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Newsline - December 3, 1996

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin admitted at the OSCE summit in Lisbon on 2 December that Russia could not "veto" NATO enlargement, but urged his fellow European leaders to consider "what the expansion of NATO might lead to," Russian and Western agencies reported. He rhetorically asked if the expansion of a military alliance was the best way to achieve the goal of a peaceful and united Europe, and called for giving the OSCE a "coordinating" role in European security. According to AFP, the dispute over the NATO issue will lead to its exclusion from the summit's final communique, which is to outline plans for a new European security architecture. Also meeting in Lisbon, the 30 signatories of the 1990 CFE treaty agreed to begin talks this January on revising the cold war-era treaty, a long-time Russian demand. -- Scott Parrish

In his address to the OSCE summit, U.S. Vice President Al Gore underlined the gap dividing Moscow and Washington on the NATO enlargement issue, insisting that NATO expansion will increase stability in Europe, and that NATO "poses no threat to any other state," AFP reported on 2 December. Chernomyrdin and Gore sought to put a positive spin on their subsequent meeting, however, which the Russian prime minister said "went off excellently." He added that "I cannot say that the American side did not listen to our arguments." Chernomyrdin said that Russia regards itself as part of Europe and does not want to be isolated from the rest of the continent. The two leaders also discussed a possible Clinton-Yeltsin summit, which is tentatively scheduled for the first half of 1997. -- Scott Parrish

Contradicting the Defense Ministry, the presidential press service on 2 December denied that President Boris Yeltsin had signed an order dismissing Army General Vladimir Semenov as Ground Forces commander, ITAR-TASS reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 December 1996). It said Yeltsin and Defense Minister Igor Rodionov had agreed in principle to sack Semenov, but a final decision would be made only after a review by the presidential commission on top military ranks. According to Izvestiya on 3 December, Rodionov told Semenov that the "commercial activities" of his wife, an engineer at the helicopter concern Rosvertol, had prompted his dismissal on charges of misconduct. But NTV reported that the Military Procurator's office has no pending investigation of Semenov, and Segodnya military commentator Pavel Felgengauer said it was Semenov's opposition to Rodionov's plans to downsize the ground forces that triggered efforts to remove him. -- Scott Parrish

In an address read to the Chechen parliament on 2 December by speaker Akhyad Idigov, acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev proposed postponing for one or two months the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 27 January, AFP reported. Yandarbiev referred to his recent meeting with Russian human rights activist Sergei Kovalev, who argued that there was not enough time to draw up voter lists or organize absentee voting among refugees from Chechnya. ITAR-TASS on 2 December quoted the chairman of the Chechen Central Electoral Commission, Mumadi Saidaev, as rejecting the proposed postponement. Also on 2 December, the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, stated that he was confident of the Chechen leadership's determination to hold democratic, free, and fair elections, but that this could prove difficult given the shortage of funds available. -- Liz Fuller

The Juridical Chamber on Information Disputes ruled on 2 December that ORT's coverage of the Rostov Oblast gubernatorial elections violated the federal law governing citizens' voting rights, ITAR-TASS reported. ORT broadcast a report favoring incumbent Governor Vladimir Chub just a few hours before the beginning of the 29 September balloting. According to federal law, campaigning must stop 24 hours before the polls open. Chub's competitor, Communist Party Duma Deputy Leonid Ivanchenko, who trailed by a large margin (61%-32%) (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 September and 3 October 1996), appealed to the Chamber that ORT's coverage played a major role in shaping public opinion. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

The administration has won 19 of the 24 gubernatorial elections completed since 1 September according to First Deputy Chief of Staff Aleksandr Kazakov, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 December. He arrived at this figure by counting the incumbents and "strong managers" who have won. Only 12 incumbents have won to date, while the administration hopes that at least seven of the new governors will support its policies. Kazakov argued that the gubernatorial elections will not have any particular impact on the alignment of political forces in Moscow. In contrast, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov claimed on 3 December that only five candidates from the "party of power" had won so far and that changes in the Federation Council would significantly affect the Russian budget, the government's economic policy, and the fight against crime and corruption, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung

Aleksei Lebed, the younger brother of former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, won 45% of the vote in the first round of voting on 1 December in the executive branch elections in the republic of Khakasiya, Kommersant-Daily reported on 3 December. He will face businessman Yevgenii Reznik, who won 19%, in the second round. The incumbent Yevgenii Smirnov won only 8% and was eliminated. Lebed formerly led an airborne regiment based in the republic and was elected to the Duma from there in 1995. His victory can be attributed to his brother's celebrity, backing from the Sayansk aluminum factory, and the scandal surrounding an attempt to prevent him from registering because he had not lived in the republic for seven years. Presidential aide Aleksandr Kazakov has already declared that the younger Lebed is not a member of the opposition and that if he wins they will be prepared to work with him. -- Robert Orttung

An estimated 400,000 of Russia's 560,000 coalminers launched an indefinite nationwide strike called by the the Russian Coal-Industry Workers' Union on 3 December, protesting wage arrears totalling 1.5 trillion rubles ($270 million), ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Workers from more than 100 mines in Kuzbass, the coal basin in Kemerovo Oblast, joined the strike: wage arrears in that region are estimated at 700 billion rubles. In Tula Oblast, workers from 11 coal mining companies on 2 December joined the hunger strike started by miners of the joint stock company Tulaugol on 22 October. Meanwhile, in Vorkuta, in the northern part of Komi Republic, the local branch of the Independent Coal Miners' Union denounced the strike as premature. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

Chilean Defense Minister Edmundo Perez criticized Russia on 2 December for failing to share technical information on the failed Mars-96 probe, which crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Chile on 17 November, Reuters reported. Chile is concerned about possible radioactive contamination from the probe, which carried 200 grams of plutonium as part of its power supplies. Perez said Moscow had assured Santiago that there is no risk of contamination, but complained that Russia "has been tremendously unwilling to give precise information" which would support this conclusion. Chilean air force and navy patrols have so far found no trace of radiation in the area where the probe fell into the ocean. -- Scott Parrish

Fuel and energy enterprises are owed 320 trillion rubles ($58 billion) by their customers--80% up on the debts at the end of 1995, according to State Tax Service department head Dmitrii Popov, cited by ITAR-TASS on 2 December. This sum is equal to two thirds of the energy sector's annual output. Popov claimed that non-cash forms of exchange account for an astonishing 80% of transactions in the energy sector. These money surrogates include barter, bills of exchange, mutual debt clearing, and tax credits. Popov also noted that energy firms reported losses of 7.6 trillion rubles in the first 10 months of the year, 56% of which were incurred by coal mines. Energy firms contributed 61.3 trillion rubles in federal taxes in the first 10 months of the year, but their tax debts totaled 30.6 trillion rubles at the end of October, up from 11.4 trillion in January. Despite the problems with non-paying customers, energy output only fell 0.8% this year. -- Peter Rutland

Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and his French counterpart Alain Juppe have signed an agreement on restructuring Russia's $5 billion debt to France, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 3 December. The debt will be repaid over 25 years. Meanwhile, Vneshekonombank has been granted a $300 million loan by a consortium of French banks (including Societe Generale, BNP, and Credit Lyonnais), Trud reported on 30 November. The bulk of the loan, which is guaranteed by the Russian government, will be used for the purchase of French goods. These deals follow Russia's agreeing to pay $400 million to French holders of tsarist state bonds (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1996). -- Natalia Gurushina

STATE PENSION FUND TO GET 3 TRILLION RUBLES LOAN. President Yeltsin has instructed the government to lend 3 trillion rubles ($545 million) to the State Pension Fund, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 December. At present, the fund is owed nearly 50 trillion rubles in mandatory contributions from the federal budget and enterprises. As a result, its own debt to pensioners tops 10 trillion rubles and pension payments in many regions are delayed for up to three months. -- Natalia Gurushina

Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev, speaking at the OSCE summit in Lisbon on 2 December, accused Armenia of refusing to recognize his country's territorial integrity and of pursuing "non-legitimate claims for the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh," Reuters reported. Aliyev said a high degree of autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan, along with security guarantees for the region's population, should be the key principles for settling the conflict. Aliyev added that "we cannot allow the creation on the territory of Azerbaijan of a second Armenian state." Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan said the people of Nagorno-Karabakh should be given the right to self-determination because Azerbaijan is "unable" to guarantee their safety. Ter-Petrossyan warned that the region's population would face "genocide or forced deportation" if Azerbaijan's proposals were accepted. Observers note that Azerbaijan may block a final declaration by the OSCE on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict if it fails to affirm the region's territorial integrity. -- Emil Danielyan

The International Red Cross representative in Central Asia, Bob McKerrow, said $21 million will be needed in 1997 to provide adequate aid to the Central Asian states, according to a 2 December Reuters report. Speaking at a news conference in Almaty, McKerrow noted that Kazakstan already has cases of malnutrition, particularly in the western regions where drought ruined almost the entire harvest. The aggravated situations in Afghanistan and Tajikistan are also expected to increase the number of refugees in Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan there are presently 30,000 refugees, and people fleeing from the fighting in Afghanistan have appeared in Turkmenistan. -- Bruce Pannier

Recent decisions by the Kazakstani government to suspend the broadcasting of several independent radio and television stations are drawing criticism from the Russian media. On 29 November AFP quoted Ekho Moskvy as saying the shutdown of nine stations on 4 November was an attempt by the Kazakstani government to limit information concerning a demonstration the following day. The government claimed the stations were broadcasting on frequencies which interfered with air traffic control. Radio Rossii reported on 30 November that the shutdown was an attempt to put non-government stations out of business for airing opposition views. It also noted that nearly 100% of TV and radio broadcasts are in Russian, and suggested that a tender for frequencies, coming after the New Year, will likely favor companies which will broadcast in Kazak, the state language. Members of the independent media and opposition are planning a demonstration in Almaty on 8 December. -- Bruce Pannier

Academics working under President Islam Karimov's Academy for State and Societal Construction plan to issue a three-volume "Modern History of Uzbekistan," Khalq Sozi reported on 27 November as monitored by the BBC. The book will cover Tsarist colonialism, "Soviet Colonialism," and Uzbekistan's modern history of independence. The academics, led by historian Hamdam Sodiqov, are battling against "false conceptions about the history of independence" and "former Kremlin and Communist Party sycophants," the report said. -- Lowell Bezanis

Justice Minister Serhii Holovaty revealed that Ukraine has violated its pledge to the Council of Europe (CE) to uphold a moratorium on the death penalty, Ukrainian agencies reported on 29 November. He said more than 100 people on death row had been executed so far this year with 89 executions taking place in the first six months, in "shameful" violation of its promise to suspend executions as a condition for CE membership. The CE and Amnesty International condemned the news, with the latter claiming only China had carried out more executions this year, RFE/RL and AFP reported on 3 December. A 1993 Ukrainian law makes information on capital punishment a state secret. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin said some Russian media misinterpreted President Kuchma's 30 November interview to Russian Public Television, ITAR-TASS and Ukrainian Radio reported on 2 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 December 1996). Horbulin said Kuchma did not propose to stop dividing the fleet and return it to joint control. The Ukrainian president believes the main task now is to sign a comprehensive treaty on friendship and cooperation with Russia and then return to the Black Sea fleet issue, according to Horbulin. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

Ukraine's State Committee for the Use of Nuclear Power has agreed to allow the restarting of reactor No. 2 at the Chornobyl nuclear plant, UNIAN reported on 2 December. The reactor, shut down following a fire in 1991, will be switched on between October and December 1997. Reactor No. 1 was closed on 30 November this year, leaving only reactor No. 3 in operation. A committee spokesman said the decision was prompted by the severe economic situation and does not contradict the agreement between Ukraine and the G-7 under which Chornobyl must be closed by 2000. Ukraine's State Committee for Nuclear and Radiation safety had already given its approval for the restart. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

Alyaksandr Lukashenka was subjected to harsh criticism at the opening of the OSCE summit in Lisbon, RFE/RL reported on 2 December. The more than 50-nation summit said the 24 November referendum was neither free nor fair. In response, Lukashenka defended the way the referendum was handled, arguing that it was held in full compliance with the constitution and legislation of the country. He denied that there is any political crisis or division in Belarus society, and warned other countries against interference in the internal affairs of his country. Lukashenka also condemned NATO plans to expand east, saying that it would cause a new split in Europe with the dividing line along the western border of Belarus. Meanwhile, the Vienna-based Helsinki Federation for Human Rights sent a letter to OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti urging the OSCE to suspend Belarus of its membership in the organization. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 2 December proposed Andra Veidemann, the chairwoman of the Progress Party, for the post of Eurominister, which had become vacant when Riivo Sinijarv became interior minister, ETA reported. President Lennart Meri is expected to approve the nomination when he returns from the OSCE summit in Lisbon. Vahi noted that her inclusion as a minister would not result in the expansion of the government coalition that consists of the Coalition Party and three rural parties. -- Saulius Girnius

Paavo Lipponen met with his Latvian counterpart Andris Skele during his one-day visit to Riga on 2 December, BNS reported. Lipponen expressed support for Latvia's efforts to join the EU but noted that the common European security system should also include Russia. Skele repeated that Latvia saw NATO membership as the only real guarantee for its security and would favor NATO and Russia signing an agreement as long as its contents were made public. -- Saulius Girnius

Warsaw prosecutors are probing security service allegations that former President Lech Walesa illegally kept secret documents he should have returned at the end of his term, Ryszard Kucinski, spokesman of the Warsaw prosecutors' office, said on 2 December. He said the investigation was launched on 28 November. Rzeczpospolita wrote on 3 December that Walesa received "Bolek" files from the State Security Bureau but did not return all of the files. "Bolek" was a code name the communist secret services used for Walesa. Among the missing documents is an alleged written statement from Walesa in which he states that he will not speak about the conversations he had with communist secret police officers and receipts for money he allegedly received from them. Copies of those documents were reprinted by the Polish press abroad three years ago. Walesa denied the allegations, saying they were cooked up by the ruling ex-communists to discredit him before next year's parliamentary elections. -- Jakub Karpinski

Vaclav Havel underwent surgery on 2 December, during which half of his right lung was removed, Czech media reported. Havel's physician said this step was necessary after doctors found a cancerous tumor in Havel's lung. According to experts, chances that the cancer will not spread are good. The president is to stay in the hospital for one week and will need another six weeks to fully recover. -- Jiri Pehe

Opposition Democratic Union Chairman Jozef Moravcik on 2 December called on Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar to resign since his government is unable to fulfill its declared goal of joining NATO and the EU, Slovak media reported. According to Moravcik--a former prime minister--Meciar has started to lead "a clearly organized campaign against NATO." Also on 2 December, Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky said Meciar is using the same trick with NATO as he used three years ago when he promised a referendum on the split of Czechoslovakia, offering five alternatives for relations with the Czechs. "Meciar is now offering ... four possible variants on how the links between Slovakia and European structures should look," Carnogursky said. -- Anna Siskova

A bomb exploded shortly after midnight on 28 November in the courtyard of the home of Jan Smerek, president of the east Slovak ironworks VSZ, Slovak media reported. Smerek's firm has close ties to the government. In other news, a Bratislava court ruled on 27 November that Slovak TV (STV) must broadcast a correction to a story it ran about President Michal Kovac's son and pay him 500,000 crowns ($16,129) plus court costs. The station aired reports on 2 September 1995 alleging that Kovac Jr. owned casinos and gambling machines. This is the second suit STV has lost in a month. Also on 27 November, opposition Democratic Union Chairman Jozef Moravcik attacked the cabinet's new version of the penal code amendment on the protection of the republic, Reuters reported. Moravcik said the government made only cosmetic changes from the previous draft, which was vetoed by the president after gaining parliamentary approval in March. -- Sharon Fisher

Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs asserted that differences between Russia and the West regarding NATO expansion are no longer irreconcilable, Hungarian media reported on 3 December. Kovacs was attending the OSCE summit in Lisbon. He observed that while Moscow had strongly opposed the expansion of the alliance at the OSCE's 1994 Budapest summit, this year Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin devoted only a little time to the issue in his summit speech, and adopted a tone that was in no way threatening. Meanwhile, Hungary's Ambassador to NATO, Andras Simonyi, noted that it is hard to get accustomed to the fact that Russian officials contradict each other on the issue. He was referring to Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov's recent speech which envisaged the targeting of nuclear missiles on Eastern Europe if NATO expansion takes place. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

Serbia-wide mass protests against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic are now entering a third week, showing no signs of waning. Demands center on the authorities' recognizing the outcome of 17 November run-off municipal elections in which the opposition Zajedno coalition won majorities in Serbia's 12 largest urban areas. Vuk Draskovic, a key opposition leader, has said the protests will dry up when the regime recognizes the results of those elections, CNN reported on 2 December. The Milosevic regime has nullified most of those returns, claiming victory in a third round. But signs are emerging that suggest the protesters are having a significant impact. Police presence, notably that of riot forces, has been stepped up, especially in Belgrade. Moreover, the regime has intensified its state-media campaign against the demonstrators. On 2 December Vecernje novosti dubbed Zajedno a "terrorist" organization bent on "seizing power violently." -- Stan Markotich

A growing wave of international condemnation is mounting against the Belgrade authorities, and primarily Milosevic. Many Western leaders are on record deploring the cancellation of the 17 November election results and are urging the government to refrain from reacting violently to the peaceful protests. For his part, U.S. State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns has said "the results of the municipal elections ought to be respected. Some way must be found by the government to walk back from its decision to stifle those elections," Reuters reported on 3 December. Washington officials have also said an "outer wall of sanctions" will be maintained against Belgrade, as well as efforts at blocking the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's integration into institutions in the international financial community, partly because of the nullification of those elections. -- Stan Markotich

While hard-line members of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia are reportedly urging the president to deal forcefully with the demonstrators, at least some Montenegrin leaders are on record advocating restraint. Montena-fax on 2 December quoted Svetozar Marovic, speaker of the Montenegrin republican legislature and member of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, delivering an oblique criticism of those authorities in Serbia inclined to deal with the demonstrators with force. "No one has the right to change the foundation of democracy, the will of the people, irrespective of whether it's done by the authorities or the opposition," he said. "It is critical in the most difficult of situations that those who take care of the people and the state keep a cool and rational head," he added. -- Stan Markotich

The Bosnian Serbs have pulled out of arbitration talks regarding Brcko and said they will not recognize the outcome of those talks. The northern Bosnian town and its surrounding "corridor" are the land link between the eastern and western halves of the Republika Srpska, and hence of vital importance to that "entity." The area had a Muslim and Croat majority before the war, however, and the Sarajevo government refuses to accept the results of "ethnic cleansing." It was the only territorial question that was not at least formally settled by the Dayton agreement and was left to be decided by international arbitration by 14 December. The ball now seems to be in the court of the international mediator, Roberts Owen, whom the Serbs charge made decisions without consulting them or the Muslims. The State Department said on 2 December, however, that the talks will go ahead with or without the Serbs, Reuters noted. -- Patrick Moore

Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic commended the British government for treating the two Bosnian entities on an equal basis in preparations for the talks slated to open on 4 December, AFP reported on 2 December. Trouble seems likely at that Dayton review conference, however, because the Serbs have announced that Aleksa Buha will participate in his capacity as foreign minister, Oslobodjenje wrote on 3 December. According to the rules set down by the international mediators, only the joint foreign minister for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina may attend with that title. In any event, Plavsic said that in London she will raise the issue of Muslim refugees returning to their homes in Serb-held border areas because she claims they are soldiers is disguise. It is not clear whether Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, who is believed to be suffering from cancer, or Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who is under political siege at home, will attend. -- Patrick Moore

Croatian police questioned Vesna Jankovic, the editor of the independent bi-weekly Arkzin, about an article giving foreign analysts' reports on assets acquired by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's family, Reuters reported on 29 November. Jankovic said she believed the questioning was linked to an earlier Tudjman announcement that he would clamp down "on false prophets ... who preach human rights and media freedom." A public prosecutor launched the investigation under a libel law protecting the country's top five officials, the same one under which the editor and a journalist from the weekly Feral Tribune were tried and eventually acquitted. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Some 11,000 workers of the Croatian state railways (HZ) vowed on 2 December to continue a general strike that began on 28 November, Slobodna Dalmacija reported. The strike halted nearly 80% of services. Workers are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. International services and some cargo trains continued to operate. Strikers insist that a collective accord on substantial pay raises be concluded, and that arrears be paid. The minimum salary for a railway employee is about 1,890 kunas ($380). The Croatian government says the demands have no basis. But Zlatko Pavletic, the railway union leader, said HZ has internal reserves to increase workers' wages. The HZ said it was suffering daily losses of some 1.6 million kunas ($300,000) because of the strike. -- Daria Sito Sucic

The governing Social Democratic Alliance (SDSM) was the overall winner in 17 November's municipal elections, AFP reported on 3 December. First unofficial results after 1 December's second run-off give the SDSM 500 of the 1,903 council seats at stake, compared with 321 for the right-wing opposition coalition made up of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, the Movement for All-Macedonian Action/Conservative Party, and the Democratic Party (DP). The Socialist Party gained 140 seats and the Liberal Party 110. The ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity and the Party of Democratic Prosperity of the Albanians gained 156 and 107 seats respectively. Of the 123 mayors' posts, voted on separately, the SDSM took 52, compared with 27 for the right-wing coalition. Risto Popov of the DP was elected mayor of Skopje. -- Fabian Schmidt

One month after general elections, negotiations over the new Romanian government have reached a final phase, Romanian media reported on 3 December. Designated Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea is to announce the cabinet later this week, while Parliament is expected to start hearings on the new ministers today. The three parties that will make up the government also convened to discuss the governing program, which is to be perfected by a group of apolitical experts. In other news, President Emil Constantinescu, at the OSCE summit in Lisbon, is due today to meet Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn. -- Zsolt Mato

President-elect Petru Lucinschi on 2 December told journalists that his four-year term would bring stability and prosperity to Moldova. Lucinschi made the statement at the first press conference after his victory in the 1 December presidential runoff. Final results show him beating incumbent Mircea Snegur by an 8% margin. Lucinschi, who is generally seen as pro-Russian, was quoted as saying that "I have good personal contacts with the Russian leadership and intend to use them for the good of our country." Lucinschi will officially take office on 15 January. Meanwhile, the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli tendered its resignation "in order not to hamper president-elect Lucinschi to form a new cabinet." Parliament is expected to accept the resignation today. Lucinschi suggested that he would favor a cabinet of "national trust," made up of technocrats -- Dan Ionescu

Torrential rains caused floods in southern Bulgaria that have led to three deaths since 1 December and roads, rail links and power have all been cut off in the Rhodopi mountains region, international and national media reported on 2 December. The Civil Defense Service declared a state of emergency in Zlatograd and Devin, where two thirds of all houses were flooded. Emergency crews are working to repair the damage in Devin, Kardzhali and other towns. -- Maria Koinova

The mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) held its third National Conference in Kardzhali on 1 December, RFE/RL reported. DPS Chairman Ahmed Dogan said early parliamentary elections must be provoked by all legal means "no later than April or May." Dogan was reelected DPS chair for three years. Meanwhile, the Liberal-Democratic Alternative was formed on 30 November with outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev's backing and in his presence. The new party seeks to replace the present parliamentary republic with a presidential republic. The delegates decided to press for early elections for an assembly which will alter the existing constitution. -- Stefan Krause

Following Albania's suspension from the international soccer governing body FIFA on 27 November, the Albanian government on 2 December annulled the previous suspension of Albanian Football Association General Secretary Eduard Dervishi and reinstated its executive committee, Reuters reported. The suspension had put a 14 December World Cup qualifying match against Northern Ireland in jeopardy. Albanian Sports Secretary Marjeta Pronjari had suspended Dervishi for consistently postponing executive committee elections. -- Fabian Schmidt