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Prof. Dr. S.V. Zagraevsky


The Antimension from St. Nicholas Cathedral in Novgorod



Published in Russian: .. - . .: . ( ). , . (). . 3. : . 2011. . 325 334.





The article shows that an old Russian document from the State Hermitage, having the form of an antimension and telling about the consecration by Bishop Niphont in 1148 in Suzdal some throne of St. George, is not genuine. It is not recommended to cite this document when analyzing the historical context, researching church history and the dating of temples.


The following text was translated from the Russian original by the computer program

and has not yet been edited.

So it can be used only for general introduction.




"Zhertvennik St. ...rgiya consecrated by Archbishop Nifont of Novgorod by the order of Bishop of Rostov Not...RA with pious Prince George, syno Monomach months septyabrya in 1 day in the summer ... Indiction ...".

This text is written Charter on the perimeter rectangular fabric charge stored in the State Hermitage (Fig. 1). Looks like the text is not quite accurate: calligraphic derived only the right side, and then the letters began to stretch, to be enough to fill all four sides of the Board.



Fig. 1.


The boards are quite faded, but the text is still reads quite well, except for three fuzzy places. The words that got in these places, in the sense of the text and the number of letters reconstruct quite unambiguously. In the top line of text "Holy ... rgiya" means "Holy Martyr George. By knowing that in the middle of the XII century when Novgorod was Bishop Niphon, and Suzdal Prince Yuri Dolgoruky, the son of Vladimir Monomakh) the Rostov cathedra-chair of Bishop took Nestor1, the text "No...RA" at the transition from the bottom-right corner of the card in the upper left corner can be reconstructed as "Nestor".

But the numbers indicating the date and Indiction, almost unreadable. Moreover, we have full confidence in the fact that they were readable in 1854, when the Board was found under a slab of the main altar Nikolo-Nicholas Cathedral in Novgorod2. Because the process of fading in Museum storage is uniformly, and if it was only in it to read today, it would be impossible for the whole text, not just the date and Indiction.

Well seen, that on the place and date Indiction was once spilled liquid, which forced alphabetic characters, numbers blurred. And in place of the letters representing dozens of different color ink (obviously at a later time), signed "x" - this letter indicates the six hundred and tens of not irrelevant.

However, in the nineteenth century, nearly all the numbers and dates of the Indiction were read3. In the reconstructed text is as follows:

"Zhertvennik of the Holy Martyr George the sacred from the Archbishop Nifont of Novgorod by the order of Rostov Bishop Nestor with pious Prince George, syno Monomach months septyabrya in 1 day in summer 66...7 Indiction 12".

Perhaps a study fee of modern radiological techniques will clarify and letter of tens. But even without that it is easily restored by Indiction (unless, of course, true reading of the remaining digits of the date and Indiction that can confirm only the x-ray analysis).

Account Indiction, or fifteen years, was taken in ancient Rus from Byzantium. Apparently, this score is derived from the census that time in 15 years was made in the Roman Empire and Byzantium (313)4. The Indiction called ordinal place this year within the current fifteen-year cycle, and the original point of this circular is the beginning of the Byzantine era - the creation of the world. Change of Indiction in each cycle happens on the day of the Byzantine new year - 1 September.

Rule definition of Indiction of any date is to find a modulo numerical designation of a given year from "creation of peace" 15. If the number is divisible, then Indiction is 15. Thus, to date, marked on the Board of St.-Nicholas Cathedral, Indiction was equal to 12 or in 6627, or in 6657 or in 6687 years.

Yuri Dolgoruky reigned in Suzdal since the beginning of XII century (and in Kiev in 1149-1151 and 1155) to 1157 (6665) years. Niphon was held Novgorod bishoprics with 1131 (6639) 1156 (6664) year. It is quite logical that when Dating card researchers exclude 6627 and 6657 years, taking as the date 6657 year.

About the translation of this date in modern chronology in the literature there are two options: 1148 (on September calendar style)5 or 1149 (March)6. In popular science books portrayed both options, often in parallel7.

Preferred looks Dating card 1148 year. Arguments B.A. Rybakov in favor of this rather relative Dating8but we can lead and quite simple argument: on-Board bearing Indiction, but it certainly points to the maintenance of chronology in Byzantine, i.e. on September style. And since the bear and the day - September 1, we subtract from 6657 5509 and get 1148.




Since the detection of the card in the St. Nicholas Cathedral, literature dominates the view that this Board is a corporal, testifying about the blessing of the Novgorod Archbishop Nifont certain "the altar of St. George.

Indeed, in accordance with modern liturgical rules at the dedication of the temple is the following entry: "Ossetia the altar of the Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ in the temple (the name of a Saint or feast) with the blessing of Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia (his name), when as Hierarch Preosvyaschennogo (the name of the local Bishop and hail him), oil... Indiction..., month...,..., in memory of Saint (name)"9. This formulation is very similar to the one we see in the text on the Board.

At the Moscow Cathedral of 1675, it was found that all churches should be on thrones antimins (rectangular Board of linen or silk fabric with sewn in them particles of the relics)10. But since we are talking about the XII century, be aware that at this time not all of the Church had a corporal, in fact - that the consecration of a Bishop was not accompanied by the production of corporal. This question thoroughly examined E.E. Golubinsky11.

In Byzantium antimins (literally - "postoperatoria"), consecrated by the bishops, were replacing the hallowed thrones and used, first, to serve in the house churches that are not consecrated bishops, and, secondly, for the Liturgy in unhallowed ground. Therefore, properly consecrated parish churches (especially cathedrals) antimins were not used (except worship in temples not completely).

Hence, the very wording of the inscription on the Board of St.-Nicholas Cathedral ("the sacred altar of the Archbishop") excludes the identification card as a corporal (anyway, if it was created in XII century). Only in the XIII century in Byzantium began to hear voices in favor of the fact that without corporal you cannot serve the Liturgy in any Church, including consecrated Bishop12.

On the basis of these studies E.E. Golubinsky believed that in the St. Nicholas Cathedral was found not antimins, and memorial boards, "which focused write about the consecration of the Church in the intention that the cards placed on the throne, kept the memory of the date of the consecration of the Church and was as though her chronicle"13.

But for a memorial document text is written in a very short-lived material - a fabric, and it does not give us the opportunity to take the point of view E.E. Golubinski. A variant of "corporal to recall" (created later XII century) the researcher is not considered, and it is to do in this article.

While only note that in any case we are dealing with an official (genuine or non-genuine - this we still have to investigate) Church document, indicated by the shape and the style of his writing, and the cross in the middle, and use in addition to the date of the Indiction. The paper deals with the blessing of the Novgorod Archbishop temple, the altar is dedicated to St. George.

The mention of Suzdal Prince Yuri Dolgoruky and Rostov Bishop Nestor suggests that the temple was consecrated in the Rostov-Suzdal land.

Was it a separate Church or chapel, the wording of the inscription on the consecration is not necessary. B.A. Rybakov believed that it was St. George's Cathedral in Yuryev-Polish14, N.N. Voronin - that it was on the aisle to Monomachus in Suzdal, which Niphon, according to the chronicle data15, "Saint great sacred" in 114816. The author of the article expressed the opinion that he could talk about one of the many wooden churches on St. George - for example, a wooden Church of St. George in Vladimir courtyard Dolgoruky preceding stone, built in 115217.

But to use any document as an argument for the Dating of a temple, you must first prove its authenticity. And since in this case we are not talking about the record, but about the official Church document, strictly confined to a specific event (the consecration of the Church), you must determine whether the text on the Board of Nikolo-Nicholas Cathedral written in 1148. But there are doubts about this, and very serious.

First, it is striking not quite typical of the Church documents, the wording: "consecrated by Archbishop Nifont of Novgorod by the command of the Rostov Bishop Nestor". Even if it was the priests who were directly subordinated to each other, would be more appropriate word "blessing". And then the Bishop of one of the region "commands" to consecrate the Church of the Bishop of another region, not subordinate to him, neither nominal nor in fact.

If something like that wrote the chronicler, a formulation could be explained by a lack of knowledge of Church canons, "worldly" view of the Church life, or just a personal point of view. But in this case we are dealing with an official Church document.

Secondly, the Archbishop of Novgorod was founded only in 116518 (read more about it we will talk in paragraph (3), and the text on the Board of the Hermitage Nifont named Archbishop.

Third, in 1148 Nifont came to Yuri Dolgoruky. Chronicle describes in detail all of what the Bishop of Novgorod did during your stay in Suzdal: "Go Niphon the Suzdal dividing the world to Gurgevo, and made with love Gurgi, and the Church St. St. virgin velikim sacred, and Newthrea all wyprawy, and guest everyone a whole, and the Ambassador with the Cestius Novogorod, N. world not give"19. No consecration of the Church of St. George (and the more of such exceptional importance, as St. George's Cathedral in Yuriev-Polsky) here there is no speech.




The first question can be eliminated only by recognizing that Nifont and place in the Church hierarchy and importance in the political life was far below Nestor. Of course, this is not the case.

Consecration (set at Novgorod cathedra-chair of Bishop) Nifont took place in 112920latest on 113121 year. Already in 1135 Niphon settled the consequences of the battle of mount Zhdanova, making something that was not the Governor Miroslav22.

When Rostov Department was put Nestor, we do not know. E.E. Golubinsky not put forward on this subject any hypotheses23.

PPM Priselkov believed that it happened in 113724. The argument that the researcher was as follows: Nestor could not be delivered to the Department later in 1139, since this year Grand Prince of Kiev became Vsevolod II, with whom Dolgoruky was hostility. And since 1137 from Pereyaslavl diocese was separated Smolensk, the researchers saw probable that then separated and the diocese of Rostov (also from Pereyaslavl). N.N. Voronin took this view and have dated the consecration of Nestor 1137.25.

But the argument PPM Priselkova not sufficiently substantiated.

First, hostility Vsevolod and Yuri hardly was so severe as to preclude the Church policy implemented by the Greek Metropolitan Michael.

Secondly, it is absolutely incorrect to Supplement existing chronicle details the assumptions that at this time could have happened something like that had escaped the notice of the chronicler. If the chronicler wrote about the separation of the Smolensk diocese, it is unlikely that he forgot about the Rostov. Or is about dioceses in General would not come.

Third, the researcher proceeded from the a priori assumption that Nestor was an ally Dolgoruky. But this assumption could not be justified: Yuri, finishing in 1155 Grand buffet, got rid of his chief opponent, Metropolitan Kliment26and immediately - in the 1156 - initiated the shift Nestor new Metropolitan Constantine27. Just sent from the Byzantine Greek Constantine, naturally, without the insistence of the Grand Duke would not have made such a hasty decision to remove the Bishop of Rostov.

Allow ourselves to put forward their own hypothesis date of consecration of Nestor: he was put Clement at the end 1140-ies, and the diocese of Rostov was founded by the Metropolitan of then - to be in Suzdal "his man", having not vicegerent, and the hierarchical authority28. It is no accident for the location of the Department was selected Rostov, situated in the distance from the center of the princely estates Dolgoruky (a formal choice of Rostov and tradition dictated times Leontius).

This gives us the answer to the question why the Bishop of Rostov was absent from the Cathedral in 1147, which Clement on Russian Metropolitan29. PPM Priselkov believed that Nestor "did not respond to the Prince invitation"30and N.N. Voronin - that no-show at the Cathedral of Nestor "showed indifference in climate Smolyatich"31. But, of course, the actual situation of civil war would not allow the Rostov Bishop "to show indifference" and to ignore such an important event. Actually the answer to this question is much more simple and logical: Rostov diocese had not existed.

But in any case, no matter when Nestor was raised in the Rostov Department, Nifont consecration took place much earlier. A date of his consecration plays a very important role in the Church hierarchy.

From the above it follows that Nestor was unable "to command" anything Nifont.

Second expressed our doubts about the authenticity of the charges of Nikolo-Nicholas Cathedral is because Nifont was Archbishop. This question can be solved simply by allowing one of the following two variants: either the Novgorod Bishop received the status of the Archbishop's already if Nifont (at least, until 1148), or Niphon received a personal title of Archbishop for any special merits, and after his death at the Novgorod chair was made Bishop (Arkady, 1156-1163)32. Bishop initially was called and Ilya (1165-1186), and only some time after his consecration, he became Archbishop33. Since that time, all the Lord of Novgorod usually called archbishops34.

In lateXIV-XV century) lists hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Niphon called the Bishop, Archbishop35. But the titles of "remembrance" could be anything. Discrepancies could afford and chroniclers, do not go into details of the Church hierarchy. But, for example, in the surviving letters to the Nifont he was called " Bishop36 and this is fundamentally: to call an officer with a personal visit by a higher title than it actually is not a violation of ethics (in the worst case, this can be interpreted as gross flattery). And the use of the message lower title, as a rule, is perceived as an insult.

It should be noted that in the XII century in the Byzantine Empire was not titular bishops, Archbishop departments: the prefix "arch" mean Autocephalous Department or her direct authority of the Patriarch37. On this basis, E.E. Golubinsky argued that the mere establishment of titular Archbishop of Novgorod was a serious violation of Church practice, and so he (and V.L. Yanin38and YA. Schapov39) allowed and such breach, as the award of this title Nifont40.

But actually in Novgorod diocese, since Bishop of Arcadia, already had de facto Autocephalous: Novgorod given the right to elect the Bishop. Of course, formally it is only one component of the Autocephalous, but in fact - are determined. Especially in Ancient Russia is a huge country with isolated regions, where control of the centre of one or another regional Church (or secular) organization was only possible through the appointment of trusted persons thus, self-selection Novgorod Bishop of his diocese meant an almost complete cessation of supervision and Kiev, and the more of Constantinople.

Consequently, the award title Archbishop successor Arcadia, Ilia, has been only formal confirmation of the situation, and no violation of the Byzantine Church practices, we are not seeing.

Undoubtedly, the soil for the "Autocephalous" elected Archbishop of Novgorod was prepared even if Nifont (hence its exceptional significance for the Novgorod diocese and the Russian Church as a whole). But he was appointed Metropolitan of Kiev (perhaps a monk of the cave monastery41 that casts doubt on its Greek origin), and therefore he could not be called Archbishop. After all, the rights to this title had not even received a "Autocephalous" elected Arkady.

It is clear that in the end 1140-s award Novgorod actual Autocephalous (and, accordingly, Archdiocese) is ready, and it is, as they say, "vital in the air." But one thing rumors and talk (which could be reflected in the Chronicles), and quite another - the official Church documents.

Nevertheless, we assume that the clergyman of lower rank, who wrote the text on the Board, which is dedicated to our research, has decided to flatter Nifont and named him Archbishop. But in the end he was not flattered Bishop, but even more humiliated him: it turned out that, according to the text, Bishop Nestor commanded Archbishop Nifont Holy temple. It is impossible to imagine that Nifont, in 1148 became an ally of Yuri Dolgoruky, could allow it wrote in Suzdal, where he was "made with love Gurgi". Yes, and Dolgorukiy would not have suffered.

We can't accept a variant of this Board was made minions of Bishop Nestor and laid upon the throne, blessed Nifont, post factum: hardly any priest would have agreed to serve on the unhallowed antimension. And imperceptibly "queer" Nifont this antimins for the consecration was also impossible: the Bishop of Novgorod, certainly had a retinue befitting title. Also note that in the case of writing the text in the court of Bishop Nestor was unlikely to appear excessive (and very honorable) clarify that "the pious Prince George is the son of Monomakh.

Consequently, the titles of Archbishop Nifont also argues against the authenticity of the text on the Board of the Hermitage.

Doubts about the authenticity of this document related to the fact that the arrival of Nifont to Yuri Dolgoruky in 1148 described in the Chronicles, and they are not speaking about any consecration of the Church of St. George (and the more of such exceptional importance, as St. George's Cathedral in Yuriev-Polsky), tried to resolve N.N. Voronin.

Researchers believe that in Suzdal Cathedral of the Nativity of the virgin (which, according to the record, Niphon "Saint great sacred"42 in 1148 were going to arrange St. George's chapel, but then from its device refused, he dedicated the altar Save, and corporal returned to Novgorod43.

Arguments against this version of NN Voronin brought B.A. Rybakov44here only add that it is unlikely Yuri Dolgoruky could abandon the device is already consecrated chapel in honour of his patron Saint45. And the disappearance of St. George chapel after 1148 even less likely that even in 1222-1225 Suzdal Cathedral rebuilt Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich, whose heavenly patron was also George.

Thus, all expressed our doubts about the authenticity of the document from Nikolo-Nicholas Cathedral are fatal. Evidence of the text on this Board refuted analysis chronicle reports and other information available to the General and ecclesiastical history of the Ancient Rus. Hence, we can not consider this document is genuine (i.e. written in 1148 and testifying about the consecration of a Bishop Nifont of the Church of St. George).




But then the question arises: where, when and what was written this text? We will try to answer it.

First of all, from the titles of Archbishop Nifont that the text was written after 1165. In accordance with mentioned by us in paragraph 2 studies E.E. Golubinski46, the wording of the text on the consecration of the Church sends us to a more recent period - not earlier than XIII century.

If it was only in these considerations, we could accept the version that is "corporal to recall"speaking about the consecration of the Church many years after the fact of sanctification.

It may seem strange that the "recall" was so exact date - September 1. But in fact, any great precision is not here, since 1 September - the beginning of the new year and Indiction.

But "the corporal to recall" is still the antimension, i.e. consecrated the subject. And in this case it is much more likely that the boards of St.-Nicholas Cathedral was never sanctified (unless the Novgorod Cathedral was not consecrated at the time when the Board was lying under his throne).

The thing is that the motherboard is the word that the Bishop Nestor "commanded" the Archbishop Nifont. It can write only detractors Nifont. And since, as we have just shown, the text was written many years after the death of the Bishop of Novgorod, it is a hostile act against the whole land of Novgorod.

And honorable mention Nestor and Dolgoruky says that originated the action of Vladimir-Suzdal Grand Duchy (if this text was written in the post-Mongolian time, respectively, from Moscow).

Of course, we can not speak about the rivalry of Novgorod and Vladimir (and then Novgorod and Moscow). Had a much different situation: the struggle merchant republics for independence from the Imperial center (at least for the status of "free city"). But in any case, there is no doubt that during this centuries-old struggle descendants of Yuri Dolgoruky often required to "show Novgorod its place."

One of such actions and could be writing a document, proving that the Bishop Nestor "commanded" the Archbishop Nifont Holy temple. Dated this document was quite logical: 1148 - known date of arrival Nifont in Suzdal.

Of course, the author of the text could not know that in 1148, when Nifont came to Suzdal and sanctify Monomakh the Cathedral, there was no practice of putting antimins on thrones, consecrated bishops (as we said, this set only the Moscow Cathedral of 1675). Therefore, the text on the Board and could not speak about the throne of the Nativity of the virgin. And the most plausible alternatives were the Transfiguration of the Saviour and St. George, and the author of the text chose the second option: George dedicated to two of the five stone temples Dolgoruky, built in 115247, and the wooden churches of St. George in Suzdal certainly were many.

And yet, apparently, the author of the text did not want to answer any questions about where, what and when St Nifont. And it produced an "artificial ageing" of the document with casual hit of some liquid (probably water) on the date Indiction and dedication to the throne.

Nowadays it is easy to understand that the probability of accidental fluid exactly three "defined" places (each of which takes no more than 3 % of the cost) is negligible. But, apparently, in the middle ages ideas about probability theory were different.

Note that the fact that the exposure to the document "artificial aging" also suggests that it is not authentic.

In this case, it becomes easy to understand and answer the question of how the cards finally came to Novgorod: it was made specifically to be brought there with some of Vladimir and Moscow Embassy.

Let us state the following hypothesis: that "already in the old days, our Bishop to Archbishop commanded you", Vladimir or Moscow Embassy would announce in the Assembly, which in XIII-XV centuries gathered around the Nikolo-Nicholas Cathedral48. At the same time as "proof" of these words Novgorod could be given a document, just before manufactured and subjected to "artificial aging". And then, since this document was in the form of corporal, Novgorod put him on the throne nearest temple, along with other corporal.

This, of course, only one of possible hypotheses of how this Board has fell in the St. Nicholas Cathedral. But for our study fundamentally, the document stored in the State Hermitage, is not genuine and not a sign of consecration of a Bishop Nifont in 1148 any of the throne of St. George. Therefore, we can not rely on this text in the analysis of the historical situation, research on Church history and Dating of a Church or chapel.





1. E.E. Golubinsky history of the Russian Church. M., 1901-1904. Reprint ed. M., 1997. So 1, 1 o'clock, S. 677.

2. Tsarevskii T.U. Nicholas Cathedral at Yaroslav's court in Novgorod. M., 2002. C. 28.

3. Pogodin I.E. Ancient Russian history up to the Mongol yoke. So III, div. 1. M., 1871. Sh. 137, 138; F.M. Morozov Corporal 1149 (6657) years. In the book: note branch of Russian and Slavonic archaeology of the Russian Imperial archaeological Society. T. XI. PG, 1915. C. 197-209.

4. Cherepnin L.V. Russian chronology. M., 1944. C. 33.

5. Fishermen B.A. Russian dated inscriptions of the XI-XIV centuries M, 1964. 25, 30 C.; Voronin. The architecture of North-Eastern Russia XII-XV centuries M, 1961-1962. Vol. 1, 63 S..

6. F.M. Morozov Decree. cit., S. 197-209; E.E. Golubinsky. The decree. works, vol. 1, part 1, S. 677.

7. Tsarevskii T.U. Decree. cit., S. 28, 59.

8. These arguments - Greek origin Nifont and his arrival in Suzdal region in 1148 (see B.A. Rybakov Decree. cit., S. 30)

9. The website "". 2004.

10. Christianity. Encyclopedic dictionary. M., 1995. So 1, 88 S..

11. E.E. Golubinsky Decree. works, vol. 1, part 2, S. 181.

12. Ibid., C. 185.

13. Ibid.

14. Fishermen B.A. Decree. cit., S. 31.

15. PSRL 3:107.

16. Voronin N.N. The decree. cit., so 1, S. 63, 506.

17. For more information, see: Zagraevsky SV Yuri Dolgoruky and old white-stone architecture. M., 2002. C. 36.

18. E.E. Golubinsky.. Decree. works, vol. 1, part 1, S. 343.

19. PSRL 3:107.

20. E.E. Golubinsky.. Decree. works, vol. 1, part 1, S. 307.

21. Shchapov yn The state and the Church of Ancient Rus X-XIII centuries M, 1989. C. 65.

22. Karamzin N.M. history of the Russian state. M., 1991. So 2-3, S. 110.

23. E.E. Golubinsky.. Decree. works, vol. 1, part 1, S. 677.

24. Priselkov PPM Essays on Church and political history of Kievan Rus X-XII centuries, St. Petersburg, 1913. C. 351-352.

25. Voronin N.N. The decree. cit., so 1, S. 59.

26. Karamzin N.M. Decree. cit., so 2-3, S. 168.

27. Lemons Y.A Vladimir-Suzdal Rus. Essays on social and political history. Leningrad, 1987. C. 48.

28. Note that one of the consequences of hatred Clement and Nestor with Yuri was avoiding Church temples Dolgoruky Roman sculptural decoration (see: Zagraevsky SV Decree. cit., S. 120).

29. PSRL 2:248.

30. Priselkov PPM Decree. cit., S. 376.

31. Voronin N.N. The decree. cit., so 1, 119 S..

32. Shchapov yn The decree. cit., S. 63.

33. Ibid., C. 65.

34. Ibid., C. 64.

35. Ibid., C. 63.

36. Ibid., C. 66.

37. E.E. Golubinsky.. Decree. works, vol. 1, part 1, s 443.

38. V.L. Yanin Assembly print Ancient Rus X-XV centuries M, 1970. So 1, S. 54-56.

39. Shchapov yn The decree. cit., S. 64.

40. E.E. Golubinsky.. Decree. works, vol. 1, part 1, s 443.

41. Ibid.

42. PSRL 3:107.

43. Voronin N.N. The decree. cit., so 1, S. 64.

44. Fishermen B.A. Decree. cit., S. 30.

45. This is one of the arguments in favor of the fact that the Church of the Transfiguration Dolgoruky in Suzdal was a separate building, not the chapel. The hypothesis about her location, the author has advanced in the book: Zagraevsky SV Architecture of North-Eastern Russia the end of the XIII-the first third of the XIV century. M., 2003. With 126.

46. E.E. Golubinsky.. Decree. works, vol. 1, part 2, S. 185.

47. The rationale for this date, see: Zagraevsky SV Yuri Dolgoruky and old white-stone architecture. M., 2002. C. 35.

48. Tsarevskii T.U. Decree. cit., S. 14.

Moscow, 2004.


Sergey Zagraevsky

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