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Newsline - June 10, 1996

Meeting on 9 June in Nazran after a three-day break, Russian and Chechen representatives reached agreement in principle on a timetable for the withdrawal of Russian troops and the demilitarization of Chechnya by 30 August, but they failed to sign a protocol to this effect, Russian and Western agencies reported. No agreement was reached on the Chechen demands for a postponement of the election to a new People's Assembly until after the Russian troop withdrawal. On 9 June, the pro-Moscow Chechen government criticized the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, for allegedly exceeding his authority by holding direct talks with acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's group, according to Reuters. The pro-Moscow parliament and government also addressed a statement to President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin protesting their exclusion from the Nazran talks and questioning Yandarbiev's commitment to the 27 May peace agreement signed in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. On 8 June, Yusup Elmurzaev, the administration head of Urus-Martan, was shot dead by masked gunmen. -- Liz Fuller

A spokesman for the General Staff on 7 June said that the withdrawal of federal troops from Chechnya is "impossible" at this time, ITAR-TASS reported. Lt. Gen. Andrei Ivanov said that the continued shelling of federal troops despite the recent ceasefire agreement require them to remain in place for the time being. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had said earlier that forces not permanently assigned to the North Caucasus military district would begin withdrawing from Chechnya on 1 June. -- Doug Clarke

President Boris Yeltsin said his "intuition" tells him that he will not only be re-elected but may win the election outright in the first round, NTV reported on 9 June. He also said that he has instructed his staff not to prepare for a second round election. The latest opinion polls by VTsIOM and ROMIR, broadcast on the same program, indicate that Yeltsin leads Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov among likely voters. However, he would need to win more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff, and his support is currently measured in the mid-30s. Before leaving for Tatarstan on 9 June, Yeltsin met with rival presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed, but no details were released about their discussion. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

During his 9 June trip to Tatarstan, President Yeltsin sought to attract Muslim voters. While in Kazan, Yeltsin saluted the republic's efforts to rebuild a church and mosque in the Kazan Kremlin and said that a democratic republic would respect the religious beliefs of its people, ITAR-TASS reported. During his visit, Yeltsin wore a Muslim skull cap and promised to build a metro in the Tatar capital, AFP reported. Russia is estimated to have from 12 to 20 million Muslims. Yeltsin held up Tatarstan's willingness to sign a treaty with Moscow as an example for Chechnya. In 1991, Tatarstan declared its independence from Russia but negotiated an autonomy treaty with the federal government in 1994. The pro-government Our Home Is Russia won 29% in the republic in the December election, far better than the second place Communists, while the Islamic party NUR (light) won 5%. -- Robert Orttung

Continuing his pre-election hand-outs, President Yeltsin signed a series of decrees on 7 and 8 June increasing social benefits, ITAR-TASS reported. Shortly after ordering the transfer of 3.8 trillion rubles ($790 million) to the regions to pay for teachers' annual leave, Yeltsin on 7 June gave the government 20 days to submit a bill to the Duma that would give health and education specialists civil servant status and raise their salaries. He also issued a decree increasing benefits to those with garden plots. On 8 June, the president signed an edict giving residents of Russia's Far East the right to a 50% discount on rail or air fares to central regions once every two years. Finally, Yeltsin instructed the government to submit bills to the parliament within a month that would raise child allowances for single mothers and reduce the tax burden on families with many children. -- Penny Morvant

The secretary of the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) told the Duma on 7 June that the TsIK sees no reason to believe that President Yeltsin's campaign is violating the electoral law, ITAR-TASS reported. In particular, he said that a 100-page glossy photo album of the president, which the Yeltsin campaign is handing out, does not count as campaign material in the opinion of the TsIK's legal experts (OMRI Special Report: Russian Presidential Election Survey, 5 June 1996). TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov rejected an invitation from the deputies to participate in the Duma discussion, claiming that he had to attend a meeting of the TsIK. -- Robert Orttung

The Central Election Commission told the leaders of the Airborne Troops that their recent call on troops to vote for President Yeltsin was illegal, the Dow Jones News service reported on 7 June, citing AP. The deputy commander of the paratroops, Gen. Vladimir Kazantsev, claimed that the letter sent to all unit commanders only "recommended" to the troops that they vote for Yeltsin but did not "urge" them to do so. The commission demanded that the commander withdraw the letter. -- Doug Clarke

The attack on Valerii Shantsev, incumbent Yurii Luzhkov's running mate in the 16 June Moscow mayoral election, has prompted a flurry of accusations and counteraccusations. Shantsev was seriously injured in an explosion outside his apartment on 7 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. Luzhkov speculated that the attack was the work of "pro-communist forces." His aide claimed that it was aimed at disrupting the mayoral election. Luzhkov is favored to win, but he would be legally obliged to withdraw if Shantsev died, as he would not have time to reregister with another running mate. If Shantsev had died, the mayoral election would possibly have been cancelled, reducing turnout in the presidential poll in Moscow. The Communists, meanwhile, claimed that the attack was "the first in a series of planned provocations" engineered by their opponents and aimed at derailing the presidential election. -- Penny Morvant

Gazprom, the gas monopoly with close ties to the government, will soon buy shares in the independent television network NTV, Kommersant-Daily and The Moscow Times reported on 8 June. Currently, 77% of the network's shares are held by Vladimir Gusinskii's Most group, and NTV staff own the rest. Gusinskii will reportedly keep a controlling share in the network. NTV executives said Gazprom's investment will help launch five new satellite channels later this year and will not affect the network's editorial policy. NTV's news coverage in recent months has reflected a more pro-government slant than its coverage of last year's parliamentary campaign. The network's president, Igor Malashenko, joined President Yeltsin's campaign committee in March. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

The Duma on 7 June passed a resolution accusing Latvia and Estonia of "deliberately hindering" Russian citizens living there from participating in the upcoming Russian presidential election, ITAR-TASS and BNS reported. The resolution appealed to the OSCE and the Council of Europe, protesting Estonia and Latvia's refusal to open additional polling stations in areas where large numbers of Russian citizens. While estimates indicate that about 50,000 Russian citizens live in Latvia, and 90,000 in Estonia, only around 7,500 and 15,000, respectively, voted in the December 1995 Duma election. Russian officials blame the low turnout on the lack of polling stations. Estonia recently decided to permit a fourth polling station in a Tallinn suburb, and has offered to open more but Moscow has rejected Tallinn's conditions. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 June 1996). -- Scott Parrish

Viktor Posavlyuk wrapped up a three-day visit to Iran by holding talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velyati on 9 June, ITAR-TASS reported. In thinly-veiled criticism of the U.S., Posavlyuk criticized attempts by unnamed third countries to "isolate" Iran. Velyati and Posavlyuk jointly criticized NATO expansion, and said their positions on the disputed issue of Caspian Sea mineral rights were "similar." But Posavlyuk admitted that discussions on the ongoing Tajik conflict "were not simple," and added that he had tried to convince his Iranian interlocutors that "there is no alternative" to the Middle East peace process, which Tehran opposes. The next stop on Posavlyuk's regional tour is Baghdad. -- Scott Parrish

Volker Ruehe said that NATO does not plan to station nuclear weapons or foreign troops near Russia's borders when it expands into Central Europe, Reuters reported on 8 June. In an interview to appear in Germany's Focus magazine on 10 June, he was quoted as saying that NATO does not want to "position nuclear weapons differently or station foreign troops on Poland's eastern border." He stressed, however, that new members would have to be "integrated militarily" and would have the same rights and duties as all other NATO members. -- Doug Clarke

The IMF has expressed its concern over the Duma's decision last week to transfer 5 trillion rubles ($1 billion) of the Central Bank's 1994 profits to the federal budget (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 June 1996), AFP and Reuters reported on 7 June. An IMF spokesman said the move does not technically violate the conditions of its $10.1 billion Extended Facility Fund loan. However, by increasing the money supply it is likely to spur inflation, which hit an all time low of 1.6% in May. The IMF called upon the Central Bank to offset the inflationary impact by selling government bonds on the open market. The IMF acknowledged that the Russian government is facing budgetary problems but urged it to take steps to improve tax collection. -- Natalia Gurushina

The State Duma on 7 June discussed the report of its commission investigating the privatization of Norilsk Nickel last year, ITAR-TASS reported. The Duma passed a resolution urging the government to hold onto the state's shares and to take steps to deal with Norilsk's debt problems. The Duma also created a new commission to examine the situation at several privatized firms, including the oil company YUKOS, gold producer Lenzoloto, and chemical giant Apatity. The Moscow Arbitration Court on 4 June annulled the results of last December's Sibneft loan-share auction. However, as Nezavisi-maya gazeta pointed out on 7 June, the Communists have been strangely silent on the privatization issue, and have not tried to use it in their election campaign. -- Peter Rutland

The Union of Cossacks of Georgia has sent a letter to President Yeltsin and his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, protesting reprisals by Abkhaz separatist elements against ethnic Russians in Abkhazia and calling for measures to protect them, according to Georgia's Kontakt News Agency on 6 June and Radio Rossii on 7 June. The Russian population of Abkhazia numbers between 70,000 and 80,000 people. -- Liz Fuller

Government forces are closing in on the town of Tavil-Dara, which has been in rebel hands since early May, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 June. In a two-pronged attack, government troops have pushed to Chil-Dara, about 25 km west of Tavil-Dara, and have occupied Kalai-Khussein, 20 km east of Tavil-Dara. The opposition Voice of Free Tajikistan reported on 8 June that almost 60 government soldiers were killed in the drives, the government confirmed five dead but gave no casualty figures for the opposition. Meanwhile, in the town of Obigarm, 80 km east of Dushanbe, opposition fighters attacked a checkpoint on 8 June; one government soldier was killed and four wounded before the rebels fled, leaving seven of their own dead, AFP reported. -- Bruce Pannier

A Kazakhstani court on 7 June approved a postponement of the litigation case against the newspaper Komsomolskaya pravda, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported the same day. The paper's editors had claimed that due to a heavy workload surrounding the upcoming Russian election, they would be unable to send a representative to court until after 16 June. The court has now set the trial for 21 June. The paper was banned in Kazakhstan after it printed an article by Nobel Prize winning writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on 23 April in which he argued that parts of Kazakhstan naturally and historically belong to Russia. Eleven members of the Kazakhstani Writers' Union filed a suit against the paper, saying the article was an infringement on "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state." -- Bruce Pannier

The presidents of Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine met in Lancut, southeastern Poland, on 7-8 June to discuss European integration. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said expanding the EU and NATO should be a natural move crowning the integration process that started after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, specially invited to the meeting by Kwasniewski, stressed that a new European security system should not exclude Russia. The meeting was the fourth of its kind; the first one was in July 1993, in Salzburg, and the next will take place in Slovenia in 1997. -- Jakub Karpinski

Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and Metropolitan Inokentiy of Sofia from the breakaway Bulgarian Orthodox Church, announced on 8 June that the two breakaway churches have recognized each other, Radio Ukraine reported. The hierarchs took part in a special religious service at St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Kyiv. Neither church is recognized by any of the Orthodox ecumenical patriarchs. Meanwhile, Patriarch Maksim of the official Bulgarian Orthodox Church concluded a visit to Kyiv that featured meetings with Patriarch Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Kuras, Ukrainian TV reported on 7 June. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

The U.S. promised Belarus an additional $12.9 million in aid for strategic disarmament, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 June. The money raises the total sum allocated to Belarus under the Nunn-Lugar program to $28.9 million. It will be used to dismantle missile infrastructure and destroy liquid rocket fuel. In all, the U.S. has promised $123 million in aid to Belarus to eliminate nuclear weapons. Also on 7 June, the Belarusian parliament ratified an agreement with Russia on legal exchanges over issues related to the stationing of Russian strategic forces on Belarusian soil. Russian public television reported that 150 temporary barracks--environmentally "clean" and radiation-free--have been handed over to Belarus. -- Ustina Markus

The Prosecutor General's Office has endorsed formal criminal charges against the former chief of the Estonian army Central Staff Col. Arvo Sirel, BNS reported on 7 June. He is charged with negligence and faces a maximum term of one year
in prison if found guilty. Sirel is accused of failing to exercise proper control over some of his staff's official purchases of weapons. Last fall Estonia bought 1,309
guns as well as ammunition
from the Finnish company Ultramatic Oy. Some of the weaponry was then sold to private individuals on the premises of the Central Staff. -- Saulius Girnius

Prison Department's Coordination Center head Vitolds Zahars said that Latvia with 357 convicts per 100,000 residents ranks fifth in the world in per capita prison population, BNS reported on 7 June. The four countries with higher rates are the U.S., Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The maintenance of one prisoner costs Latvia 2.4 lati ($4.3) per day. -- Saulius Girnius

Some of Lithuania's bankrupt banks have begun paying out compensations to their depositors, BNS reported. No bank complied with the 4 June deadline set by the government, but six of the nine were paying out compensations up to 4,000 litai ($1,000) to disabled people, single pensioners, and heirs of deceased depositors two days later. Compensations to other groups of depositors will begin on 6 August and 17 September. The three banks that are not paying compensations are the Lietuvos Verslas, Sekunde, and Nida, which are moving to new headquarters. -- Saulius Girnius

The Gdansk shipyard's shareholders voted on 8 June to stop the shipyard's activity, Polish dailies reported on 10 June. A motion to declare the company bankrupt will be deposited in court in two weeks. The shipyard, called the cradle of Solidarity, was the scene of the August 1980 strike that led to the creation of the Solidarity trade union, which had nearly 10 million members by 1981. The bankruptcy motion was approved by 79 percent of the shareholders, but small shareholders, comprising large numbers of company employees, were overwhelmingly opposed. The Polish state controls a 61 percent share in the shipyard. The bankruptcy motion cited a lack of financial resources to cover the company's debts for last year, totaling $31.7 million. A new company, the New Gdansk Shipyard, will be created for one year and will employ 3,000 people, half the current number of employees. -- Jakub Karpinski

Police Vice President Anton Manak claimed during a 9 June TV debate that investigations into the explosion of Robert Remias's car in April have shown that the cause was "clearly a technical defect." Remias, an ex-policeman, was a close friend of former Slovak Information Service agent Oskar F., who said he participated in the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son. Manak claimed that Remias did not have a "clean conscience; he moved in criminal surroundings and committed crimes." Meanwhile, the opposition has rejected such assertions and has claimed that Remias was the victim of "a political murder." Jozef Ciz, investigator of the Kovac Jr. kidnapping, said Remias told him that he was being followed; however, he rejected protection since he would not be able to meet Oskar F., who is hiding abroad. -- Sharon Fisher

Meeting on 7 June, Slovak opposition parties called for representation on the bodies overseeing the Slovak Information Service, TV, radio, and the National Property Fund (FNM), TASR reported. Although his party did not attend the meeting, Party of the Democratic Left Chairman Jozef Migas said that if deciding between early elections and entrance into the current government, "we would choose early elections," Narodna obroda reported on 10 June. Slovak National Party chairman Jan Slota told Sme that his party--a junior coalition partner--wants to become "a mediator...between opposition and coalition parties with the aim of calming current tensions." Meanwhile, Olga Keltosova of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia said her party hopes to win the 1998 elections so that "it will not need coalition partners." In other news, the opposition Democratic Union and the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement on 7 June gained full membership in Liberal International. -- Sharon Fisher

Prime Minister Gyula Horn said during a weekend political forum that Hungarians should decide in a referendum whether to restore the death penalty, Hungarian dailies reported on 10 June. Horn added he would vote "yes" on such a referendum. The statement, clearly aiming to restore Horn's popularity among workers, surprised Justice Minister Pal Vastagh, who responded that a popular vote on the issue would not be possible without a ruling by Hungary's Constitutional Court. Restoration of the death penalty would violate several international agreements and cause Hungary to lose its membership in the Council of Europe, Vastagh added. Lawyers later commented that Hungarian law does not provide for referenda on issues regulated by international agreements. Public debate over the death penalty has intensified recently as crime and mafia operations have increased. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

President Arpad Goncz on 6 June unveiled Hungary's first public statue of former Premier Imre Nagy, who led the 1956 uprising against the Soviets and was executed by collaborators after the uprising was crushed, Hungarian dailies reported. Thousands of spectators, including leading politicians, attended the ceremony, which marks the 100th anniversary of Nagy's birth. The life-size bronze statue was unveiled on Vertanuk [Martyrs'] Square in central Budapest, one of the bloodiest scenes of the uprising. Meanwhile, there is talk between Hungarian and Russian officials on possibly naming a Moscow street after Nagy. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

Leading officials of the Serbian Orthodox Church visited Mostar on 7 June and held a service in the ruined church building to launch its reconstruction, Onasa reported. Bishop Atanasije Jevtic thanked the Muslim mayor of eastern Mostar, Safet Orucevic, for everything going smoothly. The bishop said that his visit could mark the beginning of the return of Mostar's Serbs, most of whom live nearby in eastern Herzegovina. Jevtic added that the church does not have much influence on the Serbs, but he hoped that "reasonable people" would prevail. Oslobodjenje commented on 9 June, however, that the church has been a staunch backer of Serbian nationalism and has not sufficiently distanced itself from war crimes. -- Patrick Moore

President Alija Izetbegovic on 8 June addressed a rally to mark the capture of Zuc hill during the war. He linked the return of Serbs to Sarajevo with that of Muslims to their homes in eastern Bosnia. "We need our expelled citizens to return to their homes so that Bosnia can be Bosnia again. In order to have [Muslims] returning to Podrinje [the Drina valley] Serbs must return to Sarajevo too. Not Chetniks [Serb extremists], but Serbs. I can put this in the opposite order too. In order to have the Serbs returning to Sarajevo--something they have been asking for--the [Muslims] must return to Foca, Visegrad, Rogatica, Prijedor," AFP quoted him as saying. To date, few, if any, refugees have returned to their homes in territories under the control of another ethnic group. -- Patrick Moore

British UN peacekeepers testified to the international war crimes tribunal that they were tortured by Serb captors last year, the BBC reported on 9 June. In Vienna, the Bosnian government said it is working on a solution to the impasse that is blocking the signing of the arms control agreement, which is required by the Dayton agreement and was concluded last week. The Serbs insist on signing separately, while the government demands that they sign as part of the Bosnian delegation, AFP reported on 9 June. Dayton specifies that foreign relations are the responsibility of the national government, but the Serbs want to be treated as an independent state. -- Patrick Moore

Slobodan Milosevic, in an interview with Der Spiegel published on 10 June, responded to mounting international calls for his help in apprehending accused war criminals by questioning the impartiality of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Reuters on 8 June quoted him as saying: "I do not believe that this tribunal is an institution for defamation, but it is completely clear from its public conduct up to now that it is a political and not a legal institution....Justice can only be done when the same standards apply for all. Unfortunately, the work of the tribunal in The Hague has until now offered no basis for such an impression." -- Stan Markotich

Negotiations began between the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) and the opposition Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), Croatian media reported over the weekend. The HSLS presented on 9 June a list of their requests, including a change in the constitution concerning the powers of the parliament, government, and president, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 10 June. HSLS also requests a fulfillment of commitments towards the Council of Europe, some short-term and momentary measures, and changes in media policy and staff. Leaders from other parties expressed disappointment that they were not informed of the negotiations. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Croatian police on 8 June arrested Zlatko Aleksovski, who has been indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia for allegedly participating in a massacre of Muslims in the Bosnian village of Ahmici in November 1993, AFP reported. The Croatian Justice Ministry said Aleksovski would be "treated in accordance with Croatian law and with the war crimes tribunal's demand for extradition." Aleksovski is kept in custody in the Croatian port town of Slit and will be dealt with according to the amended law which allows the extradition to The Hague of those wanted for war crimes. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Results of local elections held on 2 June do not provide conclusive evidence as to what is likely to happen in the parliamentary elections scheduled for 3 November. The main coalition formation, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) won most of the votes for mayor (21.8%) and was first in the ballot for local councils (19.1%). But in the ballot for county councils, considered a more accurate gauge of electoral trends at national level, the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) scored higher (17.8%) than the PDSR (16.9%). An alliance of the democratic opposition headed by the CDR would, according to these results, have a larger share of the vote (43.4%) than the PDSR and its prospective allies in the already disbanded "red quadrangle" coalition (31,8%). Meanwhile, President Ion Iliescu has given his approval to the PDSR to start gathering the necessary 100,000 signatures of support for his candidacy for president, although he has not officially announced that he will run, Radio Bucharest reported on 8 June. -- Michael Shafir

The fifth congress of the Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD), which supports reunification with Romania, reiterated this option on 10 June, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. The FPCD said it wanted reunification to follow the German or "other peaceful" model and added that it was the only political formation in Moldova to pursue the country's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. The party deferred a decision on which candidate to support in the presidential election scheduled for November. -- Michael Shafir

An extended plenary meeting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 9 June decided on structural and personnel changes in Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's government, which the parliament approved the next day, Bulgarian media reported. Montana region Governor Krastyu Trendafilov took over the Agriculture Ministry from Svetoslav Shivarov, who stays on as deputy premier. Deputy Education Minister Lyubomir Dachev replaced Kliment Vuchev as industry minister. The state Energy Committee was transformed into a ministry under its present Deputy Chairman Rumen Ovcharov. Ivan Marazov took over the Culture Ministry from Georgi Kostov. A proposal by Videnov to close down the Ministry of Economic Development headed by Rumen Gechev, who is also deputy prime minister, was voted down. According to Demokratsiya, Videnov's concrete proposals--aimed at getting his government out of its grave crisis--took both the party leadership and the BSP's coalition partners by surprise. -- Stefan Krause

Days before the ruling BSP plenary meeting, about 1 million people took to the streets on 7 June to protests the government's economic and social policy, Reuters and Trud reported. Protest meetings took place in many towns, and workers went on warning strikes throughout the country, demanding salary increases and the government's resignation. The government last month announced strict austerity measures and price and tax hikes agreed on with the IMF. Incidents were reported between police, opposition deputies, and taxi drivers, when the latter staged a demonstration outside the parliament building and tried to pass police-guarded fences put up by order of Parliament President Blagovest Sendov. In other news, former Tsar Simeon II on 9 June visited Plovdiv, where he was enthusiastically welcomed by some 200,000 people. -- Stefan Krause

Sali Berisha has decreed that the parliamentary elections be held again in 17 out of 115 electoral districts, Reuters reported on 8 June. Berisha said the new voting would take place on 16 June and called on all political parties to participate. The Central Electoral Commission had earlier acknowledged that "serious irregularities influenced the final result of the voting" in the 17 districts. The U.S. and the EU had advised the government earlier to redo elections in an unspecified number of districts. Meanwhile, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and the Albanian Helsinki Committee called on the Albanian government, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the United Nations to declare the elections invalid and said that human rights had been violated before, during, and after the polls on 26 May. -- Fabian Schmidt

The Socialists, the Social Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance said they would boycott the re-run and demanded full new elections with international monitoring. Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka said: "We are absolutely not interested in this type of election," and Socialist leader Servet Pellumbi added that the "opposition cannot be included in such kinds of ploys," pointing out that "the decree was a challenge to the EU, U.S. and the OSCE, because all of them are waiting for the OSCE's final report on the elections." Social Democrat leader Skender Gjinushi said: "We cannot accept a partial re-run if there is no general recognition of all the violations. Berisha's decree is not the solution. This is the president's ploy to hide (the manipulations) from the world," Reuters reported. The Socialists say they have prepared evidence of irregularities and manipulation in 107 districts. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Susan Caskie