kustodiev: before that, he painted paintings depicting the life of the merchants and the Russian province. He could watch all the events on a wheelchair from the window of his house, since in 1909 the artist found signs of a spinal cord tumor. He writes in his diary:

"Everything is in full swing, on the streets are crowds of people ... I am sitting at home, knowing that you cannot wait for such a street for a hundred years."

Kustodiev sees the revolt of the people in the revolution and he depicts the events as a huge figure with the banner of the revolution rising above all. According to him, this is how he expresses the “sense of spontaneity” of revolutionary events. The painter feels the grandeur of the scale of what is happening and he decides to express this spontaneity in the image of a Bolshevik. If you pay attention to the crowd, you can understand that it is impossible to control, it moves spontaneously. An obstacle to the "new future" is the church, which occupies a significant part of the canvas.
Blue shadows on grayish snow are designed to enhance the state of inexplicable anxiety. We have an involuntary feeling that this man with his huge steps will soon trample everything that he encounters in his way. Kustodiev paints a picture, confident that quiet provincial Russia cannot withstand this destructive element.

It is difficult to say how the artist treated the new ideology. Society was waiting for change, tsarism did not want to, and could no longer solve the country's problems, new people were needed. Many greeted the February Revolution with enthusiasm, and the October Revolution divided society. The culmination of this was the Civil War.

Kazimir Malevich, “The Head of the Peasant”

Of course, you can not do without a description of the work of representatives of the Russian avant-garde. One of the most significant figures of the "new art" was Kazimir Malevich. The revolution was the impetus for the work of many artists of the Russian avant-garde. During the years of the October Revolution, Malevich already became a well-deserved master who had gone from Impressionism, Neo-Primitivism to his own discovery - Suprematism. Malevich took the revolution worldview, the new people and propagandists of the Suprematist faith were to become members of the art group UNOVIS ("Validators of the new art"), who wore a black square bandage on their sleeves. The revolutionary events allowed artists to rewrite the entire past and future history in order to occupy the main place in it.

An important cycle of work in the work of Malevich is the work devoted to the Russian peasantry. The lines and diagonals in the composition of the picture push the head of the peasant to the fore. It is worth paying attention to the color scheme: black, red and white colors are especially pronounced. Black means that a person will inevitably face death, but he has an eternal nature, which is white, while the peasant is full of life - this is indicated by the red color. But on the top of the picture, planes are visible - they mean a transitional period in the life of the people that occurs in conjunction with military operations. At the same time, the picture resembles Orthodox icon painting, and there are also references to the archaic of peasant life: people's clothes, colors, the face of the peasant.

Nikolay Terpsikhorov, “The First Slogan”

One of the representatives of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia Nikolai Borisovich Terpsikhorov is a very interesting person. The painter served in the Red Army, and also traveled to many parts of the Soviet Union. His work was permeated with revolutionary themes, and this is no accident, because the events of the October Revolution influenced entire generations of young people. And traveling around his native country gave a new impetus to describe the life of the common population. At the same time, in the later period of his creative activity, the artist left socialist realism and devoted himself to landscape painting.

Now it’s worth turning to what is shown in the picture. A peculiar Soviet “workshop”, where art objects, twilight atelier and Soviet symbols are so contrasted. At first, the viewer's attention is focused on the scarlet poster “All Power to the Soviets”, but it is worth noting that unshakable antique figures stand against the background of the artist and his paintings. The picture clearly sends us to the revolutionary and post-revolutionary times, at the time of the birth of Soviet art, whose task was to create monumental propaganda.

Alexander Labas, “At the Kremlin Walls”

Speaking of the October Revolution, it is also worth noting the events unfolding in Moscow. It was in Moscow that fierce battles took place between the defenders of the regime and the Bolsheviks. Alexander Arkadievich Labas depicted the capture of the Kremlin tower by workers and soldiers. October 28, the Kremlin took a detachment of junkers, shooting 300 soldiers who went over to the side of the Bolsheviks. Then the revolutionaries decided to launch artillery bombardment of the Kremlin. A city of shells damaged the Ivan the Great Bell Tower and the Spasskaya Tower, the Assumption and Annunciation Cathedrals, and the Nikolsky Gate was destroyed. On November 2, defenders of the Provisional Government announced surrender. The revolution in Moscow won. The events of the parties themselves subsequently stated differently. The newspaper New Life, edited by Maxim Gorky, provides the following description of events:

“Guns thump, it’s firing at the Kremlin from somewhere from the Sparrow Hills. A man who looks like a disguised military man scornfully says:
- Shrapnel shoot, idiots! This is fortunately, otherwise they would have rolled out the entire Kremlin.
He has been telling attentive listeners for a long time about when it is necessary to destroy people with shrapnel, and when to "act blissful."
- And they, boobies, shrapnel on a high gap! It is aimless and stupid ...
Someone hesitantly copes:
“Maybe - they deliberately shoot like this in order to scare, but not kill?”
“Why so?”
- From humanity?
“Well, what humanity we have,” the expert on the murder technique calmly objects.
... Round, nasty bullets shrapneling in a hail drum on the iron of the roofs, falling on the stones of the pavement - the audience rushes to collect them "for memory" and crawl in the mud.
In some houses near the Kremlin, the walls of houses were broken by shells, and probably dozens of innocent people died in these houses. The shells flew as meaningless as the whole six-day process of the bloody massacre and defeat of Moscow was meaningless. ”

El Lissitzky, “Beat the White with a Red Wedge”

The lithography of the artist El Lissitzky, “Hit the White with the Red Wedge”, created in 1919, is politicized to the limit. The red wedge, crashing into the white circle, symbolizes the Red Army, crushing the barriers of the anti-communist and imperialist forces of the white army. In this early work, the empty space occupied by objects is skillfully played out. With their movement, the figures clearly hint to the viewer about the correct formulation of the text. Lissitzky, like Malevich, designed a new world and created forms in which a new life was to fit. This work, thanks to a new form and geometry, translates the grudge of the day into certain general timeless categories.

Mikhail Sokolov, “Arrest of the Provisional Government”

The picture of Mikhail Grigoryevich Sokolov “The arrest of the Provisional Government” was created in 1933. But contemporaries are better aware of a copy of this painting made by Serafim Alexandrovich Zverev at the request of the State Museum of the Revolution in 1936. The canvas depicts one of the most dramatic episodes of the October Revolution - the nightly arrest of the Provisional Government in the Winter Palace. The central figure of the picture becomes Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko (in a hat, glasses, with a pistol in a menacingly raised hand). The revolutionary was at the center of a spontaneous rebellion. In the post-revolutionary period, this person will occupy the position of member of the Committee on Military and Naval Affairs under the first Soviet government - the Council of People's Commissars (SNK). But his personal story was deplorable - in 1938, Antonov-Ovseenko was shot for belonging to the Trotskyist organization, and his name would be removed from the chronicle of the storming of the Winter Palace. Therefore, in the Soviet period, the canvas was not presented to the general public.

The picture itself is full of dynamics, energy and emotional uplift - on the canvas you can see how events are unfolding rapidly, all the characters are tense: revolutionaries are warlike, members of the government are ready to admit defeat. The artist depicts people who are changing the movement vector of Russia. The past, which does not understand the problems of the peasantry, workers and soldiers, inevitably awaits destruction. Ministers know that resistance is impossible in this case - the revolution has triumphed.

It is worth noting that the members of the Provisional Government were largely polar views: some were ideologists of the liberal movement, while others were socialist. The ministers were essentially abandoned by the head of government Kerensky, who was running for help to the front, so they had very few chances to save the situation.

From the ministers depicted in the picture, you can find the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Tereshchenko (he is in a black suit, with black hair combed on a side part), and next to him Salazkin is the Minister of Education. Opposite Salazkin, the Minister of Agriculture Semyon Maslov is depicted (behind him is a sailor holding a hand on his shoulder). The remaining ministers disappeared into the mass of sailors and soldiers. One of the ministers will subsequently leave memories of this historic event:

“The noise at our door. It swung open - and a small man flew into the room like a sliver thrown at us by a wave, under the pressure of the crowd, which followed him into the room and, like water, spread all over the corner at once and filled the room.
The man was in an open coat, in a wide felt hat, shifted to the back of the head, on reddish long hair. With glasses. With a short trimmed red mustache and a small beard.
... the room was full of people. Soldiers, sailors, Red Guards. All armed, some armed to the highest degree: a rifle, two revolvers, a saber, two machine-gun belts ... "

It is possible that these very memoirs became the historical source that the artist used to create the picture.

Alexander Gerasimov, “V. I. Lenin on the podium "

Famous painting by portrait painter Alexander Mikhailovich Gerasimov “V. I. Lenin on the podium. " The painting is dedicated to the main ideologist and leader of the October Revolution, V. I. Lenin. The combination of the dark, smoky sky and bright red canvases of the revolution create an amazing contrast in the composition of the artist. The author wanted to describe the triumph of communism, which is impossible to imagine without Lenin. The image itself is very dynamic, you can imagine how the masses are jubilant, and Vladimir Ilyich emotionally attracts people. The artist himself wrote about the work process:

“The awareness that you are working on the image of the genius of mankind filled with deep creative joy and at the same time a sense of great responsibility. I clearly understood when undertaking this work that it was necessary to preserve for future generations not only the true external image of Lenin, but also to reveal to the viewer the feeling with which we, contemporaries, perceived the days and labors of the great liberator of workers and comprehended a new stage in the world stories.
I worked a lot and for a long time on my first portrait of Lenin, redid a lot in it, changed it, but one thought tirelessly led all my creative thoughts: Lenin was the organizer of the October Revolution, the fiery stands, the leader of the greatest revolution in centuries. So I tried to show it on my canvas. "

The work was completed in 1930. In it, Gerasimov was able to create a generalized image of the leader of the Bolsheviks, who called on the country's population to fight the oppressors.
The artist noted that he used photographic material to create his picture, but at the same time he considered the direct use of photography to be harmful for creating an interesting work. Copying would be the factor that led the creator away from the real tasks of art. He wrote:

“The photo tells the artist something. But to write a portrait from a photo means not even making a pretty tolerable portrait. The tragedy of a considerable number of contemporary painters who wrote and wrote Lenin lies in the fact that they do not go beyond the "picturesque reconstruction" of photography. Particularly misleading in the photo are the camera angles and the ratio of the shadow and light parts of the face. ”

It is noteworthy that Gerasimov began to get acquainted with documentary material when the idea of ​​a portrait was already decided in his mind.

Zinaida Konoplyannikova: “We will answer red with white bloody terror. "

Socialist Zinaida Konoplyannikova graduated from a free female gymnasium in 1899 and, according to the rules, was supposed to work four years in one of the schools "by distribution". So she lived for three years in Gostilitsy, from where her "going to the people" began. Konoplyannikova taught, prepared performances, and, between things, led revolutionary agitation among the peasants.

Zinaida Konoplyannikova began with going to the people, and ended in terror

In 1903, she was arrested for propaganda and put in the Trubetskoy bastion of the Peter and Paul Fortress. In total, with interruptions she served more than a year - and only became hardened. After leaving the fortress, Konoplyannikova joined the flying detachment of the Socialist Revolutionaries, and in August 1906, at the New Peterhof station, she shot Major General Mina, who participated in the suppression of the 1905 uprising, from browning.

Zinaida Konoplyannikova was hanged in the Shlisselburg fortress

Zinaida Konoplyannikova was arrested on the spot and 10 days later she was sentenced to be hanged. She is believed to have responded with “red terror”, which will be a response to the actions of the authorities. Konoplyannikov was hanged on the morning of August 29 in the Shlisselburg fortress. Eyewitnesses said that the 27-year-old sentenced was going to die, "as if for a holiday."

Irina Kakhovskaya - a repressed revolutionary

Irina Kakhovskaya studied at the Women's Pedagogical University, and became interested in revolutionary ideas in 1905 after hearing the speech of Maxim Gorky. She was arrested and exiled to Eastern Siberia - she was serving her sentence together with Maria Spiridonova and other Socialist-Revolutionaries.

The terrorist Irina Kakhovskaya was a very educated woman

After the October coup, Kakhovskaya joined the terrorist cell and personally participated in the preparation of several assassination attempts - including the Ukrainian hetman Skoropadsky (described in the White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov). For the first time under the Bolsheviks, she was arrested in 1919, but released by personal sanction of Vladimir Lenin.

The rest of the days Irina Kakhovskaya spent in Maloyaroslavets

In 1925, there was no one else to stand up for Kakhovskaya. She was arrested again and spent the next 45 years in prison and exile. After the death of Stalin in 1953, she moved from Ufa to the Kaluga region and lived there the rest of the days.

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