URIS promotes the national and international networks of scholarly Ukraine-related projects at Swiss universities.

The URIS website presents an overview of ongoing Ukraine research projects in the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences. An electronic newsletter and our Social Media channels provide regular updates on new projects, news and academic events.

Projects in Switzerland

Directed by Prof. Dr. Sylvia Sasse
SNSF Project, University of Zurich, Slavic Seminar

Das Forschungsprojekt konzentriert sich auf das Verhältnis von Desinformation und Kunst in Osteuropa während des Kalten Kriegs und in der Gegenwart in zwei miteinander verknüpften Forschungsperspektiven: 1. Die Künste als Ziel von Desinformation; 2. Künstlerische Kritik von Desinformation. Bei der Forschung soll die Möglichkeit der Recherche in den ehemaligen Geheimdienstarchiven, die nach 1989 schrittweise für die Forschung in vielen Staaten Osteuropas freigegeben worden sind, genutzt werden. Das Ziel ist, die Interaktion zwischen sichtbarer staatlicher Propaganda, z.B. in Satiren über westliche oder experimentelle Kunst, und verdeckter Desinformation durch «aktive Massnahmen» von Geheimpolizei bzw. Staatssicherheit zu untersuchen.

Project Duration
: August 2022 – July 2026

Team: Dr. Sandra Frimmel, Iryna Herasimovich, Muriel Fischer


Directed by Dr. Tatjana Hofmann
Collegium Helveticum
, University of Zurich

Project Duration: September 2022 – June 2023


Directed by Ulrich Schmid and Carmen Scheide et al.

Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

Research team (led by dr.Ulrich Schmid and dr.Carmen Scheide) propose to continue the research on regionalism in Ukraine by using the concept of "contact zones" previously established by Mary Louise Pratt. The term refers to social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power. This concept can fruitfully be applied for the analysis of heterogeneous cultural and social phenomena such as Ukrainian regionalism. Ukrainian contact zones are not so much places of arrival and immigration, but rather places that historically were claimed by different nation states and empires. Ukrainian “contact zones” should therefore be described as dynamic cultural spaces. The project seeks to understand the many cultural layers present in individual biographies, educational canons or symbolic interpretations of a given territory.

Contact: /

Directed by Ulrich Schmid (project leader) Olena Palko (project coordinator and researcher)
Oleksii Chebotarov
(researcher) Daniel Marcus (, web developer)

Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

The project "Shadows of Empires" is a digital historical mapping platform covering the transient nature of modern Europe’s political borders since the late 18th century. The platform allows the user to explore, compare, and contrast territorial definitions, imaginations and wartime arrangements of the various European states and the shifting nature of their borders.

Directed by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schmid

Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

The project of a history of Ukrainian literature attempts to reconstruct the ideological, aesthetic and social framework that defined the production and reception of texts in a given time period. This is a clear departure from the plan of a history of Ukrainian literature that is being prepared by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. That project relies heavily on literary portraits on the one hand and on descriptions of genre evolution on the other hand. In the plan for this 10 volume work, authors are grouped together in rather abstract time marks like "literature of the 30's to 60's in the 19th century". The academic history purports to follow the principles of "objectivity" and to let its objects "talk for themselves". Such an aim ignores the necessarily narrative nature of any historiographical account and seeks objective truth in a phenomenon that is deeply ambivalent: Each writer seeks to impose his subjective truth on his readers – and to take this textual strategy as an "objective information" amounts to a deep misunderstanding of literary hermeneutics. The ultimate rationale behind such an attitude may be the unwillingness to reconsider or even revise the traditional canon of Ukrainian literature. A first short draft for the planned volume may be found here: „Kleine Geschichte einer grossen Literatur"


Directed by Dr. Oleksandra Tarkhanova

Postdoctoral research project, Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

Project Duration: 2020 - 2023

The ‘contact’ line between the occupied and government-controlled parts of Eastern Ukraine was a de-facto border, not only politically reinstated, enforced at the military border control checkpoints, but also put in practice by state officials at institutions providing administrative and social services. The ‘border’ hindered people’s access to social assistance, pension, healthcare, and education, despite their citizenship. The result was a peculiar citizenship/border regime, where the Ukrainian state and the proclaimed ‘republics’ controlled the (im)mobility of displaced people by closely monitoring cross-border practices and, as a result, regulating people’s access to citizenship rights. This research project investigates how the social rights of IDPs and residents of temporally occupied territories are legally regulated and constructed in political discourses, how people negotiate their access to social rights in their interactions with the state, and what strategies the state and the IDPs employ to make or deny claims. In light of the full-scale invasion and occupation of further Ukrainian territories by Russia, which led to an even larger number of internally displaced people and Ukrainian citizens under occupation, the project gains an explicitly policy-oriented perspective and goals.


Directed by Dr. Oleksandra Tarkhanova and Daryna Pyrogova

Postdoctoral research project, Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

Ein qualitatives, interviewbasiertes Forschungsprojekt, das seit Sommer 2022 in Zusammenarbeit mit Daryna Pyrogova durchgeführt wird. Ziel des Projekts ist es, die Handlungsfähigkeit von Vertriebenen zu erforschen, indem Entscheidungsprozesse und Wahlmöglichkeiten von Vertriebenen nach der russischen Aggression in der Ukraine nachgezeichnet werden. Wir haben 30 Interviews mit Binnenvertriebenen in der Ukraine und mit Menschen, die in verschiedene europäische Länder vertrieben wurden, geführt und ausgewertet. Die Untersuchung zeigt, dass die Handlungsfähigkeit bei der Vertreibung unterschiedliche Formen annimmt, dass der Zeitpunkt und die Bedingungen, unter denen Entscheidungen getroffen werden, für die Wahl der Route von entscheidender Bedeutung sind und dass die konstruierten Rationalitäten hinter diesen Entscheidungen über die Zielorte unerwartet vielfältig sind.


Directed by Dr. Oleksandra Tarkhanova

Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

Ein laufendes Forschungsprojekt über die Geschlechterverhältnisse in der Ukraine nach der jahrzehntelangen Neoliberalisierung, der konservativen und emanzipatorischen Politik sowie den jüngsten grundlegenden gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen durch den Krieg und die Massenvertreibung.


Directed by Dr. Olha Marmilova

Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

Project duration: July 2022 – May 2023

This project is aimed at investigation of the role of memory about WWII in identity transformation process of residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions after the beginning of the war in Donbass and in the conditions of its separation by the frontier line and the emergence of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.

This study will open up a possibility to scrutinize the place of the dominant propagandistic Soviet narrative of WWII in the way the war in Donbass is described by its participants and victims on both sides of the frontier (a telling case is when the battle for Donetsk airport was called “Ukrainian Stalingrad”) and its interrelations with popular forms of dealing with the past; to consider the role of local public history of WWII in formation of the regional identity of Donbass and how it was displayed on develop of war conflict in Donbass in 2014 year and perception it of local community. Also, this study will focus on how the Soviet narrative increasingly gave way to the Ukrainian and European version of the memory of World War II in Ukrainian-controlled territories and how it was increasingly reinforced in the "republics”. Thus, the influence of the memory of WWII on the further formation of separate identities in the Donetsk Peoples Republic and Ukrainian Donbass (mostly) after 2014 and until now will be studied, on the commemorative practices of Donbass war. Traces of the Soviet WWII narrative in the representation of the image of Donbass War by Russian propaganda media, their factor in justifying military aggression by the Russian Federation in Ukraine (2022) will be scrutinize. This study will contribute to the ongoing debates on the role of WWII memories in social transformations in the postwar Europe and will be set in comparative context.

However, by now the studies of Soviet memory of war are centered mostly on the textual representations, and the role of other media is underestimated. The central objects of analysis are rather the products of the memory policy, but not the practices of memory creation.

The source for the study will be oral testimonies of residents of Donetsk region affected by the war in Donbass in 2014, recorded by the author in 2016, commemorative practices, historical sites, reports of local authorities and materials of media.

Directed by PD Dr. Elena Denisova-Schmidt

Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

Das Projekt fokussiert auf zwei Schlüsselbereiche des postsowjetischen Lebens, in denen Korruption oft endemisch ist und in denen Maßnahmen zur Korruptionsbekämpfung am besten untersucht werden können: Unternehmen und Universitäten.


Directed by Dr. Olena Rybiy
University of Basel, Department of Political Science

The proposed research is aimed at providing quantitative and qualitative analysis of ad hoc temporary civil society organizations (CSOs) coalitions in Ukraine to explore the impact of civil society movements on the agenda setting both in Ukraine and at the international arena. The application of network analysis will help to reveal complex patterns of relationships within the Ukrainian civil society sector, as well as core features of the large ecosystem of Ukrainian CSOs. It will provide evidence of the structure of relationships and joint actions between different stakeholders in an environment of high uncertainty and urgent need for ensuring support to the country during the wartime.


Directed by Dr. Olena Palko
SNSF Prima Funding, University of Basel, Department of History

Project start: 1 August 2022

: 2 PhD students (Oksana Hela, Julia Grieder), 1 student assistant

During the 1920s, Soviet authorities initiated and implemented a unique set of policies and initiatives towards national groups. It was designed to propagate national differences and provide each ethnic group, no matter how small, with equal access to state and party institutions, judicial defence, and education in native languages. By employing this strategy, Soviet leadership aimed to secure the loyalty of its ethnically diverse population, and engage them into its socialist project. With this purpose in mind, Soviet officials classified society along ethnic lines and contributed greatly to the construction of ethnic identities that would come to outlive their creators. The resultant ‘mobilisation of ethnicity’, however, had an opposite effect; ethnic minorities started to use their status to voice opposition to the state. It would take less than a decade for Soviet authorities to reverse their policies and respond with violence, subjecting its minority populations to russification, ethnic terror, and deportations.

The proposed project builds upon the existing scholarship to provide a unique account of the Soviet minority experiment as designed and implemented during the 1920s-early 1930s within the borders of Soviet Ukraine. Soviet Ukraine provides a unique case study: with its multi-ethnic and multi-confessional character, previous experience of national – Ukrainian and of other minorities – movements, proximity to the Western border it was perhaps the only Soviet republic in which Soviet domestic and foreign concerns mutated and reinforced each other. Afterwards, Soviet Ukraine served as a trendsetting laboratory for Soviet minorities policy Union-wide.


Directed by Julia Elena Grieder


Directed by Dr Boris Belge
SNSF Ambizione funding, University of Basel, Department of History

The project "Managing Trade: Infrastructure and Economic Practices in the Port of Odessa (1794–1905)" explores the origins of the intense competition for trade by focusing on the Russian Empire, which in the nineteenth century literally fed the world: Its principal port, Odessa, enabled Russia to serve as the biggest global exporter of wheat, which propelled it to a dominant economic and political status within the Russian Empire, while the city and port of Odessa itself evolved into a hub of global communication and trade. The attention given to the history of the city by scholars in the field stands in sharp contrast to the virtual neglect of the port’s history.


Directed by Dr. Liliia Bilousova
University of Basel, Department of History

In this project, Dr. Liliia Bilousova takes on the question of how Odesa's customs regulations fit into the larger imperial context. Since a rigid customs system is always linked to attempts to circumvent it, Bilousova will also pay attention to smuggling and the world of illegality, trying to show how customs regulations are linked to the myth of the city of Odesa.


Directed by Dr. Olha Martynyuk
Post-doc Book Project, University of Basel, Department of History

Cycling has played an essential role in daily life, commute, and material culture of Ukraine. In many of its areas, this has been the only affordable means of mechanical transport throughout the XX century. With a bike, people traveled to work, transported goods, and made new contacts in distant areas. The state managed the distribution of bicycles and used it at war. Nevertheless, the visions of modernizing the country focused on motorized vehicles. Despite its ubiquity, the bicycle got often discarded as a childish toy.

In her book, Dr. Olha Martynyuk is interested in the social profile of cyclists, the varied use of the bicycle in wartime and peacetime, and the (lack of) representation of bikes in the Soviet press. Olha Martynyuk's aim is to present the diverse historical experiences and social construction of cycling and to place it in a global context. In her book, she shows how the bicycle changed from an object of the imperial elite of the Habsburg Empire to an everyday object of broad sections of the Ukrainian population.


Directed by Dr. Yuliia Mieriemova

Gender, War and Security Research Group, Center for Gender Studies, University of Basel

Project Duration: 2022-2023

This project is intended to learn more about the relationship between gender and women’s experiences of making life in wartime. In recent years, there has been a growth of policy and research that focuses on women and gender within violence context and peace building in Ukraine on the backdrop of war that started in 2014. However, women’s roles as agents of change in Ukraine remains an underexplored area of research. In particular, studies focusing on the personal accounts of female militants, politicians, grassroots activists, businesswomen, volunteers etc. are still lacking. This project fills this research gap by analyzing the experiences of women to showcase how life and war are "done" by women in Ukraine, how they negotiate their roles across various sectors and how gender is negotiated within the war context in Ukraine.

The importance of this project is in creating an account of women’s personal experiences affected by the war in Ukraine. These diverse experiences need to be told as they remain the main source of self-identification, motivation and inspiration for other women in Ukraine and internationally. The very act of telling these stories and writing about them becomes the context of forging new political identities and an important part of a feminist ethnographic research.


Directed by Oksana Hela
PhD Project, University of Basel, Department of History

Bearing in mind the origin of many representatives of the intelligentsia (especially in the initial period of the history of the USSR), its ideological heterogeneity and the desire for individualism, the intelligentsia has repeatedly become the object of repression, humiliation and ideological control. Among the propaganda tools were also visual materials - cartoons, which were contained in the official state press - satirical magazines. Materials published in party publications, regardless of style, often had the meaning of a direct order. Thus, the main goal of the satirical magazines of the Soviet Union was not to cheer up readers, but to construct models of the behavior of a Soviet person in his professional and private life through ridiculing deviant, according to ideologists, forms of behavior. Satirical magazines as printed organs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party were supposed to be an "ideological weapon" that fights "shortcomings of society" and "enemies". It was precisely such a place and tasks that were assigned to the press by Stalin.

Oksana Hela's dissertational research covers the images of the entire Soviet intelligentsia, precisely – the European part of the Soviet Union in the period from 1922 to 1991: the Byelorussian, Russian, Ukrainian and Estonian SSR.


Directed by Valeria Yakushko

As part of the OFB (Osteuropa-Forum Basel) project grant, Valeria Yakushko is working on an exploratory study of Ukrainian refugee women in Basel. The research answers the question "What are the intentions and plans of Ukrainian refugees in Basel and how will they realize them in the near future"?

Valeria Yakushko has a bachelor's degree in sociology (Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine). Her main fields of study are sociology of education and sociology of migration. She has worked on numerous UNICEF and NGO projects and research.

Directed by Anna Luhovska
Department of Arts, Media, Philosophy, University of Basel

Full title: Contemporary Art Institutions in the Exhibition Practice of Ukraine (on the example of activities of contemporary art centers and galleries in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and Lviv). The period of the late 1980s – 2020

Project Duration: 2019-2023 (Anna Luhovska started her project at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv, Ukraine)

In the first chapter Anna Luhovska analyzes the history of global evolution of art institutions. And in the following chapters she regards the formation of contemporary art infrastructure in Ukraine starting from the late 1980s with its major transformations in the following decades. Four biggest Ukrainian cities – Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and Lviv were chosen to represent the different approaches to the formation of art system with its galleries and contemporary art centers.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Olga Lagutenko (Kyiv), Prof. Dr. Ralph Ubl (Basel)

Directed by Dr. Elena Dubenko
University of Basel, Department of English


Directed by Dr. Olena Yasynetska
University of Basel, Department of History


Directed by Julia Richers
Full Professor for Modern General and Eastern European History, University of Bern

Directed by Carmen Scheide
History Department, University of Bern

Das derzeitige Forschungsvorhaben von Prof. Scheide knüpft an die Kriegsfolgen-, Diktatur- und Gewaltforschung an: Sie erforscht auf der Grundlage von deutschen und ukrainischen Archivquellen den Besatzungsalltag in der Zentralukraine (Gebiet Poltava) während des Zweiten Weltkriegs. Dabei wählt sie einen multiperspektivischen Zugang und fragt danach, welche Folgen die Erfahrungen von Gewalt, Widerstand, Kollaboration oder Zwangsarbeit für die Lebensgeschichten nach dem Krieg hatten. Wie wurde das Kriegserlebnis als Gewalt- und als Kulturerfahrung verarbeitet? Krieg bedeutet ein hohes Mass an Mobilität, es kam zu ganz neuen Kulturkontakten und –erfahrungen. Wie wirken sich diese in den Nachkriegsjahren auf Wahrnehmungen des „Anderen“ oder „Fremden“ aus? Zudem geht Carmen Scheide der Frage nach, wie ein Prozess der Versöhnung in Bezug auf die Zwangsarbeit seit den späten 1980er Jahren stattfinden konnte. Dafür untersucht sie lebensweltliche ukrainische und deutsche Beispiele von den daran Beteiligten und Erinnerungen von Zwangsarbeitern aus diesen Jahren.


Directed by Carmen Scheide
History Department, University of Bern

Project Duration: 01.07.2018 - 30.06.2023

This interdisciplinary project investigates the role of civil society in transitional justice, peacebuilding and reconciliation in the areas of history and memory in Georgia, North Caucasus/Chechnya and Ukraine. Collaborators of the project are Cécile Druey Schwab, Oksana Myshlovska and a PhD candidate tba.

Abstract on the Research Database of the Swiss National Science Foundation

Directed by Dr Maria Shagina
Former Fellow at the Center for Eastern European Studies (CEES)

Dr Maria Shagina specializes in European integration, post-Soviet democratisation and international sanctions. Her research project at CEES will focus on the West-Russia tensions since the Ukraine crisis and its implications for the Eurasian Economic Union. Her publications have appeared in the European Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Policy Research Institute, Atlantic Council, New Eastern Europe, and Global Risk Insights.

For more information about Maria Shagina, who will be a research fellow at the University of Zurich until June 2020, see her portrait.

Directed by Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller
University of Zurich

Duration: 01.11.2017 - 31.10.2021

The project reconsiders the dynamics of late Soviet society for the first time, different to previous and current research, by looking at the developments outside the cities – in the rural Soviet Union. Dynamics of rural society during the last Soviet decades have hitherto been largely neglected, yet they are crucial for understanding the late Soviet Union. Instead of reproducing the traditional narrative of decline, the project proposes a new conceptualisation of the late Soviet village as a specific modus of entanglement between city and village and as a product of simultaneous “ruralisation” of urban life styles and “urbanisation” of rural life styles.

Collaborators of the project are: Anna Sokolova // Tatiana Voronina // Andrea Keller //
Ekaterina Knoblauch (Kurilova)

Directed by Dr Oleksandr Moskalenko
Institute for European Global Studies, University of Basel

The current International fellow of the Institute for European Global Studies (EIB) in Basel Dr Oleksandr Moskalenko is a post-doc researcher focusing on the study of the European Union’s relations with its Eastern Neighbours. In his research project «The EU Environmental Conditionality for the Association Agreements with Its Neighbours» he focuses on the EU relations with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia with a special focus on environmental policies.

For more information about Dr Oleksandr Moskalenko see his portrait.

Directed by Tornike Metreveli
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of St. Gallen

Directed by Chebotarov, Oleksii
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Universität St. Gallen

Directed by Vita Susak
Bern, Verein „memoriart33–45“


Directed by Yuliya Mayilo
Université de Lausanne, Sprachwissenschaft

Directed by Fabian Baumann
Departement Geschichte, Universität Basel

The development of Russian and Ukrainian nationalism has always been closely intertwined. Fabian Baumann's research project analyses the emergence of the conflict between these two political movements, which started out in close contact, but grew increasingly antagonistic. The history of the Shul’gin/Shul’hyn family, a dynasty of Kiev journalists and politicians, is to serve as the background to a histoire croisée of Russian and Ukrainian nationalism. Several members of this family participated in the debates on the Russian and Ukrainian nation between the 1860s and the Russian civil war. They thus helped form the emerging nationalist ideologies and organisations on both sides.

By tracking the involvement of the Shul’gins/Shul’hyns in the development of national ideologies and the activities of nationalist organisations, Fabian Baumann shall be able to develop a microhistorical analysis of the crucial phases in the emerging conflict between Russian and Ukrainian nationalism: Their common roots in the Kiev intelligentsia of the 1860s, their political rivalry in the later 19th century, their entry into the era of mass politics after 1905, and finally their open confrontation in revolution and civil war.


Directed by Korine Amacher, Andriy Portnov, Eric Aunoble, Nataliya Borys
Université de Genève, histoire

Recent events show how Russia, Ukraine and Poland are at odds over the history they share. These three Eastern European powers have defined themselves through conflict, among other things. Soviet power manifested itself in 1918–1920 with the conquest of Ukraine and the fight against the Polish state, and in 1939–1940 with the seizure of Ukrainian lands at the expense of Poland. The post-war period saw the USSR stifle Ukrainian and Polish national aspirations. Conversely, Poland and Ukraine gained or reaffirmed their independence through the disintegration of the Russian and then Soviet empires. These three countries are linked by a common history, but separated by antagonistic "national romances". The centuries-old conflicts that form the fabric of this history came to the fore with the fall of communism in the form of memory conflicts, the impact of which is still visible, as the recent Ukrainian crisis shows.


For more information see the International Conference, held in Geneva, December 2018 and the project abstract on the Research Database of the Swiss National Science Foundation

Directed by Stephan Rindlisbacher
Europa Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)

After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, armed conflicts flared up in the South Caucasus, then also in Central Asia, and most recently between Russia and Ukraine over a revision of the borders drawn during the Soviet era. The argument was also put forward that these Soviet border demarcations were arbitrary. The socio-political goal of the research project is to work out the compromise character of almost all Soviet border demarcations and at the same time to improve the historical understanding of the current territorial conflicts in the border regions concerned.

University of St. Gallen

Between 2012 and 2015, more than two dozen scholars from different disciplinary fields and continents conducted scholarly work to further advance the study of regionalism in Ukraine by applying new methodological and theoretical lenses. The project “Region, Nation and Beyond: A Transcultural and Interdisciplinary Reconceptualization of Ukraine” was hosted by the University of St. Gallen and co-funded by Swiss and German science foundations. It resulted in multiple publications, including the volume “Regionalism without Regions: Reconceptualizing Ukraine’s Heterogeneity”, summarizing the core findings of the project, by the Central European University Press in August 2019.

Directed by Nataliya Kibita
Université de Genève, histoire


Directed by Tatjana Hofmann
Universität Zürich, Literaturwissenschaft


Directed by Anastasia Tserkovnyuk
Universität St. Gallen, Politikwissenschaft

Directed by Oksana Myshlovska
Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva


Directed by Olha Mykytyn-Gazziero
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva


Directed by Daniel Weiss, Martina Berrocal, Elena Kutos, Bartholomäus Nowak, Larissa Zavgorodnia
University of Zurich, Sprachwissenschaft


Directed by Ulrich Schmid, Carmen Scheide
Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen


Directed by Viola Pokriefke
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of St. Gallen

Directed by Maria Shagina
University of Lucerne, Political Science


Directed by Oleksandra Kunovska Mondoux
University of Fribourg, History


Directed by Stefan Dyroff
University of Berne, History


Directed by Natalya Momot
University of Basel, Cultural Studies


About URIS

Learn more about the objectives, the vision and the funding of the initiative “Ukrainian Research in Switzerland”.

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The Fellowship Program of URIS is a core component of the initiative.

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