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Newsline - July 11, 1996

Up to 370 Chechens have been killed and some 170 wounded in continuing Russian air and artillery attacks on Gekhi and four other villages in southern Chechnya, AFP reported on 10 July, quoting Chechen spokesman Movladi Udugov. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin nonetheless said in Moscow that there has been no interruption in the implementation of the president's plan for a peaceful settlement of the Chechen conflict and that Russian forces "are simply bringing impudent rebels to their senses," according to ITAR-TASS. AFP, citing Interfax, quoted Russian military spokesman Igor Melnikov as saying that the Russian forces in Chechnya had been ordered to locate and capture acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, but Melnikov subsequently denied this, telling ITAR-TASS that Russian forces had been ordered only to pinpoint and cordon off the village of Makhkati where Yandarbiev's headquarters is reportedly located, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

In a televised speech 10 July, President Boris Yeltsin thanked voters for reelecting him, singling out young people, the intelligentsia, and the media, according to a transcript in Rossiiskaya gazeta on 11 July. The three major television networks gave Yeltsin uncritical support during the campaign. He said that the economic reforms would continue but with "serious corrections" and a focus on increasing production and raising living standards. Yeltsin reaffirmed his support for Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and said that his new government could include members from a variety of parties, as long as these individuals are willing to set aside partisan interests. This formulation downplayed the communist idea of a coalition government. He also said that he is planning to make his administration "more compact and effective" while bringing in new people. The speech did not mention the current fighting in Chechnya. The ailing president looked stiff but spoke clearly, Reuters reported. -- Robert Orttung

Yeltsin on 10 July approved Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's plans to strengthen the role of the Security Council, Russian Public TV reported. The council is charged with defending Russia's vital interests in the social, economic, military, and environmental spheres. Yeltsin also signed a decree on fighting crime in Moscow and Moscow Oblast prepared by Lebed and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. Earlier reports said the decree focuses on measures to tackle corruption and vagrancy. Over the past six months, more than 46,000 crimes were registered in Moscow. The number of thefts declined in comparison with the first half of 1995, but the incidence of murder--in particular contract killings--and rape increased. Yeltsin's support for Lebed's initiatives clearly pits the Security Council chief against Chernomyrdin, the other main aspirant for power within the president's inner circle and a possible successor to Yeltsin. -- Penny Morvant and Robert Orttung

New Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Kovalev said on 10 July that economic security and the fight against corruption would be his main priorities, Russian and Western agencies reported. He also said he would take steps to counter the activities of foreign secret services in Russia, contending that they have recently become very active. Economic security has also been singled out as a priority by Security Council Secretary Lebed, while President Yeltsin said in his 10 July address that fighting corruption at all levels of government would be a major focus of his second term. -- Penny Morvant

Presidential First Aide Viktor Ilyushin announced the president's intention to establish a new group within his administration, possibly called the Strategic Planning Group, which would be staffed by his former campaign workers, NTV reported on 10 July. At the same time, Ilyushin criticized the current administration for disorganization, and said it would be streamlined. He denounced speculation that Lebed is taking over presidential powers as "unfounded apprehensions." He also did not rule out that Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, would find a spot in the administration or that former Presidential Security Service Director Aleksandr Korzhakov would return. A group of U.S. consultants claim to have fed Dyachenko campaign strategy advice in the months before the election, while Ilyushin described her as a "political find," ITAR-TASS reported. Ilyushin himself may join the government as first deputy prime minister. -- Robert Orttung

The Duma on 10 July failed to win the 300 votes necessary to pass the law on Russia's human rights commissioner, Russian media reported. An earlier version of the bill was rejected by the Federation Council on 15 May. The reworked version was supported by only 248 deputies. Prior to the voting, President Yeltsin's representative said that an article in the new text allowing regions to establish the post of human rights commissioner is unconstitutional. The Russian parliament has been debating the bill for three years. -- Penny Morvant

The State Anti-Monopoly Committee is planning to press charges against the three major television networks for illegally showing advertisements promoting alcohol and tobacco products, ITAR-TASS reported. The provision prohibiting such commercials came into effect on 1 January in the advertising law but is constantly violated. Punishment includes a maximum fine of approximately 350 million rubles ($68,000) and complaints to the body that issues broadcasting licenses. -- Robert Orttung

The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) has ruled that Aman Tuleev, a presidential candidate who withdrew from the race on the eve of the first round, must pay back money he received from the federal budget for his campaign, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 10 July. The TsIK asked Tuleev to reimburse the commission for expenses related to his home region during the campaign and the 313 million ruble ($61,000) cost of checking his list of nomination signatures. If he fails to return this money, the commission will seize his assets. -- Anna Paretskaya

The Supreme Court has asked the Procurator General's Office to investigate accusations of falsification during the first round of the presidential election in the Tatar capital, Kazan, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 10 July. The case was initiated by the first secretary of the Communist Party in Tatarstan, Aleksandr Salii (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 June 1996), who said the figures that came to the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) differed considerably from those that went to the local electoral commissions. He claims that the results were forged in Kazan's seven districts to produce an additional 60,000 votes in favor of President Yeltsin. The preliminary results of the first round in Tatarstan gave Zyuganov 40.5% of the vote to Yeltsin's 37%, while TsIK's final report gives Yeltsin 38.34% and Zyuganov 38.10%. -- Anna Paretskaya

The leader of the Russian National Union, Sergei Baburin, has suggested that the Communist Party's high-profile role in the Popular-Patriotic Bloc that backed Gennadii Zyuganov for president damaged his chances in the election. Baburin said the party's visibility enabled President Yeltsin to successfully play the anti-communist card. He also proposed that the new opposition movement, which he is currently involved in setting up (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 July 1996), be "unconditionally dominated by popular-patriotic ideology," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 July. He also questioned whether Zyuganov should assumed the leading role in the new movement. -- Anna Paretskaya

In a message to Russians living abroad issued on 10 July, President Yeltsin said he regards the "protection of the rights and interests of Russian people, no matter where they are," as one of his "main priorities," ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin pledged to do everything possible to assure Russians living in other states that "Russia cares about you and will support you." The president also thanked Russians living abroad for their participation in the 3 July presidential run-off, for which 397 polling stations were established in 146 foreign countries. -- Scott Parrish

In the latest in an ongoing series of such incidents, a Russian patrol vessel on 10 July fired warning shots at Japanese trawlers about to enter Russian territorial waters near the disputed southern Kuril islands, AFP reported. On the same day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov told ITAR-TASS that Russia was continuing to decrease its military presence on the islands, and hoped to engage the Japanese in joint economic projects there. Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who had earlier suggested that he might attend President Yeltsin's inauguration, (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 July 1996) backtracked further, saying he could not visit Russia on 9 August, now the scheduled inaugural date, since the Soviet Union opened hostilities against Japan on that day in 1945. -- Scott Parrish

The Yakovlev Aircraft Corporation announced on 10 July that it planned to buy the bankrupt Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker for some $216 million, but Reuters indicated that the Dutch firm denied that it is close to a deal with Yakovlev. Yakovlev's vice president, Arkadii Gurtovoi, said that his company plans to pay for the purchase by loans from Western banks that would be guaranteed by the Russian government. ITAR-TASS reported that the government had approved Yakovlev's proposal. Both firms have built popular short- and medium-range airliners in the past. -- Doug Clarke

At least five people were injured when an explosion ripped through the front of a Moscow trolley bus on 11 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. The explosion occurred at around 9 a.m. about 1 km from the Kremlin. A month ago four people were killed in an explosion on the Moscow subway. -- Penny Morvant

Shamil Tarpishchev, chairman of the State Committee on Sports and Tourism, has denied allegations by Aleksandr Minkin in Novaya yezhednevnaya gazeta that he is involved in corruption and linked with organized crime (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 July 1996). Tarpishchev told ITAR-TASS on 10 July that he might sue the journalist and the newspaper. Interviewed in Komsomolskaya pravda, former National Sports Fund head Boris Fedorov, who features prominently in the controversial article, said that he had been "set up" and that the conversation quoted in the piece had been doctored. Meanwhile, the Duma called for an investigation of the case and supported an appeal from a Yabloko deputy to Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov to assign bodyguards to Minkin. -- Penny Morvant

Aleksandr Lebed met with 30 economists and businessmen on 9 July and listened to them debate the problems facing the Russian economy, Izvestiya reported on 11 July. Lebed's attitude towards economic policy was laid out in a document which he circulated to journalists, and which was analyzed in Delovoi mir on 9 July. In addition to a crackdown on corruption and measures to improve the situation of current and former soldiers, the main theme is the need to rein in Russia's energy barons. Lebed argues that "natural resource capital felt itself independent from the state, and began to pursue its own budgetary, financial, and regional policy. This took place in the same way that military-industrial capital operated in the USSR, with the same destructive results." -- Peter Rutland

The Central Bank has been tightening its control of the banking system in the wake of the suspension of operations at Tveruniversalbank (TUB), one of the 20 biggest banks in Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest , 9 July 1996). The Central Bank plans to set up a special 100-man OPERU-2 center to monitor the 27 leading banks, Izvestiya reported on 10 July. Sergei Aleksashenko, deputy head of the Central Bank, sent out a telegram to leading banks instructing them to report on all their bill of exchange operations by 10 July. TUB had put an estimated 800 billion rubles ($156 million) of vekselya in circulation, or about 8% of the total market. These bills are no longer being honored, and the impact on the banking system is uncertain. TUB bills were accepted as tax payment by 15 federal regions, for example. -- Peter Rutland

The Vatican and Turkmenistan will establish diplomatic ties at the level of nuncio and ambassador, respectively, AFP reported on 10 July. Turkmenistan is the last of the five Central Asian states to do so; Tajikistan established diplomatic relations with the Vatican last month. -- Bhavna Dave

Yevgenii Primakov, on a tour of Central Asia, held talks with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev in Bishkek on 10 July, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported. Akayev said his country has already "felt the results" of economic integration among the CIS states, and vowed to expand links with Russia. He also expressed satisfaction at the reelection of President Yeltsin. Primakov, speaking at the Slavic University in Bishkek, called for further integration among the CIS states but centered his speech on the prospects for real peace in Tajikistan. A Kyrgyz battalion is serving with the CIS border guards defending the Tajik-Afghan border. -- Bruce Pannier

Government officials and journalists from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Slovenia, Austria, Finland, NATO, the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, and France met to discuss the future of European security and NATO enlargement on 10 July. The conference, held near Prague, was organized by the Foundation for International Studies and the Bohemiae Foundation. Czech, Hungarian, Slovenian, and Polish officials reiterated their desire to join NATO as soon as possible, saying they hoped NATO would formally approve enlargment in December. They dismissed Russian objections, saying expansion is not directed against Russia, but rather is part of a broader process of European integration. All participants wanted to build a "strategic partnership" with Russia in parallel with NATO enlargement, but some worried that Moscow's position could make it difficult to achieve both goals simultaneously. -- Scott Parrish

Integration with Belarus should be a top priority now that Russian presidential elections are over, said Russian State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 July. Seleznev, who was in Minsk heading up a Duma delegation, met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. He described Lukashenka as a "locomotive bringing our two countries together." The same day, Lukashenka said opposition forces in Belarus could not create "a quarrel between me and Boris Yeltsin, our Belarus and Russia." He said the opposition also would not be able to isolate Belarus from the West. A working group has been created to help synchronize economic reform between Russia and Belarus, Belarusian TV reported on 9 July. The group should complete its work by the end of 1997. -- Ustina Markus

Some 700 soldiers from the U.S. and the Baltic states are participating in a Partnership for Peace exercise called Baltic Challenge in Latvia from 10-18 July, Reuters reported. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis was to attend the opening ceremony on 11 July. The exercise, which will be an annual event rotated between the three Baltic states, is aimed to improve cooperation among soldiers of different countries in peacekeeping operations and to promote greater mutual military confidence. The U.S. will pay most of the exercises' costs, projected at between $700,000 and $1 million. The Russian Liberal Democratic Party criticized the exercise: "For the first time since 1918, American boots are trampling on Russian soil." -- Saulius Girnius

Estonian and Russian delegations made no progress in border talks in Tallinn on 9-10 July, BNS reported. The main problem blocking the resolution of a treaty is that Russia rejects Estonia's request to recognize the validity of the Tartu Treaty of 1920. Russia also refused to discuss a draft political declaration, presented by Estonian delegation head Raul Malk, that affirms that recognition of the 1920 treaty does not mean that Estonia could reclaim land Russia later annexed. However, an agreement on the sea border in the Gulf of Finland is almost ready and might be initialed in St. Petersburg in mid-September, Malk said. The two sides also agreed to swap small areas of water and land along the joint land border. -- Saulius Girnius

Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas on a visit to Riga on 10 July signed an agreement defining crossing points on highways and railways with his Latvian counterpart Valdis Birkavs, BNS reported. Kallas and Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis agreed to draft common policies for integration into the EU and NATO and for relations with Russia. Kallas informed Prime Minister Andris Skele about the U.S. first lady's visit, and they discussed implementation of a free-trade agreement for farm products among the Baltic states. -- Saulius Girnius

Aleksander Kwasniewski, ending his five-day visit, said he is convinced the U.S. will help Poland become a member of NATO by 2001, Polish and international media reported on 11 July. Kwasniewski met with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and Defense Secretary William Perry. He met also with business leaders, Polish-Americans, and Jewish leaders. Kwasniewski said the two countries agree that NATO expansion is a logical step to overcome Cold War divisions. During talks with Perry, Kwasniewski discussed Poland's interest in purchasing U.S.-made F-16 and F-18 fighter jets. Poland is also looking at aircraft from Britain, France, Russia and Sweden, he said. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati and Christopher signed on 10 July an agreement on mutual legal support in penal matters and modified an extradition agreement signed by the two countries before the World War II. -- Jakub Karpinski

The Brazilian government is negotiating with Poland to obtain $300 million in Polish military equipment as payment for part of Poland's large debt to Brazil, South American Business News reported on 9 July. In the deal, Brazil would receive military communications equipment, bullet-proof vests, and military vehicles. -- Doug Clarke

The Slovak cabinet on 10 July accused Budapest of violating the bilateral treaty and of trying to destabilize the region, Slovak media reported. At issue is a communique released after a conference on Hungarian minorities that requests autonomy for Hungarians in neighboring countries. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jozef Sestak summoned Hungarian ambassador to Slovakia, Jeno Boros, to explain the conference's "motives and conclusions" and Hungary's views on the further development of bilateral relations. Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs met in Budapest with Slovak Ambassador Eva Mitrova, who presented the Slovak government's official stance. Kovacs said ethnic-based territorial autonomy was out of the question and denied the communique violated the bilateral treaty. Kovacs said the government's program declaration supports the autonomy aspirations of ethnic Hungarians beyond the border in accordance with Western European norms, and he rejected the view that ethnic autonomy automatically leads to separatism, Hungarian media reported. -- Sharon Fisher and Zsofia Szilagyi

Trade unionists from the heavy-industrial firm ZTS Dubnica on 10 July rejected the government's accusations that they are partially responsible for their firm's unsteady financial situation,
TASR reported. On 9 July, they protested in front of the Slovak government office, criticizing the cabinet's lack of interest in their problems. Cabinet officials refused to meet with the trade unionists, and Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar canceled a visit to Dubnica scheduled for 11 July. The opposition Party of the Democratic Left on 10 July promised to support the trade unions. Commenting on the situation of ZTS employees, many of whom are threatened with unemployment and reportedly have not received their wages for months, the party blamed the National Property Fund and the state. -- Sharon Fisher

NATO peacekeepers are keeping a very close watch on Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, effectively confining him to his headquarters in Pale, The Daily Telegraph reported on 10 July. IFOR is still wary of attempting nab him outright because of the memory of the bloody fiasco when U.S. troops tried to grab Somali warlord Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed in 1993. The well-armed NATO troops apparently fear Karadzic's body guards, possible reprisal attacks elsewhere, and the loss of "a reasonable degree of cooperation between the Bosnian Serbs and the peacekeepers," the paper reported. -- Patrick Moore

"British sources" warned against attempts to ban Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) from the 14 September elections, The Daily Telegraph reported on 10 July. OSCE election commissioner Robert Frowick said he would prohibit participation of the SDS because parties run by war criminals must be disqualified. The British sources said that move would turn elections into "a farce" and "exceed the restrictions placed on Dr. Karadzic by the Dayton accords." Russia also warns against such a move. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, however, said Muslims might boycott the vote if the SDS is allowed to participate with Karadzic as its chairman, AFP reported. -- Patrick Moore

On 11 July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN-declared "safe area" in eastern Bosnia while Dutch UNPROFOR troops looked on, and NATO aircraft remained on the ground. The worst atrocity in Europe since World War II followed. As many as 6,000 Muslim males were gunned down after Bosnian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic allegedly assured them safety and forced them to call down fighters from the hills. On 10 July 1996, investigators from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal continued excavating mass graves; they have found 40 bodies so far, AFP reported. At another location, Bosnian Serbs continued their cat-and-mouse game with Finnish forensics experts who have dug out the remains of 25 Muslims. The Finns left Bosnian Serb territory after Serb authorities hampered their work, Onasa reported. In Sarajevo, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said Serbs are still preventing refugees from going home and those responsible for the massacre are still in power, Oslobodjenje reported on 11 July. -- Patrick Moore

The Croatian side of the election commission will not accept the EU's final results of the Mostar election, deputy western Mostar mayor and Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) president Mile Puljic said, Reuters reported on 10 July. The Croats said they would resign if the EU publishes the results. They are demanding that the vote in Bonn be repeated because of balloting irregularities. The HDZ also claims there were 1,355 fewer ballots than actual voters in the Stari Grad municipality in Mostar, and one person was registered to vote at two polling stations. The HDZ won a majority in the elections in Mostar--but the foreign returns put the Muslim-dominated List of Citizens for a United Mostar as the winner. -- Fabian Schmidt

Iqbal Riza met with representatives of the Muslim and Croat communities and EU officials to discuss Mostar's post-election deadlock. He said the EU administration was acting impartially. EU spokesman Dragan Gasic said the legal deadline for complaints is now over, and the EU will sort out any difficulties, the AFP reported. So far, the EU has released only unofficial results, and the HDZ's blockade of the election results prevents the city council from holding its constituent meeting. -- Fabian Schmidt

Rump Yugoslav Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Belgrade representative, Francois Bellon, signed a five-year agreement that will enable the ICRC to conduct courses in international humanitarian law for civil and military authorities, AFP reported on 10 July. The report said the courses are designed to instruct rump Yugoslav officials in "proper wartime conduct," and the first class is scheduled for late 1996. -- Stan Markotich

About 100 Muslim refugees were evicted from their housing in the northern Serbian town of Crvenka and left to "take care of themselves," Onasa reported on 10 July, citing Belgrade's weekly Nedeljni Telegraf. Local police "took an old, blind woman to the village of Lipovac and left her on the street." Her case was not an isolated one, Onasa reported. -- Stan Markotich

The potential bankruptcy of two of Romania's largest private banks has provoked strong political dispute. The banks--Dacia Felix and Credit Bank--recently reported losses totaling some $1 billion. Romanian National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu earlier this week halted state financial support. But Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, whose government appears to fear a backlash from some 800,000 people likely to lose their savings, said he was surprised at Isarescu's decision, Radio Bucharest reported on 10 July. That day, the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity, which has four portfolios in the cabinet, called for an extraordinary session of parliament to discuss the crisis. Leaders of the Liberal Party `93 said they would not support a special parliamentary debate. -- Dan Ionescu

Milan Kucan on 10 July started a two-day official visit in Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. He discussed bilateral relations and the Bosnian situation with his Romanian counterpart Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu. Kucan will also talk with Romanian Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman and other senior officials, and make a trip to the former royal castle Peles at Sinaia in the Carpathians. Kucan is returning Iliescu's 1993 visit to Slovenia. -- Dan Ionescu

Ion Iliescu's remarks about common language and ethnic identity during a 5-6 July official visit to the Republic of Moldova sparked criticism, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 10 July. The ultra-leftist Socialist Unity parliamentary faction accused him of interfering in Moldova's domestic affairs. The faction's 28 members expressed "bewilderment" over "Iliescu's teachings," which they said showed he was not prepared to treat Moldova as an equal partner and independent, sovereign state. The naming of Moldova's official language has been a major point of contention over the past several years. In the spring of 1995, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur asked the parliament to change the language's name in the constitution from "Moldovan" to "Romanian." -- Dan Ionescu

Three parliamentary deputies of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) died on 10 July when their car crashed into another vehicle on a wet road, Duma reported. Emiliya Tomova, Mariya Zaharieva, and Rumyana Nikolova were en route to Veliko Tarnovo, where the BSP presidential candidate, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, was to kick off his election campaign at a rally celebrating the fifth anniversary of the adoption of Bulgaria's constitution. The driver of the other car was killed, and the deputies' driver was seriously injured. Pirinski, who had followed in another car, canceled the rally. The parliament will pay tribute in an extraordinary session on 11 July; all sessions for the week were canceled. Meanwhile, Pirinski's election campaign press center was officially opened. -- Stefan Krause

The united opposition on 10 July formally endorsed Todor Kavaldzhiev as their vice presidential candidate, Kontinent reported. Kavaldzhiev, of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (BZNS), will be the running mate of Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS). That agreement was signed by the leader of the SDS and the BZNS, the Democratic Party--which with the BZNS forms the People's Union--and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom. Kavaldzhiev is seen as a compromise candidate of BZNS factions. The BZNS had insisted on providing Stoyanov's running mate. Meanwhile, accused criminal and head of the Bulgarian Wrestling Federation Dimitar Dzhamov (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 July 1996) was arrested on charges of stealing eight kilograms of gold and four cars from a Roma family, Standart reported. -- Stefan Krause

Aleksander Meksi was expected to announce his new government on 11 July, Albania reported. Meksi reportedly will create a new privatization ministry, to be led by current Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni, and Safet Zhulali will remain defense minister. New government members are said to include Halit Shamata as interior minister and former ambassador to Italy Pandeli Paskon as agriculture minister. Democratic Party leader Tritan Shehu is to become deputy prime minister and also will replace Alfred Serreqi as foreign minister. Serreqi's deputy, Arian Starova, will maintain his post. Other new appointments reportedly include Besnik Gjongecaj as education minister. -- Fabian Schmidt

Other parties likely will be represented in the ruling coalition, Albania reported on 10 July. The appointments have not been announced, but reports say the future general secretary to Prime Minister Arjan Madhi will be a lawyer from the Republican Party. Culture Minister Teodor Laco will represent the tiny Social Democratic Union; Zef Bushati as secretary of state for sports will be a voice for the Christian Democratic Party, which he leads. Those two parties did not gain a single seat in parliament. The Balli Kombetar leadership, headed by party deputy leader Hysen Selfo, on 9 July also decided to offer participation to Meksi in defiance of party leader Abaz Ermenji. Ermenji has charged the ruling Democrats with election fraud and called May's ballot a "coup d' etat." He later resigned and returned to France, where he was in exile during communism. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Maura Griffin Solovar