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Newsline - June 24, 1996

The Duma on 21 June rejected a Yeltsin-sponsored proposal to extend voting hours on 3 July from the usual 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to midnight. The vote was 202 against and only 117 in favor, RTR reported. Yeltsin believes he will win more votes with a higher turnout and sought to attract people to the polls before or after they head out of the city to their country houses. -- Robert Orttung

The fourth congress of Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko party agreed that under no circumstances could it support Gennadii Zyuganov or ask its supporters to vote against both candidates on 3 July, NTV and RTR reported on 23 June. However, rather than formally endorsing Yeltsin, Yabloko leaders asked the president to answer five questions: Is he ready to accept legislation to limit his own power? How does he plan to develop democracy in the regions? What steps will he take to end the war in Chechnya? Who will be in the government after 3 July, and what policies will it carry out? Who will head Russia's "power structures," and will they be placed under civilian control? The questions are reminiscent of conditions Yavlinskii offered Yeltsin in May in exchange for his potential support--terms Yeltsin ignored (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 May 1996). -- Laura Belin in Moscow

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that the personnel changes in the government will continue, NTV reported on 22 June. However, he did not see a new position for former Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, who has gained renewed prominence following his press conference after the sacking of several Kremlin hard-liners last week. Chernomyrdin said that new Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's powers will be limited to those specified in the law on the Security Council, noting that people could request new powers from the president, but not demand them. He said that there was no coup attempt in the detention of two key Yeltsin campaign aides, a charge made by Lebed, but that Yeltsin had to take quick action if he wanted to retain the presidency. Chernomyrdin described the scandal as "not the first case of people doing things to undermine me," AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung

Attracting supporters of candidates who did not advance to the second round will be the key to winning the 3 July presidential election. The latest VCIOM poll indicates that 39% of those who voted for Aleksandr Lebed plan to vote for Boris Yeltsin on 3 July, while just 14% lean toward Gennadii Zyuganov, 6% said they would vote against both, and 39% had trouble answering the question, NTV reported on 23 June. 51% of Yavlinskii voters said they will back Yeltsin, 6% plan to vote for Zyuganov, 7% will vote against both candidates, and 32% had trouble answering the question. Only 14% of Zhirinovsky supporters said they will back Yeltsin, 25% lean toward Zyuganov, 21% plan to vote against both, and 32% had trouble answering the question. Between 2% and 4% of those surveyed said they do not plan to vote at all on 3 July. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

Gennadii Zyuganov intends to name his shadow "government of national trust" this week, and he has indicated that he would still welcome Aleksandr Lebed, NTV reported on 23 June. Zyuganov also told NTV that Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia includes many "capable and competent" people, such as Labor and Social Policy Committee Chairman Sergei Kalashnikov. NTV speculated that the more extreme members of Zyuganov's coalition, such as Viktor Anpilov, Albert Makashov, and Valentin Varennikov, will be excluded from the shadow cabinet. Meanwhile, during the final 10 days of the campaign, KPRF activists in the regions will depict last week's scandal over the arrest of two leading Yeltsin campaign organizers (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 June 1996) as proof that the president's team has misused state funds. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

President Boris Yeltsin wooed nationalist and military voters in a campaign trip to the Kaliningrad Oblast on 23 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. Addressing sailors and naval officers in Baltiisk, the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet, Yeltsin promised Russians "freedom and order" in a phrase borrowed from the campaign rhetoric of his new security overlord Aleksandr Lebed, who is popular with military voters. Yeltsin won a plurality of the vote in the Kaliningrad exclave in the first round, but Lebed finished a strong third with almost 20%. Yeltsin also promised increased social support for the navy and pledged to protect the interests of ethnic Russians in the Baltic states. -- Penny Morvant

Speaking at the Brest fortress in Belarus, site of one of the first battles during the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, President Yeltsin warned against NATO expansion, Russian and Western agencies reported on 22 June. Striking a familiar stance, Yeltsin said the expansion of the alliance would lead to a "new confrontation" on the continent. Meanwhile, at an international meeting in Switzerland on the same day, former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev urged Yeltsin to compromise with NATO over the alliance's plans to expand into Eastern Europe. Kozyrev, now a Duma deputy from Murmansk, called on Yeltsin to denounce "the sinister Communist lie" that NATO is an enemy of Russia. Segodnya on 21 June published an article also urging a compromise with NATO, saying both sides should quickly take steps to defuse tension over the issue. -- Scott Parrish

Addressing the Duma on 21 June, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed retracted his claims of three days earlier (see OMRI Daily Digest,19 June 1996) and said that there had been no coup attempt by military officers close to former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Russian and Western agencies reported. Lebed blamed journalists for misinterpreting his remarks, claiming that his ironic comments about a "third State Committee for the State of Emergency," had mistakenly been taken seriously. Lebed said that Grachev's press Secretary, Yelena Agapova, had planned to pressure President Yeltsin by having local military commanders send him telegrams urging that Grachev be retained as Defense Minister. But Lebed said he had blocked the plan by cautioning generals against sending such protests. Lebed assured the Duma that "all was in order" in the Russian military following Grachev's dismissal. -- Scott Parrish

At a press conference on 22 June, Lebed declared that he would like to see Col.-Gen. Yurii Rodionov, currently head of the General Staff Academy, appointed as Defense Minister, Russian and Western media reported. Lebed described Rodionov as "an outstanding elite general" This declaration may emerge as a test of Lebed's influence, as his position will be undermined if Yeltsin now nominates someone else. Earlier, Lebed met with members of his presidential campaign staff, telling them he had allied with Yeltsin in order to prevent the country from slipping backward. He added that President Yeltsin had granted him wide powers as head of the Security Council, and said that the council would have its own network of regional representatives, in addition to its Moscow staff. He denied he would visit Chechnya soon, saying more preparatory work had to be completed before a visit would prove useful. -- Scott Parrish

Sporadic fighting continued in Chechnya on 21-23 June, while talks between separatist forces and the federal military command on implementing the 10 June military agreement made no progress, Russian and Western media reported. After a meeting on 22 June between Chechen and Russian military negotiators, Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, commader of federal forces, termed the talks "fictitious," and accused the separatists of dragging them out in order to regroup and resume fighting later. On 23 June, tension rose around the southeastern Chechen town of Vedeno, where separatist forces say that federal troops are preparing an attack. Meanwhile, in the Khasav-Yurt region of neighboring Dagestan, two policemen were kidnapped and two killed on 21 June by gunmen who local officials claim were Chechen fighters. According to ITAR-TASS, the outraged local populace staged several demonstions against such Chechen "provocations" on 22-23 June. -- Scott Parrish

A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on 21 June that the Japanese government felt the territorial issue between Russia and Japan over four disputed islands in the southern Kuril chain "should be resolved by the current generation and not by future ones," ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov suggested earlier that the dispute should be solved by "future generations." In March President Boris Yeltsin reaffirmed Russia's commitment to a 1993 pledge to bring about a speedy resolution of the issue. The islands were seized by Soviet troops in the final weeks of World War II. -- Doug Clarke


Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze denied allegations that he was involved in organizing a coup attempt in support of former Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, according to a 21 June BGI report monitored by the BBC. In rejecting the allegations made by Aleksandr Lebed, Chairman of Russia's Security Council, Nadibaidze said the purpose of his visit to Moscow was to confirm the schedule for upgrading Georgia's arsenal with Russian assistance. He noted that Georgia is to receive 100 tanks, 100 personnel carriers, and six military launches, although he was unable to sign the agreement on these deliveries due to Grachev's dismissal. However, it was agreed that Russia will provide 10.5 billion rubles ($2.1 million) worth of equipment for Georgia's air defense system, Radio Rossii reported on 21 June. -- Lowell Bezanis

Azerbaijan's President Haidar Aliyev ordered the release of Turkish journalist Isa Yasar Tezel, Turkish and Western agencies reported on 21 June. Tezel was detained in mid-April in the company of Panah Huseinov, a former Prime Minister during the rule of pro-Turkish President Abulfaz Elchibey, and charged with resisting arrest, misappropriating state property and concealing a crime. His release was secured when a delegation from Turkey's Igdir province --where many Turkish Azeri dwell-- met with Aliyev and presented him with a petition bearing some 5,000 signatures. Aliyev used the opportunity to blast the Ankara-based Azerbaycan Kultur Dernegi (Azerbaijan Cultural Association) for involvement in activities hostile to Azerbaijan, Cumhuriyet reported on 23 June. -- Lowell Bezanis

Kazakhstan's trade unions have urged President Nursultan Nazarbayev not to endorse the law on raising the pension age by three years, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 June. The law proposed raising the pension age by 3 years--to 63 for men and 58 for women. The rejection of the draft pension law by Kazakhstan's Majilis (lower house) on 23 May heralded a constitutional crisis, averted by Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin's mediation which resulted in the parliament endorsing the pension bill on 11 June (See OMRI Daily Digest, 12 June, 1996). A new confrontation between the cabinet and the Majilis is likely if President Nazarbayev endorses the trade unions' demands. -- Bhavna Dave

Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed a partnership and cooperation accord on 21 June, at a ceremony attended by EU leaders in Florence, Italy, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. The accord allows for cooperation in "in most areas" but does not include security and military issues. Uzbekistan hopes this latest deal will pave the way for the Central Asian nation to join the World Trade Organization. Uzbekistan is the fifth country from the CIS to be recognized as a trade partner with the European Union. -- Bruce Pannier

An interview with Colonel Shamil Gareyev, chief of Uzbekistan's Defense Ministry's Operations Department, published in the 20-26 June edition of Obshchaya Gazeta provides rare insight into Uzbekistan's armed forces. In addition to the 70,000-strong Uzbek army, another 180,000 troops are on "alternative service" whereby they continue to hold their regular jobs for two years but pay 20% of their salaries to the Defense Ministry. The "alternative servicemen" are also employed two months per year in harvesting cotton. Garayev made it clear that Uzbekistan did not want to rely on Russian troops. He also said Russia "supports [Tajik President] Rahmonov" while Uzbekistan wants all conflicting forces in Tajikistan to be reconciled. -- Lowell Bezanis

The Ukrainian Parliament has begun an article-by-article debate over the draft constitution, Ukrainian TV and UNIAN reported. Deputies reviewed the draft's preamble and 10 articles on 21 June, but many critical clauses failed to garner the required absolute majority vote. President Leonid Kuchma told a gathering of newspaper editors the next day that if legislators fail to reach a compromise by 25 June, he would call a national referendum on the draft. Kuchma said the torpid review process demonstrated that the legislature was incapable of adopting the constitution, and accused Speaker Oleksander Moroz and the communist caucus of dragging out the debate until the Russian presidential runoff on 3 July, alleging that they have pinned their own political hopes on a communist victory there. The communists said they would lobby citizens to vote against the draft constitution in such a referendum. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Russian President Boris Yeltsin was in Brest on 22 June, international agencies reported. Yeltsin took part in a ceremony commemorating the Nazi invasion with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and attended a session of the Supreme Council of the [Russo-Belarusian] Community. Observers interpreted the visit as a campaign tactic, since it received wide media coverage and Russian law forbids free TV campaign ads until the week before the 3 July runoff election. Lukashenka, the only CIS leader not to endorse Yeltsin prior to the first round of Russian elections, offered supportive words to Yeltsin during his visit, saying he would be crowned with victory. Despite the endorsement, Yeltsin cautioned Lukashenka that the slower pace of privatization in Belarus could impede integration. The visit was marked by separate rallies in Minsk by communists and the anti-Lukashenka opposition. Both ended peacefully. -- Ustina Markus

The wife of a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent was beaten up by two assailants in Minsk, Ekho Moskvy reported on 22 June. Her attackers broke into her apartment at night while her husband was away, beat her, and told her to tell her husband about it. Nothing was taken from the apartment. The following day, NTV reported her husband saying the attack was not a robbery, but an act of intimidation against him. He denied having any connections with legal or illegal businesses, and said the attack was directed against his journalistic activities. -- Ustina Markus

A Tallinn court acquitted Tiit Pruuli, adviser of former Prime Minister Mart Laar, and businessmen Agu Kivimae and Marek Strandberg
on 21 June of charges resulting from a sale of rubles collected when Estonia introduced its own currency in June 1992, ETA reported.
The court ruled that the defendants did not violate currency export-import regulations because they obeyed the instructions of the Monetary Reform Committee, which at that time had greater authority. The revelation of the secret sale to an unknown buyer in Russia sparked a political scandal that contributed to Laar's resignation in 1994. Foreign Minister Siim Kallas, who headed the Bank of Estonia at that time and was a member of the committee, said claims that the rubles were sold for more than their real value were nonsense because no Russian bank was obligated to buy them. -- Saulius Girnius

John White began a two-day visit to Lithuania on 21 June with a meeting with Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius, ELTA reported. Stankevicius repeated the worries of his counterparts in Latvia and Estonia about proposed changes in the Conventional Forces in Europe agreement permitting more Russian tanks in the Pskov region. White praised Lithuania's active role in the Partnership for Peace program and expressed condolences over the death of a Lithuanian officer serving in the IROR forces in Bosnia. White also met with National Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius, commander of Lithuanian armed forces Gen. Jonas Andriskevicius, and other senior officials. -- Saulius Girnius

The Sejm on 21 June approved a sweeping reform plan to limit the government's role in the economy and streamline decision-making, Reuters reported. According to Cabinet Chief-of-Staff Leszek Miller, the plan would "decentralize government powers and strengthen the position of provincial governors." Under the program, control over most state firms will be transferred from ministries to provincial governors, leaving only some 200 strategic, large companies under government supervision. The plan will also merge some ministries, scrap others, and create new ones. A "treasury ministry" supervising
all state assets is due to be created in October, while the privatization ministry will be replaced with a Privatization Agency. "As a result [of the plan], many current power-sharing conflicts will be avoided," said Marek Pol, a minister in charge of the reform. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

Several thousand workers protested outside government headquarters on 21 June against the closure of the Gdansk shipyard, international media reported. "Get your red paws off the shipyard," workers shouted in protest of the ex-communist Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek's bankruptcy plan for the yard, as union chiefs submitted a petition demanding talks with the government. The Solidarity trade union, which organized the demonstration, claims the closure of the historic shipyard is an act of revenge by the government for the opposition that arose there in the 1980s. Meanwhile, President Aleksander Kwasniewski urged that the issue be discussed "not in political but in economic and social terms." Kaczmarek argues that bankruptcy is the only way to start a turnaround of the state-controlled yard, which is burdened with debts and loss-generating contracts. Of Poland's five shipyards, only one has undergone successful restructuring so far. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

Speaking to journalists at the EU summit in Florence on 22 June, Vaclav Klaus said he was able to explain the results of the recent Czech parliamentary elections to "our partners from member and associated countries." Klaus argued that Europe considers it unique that in the Czech Republic "the parties that have presided over radical reforms remain the strongest" after the elections. Klaus added that the expansion of the EU is so certain that "it is not even being discussed anymore." Klaus said his meeting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the first such meeting in several years, "was a first important step toward removing the media-created cliche about our alleged repeated failure to meet." -- Jiri Pehe

Deputies of the coalition Slovak National Party (SNS) snubbed Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 21 June, joining the opposition in a vote to include opposition members on a committee overseeing the Slovak Intelligence Service, Slovak media reported. The next day, the Central Committee of the Association of Workers of Slovakia (ZRS) expressed conditional support for the Meciar-led coalition, announcing that the ZRS does not intend to leave the coalition but "expects the coalition agreement to be observed," Slovak media reported. Also on 22 June, an official of Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia told journalists that "the situation in Slovakia is beginning to stabilize," because the opposition Party of the Democratic Left has allegedly expressed support for Meciar's government. But APA quoted SNS chairman Jan Slota as warning Meciar to stop policies that will result in the break-up of the coalition. -- Jiri Pehe

According to a draft government decree, Hungarian citizens will be allowed to buy foreign securities from 1 July, Magyar Hirlap reported on 24 June. In the beginning, securities can be acquired only through brokerages in Hungary and transactions will be limited to AAA graded securities with longer than a one-year term. While bonds and shares themselves will have to be brought into the country, yields must be converted into Hungarian forints. From January 1997, however, the scope of securities available will be broadened to all bonds and shares that fall into to the "recommended to investors" category. Passage of such an amendment was a condition of Hungary's membership in the OECD. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

After having been heavily criticized by both their federal Muslim partners and the international community (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 and 21 June 1996), three Bosnian Croat leaders on 23 June denied Croats were trying to preserve a separate mini-state of Herceg-Bosna, AFP reported. Bosnian Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic, Federation Defense Minister Vladimir Soljic, and head of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) Bozo Rajic said their move to restructure the Herceg-Bosna government was misunderstood, and was actually a way to gradually transfer authority to the Bosnian federation. Meanwhile, Bosnian Croats on 22 June stoned buses carrying more than 200 Bosnian Muslims trying to visit their former homes in Pocitelj, south of Mostar, AFP reported quoting a Bosnian radio report. The local Croat police did not react, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE President Flavio Cotti arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 23 June for a series of meetings with both Bosnian and Republika Srpska officials, international and local media reported. After talks with Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, Cotti said the OSCE was not subject to any pressure, though all Western governments want the Bosnian elections to be held by the agreed September deadline, Hina reported. Muratovic said Bosnian authorities would take all measures necessary to create conditions for free elections, whenever they take place. Cotti is expected to disclose the decision on the elections date on 25 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Seventy-two Serbs have been intimidated into leaving formerly Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo, Onasa quoted UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko as saying on 21 June. He added that more are preparing to go if the situation does not improve. "We are especially concerned over the harassment of [members of the] Serbian Democratic Initiative (SDI), the only organization that is trying to protect Serbs in those areas," Ivanko said. The UN is particularly concerned about SDI member Bogdan Jovanovic, whom federal police arrested some weeks ago on suspicion of war crimes, Ivanko added. Jovanovic remains in jail but no charges have been brought against him and no evidence has been produced. -- Patrick Moore

Apparently in response to the international community's anger at the nomination of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as the governing Serbian Democratic Party's (SDS) candidate for the presidency of the Republika Srpska (RS) (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 June 1996), leaks to news agencies from within the RS suggested that Karadzic will leave the presidency this week to concentrate on SDS affairs, and that Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha will replace him. Buha himself denied the story as "journalistic speculation," Nasa Borba reported on 24 June. Karadzic has been endorsed by the Banja Luka SDS and by the Society of Refugees in Brcko, which claims to represent 15,000 people. Also in Banja Luka, Mayor Predrag Radic, a former Karadzic ally as the candidate of the opposition Democratic Patriotic Bloc of the Republika Srpska, AFP reported on 23 June. -- Patrick Moore

Democratic Party (DS) representative Slobodan Vuksanovic said at a 21 June press conference in Belgrade that the DS could endorse a possible run by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in upcoming elections in the Republika Srpska. Vuksanovic described Karadzic's possible run as "legitimate" and said his party's position is that the Bosnian Serb leader "thus far has shown that he is responsible to his people, always seemingly placing their interests above his own." On the same theme, in a 19 June interview with OMRI, DS leader Zoran Djindjic said that the DS would participate in RS elections, adding that Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) had "a legitimate [wing] ... that can be worked with." -- Stan Markotich

Rade Lakusic, chair of the League of Communists-Movement for Yugoslavia of Montenegro (SK-PJCG) said on 21 June that his party would formally join a coalition with the Yugoslav United Left (JUL), an organization headed by Mira Markovic, wife of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Montena-fax reported the same day that Lakusic said his party and Markovic's would vie for seats in forthcoming Montenegrin elections, adding that JUL "is a movement that promotes the humanist and socialist ideals that are not pressed enough [here] in Montenegro." -- Stan Markotich

An unspecified number of Serbian Defense Movement supporters held a rally at the monastery of Gracanica near Pristina on 22 June, Beta reported. The demonstration's leaders had earlier sent a petition to President Slobodan Milosevic demanding he give an answer as to what future they can expect for Kosovo. Milosevic, however, did not appear, and neither did any representative of his Socialist Party of Serbia or the government. Some 40,000 Serbs and Montenegrins reportedly signed the petition. The head of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Aleksandar Despic, had caused fear among Kosovo Serbs by saying that Serbia may need to divide from Kosovo in the future. The leaders of the petition also plan to form a political party. Meanwhile, the Liberation Army of Kosovo sent a letter to Deutsche Welle claiming responsibility for the recent shootings of Serb policemen. -- Fabian Schmidt

Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 21-22 June paid a visit to Italy, Radio Bucharest reported. Iliescu, who took part in the Florence EU summit, met with businessmen in Torino and Milan on 21 June. He visited the Torino-based Fiat company, one of Europe's largest car producers, and the headquarters of the San Paolo banking group. At a press conference in Florence after the summit, Iliescu said on 22 June that isolation was no alternative to EU integration, irrespective of the costs that process may incur. -- Dan Ionescu

A conference on "Building Up and Consolidating the Statehood of the Republic of Moldova" was staged in Chisinau on 21 June, Moldpres reported. The gathering, attended by senior Moldovan officials including President Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli, and Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi, focused on ways to consolidate the state structures of the former Soviet republic, which proclaimed its independence on 27 August 1991. In an opening address, Snegur praised his country's progress toward democracy and reform, and urged the authorities to work out a "clear concept" for Moldova's integration into the community of European states. -- Dan Ionescu

President Zhelyu Zhelev was awarded the annual prize of the Crans Montana Foundation on 21 June for his work for democracy, RFE/RL reported. The prize was presented by Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE President Flavio Cotti, who stressed Zhelev's commitment to democracy. Zhelev asked the West for understanding of the difficulties former communist countries face in the transition process, arguing that the transition to a free-market economy placed enormous burdens on ordinary people. In other news, the Bulgarian civil defense accidentally triggered an air-raid alert on 23 June. The error was discovered before military planes took off. According to Trud, military and civil-defense officials were completely unprepared and in case of a real attack would have been unable to protect Sofia. Novinar reported that most air-raid shelters have been rented out as warehouses. -- Stefan Krause

According to the Central Electoral Commission (KQZ), the Democratic Party will get 122 or 85% of the 140 seats in the new parliament. The Socialist Party won 10 seats, the Republican Party and the ethnic Greek Party for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms won three seats each, and the Balli Kombetar won two. However, the Socialist Party considers the election results manipulated and plans to boycott the parliament. The Council of Europe (CE) Parliamentary Assembly's political committee will hold a closed-door meeting on 24 June with the OSCE, eight Albanian political parties, and the KQZ to prepare for a 26 June emergency meeting of the full assembly. A two-thirds majority of the assembly may advise the CE's Council of Ministers to suspend Albania's membership in the organization. -- Fabian Schmidt

Sali Berisha, attending the Crans Montana Forum on 22 June, announced that "there will be no new elections in Albania. On behalf of all those who freely voted in a sovereign country, I am making this very clear," AFP reported. Earlier the ruling Democratic Party had rejected a call by the European Parliament for fresh elections and called a resolution to that effect "aggressive." -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle and

Tom Warner