Let's make it together!
The path of perfection

The book Just English.The State of Britain. Английский для юристов и политологов. Углубленный Курс is still under development. The students of MSU Law Faculty and Faculty of World Politics are making their contribution to this project. The best essays will be included into the 4th edition in Autumn 2008.




Great Britain is one of the few countries, where the monarchy has been preserved throughout many centuries. As a rule, the throne was passed to the eldest male descendant in the royal family and sometimes to other legal successors. And there were only several cases, when the continuity was broken. These occasions were usually linked to some complex problems in the state, such as the Bourgeois Revolution in the mid-17th century. And those were the times, when the monarch's power was real, not nominal.

Roman Sharapov

Today the sovereign in Great Britain reigns, but doesn't rule. And it's not a secret that Elizabeth II is only a figurehead. There are no crucial problems in the country; everything's going just fine. So why break the continuity and skip a generation? Monarchy is a very old governmental institution and if I'm not mistaken, it covers almost ten centuries in Great Britain. So what is the purpose of modernising the monarchy? It isn't a tool of control over the country anymore. Today the monarchy is only a good tradition, a kind of live exhibit in the "museum of British history", a live-bait for the tourists if you want.

For me, the term "monarchy" is associated with an elderly and experienced person, who had waited for several decades before he/she became the monarch. It is Prince Charles who will be that person when he succeeds Elizabeth II. But if the Crown skips a generation and Prince William comes to the throne the British will have a young, fresh and inexperienced King. He will have to get a good knowledge of the "job of a monarch" and Prince Charles will be the only person who will be able to give it. Therefore I don't think he will modernise the monarchy anyhow.

To sum it up I want to say that in my opinion, monarchy is the only thing that makes Great Britain popular all over the world. It is just marvellous that the British have preserved it throughout centuries. Monarchy is a good tradition; it is the first thing that is associated with the name of the country (Great Britain). Moreover, I think it makes Great Britain more influential in international affairs. That's why, in my opinion, it must be preserved by all means (Frankly speaking, I'd be happy if we had monarchy in Russia and had a royal family with descendants of the Romanovs, I'd be more proud of my country, just pronounce: The Russian Empire - sounds majestically).

So the British needn't modernise or change the monarchy in any way. Just let it be…

Sharapov Roman, Law Faculty



…This kind of question – “to be or not to be” – is the eternal one. And it is rather debatable. So I want to look at the problem of the monarchy from two different perspectives.

Ann Lisnyack

On the one hand, the sovereign – the Queen of Great Britain – is the symbol of national unity and ancient traditions which a lot of Englishmen respect so much. We all know that traditions, customs and conventions are the part of everyday life of each English citizen. We can not even imagine how British people would live if there are no traditions which they should follow and keep to. And the Queen with her Civil List, Royal Prerogative, Buckingham Palace and other features is the main tradition, the most important thing of the British history and development. So if the Queen does not exist what will happen to the British nation...?

One of the most significant duties of the Queen is that she gains direct contact with people from all walks of life and – as a Head of the Commonwealth – with people from all the countries of the Commonwealth. For example, if we suppose that Britain has an elected Head of State other countries of the Commonwealth will also wish to have elected Heads of State. The Commonwealth will just disappear, it will fall to pieces, i.e. to isolated countries, each having its own Head. From my point of view, it is not the case just because this situation will cause a lot of problems one of which is connected with the status of people in these countries. Maybe, more than a half of them want the Commonwealth to be retained. That is a problem on its own and I have gone too far. Let’s return to the Queen.

Now I want to talk about the advantages of an elected Head of State and accordingly the disadvantages of the monarch.

Nowadays, in the 21 century the monarchy is perceived by the majority of people as an anachronism, as a bastion of big money, rich people, aristocracy and unfairness. Some people when they have just heard the word “monarch” immediately remember the centuries of monarchial cruelty and rudeness, the centuries of never ending intrigues, bloody wars and universal fear. This was the case in every country beginning with feudalism and going on to absolutism, even in Russia.

It is believed that the elected Head of State is one of the most significant symbols of democratic state. However it seems to me that democracy consists not only of the elected Head of State, but also of many other important elements.

As for my personal opinion – here it is: I decline to the statement: “The monarch in Britain should be”. I will try to justify my point of view.

Yes, I agree that monarchy was at times cruel, rude and bloody. But it was in the past. Many people believe this situation can take place in the future since the past has a tendency to be repeated…and we should think about next generations, about our descendants.

However, time changes and peoples’ ways change too. So does the monarchy. The present British monarchy is more civilized and humane. Moreover, now it is the constitutional monarchy as it ought to comply with the meaning of the term “constitutional”.

Ann Lisnyack, Law Faculty



Queen Elizabeth II is allegedly about to abdicate and give the throne to her elder son Prince Charles. Moreover, according to the latest opinion poll, published in Daily Mirror, 53 % of the British people believe that within the next few years the Queen will retire and 66 % state that Prince William should succeed to the throne. In her latest speech in Parliament the 76-year old Queen made it clear that the young Prince would possibly fulfill his royal obligations.

Michael Muradov

In the meanwhile Prince William is facing various options. Around a third of the British population would like to see him develop a profession, spend time abroad, serve in the armed forces or take up royal duties. Only about one in seventh of the British population is keen to see him settle down and start a family. In spite of the serious divergence in opinion relating to his future, 70 % of the British emphasize that if they were given chance to become a member of the royal family, they wouldn't agree to that and only 12 % believe that the royalty are leading a great life.

Still the British would appreciate William's succession to the throne: there's a growing sentiment in Britain in favor of the monarchy skipping a generation.

These days the general idea is that if the British monarchy is to survive into the next century, Prince William seems to be its savior. The son of the Prince of Wales is in no doubt to where his duties and responsibilities lie. His country has expectations, which he has tried to fulfill, delivering excellent school work and displaying impeccable good manners. He is only too aware that the monarchy demands personal sacrifices. From an early age William has realized that the weight of historical inheritance can sometimes seem almost intolerable. But for William, the challenge in the years ahead will be to find a way of fulfilling his royal obligations while retaining a sense of personal freedom.

That doesn't seem to be an easy task, but Prince William makes it clear that he is capable of solving the problem: he denied rumors that he doesn't want to inherit the throne. "It's something I was born into and it's my duty...It's all about helping people and dedication and loyalty, which I hope I have - I know I have. I'll take each step as it comes and deal with it as best as I can."

William's attitude towards the duties and responsibilities of the monarch is generally very promising. He claims that his "guiding principles in life are to be honest, genuine, thoughtful and caring". Some state that the monarch might be an elderly and experienced person, such as Prince Charles. But it's obvious now that "the monarchy is caught at a crossroads between whether it continues at the apex of the hierarchical class system" or whether "it moves over to be a symbol, a figurehead, of a much more classless society" (Jack Straw, GB Home Sec.) and the Queen's successor will be the one to decide if the monarchy would be relevant in future. Since the monarchial state system has to fit the time, the Head of the State should be capable of taking serious decisions, be less conservative and more popular among the society. And in this respect it is William who should represent the changing face of the monarchy in Britain!

Michael Muradov, Law Faculty



For many decades in Great Britain the question of the Head of State remained taboo, despite other sweeping constitutional reforms. The situation seems to be totally different these days. Queen Elizabeth II told Parliament in her Golden Jubilee address (2002), that the monarchy needed to adapt to modern realities. On the government level a special commission, The Fabian Society, has been formed to help the monarchy meet the social and political needs of modern Britain. The work of the commission is aimed at the whole series of far-reaching changes. The panel is taking a serious and objective look at the whole subject and focuses on the constitutional role of the monarch in the state. Michael Jacobs, general secretary of The Fabian Society emphasizes: "We've had a lot of constitutional reform and we need to make sure the Head of State is part of that process?"


However it is very important to reveal the Prime minister's view on an elected Head of State. In Britain the Prime Minister is technically appointed by the Monarch. But in fact it is already a person with huge political authority - the head of the party which has won the majority of seats in Parliament as a result of the General Election. It is the Prime Minister, who forms the Government and the Cabinet.

In theory, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a primus inter pares (first among equals) in the British Cabinet. However, in practice, a strong Prime Minister can so dominate government that he becomes a 'semi-president', and fulfils the leadership role in a country in the same way as presidents do. Examples include William Gladstone, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and of course - Tony Blair. It's interesting to note that Tony Blair, the Prime Minister is also a committed monarchist and he has resisted all calls for a review of the institution. But a large number of government ministers have republican sentiments and they are ready to speak out. Some of them urge for complete abolition of monarchy. Some Americans hold the same opinion. For example, they regard monarchy as an archaic and worthless institution.

In my opinion the main issue is that all politicians seek to gain more and more power. It concerns not only Britain, but the whole world. Why is Tony Blair a committed monarchist? As a Prime Minister he enjoys much power, because real powers of the monarch are restricted and mainly symbolic. It suits him since he is not sure that he will become a President if the country changes its form of government. That's why Tony Blair's policy is very severe and bizarre. So, should he enjoy constitutional powers as a president? Should he become one? It's unclear.

Moreover in model presidential republics such as the USA the President has much more powers and prerogatives than the monarch in Britain. I mean not only formal powers, but also the real ones. Therefore many ministers are in favour of the republic since they seek to gain all political power rather than act in the interest of the nation. As for the public sentiment, most of the people support monarchy, because it is the real symbol of national unity, a part of the tradition. In fact common people want to become wealthier and they don't care who should be the Head of State.

Mysnik Oksana, Law Faculty



"Ideal state is the one where a ruler is a ruler
An official is an official
A father is a father
And a son is a son…"

Throughout the human history many thinkers have tried to suggest their own formula of an ideal state. Unfortunately, they were not always successful in it. Since the ideas expressed in Plato's "Government", Moore's "Utopia" and Campanella's "City of the Sun" were not translated into reality, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin and other dictators tried to bring about their own concept of state. These efforts will always remain a notorious part of the world's history. Only today we realise that an ideal state is only delusive. It is only a dream buried by cruel reality formed by governments.
- We have started a better living, - the government said.
- We are happy you have, - the people thought.

It'd be a great exaggeration to say that we are getting closer to an ideal state. The humankind has experienced a-thousand-years disgrace and lost dreams. But people hope on.

For example, 70 years ago a renowned Russian scholar Dmitry Likhachov wrote a fairy tale about a state of prosperous culture, science and welfare. He called it Gremlandia. The tale tells us about the Perfect and Sophisticated Person. In this tale Likhachov draws a line between vice and virtue, knowledge and ignorance, conscience and cynicism.

In 1990s at the rise of democratic changes in Russia the scholar revived the old dream. Gremlandia materialized. Its first citizens became Galina Vishnevskaya, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jury Temirkhanov, actor Igor Dmitriyev and scores of children. They talked about the state based on conscience and reason. They manifested their ideas about the major events in the country and in the world through various decrees and projects.

It was no surprise that in the imaginary country with the territory no more than one square metre there was an appointed prime minister, the congress headed by composer Andrey Petrov, elected officer and other bodies typical of a regular state. There was even a prison and every citizen could convict himself if he had something on his conscience. According to decisions passed by congress and government of Gremlandia the coat of arms, the hymn and various governmental rewards had to be purchased.

To develop this principle the teachers of Gremlandia decided to create a special fund and met in a prestigious Petersburg casino Conty. God knows how this brilliant concept could be associated with the casino.

Unfortunately the members of the government of Gremlandia and its fund split up. One day the scholar Likhachov issued a letter in which he informed the public about his decision to quit the self-proclaimed state.

Unfortunately, fairy tales are remote from the truth. Is an ideal state likely to be a fairy tale or attainable reality? Now it's up to you to decide…

Michael Muradov, Law Faculty



The concept of model state has been developed since people began to analyze the nature of government, its forms, and the ways it may be ruled. The idea of model state - the best form of government - has been changing throughout history since it depends primarily on the specific social and historical circumstances, and secondly on the views and ideas of a person who develops the theory.


One of the first philosophers who considered this issue was famous Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. He suggested the classification of governments which is based on a key question: Who governs the state? Under this classification, all governments belong to one of the following groups: monarchy, tyranny, aristocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and so on - depending on how many people were vested with power and in whose interests this power was exercised.

For Aristotle, the model state - the best form of government - was that which combined the elements of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy in such a way that all the citizens of the state were be able to enjoy their legal rights and to voluntarily exercise their legal responsibilities in the interests of the whole society.

Another famous Ancient Greek philosopher who dealt with the concept of model state was Plato. He suggested that the main principles of the model (ideal) state should correspond to the primary values of the Ancient world: wisdom, fortitude, and moderation. Ethical norms should develop political principles. To reach the welfare of the state, people needed the proper education and upbringing. Plato pointed out three forms of government which aimed at the welfare of the state: monarchy (the rule of one), aristocracy (the rule of a few), and democracy (the rule of all). If the government's policy was aimed at the welfare of the rulers, those forms lapsed into tyranny, oligarchy, and demagogy. Thus, according to Plato, it didn't matter what exact form the government took, it was important what purposes the government had; and for the model, ideal state these purposes were the welfare of the citizens, justice, and the national integrity.

The concept of the model state was later taken over by lots of medieval philosophers and scholars. In the Middle Ages there prevailed an idea of the Church-obeying government, the main care of which was the virtuous life of the citizens, that was why the best form of government was monarchy and the monarch was regarded as the representative of God on Earth and was supposed to be embodiment of Christian virtues. Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas manifested these ideas in their writings.

The modern idea of model state began to evolve after the Reformation, particularly in the works of the philosophers of Enlightenment: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who developed the notion of social contract. They tried to explain the origin of government as a result of social contract between the citizens and the ruler: the people agree to give up a portion of their absolute freedom in return for the security that government can provide. In the model state the citizens should obey the rulings of the sovereign and the sovereign should take care of his subjects, and provide order and security. These ideas had a great impact on the late 18th-century authors of the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.

Hence, we can see that throughout history renowned philosophers put forward diverse ideas about the concept of model state and principles the model state should proclaim, depending on the particular historical epoch and social circumstances. In my opinion, the notion of the model state doesn't definitely mean some concrete form of government. Model state is the one in which the main care and value of the government is its people; the main function of government is to provide living standards, justice and security for its citizens; and it is of no consequence what form of government - whether monarchy or republic - this state takes, since there're lots of instances of monarchies (Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark and so on) which are much more developed and where the human rights are much more respected and appreciated than in any republican state.

Roland Novozhilov, Law Faculty



Since ancient times people have tried to create a perfect form of government. And until now this mission has not been carried out. Still there are different types of government - and none of them is perfect.


Government by one is usually called monarchy. It was popular some time ago, but few monarchies still exist now. I don't really appreciate this form of government, because I believe that most monarchs are mentally sick people. It's not easy to get used to the fact that people treat you as a divine ruler, the God's son - and to stay sane after all.

Some monarchs didn't realize their impact on the future of their country, they just enjoyed power. Nowadays presidents are heads of state. Although presidents are elected, they often forget about their main aim and just try to make money. So I think a single person can't be entrusted with ultimate power in the state.

There exists another type of government when the country is governed by a few people. This government gives individuals much more freedom to do whatever they please. Sometimes people use their initiative and run the country, but in some cases people cross the line and use freedom to break the law.

Thus it's really hard to choose one form of government and to make a perfect state. As for me I can name just some basic qualities making a better state:
1) Equality of the citizens (which I believe to be impossible, as from our birth we all have equal rights, but different possibilities. The issue when and why inequality arose is an interesting subject for discussion
2) Good economic program. The state should have "middle class" otherwise it is impossible to make starving people happy.
3) The country should be governed by professionals who are good at ruling their people and getting along with other states.
4) A good state needs good social programs covering people's healthcare, nature, education etc.
5) Guarantees of people's rights. Every person's happiness must be the main goal of the government.

Of course it's easy to talk about the "perfect state" but it's impossible to create it, just as it is impossible to create Heaven on Earth.

Bagdasaryan Lynda, Law Faculty



First of all I'd like to say that this issue is very interesting to discuss. Many famous philosophers, politicians, historians have tried to elaborate the idea of model state since ancient times. Even today there is not a general notion.

I will try to express my views on a model state. Speaking about the form of government I should mention that there exist two main types: republic and monarchy.

Monarchy is a form of government in which one person has the hereditary right to rule as head of state during his or her lifetime. One the one hand this form of government means that all power is concentrated in the hands of one person - the sovereign. His absolute or even limited power leads to negative consequences. He may abuse his authority and it is the nation, which suffers from such actions. However this situation is very rare nowadays. Today absolute monarchy is preserved only in a few Arabian states.

Constitutional monarchy is more widespread in the modern world. The power of the monarch is limited by constitution and Parliament, which plays a very important role in conducting the policy of a state. The monarch is merely a symbol of the country. He reigns but does not rule. On the other hand monarchy is appropriate to some states. For instance the states with a huge territory are to be controlled by a strong centralized authority. Besides, the mentality of some nations requires a strong and single ruler.

Republic is a form of government in which people rule by electing their representatives, who reflect the interest of the whole society. There is a separation of powers: the legislative, the executive and the judicial. However this form of government does not exclude the abuses of power and often reflects the interest of the ruling classes, not of all citizens.

From my point of view it doesn't matter which form of government the country has. The conditions of life, the rights and privileges of individuals are much more important. I mean that the main goal of every state is to provide security and public goods to each person equally. Today we can see that the conditions of life in monarchies like Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden is higher than in most prosperous republics. As for the role, which the state ought to play in social life I think that government should not regulate every aspect of people's lives. Tere must be some freedom in cultural and spiritual spheres of life otherwise it will lead to totalitarianism.

Unfortunately there is no ideal state in the modern world. This may occur because people themselves are not ideal. But there is a hope that people will become better and even ideal in the future and our descendants might create a model state. Who knows?

Mysnik Oksana, Law Faculty


Which is better: to live under the government which allows individuals complete freedom to do whatever they please or under one that enforces strict law and order?

I believe that neither of the governments is perfect. If you live under the government which allows individuals complete freedom to do whatever they please, I don't think, that one's life will be safe and secure.

If people are allowed to do whatever they like, they immediately start doing it, they can't socialize, each person thinks, that it is he or she, who is really right. So, I suppose, that it is very difficult to live in a state, where relations between people are not regulated.

Of course, you can say, that if people are given complete freedom, it doesn't mean, that they are going to start doing something wrong or bad. But just imagine the following situation: somebody tells you, that from this very moment you can do whatever you want and go wherever you want. Will you miss such an opportunity? Even in small countries complete freedom of its population will cause a great amount of problems, and in big countries, like Russia, it will be a disaster. Of course, we can say that everything depends on the people, who live in this or that country, but there are no bad nations, there are bad people. And I think, that even one bad person, who is allowed to do everything he or she likes, can cause many problems for others.

But the government that enforces strict law and order is far from being perfect too. Of course, it depends on the legal system of this or that country, because "strict" doesn't necessarily mean "cruel", and strict laws are useful: people know, that they will be punished, if they do something wrong (the so-called general prevention), and it influences them greatly.

Some laws are extremely harsh and it is bad, because very often innocent people are punished. We can find many examples of such laws throughout history, when people were suppressed by the laws of their country.

As for modern life, I think, that cruel laws are usually the result of some ideology or the influence of some influential politician. In my opinion, established law and order are always better than complete freedom and chaos.

Semenikhina Dasha, Law Faculty



In this essay I will try to express my personal views of a model civil state in comparison with the existing states. The notion of model state was considered both by ancient and modern scientists so broadly and deeply that it might be compared to a sea - which is rather difficult to cross for young sailors like we are. The history of the notion can be traced from Aristotle to Mr.Kenenov. I think it is impossible to compress it within the compass of one essay. But I'll try to examine some features of a model state, i.e. the form of government, the ways to provide for social security of, the openness in the conduct of government.


The form of government in my model state will be democracy. Democracy is "the power of the people". It comes natural that the ideal government in a society is expected to be chosen by its citizens and functioning for their benefit. The countries that claim to be democratic often fail to form the government of the people and for the people. The features of true democracy are fair elections, legitimacy, the guarantee of fundamental rights and freedoms, multi-party system, independent courts. Many states claim to be democratic and this solemn statement remains only on paper. For instance, during election campaign we can observe the procedure of brainwashing people. You can tell at once which candidate is supported by a particular power. The candidate "backed by government" can afford vast canvassing which results in his conclusive dominance over the others. Government plays a political game with its citizens and mass media is the instrument in its hands. So in my model state government has to be open in its conduct.

However, democracy is not the ideal form of government. As Winston Churchill said, "Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe; no one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise; indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been." It is true because the great thing in democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid. Perhaps the ideal government for Russia could be dictatorship. This country only progressed when power was in the hands of tyrants - Peter the Great, Katherine II and the like.

As for My model state, laws would be fair in it. The main statute of government would be the Constitution - the key element of the genetic code of social life. Roughly speaking the constitution of any country is a social and political contract between political organizations. The constitution has to be nominal, because its main principles and provisions are vested in real life.

Tackling the issue of model state, it is important to remember that government should be organized by the people and for the people. It seems to me that the only possible way to have the government of the people is to exercise our rights and put our liberties into practice.

Maria Kozlova, Law Faculty



Any system requires to be controlled and ruled - i.e. governed. The reason is that its elements ought to be coordinated for the purpose of effective interaction. The reflection of this principle in the theory of state implies the establishment and enforcement of strict rules of cooperation for the members of society. The rules are enacted to ensure that public interests are not violated and freedoms observed. That means that individual freedom cannot exist without strict law enforcement.


It is traditional to distinguish between two methods of regulation - the imperative and dispositive ones. Any state does conduct both the enforcement of law and the protection of individual interests and freedoms.

So, it is the matter of taste - there are people who prefer to do what they wish and others who put up with being governed, ordered and controlled. It is also the matter of psychology.

Another aspect is which method the state should use more often in connection with some features of the social relations regulated. There is public law, such as criminal, administrative etc., where the state is supposed to be bound by law and forbid, and private law, where the citizens are vested with opportunities, rights and freedoms, such as civil law, trade law, etc.

The state is getting more involved in economics and social life to ensure its own interests and those of common people.

Krekhaleva Lubov, Law Faculty



The concept of constitution has been under debate since primeval times, when there was no legal constitution in modern terms. Even ancient philosophers thought over and worked out a lot of notions and concepts still used today. Plato, for example, propounded the concept of ideal state, and Aristotle first distinguished four types of government.

Nadya Deyeva

But the real history of the constitutionalism began in the XVIII century, when Rousseau, Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire and Radischev created their works. Since that time the spirit of democracy has become not only a dream but an inevitable social necessity, the symbol of the epoch worth fighting for.

One of the most important works of the XVIII century philosophers was the work of John Locke concerning civil society and rule of law. Locke expressed the ideas of the supreme role of Law as a social regulator, compliance of human essential rights which cannot be abolished or limited by the State as they are given to a person by God or by Nature, the principle of the governmental responsibility for people's welfare. Locke's thoughts played a very significant role in the development of the theory of constitutionalism.

Though many constitutions are similar in their contents and principles they state, they can be distinguished between two groups according to their form. Constitution can be written or unwritten. Traditionally it is held that the USA, having one constitutional act, has a written constitution, while the UK, where constitutional law is not codified, has an unwritten one. But it is not absolutely correct. The UK has a written constitution, but it exists in the form of Parliament's statutes. British constitution consists of such significant acts as Magna Charta 1215, the Bill of Rights 1689, the Act of Settlement 1701, etc. In my opinion, Magna Charta, probably the oldest British constitutional document, had a crucial impact on the constitutional history of Great Britain. It developed ideas of liberties and reflected the social conflict of the time. Magna Charta provided the basis for representative government. Although it mainly stated the rights of the barons, it also provided some rights of common citizens. And the last but not the least, Magna Charta was the first document to limit the absolute power of the Crown.

To define the difference between written and unwritten constitution it is important to pay some attention to Lassal's concept. He was the first who saw the difference between written legal constitution and unwritten factual constitution. Legal constitution is the document or several documents containing the norms of law, which are to regulate public relations, while the factual constitution is described as a balance of social and political forces in the Community.

To sum it up, I believe that every state and every society has both written and unwritten constitutions, and either is effective provided they coincide in meaning.

Deeva Nadya, Law Faculty

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