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Newsline - June 6, 1996

The ongoing Russian-Chechen peace talks in Nazran ran into difficulties on 5 June after Chechen Vice President Said-Hassan Abdumuslimov demanded that all Russian troops be withdrawn from Chechnya by 1 July, prior to the disarming of Chechen detachments, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Chechen Information Minister Movladi Udugov told reporters to disregard Abdumuslimov's statements; Abdumuslimov himself admitted that the Chechen camp is split between those who want to continue talks with President Yeltsin, and a faction that prefers to await the outcome of the Russian presidential election, according to Reuters. The two sides signed a protocol on 5 June on procedures for an exchange of all prisoners of war within the next two weeks, ITAR-TASS reported. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow after his regular weekly meeting with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev said that 70 candidates have already registered for the 16 June election to a new 93-seat Chechen People's Assembly, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. -- Liz Fuller

Communist presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov on 5 June announced his plans for ending the Chechen conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Zyuganov intends to convene a congress of the Confederation of Peoples of the Caucasus, and would withdraw troops from those areas were there is no fighting, while blockading regions where military activity continues. Although the Communists have consistently criticized Yeltsin for his handling of the war, the vagueness of these proposals suggests that they have no concrete ideas about how to end the fighting and preserve the integrity of the country. -- Robert Orttung

The State Duma rushed through a bill on 5 June ordering the Central Bank to transfer 5 trillion rubles ($1 billion) to the federal budget, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin signed the measure into law the same evening, and the money must be released by 10 June. The funds in question are the 1994 profits of the Central Bank, which the government has made several attempts to acquire. The money will be allotted to defense plants, teacher's wages, and vacations for inhabitants of the Far North. The Duma's move came in response to a request from Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov, and was opposed by the Duma's own Budget Committee, according to ORT. The bank is threatening to go to court to block the law. The first deputy chairman of the bank, Sergei Aleksashenko, said "This money does not in fact exist," and argued that the measure violates the 1995 law on the bank's independence. -- Peter Rutland and Natalia Gurushina

Presidential candidate Aman Tuleev announced that he intends to drop out of the race and called on his supporters to vote for Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 June. Tuleev's move was expected from the time he began the campaign. Zyuganov said that he expects an announcement at a rally of patriotic groups in Moscow on 8 June, although Tuleev has said his announcement could come as late as three or four days before the 16 June election. Tuleev will not formally withdraw from the race since he would the have to repay the money the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) has given him as well as other costs incurred, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Tuleev, the head of the Kemerovo Oblast legislature, has said that he was running to give more attention to the Communists because the media strongly favors Yeltsin. Last month, Tuleev successfully sued the TsIK to change the way it identifies him on the ballot, forcing the commission to reprint the papers. -- Robert Orttung

Dzhokhar Dudaev's widow, Alla, said that she would vote for President Yeltsin since "only by defending him can we save our democracy, that is our freedom," Russian TV (RTR) reported on 5 June. Her remarks came at the founding congress of the women's movement, United Russia. She also announced support for Yeltsin's peace initiatives in Chechnya, called on both sides to stop the fighting, and appealed for an amnesty of the Chechen field commanders. She blamed Yeltsin's inner circle for convincing Yeltsin that Dudaev did not want to negotiate with him, although Dudaev tried four times to contact Yeltsin. Last month Dudaev's wife, who is an ethnic Russian, was prevented for boarding a plane for Turkey since she was carrying a false passport. In another surprising move, Pamyat leader Dmitrii Vasilev announced on 4 June that his organization had decided to back Yeltsin, Ekspress-Khronika reported. He said that if the Communists returned to power, it will be "better to die on the field of battle, than live in slavery." -- Robert Orttung

Presidential aide Georgii Satarov said that he is ready to prove in court that the Communists are preparing "fighting units" and that they falsified the 1995 Duma election in their favor, ITAR-TASS reported 5 June. He said that it would be hard to make the charges stick to party leaders Gennadii Zyuganov and Valentin Kuptsov, but that "Zyuganov is not an independent figure" and that he is not in control of the more hardline figures in the party. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 5 June described the falsification charges and countercharges as "the new trump in the election battle." -- Robert Orttung

The Federation Council on 5 June adopted a declaration asking candidates and voters not to let the "rise of social tensions threaten a split in society," NTV reported. The declaration called on all sides to respect the will of the people, no matter who is elected. -- Robert Orttung

Newly elected St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev took his oath of office on 5 June in the Marinskii Palace, where the city's Legislative Assembly meets. Sobchak did not show up, although his arrival was anticipated. NTV reported many Zyuganov activists in the hall. Yakovlev said that he intends to sign a power-sharing agreement with the federal government and that he will work to promote better cooperation between the city and Leningrad Oblast, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 5 June. Oblast Governor Aleksandr Belyakov supported his candidacy in the second round after failing to enter the runoff himself. Meanwhile, in Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov is running at 79% in the polls in advance of that city's 16 June mayoral election. -- Robert Orttung

Writing in Segodnya on 5 June, military commentator Pavel Felgengauer argued that Moscow should insist that any compromise with NATO over the terms of its expansion be codified in a binding international agreement. Felgengauer lamented former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's failure to get a written commitment that NATO would not expand when he agreed to German reunification in 1990. He contended that any verbal assurances NATO might make now to refrain from expanding its military infrastructure into Eastern Europe could evaporate later. A commentary in Izvestiya on 6 June argued that instead of fruitlessly pushing for such a deal, Moscow should broaden cooperation with NATO so as to minimize the effect of expansion. -- Scott Parrish

The first session of the Committee of CIS General Chiefs of Staff met in Moscow on 4 June, ITAR-TASS reported the following day. Maj. Gen. Viktor Chernenko of the Russian general staff said that strengthening the CIS security system is a top priority for Russia, adding that the first meeting was a "momentous step" in improving this structure. General Mikhail Kolesnikov, who is both chief of the Russian General Staff and chairman of the CIS body, chaired the meeting. While the list of participants was not revealed, the CIS Collective Security Treaty has been signed by all former Soviet republics except the Baltic republics, Ukraine, Moldova, and Turkmenistan. -- Doug Clarke

Two Russian spies who were arrested in Canada and threatened with deportation have decided to return to Russia voluntarily, Russian and Western media reported on 5 June. Canadians Laurie and Ian Lambert
turned out to be Russians Dmitrii and Yelena Ol-shanskii. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) accused the Lamberts of illegally entering Canada in 1988 and assuming false identities based on two deceased Canadian children. The CSIS also accused them of trying to establish a spying net against Canada, although there is no evidence that the Lamberts had undertaken any espionage activity. Canadian authorities claim the Lamberts were "sleeper" agents; such agents are trained to merge into a society and are activated for espionage activities later. -- Constantine Dmitriev

Workers of the Gorokhovets shipyard, who claim that they have not been paid since December 1994, blocked the main Moscow-Nizhnii Novgorod highway on 5 June for several hours, ITAR-TASS reported. The yard used to build anti-submarine vessels and other military craft; its workforce has fallen from 3,000 to 600. -- Doug Clarke

The parliament's upper house voted on 5 June by a 121-2 margin with 2 abstentions to approve the draft Criminal Code, ITAR-TASS reported. The latest draft of the code was passed by the Duma on 24 May (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 May 1996). The maximum single prison term envisaged by the code is 20 years, up from 15. Among other innovations, it introduces criminal liability for participation in an organized criminal group and the concept of corruption. President Yeltsin is expected to consider the code within the next two weeks. -- Penny Morvant

The deputy chair of the State Committee on Metallurgy, Vsevolod Generalov, complained that the privatization of Russia's metals plants has not led to the influx of investment that they urgently need, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. Instead foreign traders have bought up blocks of shares (for example, in the Bryansk and Sayansk aluminum works) in order to control their lucrative exports. Generalov urged the firms to issue a fresh batch of shares to raise new capital--although this will dilute the value of the existing shares bought by investors. Of Russia's 400 metallurgy firms, only 12 remain in state ownership, although the government still holds a "golden share" (allowing them a veto over certain decisions) in 55 others. -- Peter Rutland

Kenzhebulat Beknazarov, a spokesman for the Kazakhstani State Committee on National Security, told ITAR-TASS on 4 June that the committee has evidence that Mikhail Malakhov, the former chairman of the Kazakhstani Supreme Court, received a foreign car worth $7000 as a bribe. Beknazarov told ITAR-TASS that the Kazakhstani government may have to ask the Russian government to extradite Malakhov, who is currenlty in Russia on a "private visit." Malakhov lost his legal immunity after the Senate voted on 3 June to dismiss him from his post. President Nursultan Nazarbayev had suspended Malakhov in early April. According to a 3 June Kazakhstani TV report monitored by the BBC, four other Supreme Court judges have offered their resignations, bringing the total number of those who resigned to nine; no reasons were given for the resignations. -- Bhavna Dave

Extensive changes are to take place in Tashkent including the construction of new parks and housing developments, the city's hokim, Kozim Tulyaganov, said in an interview published in Pravda vostoka on 6 June. The plan, approved by the cabinet at the end of 1994, calls for the renovation of the "old city" part of Tashkent, which will entail the destruction of entire neighborhoods of traditional Uzbek homes and their replacement with apartment buildings and wide boulevards. OMRI has learned that UNESCO and residents of the old city have repeatedly voiced their objection to the plan, which is already underway. -- Roger Kangas in Tashkent

Uzbek authorities removed the statue of Aleksandr Pushkin from a central square of Tashkent on the night of 4 June and took it to an undisclosed location, Ekspress-Khronika reported on 6 June. Russians celebrate Pushkin's birthday on 6 June. -- Bhavna Dave

A presidential decree read on state radio offers the equivalent of $10,000 to anyone who can pen a national anthem for Turkmenistan, Reuters reported on 5 June. The anthem must reflect the country's neutrality and historical traditions. President Saparmurad "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov himself will be on the panel of 14 judges to decide the winner. Results are expected by 1 October in preparation for the 27 October celebration of Turkmen Independence Day. -- Bruce Pannier

Tajik government forces continue to drive opposition forces eastward and southward in the latest offensive, according to ITAR-TASS and Reuters. Fighting is now taking place near the village of Sagirdasht, which lies between the town of Tavil-Dara and the Kalai-Khumb border post, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 5 June. Four government soldiers are reported dead and 27 are wounded. Presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov denied allegations that Russian forces are providing air support for the latest drive but for the first time mentioned that the opposition forces are in possession of four helicopters. Fighting was also reported near Komsomolabad, north of Tavil-Dara, and at the Khorog border post. -- Bruce Pannier

Leonid Kuchma told the Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU) in Paris that Ukraine is not opposed to NATO's gradual expansion but is against the deployment of nuclear weapons in neighboring countries that might join the alliance, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. Kuchma reiterated that Ukraine's neutral status precludes it from joining any alliances but said that Ukraine should have the right to join any "military-political structure that seeks to become an element of European and trans-Atlantic security." He added that Ukraine will seek associate membership in the WEU and develop ties with the EU. -- Ustina Markus

President Leonid Kuchma's Chief of Staff Dmytro Tabachnyk hailed the Ukrainian legislature's initial approval on 4 June of a draft post-Soviet constitution as a victory for reformist forces in Ukraine, Ukrainian TV reported on 5 June. Tabachnyk said the vote in favor of the draft revealed the beginnings of the formation of a constructive centrist and center-right wing majority in the 450-seat parliament. He said the failure of leftist forces to obstruct the vote showed that the Communists and Socialists were clearly a minority, not only numerically but intellectually. However, the official said he fears the draft will not garner the two-thirds majority vote it requires for adoption and a national referendum may be needed to pass the new constitution. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

The Estonian Foreign Ministry granted permission to Russia to open an additional polling station in the Tallinn suburb of Pirita for the upcoming Russian presidential elections, BNS reported on 5 June. Permission was allegedly given because of room shortage in the embassy, which is being refurbished. The ministry said other polling stations could be opened in addition to the consulates in Narva and Tartu if Russia gives Estonia a list of its citizens residing in Estonia, estimated to number more than 90,000. The Russian Foreign Ministry has refused to do so but said it might protest to the Council of Europe that the lack of sufficient polling places violates the human rights of its citizens in Estonia. In December 1995 about 15,500 of the estimated 82,000 Russian citizens voted in the Russian Duma elections. -- Saulius Girnius

A delegation of top Chinese government officials and businessmen, headed by National Council Vice Chairman Li Lanqing, flew to Vilnius from Palanga on 3 June, BNS reported. The delegation visited Klaipeda and the resorts of Juodkrante and Nida. Li Lanqing met with Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius, and Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas and signed a series of cooperation documents, including one on foreign trade and economic cooperation. On 4 June the delegation visited Kaunas and Tallinn. The next day it met with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, and other high officials to discuss ways to build closer ties. On 6 June the delegation will be in Riga for a similar three-day visit. -- Saulius Girnius

Oscar Luigi Scalfaro arrived in Poland on 5 June for a five-day official visit. After meeting with Aleksander Kwasniewski, his Polish counterpart, Scalfaro said that Poland's efforts to join NATO and the EU have full Italian backing. During his meeting with Kwasniewski, Scalfaro stressed the importance of having a secular state but one based on Christian values. Kwasniewski praised cultural ties and economic cooperation between the two countries. Italy ranks among Poland's top five foreign investors. Scalfaro will travel on 7 June to the southeastern city of Lancut for a two-day meeting of Central European presidents. -- Jakub Karpinski

President Vaclav Havel met with the leaders of the three right-of-center coalition parties and the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 5 June to discuss ways of forming a government. Although no agreement was reached, Czech media reported that the Social Democrats might support a minority government led by current Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus in exchange for posts in the leadership of the Czech parliament. CSSD chairman Milos Zeman said he might back a minority government if it agrees, among other things, to changes in the housing, health care, and educational policies. -- Jiri Pehe

Slovak National Party chairman Jan Slota told Slovak Radio that coalition talks held on 5 June between his party and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, represented by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, were "successful." The parties agreed to expand the parliamentary body that oversees the Slovak Information Service. Talks will continue next week on other issues. Slota claimed that Jan Luptak, chairman of the Association of Workers of Slovakia, was unable to attend the meeting because he was "ill at home;" however, speaking on Slovak Radio just after Slota, Luptak complained that no one told him about the talks. Expressing opposition to the privatization of financial institutions and criticizing the recent privatization of the Piestany spa, Luptak said, "I think some politicians or deputies are more interested in privatization than... in social and economic developments." Despite the controversies, Luptak said he does not believe the coalition will fall apart. -- Sharon Fisher

Michal Kovac on 5 June returned the law on foundations to the parliament for reconsideration, Slovak media reported. The president said the bill, passed on 22 May, is restrictive and "does not correspond to the position of foundations in a democratic society." He noted that it insufficiently respects the self-administrative principles of foundation activities and narrows the broad spectrum of foundations into a single type. Kovac requested that the relevant European legislation be respected when the new law is drafted, and he recommended that the foundations law be discussed alongside other laws on non-profit organizations. -- Sharon Fisher

The Hungarian system of health care financing could soon collapse under a sizable debt burden, Hungarian radio reported on 4 June. By the end of the year, the health insurance deficit could be significantly higher than the 1.5 billion forints ($10 million) set out by the parliament. The overdraft accumulated in the first four months of 1996 has already reached some 8 billion forints. Pension funds face the same dilemma. This indicates that the social insurance deficit, which was to be reduced by two-thirds by end 1996, will be far from meeting government and IMF expectations. Meanwhile, after increasing opposition in the parliament, the Welfare Ministry decided to postpone until November the government's recent decision to reduce the number of hospital beds by 10%, Hungarian dailies reported on 6 June. The move has temporarily eased tensions but offers no relief for the health care sector's financial situation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

UN investigators on 5 June dug out a small "test trench" at Nova Kasaba that revealed at least six corpses, with more more certainly nearby. The entire mass grave site may contain up to 2,700 mainly Muslim males murdered by the Serbs after the fall of Srebrenica last July, Reuters reported. U.S. satellite photos, survivors' testimonies, and journalists' accounts had suggested that a huge grave was located in the peaceful valley. The Serbs maintain that any Muslims buried in the area were soldiers killed in battle, but the latest excavations reveal civilian clothing and skeletons with their hands tied behind their backs. Meanwhile in Jajce, the body count in the mass grave of mainly women recently discovered there is now 63, Onasa reported. Finally, the remains of 20 Muslims gunned down by the Serbs in June 1992 were unearthed in Jesevo, northwest of Sarajevo, AFP noted. -- Patrick Moore

Bosnian Serb police in Lukavica have created "certain problems" for a bus line linking that Serb-held Sarajevo suburb with the rest of the city, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said on 5 June. Serb policemen told the bus driver: "Do not play with your lives. We will pick you off the bus tomorrow," Onasa reported. The UN is now considering bringing in foreign drivers, as is already done on the Banja Luka-Zenica line where Danes drive buses with Danish license plates. Bosnian Serb authorities seem determined to block the few bus routes connecting the Republika Srpska with the Croat-Muslim Federation (see OMRI Special Report, 4 June 1996). Freedom of movement and the unity of all Bosnia-Herzegovina are two key principles of the Dayton agreement. -- Patrick Moore

During the past several days, Muslim-Croatian tensions flared in Mostar, Oslobodjenje reported on 6 June. Croatian police arrested three Muslims and in retaliation, fellow Muslims blocked the main Revolution Boulevard, which is the demarcation line between the city's Muslim and Croatian communities. The Muslims then dragged two Croats out of their cars, taking them hostage. After the EU police intervened, both the detained Muslims and Croats were released. Head of the EU police Piter Lambrehtce on 5 June denied that the Muslim military police attacked a Croatian policeman inside the joint police forces' headquarters, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

In Eastern Slavonia, which is due to be returned to the Croatian government within two years, Serbs have started to demobilize their soldiers, AFP reported on 6 June. A UN spokesman said Gen. Dusan Loncar, the commander of the Serb forces in the territory, gave the order and demobilization will be completed in 10 days. Then, the 5,000 Serbs will also hand over their barracks and training areas to the UN transitional administration. Meanwhile, Milan Djukic, a Serb deputy in the Croatian parliament, sent an open letter to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in which he wrote that this is the most difficult time in history for Serbs in Croatia and asked the Croatian president not to spread the hatred, Novi List reported on 6 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic

During his visit to rump Yugoslavia, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Antonio Cassese failed to win a commitment from the Belgrade authorities that they would pass a law on the extradition of war criminals. Following 5 June meetings with Radovan Bozovic, speaker of the federal parliament, Cassese said that "this [failure to adopt legislation] is a blatant violation not only of the Dayton agreement but also of two UN Security Council resolutions." For its part, Belgrade defended its lack of compliance with Dayton by arguing that "the Yugoslav criminal code is in keeping with international law and regulates the issues of extradition of war crime suspects in an adequate way," Tanjug reported. -- Stan Markotich

U.S Deputy Secretary of State John Kornblum presided over the opening of a U.S. Information Center in Kosovo on 5 June, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Aleksa Jokic and Milos Nesovic, representatives of the Serbian authorities in the predominantly ethnic Albanian province, and Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova also attended. Reuters reported that while the center is not to have any official diplomatic role, Kornblum said it could play a part in resolving ethnic tensions in the region. "We believe that by allowing access to many new kinds of information resources and by providing a center as a meeting place...we will be able to contribute to the foundations for a democratic future," he said. Washington has made improvement in the human rights situation in Kosovo a precondition to the formal recognition of rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich

The coalition agreement uniting the Liberal Democratic party (LDS) and the Christian Democratic Party (SKD) was to have come to an end formally on 4 June, but on 5 June the SKD said it would stay on in accordance with the terms of the current coalition arrangement until December elections. In a statement reported by Radio Slovenija on 29 May, LDS Secretary General Gregor Golobic said that terminating the agreement would amount only to "formalizing relations to date" between the two parties. Ties appeared to have reached their all-time low on 16 May when the SKD backed a no-confidence motion against LDS Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler. Golobic also said the LDS and SKD will continue to cooperate on some basis, enabling the government to continue working. He discounted "rumors" of an upcoming vote of no-confidence in Drnovsek. -- Stan Markotich

During a visit of Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek to Skopje on 5 June both sides agree that the "excellent political relations must be followed by increased economic cooperation," Nova Makedonija reported. Drnovsek and his Macedonian counterpart, Branko Crvenkovski, signed an agreement on mutual protection of investments and announced that an agreement on free trade will be signed in July. Drnovsek and Crvenkovski stressed their identical views on the issue of the succession of the former Yugoslavia and both said their countries wish to join the EU and NATO. -- Stefan Krause

The government on 5 June announced that presidential and general elections will be held in Romania on 3 November, local media reported. The announcement came after a meeting with leaders of the parliamentary parties. In order to avoid the delay that might have resulted from amending the electoral law, the parliamentary "hurdle" will remain at 3%, instead of a proposed 5-7%. Candidacies for the presidency will, as in 1992, require the backing of 100,000 supporters. In a related matter, it was announced that the final returns of the 2 June local elections will be made public on 7 June only. -- Dan Ionescu

Ivan Bodiul, who was First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic in the 1960s, paid an unofficial visit to Comrat, the capital of Moldova's autonomous Gagauz region, BASA-press reported on 5 June. Bodiul met with Gagauz Governor Georgii Tabunshchik and other local officials. He expressed satisfaction about the way the Gagauz issue was eventually settled through the setting up of an autonomous region within the framework of the Moldovan state. The 78-year-old Bodiul, who currently lives in Moscow, had talks with the Dniester separatist leaders in Tiraspol on 31 May. Some media in Chisinau have speculated that Bodiul might run as a presidential candidate in the next Moldovan elections to take place in November. -- Dan Ionescu

Prime Minister and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov proposed that the BSP Deputy chairmen and the Executive Bureau tender their collective resignation to the party's Supreme Council on 8 June, Standart and Duma reported. Most of the Executive Bureau's members agreed to this move. The last party plenum on 31 May obliged Videnov to make changes in the government and the party leadership by 8 June. New people are expected to be elected to the BSP top level and changes in the government approved. According to 24 chasa, Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev, Industry Minister Kliment Vuchev, Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov, and Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov will be replaced. However, Shivarov and Gechev will keep their deputy prime minister posts. -- Stefan Krause

The parliamentary Commission for Radio, TV, and the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency on 5 June adopted a proposal of its Socialist majority recommending that the parliament dismiss National TV Director-General Ivan Granitski, Trud and Reuters reported. Granitski, whom the Socialists voted in less than a year ago, was accused of having allowed professional and economic problems to build up at the state TV. The commission ruled that Granitski had undermined the prestige of the parliament and other state institutions and shown "disrespect for political forces." The opposition abstained and demanded that a vote on Granitski's dismissal be postponed until all parties discussed the issue. Valeri Zapryanov and Stefan Stoev, the directors of the state TV's two channels, News Director Pencho Kovachev, and other top TV managers resigned in protest over the commission's vote. -- Stefan Krause

During a visit to Brussels on 5 June, leaders of the Socialists, Social Democrats, Democratic Alliance, and the Party of the Democratic Right tried to muster support from the EU, Western media reported. They said opposition to President Sali Berisha and his Democratic Party was "not a question of Left and Right but...of democracy versus dictatorship" and demanded that the parliamentary elections be reheld. Representatives of the Belgian Socialists and the German Social Democrats supported this demand. The EU Commission also stepped up pressure on the Albanian government to repeat the elections in districts where international monitors reported irregularities. EU Commission President Jacques Santer and Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini canceled a visit to Tirana. Meanwhile, the Socialists and Democrats said they are ready to start a dialogue. On 4 June, protests continued in Permet, Saranda, and Tepelena, but no incidents were reported. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels