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Reference:

First Ladies of the Middle East: Change of Image in the Global Media

Torubarova Tatiana Viktorovna

Doctor of Philosophy

Professor of the Department of Philosophy

305000, Russia, Kursk region, Kursk, Radishchev str., 33

dariyaeremkina@yandex.ru
Andreichenko Lina

Assistant of the Department of Mass Communications of the Faculty of Philology, Peoples Friendship University of Russia

117198, Russia, Moscow region, Moscow, Miklukho-Maklaya str., 6

kandakzhi-l@rudn.ru
Zidan Zhaklin Riadovna

foreign language teacher, State budgetary educational institution of the city of Moscow "Academic school No. 1534"

117036, Russia, Moscow region, Moscow, Kedrova str., 11

zidanjaklin@gmail.com

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8698.2022.9.38809

EDN:

PVNMFH

Received:

21-09-2022


Published:

07-10-2022


Abstract: This Article is dedicated to the image of the middle Eastern First Ladies and how it impacts the way people perceive the country itself in the Media. We study the headlines and the coverage in foreign Media dedicated to Asma Assad, Queen Rania of Jordan, Sheikha Mosa, Princess Haya of Dubai. Queen Rania and Sheikha Mosa are considered the True Middle Eastern royalty, they wear the most on point collections by the eastern and European designers, visit Royal households around the world and have friendly parties with the European Royals; whereas Asma, who had been positively accepted years ago, now has ricocheted and makes the impression of the negatively lavish lifestyle. Princess Haya of Dubai is not only royal to the bone, but could defend her name, family and stand up to the cruel, traditional leader of Dubai proving her right to live freely in the British court, which is outstanding for the Eastern civilizations. We are observing the First Ladies as the attitude towards women and their empowerment is changing even in the Muslim countries of the Middle East. Each lady can represent a separate strong personality with the will and free spirit, whilst in the hardest time they stay by their husbands, supporting every hard decision he makes. In the framework of our research, we focus on each lady in the context of the situation she lives in Iconic Rania and Mosa, rebellious Haya and loyal Asma. All four demonstrate the colorful palette of cultures of the modern Middle East.


Keywords:

Middle East, Syria, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, women of the Middle East, First Ladies, western media, women's rights, look

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

IntroductionThe mass media (hereinafter referred to as the media) today can be considered one of the key tools for creating the image of a politician.

Mass media create a symbolic image of reality, which forms a picture of the world for the audience, structures life values and norms. Every day, when we turn to the media for information, we come across publications in which, in one way or another, they talk about the top officials of various states, forming their own idea of this politician, his regime, the people and his country as a whole. In the scientific community, the question of the formation of the image of a politician and the formation of the image of the country has been studied quite well, but the question of the formation of the image of the First Ladies has been studied little.

Often, the appearance of the first ladies of the Arab world greatly influences the perception of the country in Western society. As a rule, Arab countries seem to ordinary people very closed, patriarchal, so every appearance of the First Ladies in public is examined by media outlets under a microscope. In this article we will look at the influence of the image of the three first ladies of the Arab world on the image that is perceived by readers of magazines and newspapers. Analyzing such concepts as "image" and "image", it is impossible not to mention the definition of these terms. To define the term "image", we turned to the dictionary of foreign words by I.A. Vasyukova: "Image is a purposefully formed image of a person, object, phenomenon, recognized to have an emotional and psychological impact on someone" [1]. Feofanov O.A., who was at the origins of the study of the sociology of mass communications in Russia, clearly distinguishes between an image and an object that exists in reality. According to him, the image of the object may have no connection with reality [5].

In turn, V.N. Markin writes that "image is not a mask, not an embellishment of one's professional appearance. In real life, of course, this also exists. But this aspect of image technology, in my opinion, is not the main thing. The core here is the opportunity to convey information about yourself, about your true (personal and professional) foundations, ideals, plans, deeds" [3]. There is another definition of image - "an emotionally colored image of someone or something that has developed in the mass consciousness and has the character of a stereotype" [4].

As for the definition of the word "image", the Large Explanatory Dictionary of S.A. Kuznetsov gives six meanings: 1) appearance, appearance; appearance, appearance; 2) a vivid, visual representation of someone, something that arises in the imagination, thoughts of someone; 3) a mental reflection of any qualities of a person, another object, phenomenon; 4) a generalized artistic perception of reality, clothed in a form a specific individual phenomenon; 5) the nature, warehouse, direction of something; 6) method, means" [2].

Despite the fact that there is a tendency in the academic environment to separate the concepts of "image" and "image", we still consider these concepts as synonyms, relying on the fact that the word "image" from the English image is an image, an image. Based on this, both terms will be used in this paper.

Methods and results of the study The reliability of this study is provided by extensive empirical material and a system of its study.

A comparative method was used, including a comparison of various types of content, as well as a method of analyzing documents with elements of content analysis. The selection of popular science media was carried out on the basis of data from the Medialogia system in accordance with the rating of the most cited media resources of popular science topics for the third quarter of 2020.

Queen Rania-Al Abdullah of JordanQueen Rania-Al Abdullah is the wife of the Jordanian ruler Abdullah II.

Rania was born in Kuwait into a middle-class family. The future Queen graduated from an English school in Kuwait, and then received higher education at the American University of Cairo. Being a Palestinian by birth, Rania and her family had to flee Kuwait in the early nineties to Jordan because of Palestinian accusations of cooperation with the Iraqi occupiers of Kuwait. In 1993, Rania tried to get a job at the Jordanian representative office of Apple for a senior position, but, having been refused, she went to Citibank Amman, owned by King Abdullah's sister. It was in this bank that a fateful meeting took place and in the summer of 1993 the couple celebrated their wedding. Subsequently, after the death of King Hussein, Rania received the title of Queen. For 27 years on the throne, Rania managed to create the image of one of the most stylish rulers of the world along with Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Queen Letizia and Sheikha Moza. Rania represents the very first lady who stands behind her husband, but at the same time preserves harmony in her large family. Articles about Rania most often appear in women's fashion and lifestyle publications, such as Hello, Ok, Tatler, looking at the queen's outfits and accessories under a microscope. Much adored and looked up to for being a progressive female voice in the Arab world, HM Queen Rania of Jordan is a powerful advocate for education, health, and womens rights [Vogue Arabia]. In this article, Rania is described as the "progressive female voice of the Arab world": "Known for her business savvy, elegance and outspokenness, Queen Rania has divided opinion between those who feel she should take a more traditional role and those who see her as a shining example for Arab women." [https://www.hellomagazine.com/profiles/queen-rania-of-jordan /] Hello highlights her "business savvy, elegance and frankness." Town and Country Britain writes about public health and education advocacy, as well as a great fashion sense of style: "The Queen is best known for her advocacy in public health and education, as well as her extremely trendy sense of style." [https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/g28437542/queen-rania-jordan-fashion-style /]yu

However, in 2011, the Guardian newspaper published an article about Rania with the headline "Ladies of opinion" [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/28/arab-first-ladies-of-oppression ]. Initially, the article was aimed at expressing the contrast between the bloody regime and the luxurious life of the Assad couple, and then to expose the wives of other Arab leaders as the wives of bloody tyrants who supported the Assad regime. In this article, Rania, the First Lady of Jordan, is presented as "ranked third most beautiful woman in the world by Harpers and Queen in 2005" (recognized as the third most beautiful woman in the world by Harpers Bazaar in 2005).

First Lady of Syria Asma AssadAsma Akhras Asad was born on August 11, 1975 in London in a noble Syrian family.

Her mother worked at the Syrian Embassy in London, and her father was a cardiologist. Asma was brought up as a modest, intelligent and educated European girl who does not forget about her roots. The future First Lady of Syria received a higher education at the Royal College of the University of London. She then worked as an analyst at Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan. Asma was preparing to go to an MBA course at Harvard, but she met the future Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and moved with him to Damascus [18]. Bashar al-Assad did not plan to become president and was building a career as an ophthalmologist. Having been educated in Europe, he dreamed of treating Syrian children. However, after the death of Basil's older brother in a car accident in 1994, Bashar had to return to Syria and gradually prepare for governing the country. The day after the death of Hafez al-Assad, who ruled the country for 30 years, the acting President of Syria, First Vice President Abdel Halim Haddam, awarded Bashar al-Assad the rank of lieutenant general and appointed him supreme commander of the army. According to the results of the referendum held on July 10, 2000, Bashar al-Assad was elected President of Syria, gaining 97.29% of the vote. On December 18 of the same year, a modest wedding of Bashar al-Assad and Asma Akhras took place in a narrow family circle. For the first few months in the status of First Lady, Asma traveled around Syria incognito in order to approach her new position "from a civil position" and determine for herself what should be changed in Syrian society at this stage.

Subsequently, the news of the marriage was received by society and the world media extremely positively, the marriage of Asma and Bashar personified a new Syria: free, democratic, equal, including from a religious point of view, because representatives of different confessional groups of Islam Alawites and Sunnis - got married, which became a symbol of tolerance and tolerance in society.

In glossy magazines, Bashar al-Assad and his wife were compared with King Abdullah II of Jordan and his wife Rania - as intelligent, educated young rulers of the Middle East, oriented to the West [11].

After becoming the First Lady, Asma began traveling around Syria and participating in charity and rural development programs, she paid great attention to education and women's rights. In 2001, she founded a non-governmental non-profit organization, the Syria Development Fund, focused on helping Syrian communities to ensure social development. In addition to social projects, Asma Assad worked to preserve the ancient heritage of Syria [4]. Thanks to her commitment to women's rights and the protection of children, she has become an object of attention, including on the world stage. In 2008, the First Lady of Syria was awarded the gold medal of the President of Italy for "merits in the humanitarian sphere" in the Middle East [15].

The Western press gave Asma the most flattering epithets: "champion for women's rights" [11], "Syrian Princess Diana" [8], etc. In 2008, she became one of the most stylish women according to the French magazine Elle, and in 2009, the American newspaper Huffington Post published a series of photos of the First Lady of Syria, calling her "personification of natural beauty" [7].

At the end of February 2011, Joan Juliet Buck, a well-known fashion journalist, published an article in Vogue magazine with the title "A Rose in the Desert", in which Bashar alAssad's wife was described as "the most unusual and attractive of all the first ladies of our time", "slender, with an analytical mind, modestly, but elegantly dressed" [9]. Just a month later, the "Arab Spring" came to Syria with demonstrations and anti-government protests, which dramatically changed the editorial policy of the world media regarding not only the president of Syria, but also the First Lady. Asma Asad was sharply criticized for supporting her husband and soon came under European sanctions, despite her British citizenship [6, 14].

A year after the arrival of the "Arab Spring" in Syria, Bashar al-Assad's wife broke her silence and the British media published her letter in which she wrote: "The President is the president of the whole of Syria, not a group of Syrians, and the First Lady supports him in this role."[12] Asma also stressed that she continues charitable and educational activities in the country, despite the difficult situation. After the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, Asma began to actively visit hospitals where the wounded were treated, refugee camps, families of the victims and orphanages. But these pictures were published exclusively in the Syrian media and ignored by the West. European publications only gave new definitions of the First Lady: "the dictator's wife", "The First Lady of hell", "the beautiful face of the bloody regime", "the Syrian Marie Antoinette" [16], "The First Lady from hell", "the devil in disguise" [10, 19].

At the moment, it is almost impossible to find at least some positive response to the Syrian First Lady and her husband from the Western media. At the same time, the press service of Syria also does not stand aside, as do citizens who support the government. On Instagram, many posts with Asma are tagged with the hashtag #WeLoveYouAsma.

In August 2018, the press service of the Syrian presidential administration reported that Asma Assad has cancer. Today, Asma is on the mend and appears again in pictures in the Syrian press among refugees, children and wounded soldiers.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of DubaiIn the Jordanian ruling dynasty there is another bright spouse of the great ruler - Princess Haya bint al-Hussein.

Princess Haya is a representative of the Hashemite dynasty and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad in the 43rd generation. At the age of 30, Princess Haya married the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Haya was the only one of the 5 wives of the ruler who was published. Thanks to the UAE and the UK's ties, the ruler of Dubai with his wife and sons was a frequent guest at the Ascott races, where the princess could show the whole world the ability to combine hats from Philip Treacy and exclusive outfits straight from Paris. Haya represented the secular image of Dubai, which the European public so wanted to see, fascinated by the beauty of the new majestic Arab metropolis.

It is worth noting that Dubai's heyday as the center of the Arab world fell during the reign of Sheikh Al Maktoum. Sheikh received a classical English education in Cambridge, where, according to his memoirs described in his autobiography "My Vision: Challenges in the Race of Excellence", he lived modestly and spent pocket money on trips to the races. After returning to Dubai in 1971, Sheikh Mohammed assumed the position of Minister of Defense of the UAE. Dubai aviation was controlled by the Sheikh; in 1985, Emirates Airline was launched, followed by a more budget version of FlyDubai. This was the first step towards Dubai's immersion in the global tourism industry. The next stage of development was the unification of Dubai ports into the DP World conglomerate, which in less than three years became one of the most important port companies in the world. Al Maktoum was one of the first to begin expanding the city's territory due to the bulk islands of palm trees, which currently have no analogues in the world. The jewel in the sheikh's collection was the creation of the largest skyscraper in the world - the Burj Khalifa. All this helped Dubai to become one of the world's major cities, and the sheikh's family to get under the radar of the world media. In the media, the Sheikh usually appears surrounded by his sons, creating the image of a good family man and the patriarch of the family. One of the sons, Hamdan ibn Mohammed, is an active user of the Instagram network and often posts trips with his father to Norway for fishing, to England for horse racing and to Scotland for hunting. However, neither Hamdan nor other representatives of the dynasty post photos of their wives or sisters. The only female representative of the family who appears in the media often is Princess Haya.

Unlike other representatives of the ruling dynasty, Haya rarely wears a traditional abaya and hijab, her children are always dressed in European costumes. Such freedom in dress and behavior first turned Dubai's image 180 degrees in the eyes of the world community and attracted many tourists, initially frightened by strict Islamic laws, and then played a cruel joke with the country's ratings. Sheikh Al Maktoum, known for his strict disposition and poetic soul, was very zealous about the observance of the laws in his family. The new world he built was not accessible to members of the royal dynasty, some of them were not satisfied with it. So, it is known about the unsuccessful escape of two daughters of the Sheikh (the girls were returned back to the country). According to the version of Princess Haya, as soon as she learned about the strict conditions of detention of her daughters, she packed up, took the children and flew to Germany, and from there to England, under the patronage of one of the best divorce lawyers in the world. Sheikh Al Maktoum has been trying for two years to bring his children, who ran away with the Princess, back to their homeland, but in vain. During the divorce process, the BBC released its damning investigation, which was not in the hands of Dubai on the eve of the 2020 Exhibition. [https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51756984 ]

Even Queen Elizabeth II, whose family was close friends with the ruling dynasty of Dubai and the royal family of Jordan, intervened in the feuds of the spouses.

The most high-profile divorce in the Arab worldThe whole world was shocked by rumors about the unsuccessful escape attempts of Mohammed's daughters, Shamsa and Latifa.

Princess Haya sided with the girls and in 2018 tried to refute the doctor's diagnosis of bipolar disorder of the princesses. As a result, the Sheikh forbade his wife to see the girls and ordered not to interfere. But the upbringing and character of Haya did not allow him to leave this business and the Sheikh had to part with his disobedient wife. In an interview with Irish radio RTE, Haya stated that "I will do absolutely anything I can to make sure that a vulnerable young woman does not continue to be exploited by people with their own agenda," she said [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/02/world/middleeast/princess-haya-sheikh-mohammed-bin.html ]. Translation: "I will do everything possible to put an end to the exploitation of a weak girl by people pursuing their goals."

2019 was supposed to be the "Year of Tolerance" in the UAE, but because of negative speeches and actions by femme activists, tolerance could not be promoted.

After parting with Sheikh Haye, threats from her ex-husband began to pour continuously. She realized that it was not safe for her to be in the UAE and soon publicly fled to the UK. It was the media coverage of the family scandal that helped this case not become a disaster for the Jordanian royal family. Haya hired Fiona Shackleton as a lawyer - with her help, the princess managed to reject the Sheikh's appeal not to publish the court's decision and find him guilty of kidnapping, forcibly returning his daughters, as well as intimidating his own wife. If it were not for the international media, relying on British materials, the Sheikh would have been able to take the children from his wife and leave her without means of livelihood. At the time of parting, the Sheikh was trying to create an image of his wounded husband by dedicating a Nabati-style poem to Haya with the lines "O sweetheart, there's nothing more to say. / Your deathly silence has worn me out, You no longer have a place with me, another says. I don't care if you live or die [https://sheikhmohammed.ae/en-us/Poetry]. Translation: "Oh, dear, I have nothing more to say / Your icy silence torments me, You are no longer with me, It no longer matters to me whether you are alive or dead."

If not for Haya's public image and her acquaintance with various media moguls, her story would have been closed from the world, like that of Latifa's mother, the Sheikh's second wife [https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/the-mysterious-story-of-princess-latifa-her-reported-escape-from-dubai-and-her-meeting-with-mary-robinson-37679044.html]. Rada Stirling, a women's rights activist working on Latifa's case, called Haya a "victim and witness" in the case. In one of his recent poems about her, the Sheikh again wrote "We have an ailment that no medicine can cure", "No experts in herbs can remedy this". Exhausted by the divorce process, the Sheikh granted Haya a divorce on her terms. Haya received full custody of the children, 541 million pounds and ensured that the Sheikh removed from his poetry website a poem dedicated to Haya allegedly as a threat "You lived, You Died".

Sheikh of Qatar Moza bint Nasser Al MisnedSheikha of Qatar Moza bint Nasser Al Misned is the second of the three wives of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

Like the aforementioned Arab First Ladies, Sheikha studied outside her country in the United States. Moza al-Misned is the head of the Qatar Education Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, as well as a special envoy of Unesco.

From the very beginning of her reign as the wife of the Sheikh, Moza patronized the education and culture of the region, trying to turn Qatar into a modern and advanced country. She created a democratic foundation that promotes media freedom in the region, and also launched the foundation for the creation of Qatar's Silicon Valley. The Park of Sciences and Technologies was established in 2008 and attracted investments from companies such as Microsoft and General Electric. Then, under her patronage, an Educational City was created in Qatar, where leading professors of the world give lectures to students.

In the Russian media, the first mention of Mose appeared in the late noughties. Russian periodicals became interested in her style, namely her love for the Russian couture brand - "Ulyana Sergeenko". Sergeyenko's assistant designer, Frol Burimsky, personally flew to Qatar to try on the Sheikha every month.

Foreign media also drew attention to the indescribable style of Moza, which combined French couture and Arabic classics. Unlike the aforementioned women, sheikha does not miss the chance to demonstrate a traditional piece of clothing - an abaya or sheila. After looking at each image of sheikha, the media switched to important matters of Moza, such as the law against domestic violence, which is relevant everywhere and the creation of jobs for young people in the region.

ConclusionInternational relations play an important role in the formation of the image and creation of the image of the First Ladies in the media.

The friendly relations of Western countries with the UAE, Jordan and Qatar show us bright, positive headlines and articles about princesses, pushing into the background the harsh policy of their husbands towards neighboring states.

Princess Haya and Sheikha Moza look more like victims in the eyes of Western readers, while Asma Assad is for them "The First Lady from hell" and "the devil in disguise".

However, I would like to note that if Asma Asad is dragging the heavy burden of the negative image of her spouse, then Princess Haya, on the contrary. She continues to be exalted in the gloss and take her side, while her husband's rating has dropped significantly against the background of this story. However, if we consider the image of the Sheikh outside the context of family affairs, then he has not changed in the media. As for Princess Rania, her image is rather neutral, as is the policy of Jordan and King Abdullah II in general.

From all of the above, it is advisable to summarize that the phenomenon of the image of the First Ladies of Arab countries cannot be considered outside the political context and separately from the image of their husbands.

The article was written with the support of the Strategic Academic Leadership Program of the RUDN

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6. Ablow, K. (2013). Asma and Bashar al-Assad-a match made in hell. FoxNews. URL: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/06/asma-and-bashar-alassad-match-made-in-hell/
7. Akkad, N., (2010). Asma Al Assad: Syria's First Lady and All-Natural Beauty (SLIDESHOW). The Huffington Post. URL: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/17/asma-al-assad-syrias-firs_n_226714.html
8. Bennet, J. (2005). The Enigma of Damascus. The New York Times. URL: http://wwww.comedia.cat/proyectos/docu/the-enigma-of-damascus_the-new-yorktimes_july-2005-529.pdf
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The article submitted for publication has signs of an integrative nature. The author addresses the assessment / analysis of changes in the image of the First Ladies of the Middle East in the media. I think that such a problem is quite relevant and can be considered within the framework of scientific research. The text is differentiated into so-called semantic blocks: the fragmentation of parts allows you to systematically monitor the development of the author's thought. The positioning of the research point of view, in my opinion, is done convincingly and texturally: "often the appearance of the first ladies of the Arab world greatly affects the perception of the country in Western society. As a rule, Arab countries seem very closed and patriarchal to ordinary people, so every appearance of the First Ladies in public is examined by media outlets under a microscope. In this article, we will look at the influence of the image of the three first ladies of the Arab world on the image that is perceived by readers of magazines and newspapers." The methodological basis of the article correlates with both empirical and analytical approaches. Successfully, in my opinion, the available sources of a related orientation are systematized, references to the works of I.A. Vasyukova, O.A. Feofanov, V.N. Markin, S.A. Kuznetsov and others are given in a formally correct way. The style of work correlates with the actual scientific type. For example, this is evident in the following fragments: "Queen Rania al-Abdullah is the wife of the Jordanian ruler Abdullah II. Rania was born in Kuwait into a middle-class family. The future queen graduated from an English school in Kuwait, and then received higher education at the American University of Cairo. Being a Palestinian by birth, Rania and her family had to flee Kuwait in the early nineties to Jordan because of Palestinian accusations of cooperation with the Iraqi occupiers of Kuwait. In 1993, Rania tried to get a job at the Jordanian representative office of Apple for a senior position, but, having been refused, she went to Citibank Amman, owned by King Abdullah's sister," or "Asma Akhras Assad was born on August 11, 1975 in London into a noble Syrian family. Her mother worked at the Syrian embassy in London, and her father was a cardiologist. Asma was raised as a modest, intelligent and educated European girl who does not forget about her roots. The future First Lady of Syria graduated from the Royal College of the University of London. She then worked as an analyst at Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan. Asma was preparing to take an MBA course at Harvard, but met the future Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and moved with him to Damascus...", or "Unlike the rest of the ruling dynasty, Haya rarely wears a traditional abaya and hijab, her children are always dressed in European costumes. Such freedom in dress and behavior first turned Dubai's image 180 degrees in the eyes of the world community and attracted many tourists, initially frightened by strict Islamic laws, and then played a cruel joke with the country's ratings. Sheikh Al Maktoum, known for his strict disposition and poetic soul, was very zealous for observing the laws in his family," etc. The work is characterized by rich information content, the material can be used in the study of disciplines of various humanitarian orientation. The topic of the work as such has been disclosed, a number of tasks have been solved; in the final part, the author notes that "international relations play an important role in the formation of the image and creation of the image of First Ladies in the media. The friendly relations of Western countries with the UAE, Jordan and Qatar show us bright, positive headlines and articles about princesses, putting aside the harsh policy of their husbands towards neighboring states," "from all the above, it is advisable to summarize that the phenomenon of the image of the First Ladies of Arab countries cannot be considered outside the political context and separately from the image of their husbands." The list of sources is full and extensive, no serious technical editing is required. The material is interesting, easy to read, and it can be considered an impulse to form new works thematically close to this one. I recommend the article "The First Ladies of the Middle East: changing the image in the world media" for publication in the magazine "Litera".
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