Rurik, or Riurik was a semilegendary 9th-century Varangian who founded the Rurik dynasty
Rurik Dynasty
The Rurik dynasty or Rurikids was a dynasty founded by the Varangian prince Rurik, who established himself in Novgorod around the year 862 AD...

 which ruled Kievan Rus and later some of its successor states, most notably the Tsardom of Russia
Tsardom of Russia
The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

, until 1598.

The only information about him is contained in the 12th-century Primary Chronicle
Primary Chronicle
The Primary Chronicle , Ruthenian Primary Chronicle or Russian Primary Chronicle, is a history of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110, originally compiled in Kiev about 1113.- Three editions :...

The name Riurik is the Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 rendering of the Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 Hrœrekr (Old East Norse RikR), i.e. Roderick
Roderick, or The Education of a Young Machine is a 1980 science fiction novel by John Sladek. It was followed in 1983 by Roderick at Random, or Further Education of a Young Machine. The two books were originally intended as a single longer novel, and were finally reissued together in 2001 as The...

, from a Common Germanic  *hrōþi-rīk(i)az "fame-rich".

Primary Chronicle

The only information about him is contained in the 12th-century Russian Primary Chronicle, according to which Rurik was a Varangian chieftain of the Rus'
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

, a Varangian tribe likened by the chronicler to the Norse
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 tribes of Norwegians
Norwegians constitute both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway. They share a common culture and speak the Norwegian language. Norwegian people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in United States, Canada and Brazil.-History:Towards the end of the 3rd...

, Swedes
Swedes are a Scandinavian nation and ethnic group native to Sweden, mostly inhabiting Sweden and the other Nordic countries, with descendants living in a number of countries.-Etymology:...

, Danes
Danish people or Danes are the nation and ethnic group that is native to Denmark, and who speak Danish.The first mention of Danes within the Danish territory is on the Jelling Rune Stone which mentions how Harald Bluetooth converted the Danes to Christianity in the 10th century...

, Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

, and Gotlander
The Gutes or the Gotlanders are the population of the island of Gotland. The ethnonym is identical to Goths , and both names were originally Proto-Germanic *Gutaniz. Their language is called Gutnish .-Early history:The oldest history of the Gutes is retold in the Gutasaga...

The Primary Chronicle states that Rurik arrived in Slavic lands with two brothers, Sineus and Truvor  whom he sent to rule the towns of Beloozero and Izborsk
Izborsk is a rural locality in Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast, Russia. It contains one of the most ancient and impressive fortresses of Western Russia....

, respectively. However, another interpretation is that "Rurik, Sineus, en Truvor" should be read "Rurik, sine hus, en tro(gna) vär(ingar)" (Rurik, his house/relatives, and true companions).

Rurik gained control of Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga , or the Aldeigjuborg of Norse sagas, is a village in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Volkhov River near Lake Ladoga, 8 km north of the town of Volkhov. The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries...

 in 862, and moved his capital to Novgorod in 864. The account states that Chud
Chud or Chude is a term historically applied in the early Russian annals to several Finnic peoples in the area of what is now Finland, Estonia and Northwestern Russia....

s, Ilmen Slavs
Ilmen Slavs
The Ilmen Slavs was the northernmost tribe of the Early East Slavs, which inhabited the shores of the Lake Ilmen and the basin of the rivers of Volkhov, Lovat, Msta, and the upper stream of the Mologa River in the 8th to 10th centuries....

, Merias, Veses and Krivichs "...drove the Varangians back beyond the sea, refused to pay them tribute, and set out to govern themselves". Afterwards the tribes started fighting each other and decided to invite Rurik and his brothers to reestablish order.
Rurik remained in power until his death in 879. He married Efanda (Edvina Alfrind Ingrid) of Urman.

Vasily Tatishchev

Vasily Tatishchev
Vasily Tatishchev
Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev was a prominent Russian statesman, and ethnographer, best remembered as the author of the first full-scale Russian history...

 (a Rurikid himself), in "First Modern Historian of Russia", claimed that Rurik was of Wendish
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

Tatishchev went so far as to name his mother, Umila; his maternal grandfather, Gostomysl
Gostomysl is a legendary 9th-century posadnik of Novgorod who was introduced into the historiography by Vasily Tatishchev, an 18th-century historian. Gostomysl's rule is associated with the confederation of Northern tribes, which was formed to counter the Varangian threat in the mid-9th century...

; and a cousin, Vadim.

Rybakov and the Anti-Normanist school

The "Anti-Normanist" school in Russian historiography, developed in the 19th century, but in the Soviet era notably defended by B. A. Rybakov, assumes that the account of Rurik's invitation was borrowed by the chronicler
Nestor the Chronicler
Saint Nestor the Chronicler was the reputed author of the Primary Chronicle, , Life of the Venerable Theodosius of the Kiev Caves, Life of the Holy Passion Bearers, Boris and Gleb, and of the so-called Reading.Nestor was a monk of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev from 1073...

 from a hypothetical Norse document
Norse saga
The sagas are stories about ancient Scandinavian and Germanic history, about early Viking voyages, the battles that took place during the voyages, about migration to Iceland and of feuds between Icelandic families...

. For instance, they interpret the names of Rurik's brothers are corruptions of Old Norse sine hus (with house) and tru voring (with loyal guard)

Identification with Rorik of Dorestad

Boris Rybakov
Boris Rybakov
Boris Alexandrovich Rybakov was a Soviet and Russian historian who personified the anti-Normanist vision of Russian history....

 and Anatoly Kirpichnikov also proposed that Rurik was identical with the Danish Viking Rorik of Dorestad. Alexander Nazarenko
Alexander Nazarenko
Aleksandr Vasilievich Nazarenko is a Russian historian who works in the Moscow State University. He heads the project "Russia and Central Europe in the Middle Ages" in the World History Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences....

 objects to this identification.
The proposal is based on the circumstance that Roerik of Dorestad disappears from western records after 860.
However, Rorik of Dorestad reappears in Frankish chronicles in 870, when his Friesland demesne
In the feudal system the demesne was all the land, not necessarily all contiguous to the manor house, which was retained by a lord of the manor for his own use and support, under his own management, as distinguished from land sub-enfeoffed by him to others as sub-tenants...

 was returned to him by Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

; in 882 he is mentioned as dead.

Rurikid dynasty

The Rurikid dynasty went on to rule the Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

, and ultimately the Tsardom of Russia
Tsardom of Russia
The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

 until 1598.
The difficult transition from the Rurikid to the Romanov dynasty at the turn of the 17th century is known as the Times of Troubles in Russian historiography.
The two dynasties were united with the marriage of Catherine the Great with Peter III
Peter III of Russia
Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

  in 1745.

Numerous noble Russian and Ruthenian families claim Rurikid ancestry, and via Anne of Kiev
Anne of Kiev
Anne of Kiev was the queen consort of France as the wife of Henry I, and regent for her son Philip I.Her parents were Yaroslav I the Wise and princess Ingegerd Olofsdotter of Sweden....

, wife of Henry I of France
Henry I of France
Henry I was King of France from 1031 to his death. The royal demesne of France reached its smallest size during his reign, and for this reason he is often seen as emblematic of the weakness of the early Capetians...

, Rurikid ancestry can also be argued for numerous Western European lineages.

According to the FamilyTreeDNA
Family Tree DNA is a commercial genetic genealogy company based in Houston, Texas with its partner laboratory, Arizona Research Labs, housed at the University of Arizona. Family Tree DNA offers analysis of autosomal DNA, YDNA, and mtDNA to individuals for genealogical purposes based on DNA samples...

 Rurikid Dynasty DNA Project, Rurik appears to have belonged to Y-DNA haplogroup N1c1, based on testing of his modern male line descendants. But while genetically related to the later Baltic Finnic peoples
Baltic Finns
The Baltic Finns are a historical linguistic group of peoples of northern Europe whose modern descendants include the Finns proper, Karelians , Izhorians, Veps, Votes, Livonians and Estonians who speak Baltic-Finnic languages and have inhabited the Baltic Sea region for 3,000 years according to...

, the Rurikids do not possess the DYS390=24 mutation associated with the Finnic languages
Finnic languages
The term Finnic languages often means the Baltic-Finnic languages, an undisputed branch of the Uralic languages. However, it is also commonly used to mean the Finno-Permic languages, a hypothetical intermediate branch that includes Baltic Finnic, or the more disputed Finno-Volgaic languages....

, theirs remaining the ancestral DYS390=23, with the Rurikid haplotype itself (all values considered) more closely associated with Northern Germanic language
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

 speakers (Varangians
The Varangians or Varyags , sometimes referred to as Variagians, were people from the Baltic region, most often associated with Vikings, who from the 9th to 11th centuries ventured eastwards and southwards along the rivers of Eastern Europe, through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.According...


It has to be noted that we cannot know for sure what haplogroup Rurik belonged to since no DNA known to originate from Rurik's body exists today. In similar cases, establishing the haplogroup of an ancient king, the scientists have had access to the actual body. The Swedish ruler Birger Jarl
Birger jarl
, or Birger Magnusson, was a Swedish statesman, Jarl of Sweden and a member of the House of Bjelbo, who played a pivotal role in the consolidation of Sweden. Birger also led the Second Swedish Crusade, which established Swedish rule in Finland. Additionally, he is traditionally attributed to have...

 is an example of such DNA-investigation. Although no physical sample could be taken from the remains of Rurik's body, the FamilyTreeDNA Project could establish a firm link of many members of the Rurikid dynasty to a male born around the year 820
Year 820 was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar.- Asia :* Tahir, the son of a slave, is rewarded with the governorship of Khurasan for supporting the caliphate...

 CE in the Uppland Province of Sweden. Ruriks DNA should most likely been of the haplogroup I1 (Y-DNA).

Possible explanation for Rurik's genetically Finnic background

If Rurik was a Viking royal and member of the dynasty of Ynglings, also known as the Fairhair dynasty
Fairhair dynasty
The Fairhair dynasty was a family of kings founded by Harald I of Norway which ruled Norway with few interruptions from 800 to 1387 , or through only three generations of kings , in the 10th century CE....

, then the results of the Rurikid Dynasty DNA Project would support what is explained in the medieval sagas and other accounts about the Ynglings descending from Halfdan the Old
Halfdan the Old
Halfdan the Old was an ancient, legendary king from whom descended many of the most notable lineages of legend...

 and further down from Gór
Gor , the Counter-Earth, is the alternate-world setting for a series of 30 novels by John Norman that combine philosophy, erotica and science fiction...

, whose brother Nór
Nór or Nori is firstly a mercantile title and secondly a Norse man's name. It is stated in Norse sources that Nór was the founder of Norway, from whom the land supposedly got its name...

 "founded Norway" and whose forefather Fornjót
Fornjót was an ancient giant in Norse mythology and a king of Finland. His children are Ægir , Logi and Kári ....

 ruled over Finland, Kvenland and Gotland. This could explain Rurik's Finnic genes.

That particular royal lineage is introduced in the medieval accounts such as the Ynglinga saga
Ynglinga saga
Ynglinga saga is a legendary saga, originally written in Old Norse by the Icelandic poet Snorri Sturluson about 1225. It was first translated into English and published in 1844....

 (1220 AD), the Skáldskaparmál
The second part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda the Skáldskaparmál or "language of poetry" is effectively a dialogue between the Norse god of the sea, Ægir and Bragi, the god of poetry, in which both Norse mythology and discourse on the nature of poetry are intertwined...

 section of Edda
The term Edda applies to the Old Norse Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, both of which were written down in Iceland during the 13th century in Icelandic, although they contain material from earlier traditional sources, reaching into the Viking Age...

 (c. 1220 AD), the Orkneyinga saga
Orkneyinga saga
The Orkneyinga saga is a historical narrative of the history of the Orkney Islands, from their capture by the Norwegian king in the ninth century onwards until about 1200...

 (1230 AD) and the account Hversu Noregr byggðist  (1387 AD).

The area of Rurik's birth may shed additional light to Rurik's genealogical background:

At the time of Rurik's birth, according to medieval accounts and other evidence Uppland
Uppland is a historical province or landskap on the eastern coast of Sweden, just north of Stockholm, the capital. It borders Södermanland, Västmanland and Gästrikland. It is also bounded by lake Mälaren and the Baltic sea...

 and it's Roslagen
Roslagen is the name of the coastal areas of Uppland province in Sweden, which also constitutes the northern part of the Stockholm archipelago....

 seashore were located in the northernmost edge of the land inhabited by the Svea
Svea is a Swedish female name. The name was a very popular girls' name during the first half of the 20th century. It may also refer to:*Mother Svea, the Swedish national emblem.*Svea, Svalbard, a mining settlement*Svea, Florida*Svea, Minnesota...

 people. North from there lived Finnic
Finnic or Fennic can refer to:* Finnic languages* Finnic peoples...

 peoples, and many of them may have still inhabited Uppland as well at this point.

Nearly three centuries after the birth of Rurik, in c. 1157 AD, in his geographical chronicle Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan
Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan
The geographical chronicle Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan was published in c. 1157 AD by Níkulás Bergsson , the abbot of the monastery of Aþverá in Thingeyrar , Northern Iceland....

 - a guidebook for pilgrims
Pilgrims , or Pilgrim Fathers , is a name commonly applied to early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States...

 - the Icelandic
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

 Níkulás Bergsson (Nikolaos) provided a description of the lands near Norway. Based on Nikolaos, Kvenland still then covered territories stretching from south-central Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 all the way to the Kola Peninsula
Kola Peninsula
The Kola Peninsula is a peninsula in the far northwest of Russia. Constituting the bulk of the territory of Murmansk Oblast, it lies almost completely to the north of the Arctic Circle and is washed by the Barents Sea in the north and the White Sea in the east and southeast...

 in today's northwestern Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

"Closest to Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 is little Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 (Svíþjóð), there is Öland
' is the second largest Swedish island and the smallest of the traditional provinces of Sweden. Öland has an area of 1,342 km² and is located in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Småland. The island has 25,000 inhabitants, but during Swedish Midsummer it is visited by up to 500,000 people...

 (Eyland); then is Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

 (Gotland); then Hälsingland
' is a historical province or landskap in central Sweden. It borders to Gästrikland, Dalarna, Härjedalen, Medelpad and to the Gulf of Bothnia...

 (Helsingaland); then Värmland
' is a historical province or landskap in the west of middle Sweden. It borders Västergötland, Dalsland, Dalarna, Västmanland and Närke. It is also bounded by Norway in the west. Latin name versions are Vermelandia and Wermelandia. Although the province's land originally was Götaland, the...

 (Vermaland); then two Kvenlands (Kvenlönd), and they extend to north of Bjarmia (Bjarmalandi)."

A Norwegian adventurer and traveller named Ohthere visited England
History of Anglo-Saxon England
Anglo-Saxon England refers to the period of the history of that part of Britain, that became known as England, lasting from the end of Roman occupation and establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror...

 around 890 CE. King Alfred of Wessex
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

 had his stories written down, and included them in his Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 version of a world history written by the Romano-Hispanic
Hispania Tarraconensis
Hispania Tarraconensis was one of three Roman provinces in Hispania. It encompassed much of the Mediterranean coast of Spain along with the central plateau. Southern Spain, the region now called Andalusia, was the province of Hispania Baetica...

 author Orosius. Ohthere's story contains contemporary descriptions of the location of Kvenland:

Ohthere, Ohtere , Óttarr, Óttarr vendilkráka or Ottar Vendelkråka was a semi-legendary king of Sweden who would have lived during the 6th century and belonged to the house of Scylfings...

 said that the Norwegians' (Norðmanna) land was very long and very narrow ... and to the east are wild mountains, parallel to the cultivated land. Sami people
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

 (Finnas) inhabit these mountains ... Then along this land southwards, on the other side of the mountain (
sic), is Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 ... and along that land northwards, Kvenland (Cwenaland). The Kvens (Cwenas) sometimes make depredations on the Northmen over the mountain, and sometimes the Northmen on them; there are very large freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 meres amongst the mountains, and the Kvens carry their ships over land into the meres, and thence make depredations on the Northmen; they have very little ships, and very light."

(Notably, there is a reference in the Orkneyinga saga to the southern Norwegian lake district, including Lake Mjøsa, an area which was inhabited at that time: the Orkneyinga saga tells how these inhabitants were attacked by men from Kvenland.)

"... the Swedes (Sweons) have to the south of them the arm of the sea called East (Osti), and to the east of them Sarmatia (Sermende), and to the north, over the wastes, is Kvenland (Cwenland), to the northwest are the Sami people (Scridefinnas), and the Norwegians (Norðmenn) are to the west."

Other Medieval accounts and statements too point to the fact that the land of the Kvens - Kvenland - borderred Uppland at the time of Rurik's birth. This makes Rurik's genealogically Finnic background understandable. Still four centuries after Rurik's birth, the Egil's saga, written c 1220-1240 AD, points out that Kvenland bordered Hälsingland, a territory bordering Uppland. Chapter XIV::
"But eastwards from Namdalen
Namdalen is a traditional district in the central part of Norway, consisting of the municipalities Namsos, Grong, Overhalla, Røyrvik, Fosnes, Nærøy, Høylandet, Namdalseid, Flatanger, Lierne, Leka, Namsskogan, and Vikna, all in Nord-Trøndelag county. The district has two towns: Kolvereid and Namsos...

 (Naumdale) is Jämtland
Jämtland or Jamtland is a historical province or landskap in the center of Sweden in northern Europe. It borders to Härjedalen and Medelpad in the south, Ångermanland in the east, Lapland in the north and Trøndelag and Norway in the west...

 (Jamtaland), then Hälsingland
' is a historical province or landskap in central Sweden. It borders to Gästrikland, Dalarna, Härjedalen, Medelpad and to the Gulf of Bothnia...

 (Helsingjaland) and Kvenland, then Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, then Karelia
Karelia , the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden...

 (Kirialaland); along all these lands to the north lies Finnmark
or Finnmárku is a county in the extreme northeast of Norway. By land it borders Troms county to the west, Finland to the south and Russia to the east, and by water, the Norwegian Sea to the northwest, and the Barents Sea to the north and northeast.The county was formerly known as Finmarkens...

(Finmark), ..."
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