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Newsline - October 10, 1996

Former Presidential Security Service (SBP) head Aleksandr Korzhakov held a press conference on 11 October at which he contended that "the unconstitutional institution of a regency has appeared alongside a live president," an apparent reference to chief of staff Anatolii Chubais. Korzhakov said that he had recommended putting off the presidential elections for two to three months because of concern over Boris Yeltsin's health, ITAR-TASS reported. He denied that he had sought to use force to cancel the elections, and suggested that some in the president's entourage had deliberately tried to exhaust Yeltsin through his active campaign schedule. Korzhakov said that he expects to be arrested, and fears for the safety of his family. On 10 October Yeltsin made a brief television appearance with Anatolii Chubais from his sanitarium, in an apparent display of confidence in his chief of staff. -- Penny Morvant

In an 11 October radio address, President Yeltsin said a special emergency commission will be set up under Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to boost tax revenue and ensure that state wages and pensions are paid, Reuters reported. Contrary to earlier government claims, tax collection continues to deteriorate. Federal tax receipts for September were 9.3 trillion rubles ($1.7 billion), 29% down over August, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 October. Only 45% of planned taxes were collected. The only positive development was that actual cash made up 96% of tax receipts, indicating that the State Tax Service has cut back on firms that try to "pay" their taxes with commodities or bills of exchange. -- Peter Rutland

After returning from a visit to NATO headquarters, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed warned that NATO's expansion would harm Russia's security interests, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 October. He said that "there is no guarantee that no one will decide to deal with Russia the way Iraq was recently dealt with." He claimed that Russia has "no conceptual framework for national security" and that the Security Council is now working on developing one with the Defense Council. -- Robert Orttung

In an article published in The Washington Post and the London Times, Lebed claimed to know the names of the people who started the Chechen war but that he will not reveal them now "because it is still quite possible that the war will resume with fresh force and on an even larger scale." He argued that the war has "economic roots camouflaged in politics." Pravda-5 , in its 11-18 October edition, described Lebed's assertions as a threat to the Kremlin and the latest round in the battle to succeed Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung

Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov rejected Lebed's suggestion in Brussels that Russia and NATO could sign an agreement in a month, ITAR-TASS reported 11 October. Primakov warned that trying to speed up the signing of a document between NATO and Russia would give it a "purely declarative character." Primakov stressed that Russia would focus on bilateral relations with NATO member countries, arguing that it made less sense to work with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana because "he does not have his own stance, but only voices positions of the 16 countries standing behind him." -- Robert Orttung

Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 9 October convened a meeting of field commanders in Argun at which he demanded "iron discipline" in order to preclude provocations against withdrawing Russian forces which could jeopardize the agreements signed earlier this month in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian forces are due to withdraw by 20 October. -- Liz Fuller

The Moscow authorities will allocate about 200 apartments to deputies elected to the Duma in December 1995, a city official told ITAR-TASS on 10 October. Under a law passed by the last Duma, deputies from the provinces are entitled to an official apartment for the duration of their tenure. Many former deputies, however, have refused to leave their apartments. Others, according to Russian TV (RTR), received more than one. As a result, there is a constant shortage of housing for deputies, and the Federal Assembly owes large sums in hotel bills. According to a controversial amendment to the law on deputies' status, deputies are entitled to a one-time compensation payment worth $60,000 to help them obtain an apartment. According to RTR, 17 deputies have already been helped to purchase an apartment. -- Penny Morvant

The opposition newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya on 10 October claimed to possess proof that "Kremlin elders" illegally spent hundreds of millions of dollars on President Yeltsin's re-election effort. Under the headline "Protocols of the Elders of the Kremlin" (an allusion to the anti-Semitic tract Protocols of the Elders of Zion), the paper cited a document allegedly prepared by the Yeltsin campaign which outlined payments to various politicians and media outlets. For instance, $169 million was allegedly allocated to Russian Public TV (ORT), $78 million to NTV, and $16 million to the anti-communist newspaper Ne dai bog! (God forbid). The paper noted that under Russian law, presidential candidates were limited to 14 billion rubles ($2.8 million) in total expenditures. The Yeltsin campaign is widely believed to have spent many times more than it officially declared (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October 1996). -- Laura Belin

Yurii Matochkin has officially proposed a coalition government in the region, Russian media and Kommersant-Daily reported on 10 October. According to Segodnya, Matochkin, who finished first in the 6 October gubernatorial election and is now facing a second round, invited the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) to join the government. The newspaper speculated that the opposition will be offered high-ranking positions in the regional administration, including committee chairmanships and the post of deputy governor responsible for agriculture. The KPRF candidate for the gubernatorial race, Yurii Semenov, placed third with 22% of the vote. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

About 600 employees of the Academy of Sciences gathered in Moscow on 10 October to demand higher salaries and more state support for science, NTV and RTR reported. Earth Sciences Institute Director Vladimir Strakhov, on the 11th day of a hunger strike, said half the academy's institutes could close in three to four months if more funding is not made available. Protest meetings were also held in St. Petersburg, Nizhnii Novgorod, and Novosibirsk. ITAR-TASS said that the Moscow meeting was smaller than planned because the government had already repaid much of its debt to the academy. The Education Workers' Union said about 62,000 people from 1,177 educational establishments took part in protests across Russia on 4, 7, and 8 October to demand back pay and increased funding for schools. -- Penny Morvant

Work at a majority of district courts in St. Petersburg has ground to a halt due to a lack of funds, RIA Novosti reported on 10 October. Only two of 20 district courts are operating, and they may also cease functioning on 17 October. Judges, who do not have the right to strike, are still turning up for work, but court clerks and other personnel have left their offices in protest at their low wages and long delays in their payment. According to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 October, during the first nine months of the year courts received less than two-thirds of the money provided for in the budget. It noted, among other examples, that judicial workers in Tver have not been paid since August, that the Irkutsk Oblast Court has virtually stopped work, and that judges' telephones in Krasnoyarsk and Kemerovo oblasts have been cut due to non-payment of bills. -- Penny Morvant

Hundreds of workers at the engineering company Uralmash have set up a picket outside the residence of Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel to protest a recent federal government decree on tax payments, Izvestiya reported on 11 October. According to the decree approved by the Finance Ministry, the Central Bank of Russia, and the Tax Service, the bank accounts of enterprises that owe taxes are frozen and the overdue payments immediately withdrawn from them. This measure, however, has aggravated the problem of wage arrears, and Uralmash workers have not been paid for three months. The general director of Uralmash has sharply criticized Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits for driving his company to the verge of bankruptcy. Rossel said he has asked Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to resolve the Uralmash problem. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

Leonid Bochin, the head of the State Antimonopoly Committee, argued against the IMF's recommendation to break up Gazprom in an interview for Radio Rossii on 10 October. He said "Gazprom is a unique structure which earns one-third of the nation's foreign exchange." He said gas restructuring plans must be carefully analyzed because they could disrupt the national economy. It is widely assumed that the IMF is pressuring the Russian government to break up Gazprom and the electricity monopoly Unified Energy System (EES Rossii). Meanwhile, on 10 October Izvestiya reported that Gazprom will soon sell 1% of its shares to foreign buyers (in the form of American Depository Receipts), and hopes to raise $400 million. -- Peter Rutland

Natural gas prices for industrial users will be frozen until the end of 1996, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 October, citing the deputy chairman of the Federal Energy Commission, Gennadii Usyuzhanin. The producer price will stay at 180 rubles (3 cents) per cubic meter and the wholesale price 260 rubles. In the first eight months of this year, the domestic price of gas rose 30% (but still lags behind the European export price of 8.5 cents). Usyuzhanin also said that there is a plan to introduce differential regional prices for natural gas, allowing for transport costs, from 1 January. He also confirmed that electricity prices for industrial users will be cut by 10%. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told the Duma on 8 October that energy prices will be regulated: this policy seems to be going into effect. -- Peter Rutland

The UN special envoy for Abkhazia, Eduard Brunner, held talks in Sukhumi on 10 October with Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba, ITAR-TASS reported. Speaking to journalists afterwards, Brunner stressed the importance of finding a political solution to the problem of Abkhazia's future political status vis-a-vis Tbilisi, and of expediting the return of ethnic Georgians who were displaced during the fighting in 1992-1993. Tensions between Tbilisi and Sukhumi have escalated in recent weeks following the decision of the Abkhaz parliament--denounced as illegitimate by the Georgian government--to hold a parliamentary election on 23 November. -- Liz Fuller

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 10 October condemning the Georgian parliament's 2 October resolution calling for a fundamental revision of Georgian-Russian relations, including the scrapping of an agreement on Russian military bases in Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement rejected what it termed an attempt to question both the expediency of having Russian peacekeepers on the Georgian-Abkhaz border, and Russia's ability to mediate a settlement of the conflict. -- Liz Fuller

At a meeting in Baku on 9 October with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, Terry Adams, the president of the Azerbaijani International Operating Company, announced that the Baku-Supsa pipeline to export Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea oil by the so-called "Western route" to the Georgian Black Sea coast will be operational "by late 1998," Turan reported. A pipeline construction tender will be announced early next year. On 9 October Adams said the Russian route for early oil will start to be used in August 1997. -- Liz Fuller

A spokesman at the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow said Ashgabat does not agree with the CIS member states that condemned the Taliban militia at last week's Almaty summit, according to the Journal of Commerce on 10 October. The spokesman said Taliban have offered security guarantees for a projected $2 billion natural gas pipeline that would run from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan, in which the U.S. firm UNOCAL and Saudi Arabia's Delta are involved. -- Lowell Bezanis

One of the leaders of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, played down accusations about UTO connections with Afghanistan's Taliban movement in an 11 October Nezavisimaya gazeta article. Turajonzoda said the UTO was "distressed" at Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's statement that the Taliban would ally itself with the UTO and move into areas of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. He said that the UTO has a neutral policy to the Afghan conflict, and remarked that "the Afghans have so many internal problems...that planning foreign aggression is simply not serious." -- Bruce Pannier

The Justice Ministry has refused to register the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) despite the group's recent efforts to temper its radicalism, Ukrainian agencies reported on 8 October. Deputy Justice Minister Mykola Khandurin informed the group, which was stripped of its registration last year for allegedly provoking violence at an Orthodox patriarch's funeral, that its application failed to comply with Ukrainian legislation. The ministry said that despite the group's announcement in May that it had disbanded its paramilitary wing, the Ukrainian National Self-Defense Organization (UNSO), that formation has continued to operate under the UNA's aegis. Khandurin said the UNSO contravenes Article 37 of the Ukrainian Constitution, which bans paramilitary formations. In addition to announcing it was disbanding the UNSO, the UNA publicly renounced violence and pledged to use political means to pursue its goals. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Vasyl Kiselyov, a pro-Russian director of an agricultural firm, was elected speaker of the Crimean parliament, Ukrainian agencies reported on 10 October. Kiselyov, who heads a new "anti-crime and corruption" opposition group, is the fourth Crimean speaker in two and a half years. The former speaker, Yevhen Supruniuk, was ousted the previous day. Eleven out of 14 members of the parliamentary presidium tendered their resignations in connection with Supruniuk's dismissal. In other news, Sevastopol Mayor Viktor Semyonov was injured in an explosion in the courtyard of his home, UNIAN reported. Semyonov and his driver, who was seriously injured, were hospitalized. Reportedly, a radio-controlled explosive was hidden in the asphalt at the spot where Semyonov's car was parked. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

Alyaksandr Lukashenka offered some compromise changes to the version of the constitution that he wants adopted in a national referendum, Russian and Western agencies reported on 10 October. In return for the concessions, Lukashenka wants parliament to withdraw its version of the constitution, which abolishes the presidency, from a national referendum. Lukashenka's concessions included allowing parliament to form a new upper house, leaving deputies' terms at five years instead of reducing them to four years, and allowing parliament to impeach him by a two-thirds vote instead of the three-quarters he had proposed. He continued to insist the referendum be held on the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution on 7 November. A day earlier, Lukashenka said the prospect of parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky and Constitutional Court Chief Justice Valeryi Tsikhinya remaining in their posts after the referendum was "problematic," Belapan reported. -- Ustina Markus

The Saeima voted 71 to 6 to ratify exploration agreements with the Amoco and OPAB oil companies on the first reading on 10 October, BNS reported. Further votes are required for the treaty to be ratified. The ratification is opposed by Lithuania, which also claims the off-shore area that would be explored. Border talks between the two countries have been unsuccessful for several years. Lithuania's request that the sea-border dispute be settled before the agreements are finalized was ignored, although the agreements include a settlement as a precondition for beginning work. Prime ministers Mindaugas Stankevicius and Andris Skele were to discuss the problem in confidential talks on 11 October in Palanga, Lithuania. -- Saulius Girnius

Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski has ruled out negotiations on cooperation in the 1997 parliamentary election campaign with the Freedom Union (UW), the largest opposition party in parliament, unless the UW opposes liberalization of Poland's restrictive abortion law, Polish dailies reported on 11 October. Krzaklewski also continued to mend fences with the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL), one of Poland's two governing parties, whose senators mostly voted against liberalization on 4 October following a meeting between Krzaklewski and PSL leader Waldemar Pawlak. Krzaklewski said that, in contrast to the UW, PSL officials have not made personal attacks against him. The Senate's rejection of liberalization may yet be overridden by the Sejm. -- Ben Slay

Czech President Vaclav Havel told leaders of the three governing coalition parties and the Social Democratic Party on 10 October that further negotiations will be needed to finalize a Czech-German declaration designed to promote reconciliation, Czech media reported. Talks on the declaration, which is to address mutual historical grievances, have proved more difficult than expected. The president said that the text of the declaration should first be accepted by the two countries' governments and later approved by the parliaments. CTK quotes Czech diplomats saying the declaration could be issued in late November. -- Jiri Pehe

Pavol Hamzik, addressing the OSCE Permanent Council
in Vienna on 10 October, argued for Slovakia's inclusion in the first wave of NATO's eastward expansion, Slovak media reported. He said such a step is crucial for the stability of Central Europe and stressed that through its history, culture, and Christian ideals, Slovakia is a natural part of Western civilization. "We do not want to be a bridge to the East or a fictive mediator between East and West," Hamzik said. He admitted that Slovakia needs more political dialogue between the opposition and government and a higher level of political culture. "We know what our problems are, but they should not be dramatized," Hamzik said. -- Sharon Fisher

Hungarian minority parties will submit a proposal for pre-electoral cooperation with the recently created "blue coalition" of liberal-conservative opposition parties, CTK reported on 10 October. "Hungarian minority parties have to offer the Slovak opposition an acceptable solution to minority problems, then strictly adhere to it, while at the same time abandoning the autonomy rhetoric that is unacceptable for Slovak society," Hungarian Civic Party Chairman Laszlo Nagy said. Nagy said the agreement will be submitted before the November congress of the Christian Democratic Movement, which of the three "blue coalition" partners has kept the greatest distance from Hungarian minority parties. -- Anna Siskova

The explosion of a small, homemade bomb near Europe's biggest synagogue on the evening of 9 October caused concern among Hungary's Jewish community, Reuters reported the following day. The bomb exploded in a trash can near the Dohanyi Utca Synagogue and across the street from the smaller Heroes' Synagogue. The blast caused no injuries or other damage. A letter was found in the trash can near the bomb, specifying the date of the next explosion, Hungarian media reported on 11 October. Another bomb exploded in late August near a kosher restaurant in the center of the former Jewish quarter, but no one claimed responsibility. -- Sharon Fisher

There were numerous explosions of unidentified origin in houses in three formerly Muslim villages now on Bosnian Serb territory on 10 October, BBC reported. The villages are Mumbasic and Stanic Rijeka near Tuzla, and Kordoni near Zvornik, all in northern Bosnia, Reuters added. No injuries or casualties were reported. Tensions have risen along Bosnia's inter-entity border in recent weeks as Muslim refugees seek to return to their homes in the Republika Srpska. They have received a less than warm welcome from the Serbs as well as from IFOR, which views the Muslims as troublemakers. Some 223 Muslims have gone back to Jusici near Zvornik, Onasa stated. They burned a Serbian flag after Bosnian Serb and UN police confiscated weapons from them, Nasa Borba reported on 11 October. Meanwhile, the Muslim Party of Democratic Action in Sarajevo promised to help the residents of Jusici rebuild their homes, Onasa reported on 10 October. The Muslim governing party also plans to open branch offices in the Republika Srpska, where it is the second-largest party in parliament. -- Patrick Moore

The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt said an international military presence will be required in Bosnia for another two years to consolidate peace and deter any new fighting, BBC reported on 10 October. Also in London, the International Contact Group warned the Serbs to stop boycotting the joint presidency lest they lose their share of reconstruction aid. In New York, the UN Security Council protested the lack of progress in investigating the fate of missing persons and singled out the Bosnian Serb authorities as obstructing efforts. At the Laniste cave near Kljuc in western Bosnia, government officials have removed 70 bodies of Muslims believed to have been killed by Serbs on 1 June 1992. Among the gruesome discoveries have been severed heads pierced with nails, news agencies noted. -- Patrick Moore

Germany will send back 135,000 refugees to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia over the next three years, according to an agreement signed by the two countries' interior ministers on 10 October, Reuters reported. Most of the refugees are Kosovar Albanians. German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther said the agreement would send a signal to anyone contemplating coming to Germany, adding that "Germany is not a land for immigrants." Both ministers claimed the return would not be connected with German economic aid to Belgrade. The agreement came one day after Bavaria deported the first of 320,000 Bosnian refugees. Also, the state of Berlin said it would start deporting people to Bosnia this month. German human-rights groups accused the government of sending people into unsafe situations and of trying to win votes from the radical nationalist right. In Bonn, several hundred Kosovar Albanian refugees protested outside the Interior Ministry, Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

Hido Biscevic, an aide to the Croatian foreign minister, protested Serbian Vice Premier Ratko Markovic's recent statement that Backa Croats, known as Bunjevci, "are neither Croats nor Serbs, but only Bunjevci," and would receive the status of a nation in Serbia, Vjesnik reported on 11 October. Hungarian Croats had earlier protested Markovic's statement that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the "motherland" of Bunjevci living in Hungary. Hungarian Croats issued a statement that the Bunjevci are Croats and of the same origin as Croats in Lika, Croatian Primorje, and Dalmatia, Hina reported on 4 October; they speak Croatian, use the Latin script, and belong to the Roman Catholic Church. According to Hina, Serbian authorities first devised the new national group "Bunjevci" for a 1991 census. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Croatia's demand for early elections in the last Serb-held enclave in the country probably cannot be met, Derek Boothby, deputy administrator of the UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES), told Reuters on 10 October. Although Croatian leaders and UNTAES administrator Jacques Klein agreed the area should be reverted to Croatian control by spring 1997, Boothby said conditions for free and fair elections can't be met by 15 December, the election date proposed by the Croatian government. The balloting must be conducted 30 days before the UN mandate ends, which is yet to be decided by the UN Security Council. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Croatia's state prosecutor on 10 October appealed against the acquittal of two independent journalists from the satirical weekly Feral Tribune who were charged with defaming President Franjo Tudjman, Reuters and Hina reported. Their acquittal was seen as a boost for press freedom in Croatia, whose acceptance into the Council of Europe was delayed partly due to the government's grip on media. But the state prosecutor has requested the annulment of that verdict, citing errors in the municipal court's proceedings. Meanwhile, the state-run daily Vjesnik ran an article on media freedom on 11 October suggesting the media situation in Croatia is not significantly different than in other Western countries, claiming that "nobody in Croatia so far has suggested a discussion about serious limitations of media freedom." -- Daria Sito Sucic

Milan Kucan told the Montenegrin weekly Monitor that all six former republics have equal claim to the succession of Yugoslavia dating from 1918, Onasa reported on 10 October. He thus challenged Serbia-Montenegro's claim to the sole right of succession under the name Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and hence to the former federation's wealth and assets. Kucan said Slovenia had paid huge sums of money for the Yugoslav People's Army, which were put to "woefully wrongful, unfortunate, and tragic purposes." -- Patrick Moore

Thousands of protesters in Tetovo demanded the resignation of health minister Ilija Filipce on 10 October in connection with alleged poisonings of Albanian children in local schools. The demonstrators also yelled: "Down with the government, down with (President Kiro) Gligorov," Reuters reported. Party for Democratic Prosperity leader Abdurrahman Aliti warned that violence may break out if the alleged culprits are not caught. Within two weeks around 500 ethnic Albanian pupils sought treatment for headaches, upset stomachs, and limb pains, but it remains unclear what was causing the illnesses. Most children recovered after several days of vitamin treatment. Filipce had visited Tetovo on 9 October and said the Vienna Forensic Institute found no signs of poisoning. Police are, however, investigating the possibility. The incident comes at a time of rising tensions in the run-up to local elections on 17 November. -- Fabian Schmidt

During a 10 October meeting of the EU-Romania Association Council, EU representatives were critical of certain "weak points" in Romania's response to the questionnaire given to all applicants for EU membership, Radio Bucharest reported on 11 October. They nonetheless emphasized that "preparations for joining the union had not been affected, despite the fact that this is an electoral year [in Romania]." There were no signals that the EU was moving toward abolishing visa requirements for Romanian tourists. Also in Brussels, an agreement on setting up a Post-Privatization Fund was signed on 10 October. The fund will be financed by the EU's PHARE program (15 million ECU) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (25 million ECU) and will operate for ten years. -- Michael Shafir

A newspaper in the Dniester breakaway region has confirmed reports that factories there are manufacturing arms, BASA-Press reported on 10 October. Pridnestrovye, the Tiraspol leadership's official newspaper, wrote that the munitions being produced include Grad jet-rocket equipment, claiming it is needed to maintain the balance of forces with Moldova's army. There were earlier reports in the Chisinau press about arms production at the Pribor plant in Tighina, quoting Moldovan representatives to the Joint Control Commission. Moldovan Defense Ministry officials said Pribor produces simplified Grad equipment. -- Zsolt Mato

The medical workers' organization within the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria began a petition drive demanding Health Minister Mimi Vitkova's resignation for aggravating the impoverishment of medical staff and hospitals in Bulgaria, Trud reported on 11 October. The union, representing thousands of doctors and other medical personnel, also staged protest meetings in Sofia and 11 other towns and hung black banners from the windows of some hospitals. Most medical workers are not paid regularly and receive less than the national average salary of about $70 monthly. For several months patients have had to bring their own bed sheets and food for hospital stays. The Plovdiv hospital recently started charging patients in hard currency in an attempt to avoid closure from lack of funds (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 October 1996). -- Maria Koinova

The World Bank is likely to approve a major new loan to Bulgaria for balance-of-payments support by the end of year, Pieter Stek, the World Bank's recently appointed executive director responsible for Bulgaria, said in Sofia on 9 October. But Stek stressed the urgency of liquidating the 64 enterprises Bulgaria promised on 15 May to close, Bulgarian media reported. Agriculture Minister Krastyo Trendafilov said legal proceedings were 99% complete at 18 agricultural and food-industry firms on the list, eight of which will be bought by private interests and another four or five of which will have their assets sold off. Industry Minister Lyubomir Dachev said that of the 38 industrial firms on the list, five had been privatized successfully, 10 declared bankrupt, and 14 were subject to a second judicial decision because of problems with the initial method selected for their closure. -- Michael Wyzan

The Central Election Commission decided at a 10 October meeting that the opposition will be allowed to participate in the monitoring of all aspects of the election process, Koha Jone reported. A special envoy for Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said Italy would send 150 election monitors, Albania reported. In other news, the Party of National Unity protested the imprisonment of its leader Idajet Beqiri, calling him a "victim of political revenge," Poli i Qendres reported. Beqiri was sentenced on 28 September for crimes against humanity committed as a judge and communist party leader in the town of Kruja. -- Fabian Schmidt

As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Tom Warner