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Newsline - September 17, 1996

President Boris Yeltsin will stay in the hospital for the next two days to undergo tests before his heart operation, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 17 September. The same day Moskovskii komsomolets considered a variety of possible scenarios if Yeltsin cannot finish his term. The paper considers Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Communist party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, and Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed the most likely candidates to succeed Yeltsin, with Minister for CIS Affairs Aman Tuleev, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais also possible contenders. -- Robert Orttung

The military newspaper Krasnaya zvezda on 17 September blasted the federal authorities for doing nothing to advance the Chechnya peace process while the separatist rebels are forming "parallel power structures," setting up their own coalition government, regrouping, and positioning themselves to influence events in the republic. The paper accused the separatists of ignoring many of the provisions laid out in the treaties they have signed, including the release of POWs. Only the decision made by the commander of federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, to halt the exit of Russian troops made the rebels turn over 27 prisoners on 16 September, the paper claimed. -- Robert Orttung

Chechen separatist Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov told NTV on 16 September that he had already signed four agreements with the federal authorities and that as soon as he started to believe peace was possible, the policy of the Russian government sharply changed. He said that he believed that Moscow was using the dispute over POWs to restart military activities. Maskhadov said that he trusted Lebed, but believed that he alone on the Russian side was working for peace. -- Robert Orttung

Moscow is trying to take control of the coalition government formation process in Chechnya while the rebels are unilaterally filling it with their supporters. Lebed and Chernomyrdin apparently decided on 16 September that Lebed, rather than the prime minister, could approve the members of the new coalition government set up to rule Chechnya, NTV reported. Reports from the previous day said that Chernomyrdin would have the final word. Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev said that it was premature to begin speaking of a coalition government in the republic. Chernomyrdin canceled their meeting scheduled for the 16th, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung

Duma deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia have collected only about one-third of the 90 signatures they would need to appeal to the Constitutional Court against the Lebed-Maskhadov agreement, Izvestiya reported on 17 September. They had protested that Lebed exceeded his authority in signing the document and that the agreement left key questions concerning Chechnya's status unanswered (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 September 1996). A few deputies from the Communist Party, the left-wing Popular Power faction, and Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko have signed the appeal, but Izvestiya noted that Zhirinovsky himself has ignored his subordinates' initiative. -- Laura Belin

Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin rejected a request from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly that the Russian delegation reconsider its decision to boycott planned hearings on Chechnya in Strasbourg, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 16 September. Lukin stood by his earlier statements that the hearings would represent interference in Russia's internal affairs and could undermine the peace process in Chechnya. The council has invited Chechen Chief of Staff Maskhadov and Security Council Secretary Lebed to the hearings, but not pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev. -- Laura Belin

The Communist Party (KPRF) faction in the State Duma will take steps to ensure that laws are better enforced and that lawbreakers--for instance, those responsible for not paying wages or pensions--are held criminally accountable, KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov told Sovetskaya Rossiya in an interview published on 14 September. He added that opposition deputies will form a shadow cabinet. Zyuganov charged that the mass media "has turned into a means of psychological war and destruction" seeking to further its own interests, "far from the interests of the state and its citizens," and said the Duma will ask major television networks to give the opposition time to air its views. Zyuganov's statements reflect his party's strategy to gain a reputation as a "constructive" rather than an "irreconcilable" opposition. Rhetoric depicting the KPRF as dangerous and extremist proved a potent weapon against Zyuganov in the recent presidential election. -- Laura Belin

Security Council Secretary Lebed confirmed that he will accept an invitation to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels this October, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. "Why not talk with NATO representatives about the organization's plans?" he observed. He said he planned to "caution" NATO representatives against eastward expansion, although he characterized Russia as too weak to prevent the alliance from accepting new members. Lebed has never traveled outside the former Soviet Union, except during his military service in Afghanistan during the 1980s. -- Laura Belin

Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov issued a statement calling the first post-war elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina a "very important step" toward "normalizing the lives of all peoples" in the region, advancing the peace process, and promoting social and economic revival, Russian and Western agencies reported on 16 September. Central Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov, who traveled to Bosnia as an election observer, told ITAR-TASS on 17 September that he believed the elections to be generally "democratic and free" despite violations reported in certain areas. -- Laura Belin

A lone hijacker held dozens of people hostage on a bus in Dagestan on 16 September before releasing them unharmed and fleeing, Russian and Western agencies reported. The man seized the bus in the early evening; about an hour later he fled with three hostages and a Dagestan Duma deputy who had offered himself as a substitute. According to some reports, the man released the remaining hostages near Khasavyurt and crossed into Chechnya with about $10,000. Others said he might be in hiding in Dagestan. The hijacking was the latest in a series of such incidents in the north Caucasus in recent years. -- Penny Morvant

A group of pensioners rallied in Kostroma on 16 September to protest the failure to pay their pensions on time, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public Television (ORT) reported. Headed by members of the local communist party organization, about 1,500 pensioners, who have still not received their August money, gathered at the local administration building to present a petition to Governor Valerii Arbuzov demanding their due. A group of demonstrators then blocked traffic on a bridge across the Volga, paralyzing the only road link across the river from Yaroslavl to Nizhnii Novgorod. The indebtedness of Russia's Pension Fund has prompted several similar protests by pensioners in oblasts along the Volga. -- Penny Morvant

Yevgenii Nazdratenko sent an open letter on 16 September to the Primorskii Krai Duma asking it to cancel plans for a regional referendum on 22 September on confidence in the governor, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. Nazdratenko said he felt the referendum was unnecessary as solutions have been worked out with the federal government to improve the situation in the region's fuel and energy sector. Radio Rossii reported on 16 September that the krai Duma is scheduled to meet on 18 September to discuss the projected plebiscite and is expected to cancel it. Also on 18 September Nazdratenko will present a final report to the presidential administration on the situation in the energy sector. A decree issued by President Yeltsin on 14 August expressed doubt about Nazdratenko's competence and gave him a month to stabilize the situation. ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September that Nazdratenko has agreed emergency measures with Fuel and Energy Minister Petr Rodionov. The strike of some 10,000 Dalenergo workers, however, is continuing. -- Penny Morvant

The State Tax Agency will carry out a large-scale inspection of Russian commercial banks over the next month in order to unearth concealed profits and boost tax collection, Kommersant-Daily reported on 17 September. According to a report in Kommersant-Daily on 14 September, one-quarter of Russian banks have broken existing tax legislation. One-third of banks carried out payments from clients' accounts with delays stretching from 10 to 60 days. The volume of delayed payments to the federal budget now totals 1.2 trillion rubles ($223 million). -- Natalia Gurushina

Russia's GDP and industrial output fell by 6% and 5%, respectively, in the first eight months of 1996 compared with the same period last year, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September. A substantial reduction in output was recorded in light industry, the production of construction materials, car manufacture, metallurgy, the fuel and energy industry, and the production of meat and vodka. At the same time, there were increases in gas extraction and the production of some foodstuffs. Meanwhile, an IMF working group is currently in Moscow to assess the performance of the Russian economy and give its recommendations on the disbursement of the sixth tranche of a $10.1 billion extended fund facility. Russia has just received the August tranche of the loan ($350 million). -- Natalia Gurushina

Armenian presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan, during a 15 September interview in Yerevan, characterized the 22 September presidential election as a choice between alternative approaches to building democracy and the transition to a market economy, and dismissed the Armenian communists as a "spent force." While admitting Armenia's economic collapse was connected to the collapse of the USSR, the blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan, and the war in Karabakh, Manukyan harshly criticized the economic policies of the present leadership, slamming in particular its "illiterate" privatization policy. Manukyan's campaign program focuses on the reconstruction of the industrial sector, reform of the tax system, eradicating corruption and introducing social benefits for the most vulnerable sectors of the population. The first point of Manukyan's program is a pledge to achieve international recognition of the independent status of Nagorno-Karabakh by means of peaceful negotiations, although he conceded that this will be a protracted process. Manukyan is increasingly viewed as a serious threat to incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan. -- Liz Fuller in Yerevan (monitoring the presidential election for the European Institute for Media)

The World Bank on 12 September announced in a news release it will loan $5 million to Turkey's oil and gas transmission company Botas to undertake a feasibility study and environmental audit of several route options for exporting up to 45 million metric tons of crude oil per year from Azerbaijan and Central Asia. It appears routing options beginning in Baku and transiting Armenia or Georgia to Ceyhan will be evaluated. According to the news release, World Bank assistance for the study does not imply a commitment to further finance the pipeline as it is expected to be built and financed by the private sector. -- Lowell Bezanis

A rash of new appointments was made in the Kazakstani government and presidential apparatus on 17 September, RFE/RL reported the same day. Former Finance Minister Aleksander Pavlov was named Deputy Prime Minister, Nurtay Abykhayev is now senior aide to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, while Alikhan Baymenov has been made deputy director of the presidential administration. -- Lowell Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan

Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliyev signed a treaty outlining the basic principles governing relations between their countries, a joint statement on the Caspian Sea, and 10 inter-governmental agreements in Baku on 16 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. The statement on the Caspian Sea calls for its demilitarization and the need to intensify negotiations between littoral states to determine the sea's legal status, ITAR-TASS reported. While in Baku, Nazarbayev expressed an interest in Kazakstan's participating in a prospective Transcaucasian railway line which Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia have agreed to build. -- Lowell Bezanis

The presidents of Tajikistan and China, Immomali Rakhmonov and Jiang Zemin, signed a series of bilateral cooperation agreements in Beijing on 16 September, AFP reported. The accords appear to be mainly symbolic and include one on environmental protection and academic exchanges, and another on judicial cooperation. -- Lowell Bezanis

Leonid Kuchma announced on Ukrainian television on 16 September that he will seek a second five-year term in the next elections scheduled for October 1999, Western agencies reported. He explained his decision by noting that world experience indicated that "ten years is the minimum period for a country that has started radical reforms to see results." The constitution that was passed this June limits the president to two consecutive terms. -- Saulius Girnius

President of the North Atlantic Assembly Karsten Voigt said in Kyiv on 16 September that "Ukraine has the chance to establish a special partnership status with NATO," Western agencies reported. While Voigt did not define the "special" status, he said it would not jeopardize Ukrainian ties with Russia. Ukrainian officials have maintained that the country has no interest in full NATO membership, but it has participated actively in the Partnership for Peace program. -- Saulius Girnius

U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Lawrence Taylor read a letter from President Bill Clinton in Tallinn on 16 September at ceremonies officially ending U.S. Agency for International Development assistance to the country, Western agencies reported. Since 1991 Estonia has received about $30 million for projects supporting the reestablishment of democracy and promoting economic reform and environmental protection. President Lennart Meri and Prime Minister Tiit Vahi expressed thanks for the aid and satisfaction that Estonia is the first East European country considered to have advanced to the point that it no longer needs assistance to create a free market economy. -- Saulius Girnius

Only four of the 33 eligible political parties and organizations failed to register their candidates with the Supreme Election Commission for the 20 October parliament elections by the deadline of midnight of 16 September, Radio Lithuania reported. The Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees unexpectedly decided not to join a planned coalition with the Democratic Party and National Union, but those two parties nevertheless formed the only formal pre-election coalition. Some 1,400 candidates have been registered to compete for the 141 parliament seats. If the presented lists of at least 1,000 eligible voters are approved, there will also be more than 30 independent candidates. Following confirmation of the applications, ballot lists are scheduled to be printed in the state newspaper Valstybes zinios on 20 September. -- Saulius Girnius

The pilot issue of the new Warsaw daily Zycie (Life) appeared on 16 September. Tomasz Wolek, Zycie editor in chief, said a large group of potential readers looking for a traditional, bourgeois, and conservative paper, still does not have a journal; Zycie is to fill this gap. The paper is to be published by a Polish-German company owned by Wolek and two businessmen. The company has raised nearly $10 million to cover publishing costs. Wolek was until May the editor in chief of Zycie Warszawy. He and other Zycie editors left Zycie Warszawy when the paper changed ownership and the editorial policies. The first regular issue of Zycie is scheduled to appear on 28 September. -- Jakub Karpinski

Vaclav Havel arrived in Brazil on 15 September for a week-long official visit, Czech and international media reported. The tour of Brazil is to be followed by visits to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. On 16 September, Havel met Brazilian President Henrique Cardoso. The two politicians discussed bilateral economic ties and global issues, such as the reform of the United Nations. Havel is accompanied by Trade Minister Vladimir Dlouhy and a group of Czech entrepreneurs. Dlouhy told reporters that the Czech company Skoda was considering building a truck factory in Brazil. -- Jiri Pehe

The Czech National Bank announced on 16 September that the country's largest private bank, Agrobanka, "has suffered money-flow problems as a result of the recent collapse of Kreditni Banka," and that the National Bank is temporarily naming its own administrator to take over the bank, Czech media reported. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, admitted the same day that "not everything is in order in our banking sector" and demanded investigation into criminal activities. At the same time, Klaus condemned "some political parties" for trying to make political capital out of the crisis and said there is "no reason for panic." Also on 16 September, the financial group Motoinvest, whose officials have been charged with crimes related to the collapse of Kreditni Banka, accused an official of the coalition Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) of accepting kickbacks from the bank and being partly responsible for its collapse. The ODA has promptly rejected the charges. According to Business Central Europe, Motoinvest is a major shareholder in Agrobanka. -- Jiri Pehe

The economic ministers of the Czech government recommended at their 16 September meeting that energy prices be gradually freed over the next two years, Czech media reported. At the same time, the ministers agreed that families with lower incomes need to be compensated for the higher energy prices. Czech Labor Minister Jindrich Vodicka said the higher energy prices will also be reflected in increases in pensions. Energy prices have been subsidized by the state, and the cost of producing energy is currently higher than its sale price. The opposition Social Democrats have said they are not against freeing energy prices but want first to study the possible impact of the measure. -- Jiri Pehe

In a report released on 16 September, the OECD says that the quick economic growth of Slovakia has astonished many analysts, Slovak and international media reported. Slovakia recorded one of the best macroeconomic performances among Central and East European countries. The country's gross domestic product grew by 7.4% in 1995. The inflation rate, which stood at 25.1% at the end of 1993, was reduced to 6.1% by May 1996. State budget and current account balances recorded surpluses in 1995. The unemployment rate peaked at the beginning of 1995, with 15%, but fell to 11.9% by May 1996. The report focuses on the need to restructure the banking sector and privatized companies. It also deals extensively with Slovakia's potential for expanding its tourist industry. -- Jiri Pehe

The six-party agreement within the Hungarian parliament's constitution committee that has facilitated the drafting of a new constitution may be breaking down, Nepszabadsag reported on 17 September. Deputies from the opposition Christian Democratic Party are threatening to boycott constitution committee sessions unless their demands for a plebiscite on the basic rules of the constitution are accepted. Socialist Party deputy Mihaly Bihari told Nepszabadsag that the Christian Democrats' stand can only be interpreted as a putsch against the six-party agreement on constitutional reform. Although the draft constitution has been amended frequently since 1989, Hungary is still working with the 1949 constitution set up by the communist regime. -- Petronella Gaal and Ben Slay

President Alija Izetbegovic is ahead of his top challenger for the Muslim seat on the Bosnian presidency, Haris Silajdzic, by 81% to 15%, OMRI's special correspondent reported from Sarajevo on 17 September. In the Serb race, Momcilo Krajisnik has 78%, but his opposition challenger Mladen Ivanic has 20%, a remarkably strong showing given the hold of the governing Serbian Democratic Party on the police and the media. A similar development is taking place among the Croats, where Kresimir Zubak is polling only 85% despite his Croatian Democratic Community's virtual monopoly on Croatian political life. His opponent, Ivo Komsic, has 13% support as of 9:00 a.m. Izetbegovic narrowly leads Krajisnik in total number of votes, which puts him in line to be the first to hold the rotating chair of three-man presidency, Reuters noted. CNN said that final presidential returns are expected later in the day. The complete tally for all contests is not due until later this week. -- Patrick Moore

Despite the challenges offered by Silajdzic, Ivanic, and Komsic, it seems clear that the three nationalist candidates will sweep the race. Similar results can be expected across the board, except perhaps for isolated cases such as Tuzla, where the anti-nationalist tradition is strong. U.S. envoy John Kornblum is now stressing the need to build common institutions, but it is difficult to see how this will happen with nationalists in control of all three groups. OMRI's special correspondent reported from Sarajevo on 17 September that the Bihac pocket kingpin and enemy of Izetbegovic, Fikret Abdic, attracted few votes in his presidential challenge. In Muslim-held Bugojno, experts said that the bomb that blew up the home of a prominent Croat on 13 September was the work of a professional, Onasa reported on 16 September. -- Patrick Moore

French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette confirmed on 16 September that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Serbian counterpart Slobodan Milosevic would meet in Paris this week, AFP reported. The summit will be the first bilateral meeting between the two presidents, although they have met at several international conferences on Bosnia. Despite an earlier visit to Belgrade by Ejup Ganic, the Bosnian Federation vice president, after which communication lines between the two countries were reestablished, Belgrade has yet not formally recognized the Sarajevo government. Belgrade warned it would not establish diplomatic ties with Bosnia until Bosnia dropped a charge of genocide filed against rump Yugoslavia with the Hague-based criminal tribunal. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Aleksa Buha, head of the Bosnian Serb ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), on Serbian TV expressed worry about the location of future common governmental institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and said that equality must prevail, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported on 17 September. "There was plenty of time for [the international community's high representative] Carl Bildt and
[deputy high representative] Michael Steiner to find premises on the demarcation line between the Bosnian Federation and the Republika Srpska, or even to build new buildings [along that line]. I foresee further problems regarding this issue," Oslobodjenje quoted him as saying. Buha called the postponement of municipal elections in Bosnia an irrational decision. -- Daria Sito Sucic

About 20,000 workers, including those from the Zastava arms plant and the local automobile manufacturer, and their supporters demonstrated in Kragujevac on 16 September, the 21st day of the strike, Nasa Borba reported the following day. The job action shows no sign of letting up, and some participants predict that "the entire city of Kragujevac will hit the streets" within a day. On 14 September, however, Beta had reported that the workers had met with a partial success in having received an "advance" payment for July wages in arrears. Kragujevac Zastava autoworkers also received the promise of a 120 dinar ($24) bonus, Beta reported. -- Stan Markotich

According to a recent poll of 1,045 citizens of rump Yugoslavia, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic remains by far the most popular politician in the country. Nearly 46% of respondents picked Milosevic as the most popular and effective politician, while Montenegrin opposition leader Novak Killibarda came in second with 12.4%. Ultranationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj
and Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic tied for third, each garnering the approval of about 9.5% of survey participants. In Serbia proper, Milosevic was supported by 54.2% of respondents, with Seselj coming in a distant second with 12.45 support. Vecernje novosti reported the poll results on 14 September. -- Stan Markotich

The Romanian and Hungarian prime ministers, Nicolae Vacaroiu and Gyula Horn, on 16 September signed a basic bilateral treaty that is aimed at controlling the two countries' historic rivalry over the province of Transylvania, local and Western media reported. The document was signed in the western Romanian town of Timisoara, the cradle of the December 1989 revolt that marked the end of the Communist regime in Romania. Romanian President Ion Iliescu, as well as the foreign ministers and political leaders from both countries, attended the ceremony. Romania's two main ultra-nationalist parties, the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) and the Greater Romania Party, boycotted the event. PUNR leader Gheorghe Funar, who is also mayor of Cluj, proclaimed 16 September a "day of mourning" there. -- Dan Ionescu

The United States on 16 September congratulated the Romanian and Hungarian governments for their signing of the basic treaty on that day, Reuters reported. According to State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, the treaty "demonstrates the commitment of Hungary and Romania to rejoin the Western community of democratic nations and is consistent with the purposes of NATO enlargement." The treaty drew a cooler response from Moscow, AFP reported on 17 September. Although a Foreign Ministry statement did offer some words of praise, it also said: "Russia's attitude to enlargement of NATO eastward is well known in Hungary and Romania, as is the belief that our relations would only gain if this attitude were taken more fully into account." -- Ben Slay

Corneliu Vadim Tudor, chairman of the extremist Greater Romania Party, on 16 September registered as candidate in the presidential race to take place on 3 November, Radio Bucharest reported. Tudor, who was accompanied by 40 associates and fans, presented a list with 125,000 signatures in support of his candidacy. Tudor pledged that if he is elected, he will rule Romania with "the Bible in one hand and the constitution in the other." He also said that he wished Romania to get back "its natural borders, [as they were set] on 1 December 1918." Tudor is the seventh candidate to formally register with the authorities. -- Dan Ionescu

Expert teams from the Republic of Moldova and the self-declared Dniester Moldovan Republic met on 16 September in Tiraspol to continue negotiations over the Dniester region's legal status within the Moldovan state, BASA-press reported. The meeting was the first since June, when talks broke down following a chill in Chisinau-Tiraspol relations. Moldovan Deputy Foreign Minister Vasile Sova told journalists that another meeting might follow soon, with the participation of mediators from the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine. The main stumbling block in the negotiations appears to be Tiraspol's insistence that Moldova recognize its distinct statehood within the framework of a loose confederation. -- Dan Ionescu

Bulgarian local and national government leaders and leaders of the parliamentary Democratic Left held a closed meeting on 15 September, Bulgarian newspapers reported the next day. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said the meeting's aim was to introduce the government's strategy for overcoming the national economic crisis, 24 Chasa reported. Some 14 banks will close, and some may be put under special governmental supervision, Demokratsiya reported. Depositor insurance is currently 100% for private persons and 50% for enterprises; the new insurance reportedly will not exceed 20% in cash repayments for any account, but depositors may expect 100% repayment in government bonds. Pari on 17 September reported that the meeting also addressed privatizing state firms, including those no longer needed for military production. The Bulgarian government vowed to take drastic measures following the IMF refusal of additional loans. -- Maria Koinova

A Tirana court led by Gjergj Pojani on 16 September sentenced four Albanians to 12-18 months in prison for founding a communist party and trying to overthrow the government by violence, AFP reported. The four (Timoshenko Pekmezi, 54; Sami Meta, 52; Tare Isufi, 73; and Kristaq Mosko, 45) were arrested in February during an investigation into a car-bomb explosion in Tirana, but the charges brought against them were not related to the incident. Pojani said the four were convicted "not because of their beliefs and communist convictions but because of their anti-constitutional activities." Communist parties have been banned in Albania since June 1992. The defendants had allegedly made organizational preparations and collected propaganda material. They said they would appeal the case. -- Fabian Schmidt

Some 150,000 public-sector workers staged a one-hour warning strike on 16 September, Reuters reported. They demanded full compensation from the government for recent price hikes in bread, gas, and fuel and for rising inflation. The Independent Trade Union and the Confederation of Albanian Trade Unions met government officials later that day but no results were announced. The unions threatened to hold a one-day strike in two weeks if no compromise is found. Workers in education, energy, health care, telecommunications, transport, and light industry participated in the strike, which also affected more than 700,000 pupils. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Susan Caskie