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Newsline - November 5, 1996

President Boris Yeltsin's cardiac bypass operation ended successfully seven hours after it began at 7 a.m. Moscow time on 5 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. After the operation, Yeltsin was moved to the intensive care section of the Moscow Cardiological Center. Citing a source at the hospital, AFP reported that American and German doctors, including Michael DeBakey, monitored the operation on closed-circuit television but did not enter the operating room. Before going under anesthetic, Yeltsin signed a decree transferring all presidential powers to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. He is expected to sign another decree taking some powers back soon after he regains consciousness. Doctors have estimated that he will need at least two months to recover from the operation. Should Yeltsin die from complications surrounding the surgery, a new presidential election must be called within three months. In the meantime, Chernomyrdin would perform all presidential duties. -- Laura Belin

Yeltsin's 1 November decree creating a Presidential State Military Inspectorate will permit presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais to supervise the power ministries, Izvestiya reported on 5 November. The decree charged the inspectorate with ensuring the implementation of the president's constitutional powers in the areas of defense and security, and established it as an independent department of the presidential administration. The paper said that although the 100-member inspectorate will be directly subordinate to Yeltsin, day-to-day "operational matters" not requiring Yeltsin's attention will be decided by Chubais. The inspectorate will monitor not only the defense ministry, but also the 24 other federal agencies with uniformed servicemen, the paper added. -- Scott Parrish

Chernomyrdin chaired a session of the Security Council on 4 November at which council chairman Ivan Rybkin and his deputy Boris Berezovskii reported on their recent talks with the Chechen separatist leadership, Russian media reported. Chernomyrdin endorsed the Chechen leadership's plans to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on 27 January 1997, on condition that the 300,000 people who fled Chechnya to avoid the fighting are permitted to vote, and that full security can be guaranteed. But he did not stipulate, as Rybkin did, that the elections should be contingent on complete demilitarization. Chernomyrdin also said "it is clear" that Chechnya should receive special economic status, but noted that "a special approach" is needed to formulate this status as an entire republic of the Russian Federation is involved. -- Liz Fuller

So far, federal authorities have released 35 militants and Chechens have released 100 civilians and 51 soldiers, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 November. The Russian government says the Chechens are holding 1,600 prisoners, while the Chechens are seeking the release of 1,350 persons from Russia. Under the Khasavyurt accords signed on 31 August, prisoners were supposed to be promptly exchanged on an "all for all" basis. Sergei Popov, head of a group dealing with the prisoner exchange, expressed frustration at the slow progress. He also stated that the Chechens are not asking for the release of convicted criminals, only those detained under suspicion of fighting in the separatist forces. -- Peter Rutland

Grozny Mayor Lechi Dudaev (Dzhokhar Dudaev's nephew) traveled to Moscow on 4 November to meet Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, ITAR-TASS reported. Luzhkov offered to build one million square meters of housing in Grozny in return for oil shipments from Chechnya. He also agreed to provide schools in Grozny with textbooks and to accommodate children from the region in summer camps near Moscow. Luzhkov has been an ardent advocate of Chechnya remaining within the Russian Federation. -- Natalia Gurushina

The presidential Commission for Human Rights met on 4 November and expressed concern about violations of the rights of ethnic Russians living abroad, ITAR-TASS reported, citing commission chairman Vladimir Kartashkin. He advocated forming a joint CIS human rights court to hear complaints brought by individuals living in CIS countries, as well as an interstate human rights commission of all CIS countries plus the Baltic states. The commission is a consultative body with no power to enact policy. He also suggested forming a special joint rapid reaction force to undertake hostage rescues and similar missions. -- Laura Belin

Representatives from several human rights watchdog groups resolved at a 2 November Moscow meeting to focus their efforts on helping human rights defenders in Russia's regions, ITAR-TASS and Russian TV (RTR) reported, citing Moscow Helsinki Group leader Lyudmila Alekseeva. They claimed that the farther a region is located from Moscow, the worse the human rights situation is. Alekseeva argued that the most widespread violation of human rights in Russia is the delayed payment of wages and pensions. Such delays "violate fundamental human rights: the right to life, to health, and a normal family," she added. -- Laura Belin

Controversy has flared over reports that Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii is a citizen of Israel as well as of Russia. While not explicitly denying that he has dual citizenship, Berezovskii has said articles published in Izvestiya and Komsomolskaya pravda on 1 November questioning his citizenship were anti-Semitic. Appearing on NTV on 3 November, he threatened to sue the newspapers, saying, "I am a citizen of Russia, and for my entire life, all my actions have been connected only with Russia." On 5 November, both Izvestiya and Komsomolskaya pravda held their ground. Citing the Israeli newspaper Ha'Aretz, Komsomolskaya pravda reported that a Boris Abramovich Berezovskii obtained Israeli citizenship in 1993. The papers argued that while Berezovskii's ethnicity was of no concern, it was inappropriate for a person with dual citizenship--with any country--to hold a high office involving state security. -- Laura Belin

Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) spokeswoman Tatyana Samolis denounced the 24 October arrest of former agent Vladimir Galkin in New York as an "uncivilized" violation of accepted intelligence practice, Russian and Western agencies reported. Galkin, accompanying a Russian Interior Ministry delegation, was taken into FBI custody upon arrival at Kennedy International Airport, and will be indicted on charges of attempting to purchase classified information related to the "Star Wars" missile defense program in Cyprus in 1990 and 1991. According to Samolis, Galkin freely admitted on his U.S. visa application that he worked for the SVR until 1992, and she termed his arrest a "dirty trick," which broke informal norms on the treatment of retired agents. She threatened that Russia might retaliate against retired American operatives. -- Scott Parrish

At a joint Moscow press conference with his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Schuessel, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov declared that neutral countries play a positive role in maintaining international stability, Russian agencies reported. Reiterating Moscow's opposition to NATO enlargement, he praised the position of Austrian politicians who do not want Austria to join the alliance. -- Scott Parrish

Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and his South Korean counterpart Kim Dong-Jin signed a bilateral defense cooperation agreement in Moscow on 4 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. It calls for military exchanges, naval port visits, and the training of South Korean personnel in Russia. Rodionov hailed the development of bilateral military cooperation over the last five years, while Kim said Korean experts are closely studying sample SU-37, SU-35, and SU-30 fighters. Moscow hopes South Korea, which usually buys its weapons from the U.S., will purchase some 120 of the planes. The South Korean military already has some Russian armored vehicles which it recently received under a debt-for-weapons barter deal. -- Scott Parrish

Khadzhi-Murat Ibragimbeili, deputy chairman of the Muslim movement Nur, told OMRI on 4 November that the movement opposes the federal government's intention to force republics to make their legislation conform to federal law. He said that republican authorities know better how to express local traditions in legislation, while federal laws, including the Constitution, fail to reflect those traditions. Last week, presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais called for regional and republican laws to be amended to make them comply with the federal legislation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 October 1996). The Central Electoral Commission has said that electoral laws of 27 regions violate federal statues. In addition, mass media laws of the republics of Bashkortostan and Kalmykiya contradict the federal Constitution and violate individuals' right to information, head of Glasnost Defense Foundation Aleksei Simonov told OMRI last week. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

The head of the Primorskii Krai power company (Dalenergo), Vasilii Poleshchuk, told ITAR-TASS on 5 November that none of the commitments made in an agreement signed last month by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov were realized (see OMRI Daily Digest 7 October 1996). The use of middlemen companies to resell coal has not been eliminated, and local consumers still owe the company 286 billion rubles. Primore mine officials complain that they have shipped 120 billion rubles ($22 million) worth of coal to Dalenergo in the last two months, but have only been paid 9 billion rubles. The Bolshakov protocol promised to pay 27 billion rubles a month each to Dalenergo and the coal company, but they have received only 14 and 5.8 billion respectively, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 November. Wage arrears to the region's coal miners total 160 billion rubles. -- Peter Rutland

Governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Eduard Rossel has announced that the region will introduce its own currency, which has already been dubbed the "Ural Franc," ITAR-TASS reported on 4 November. Rossel said that the currency, which will be accepted only locally, should ease problems associated with tight money supply. He also noted that the introduction of the "Ural Franc" was already planned when the oblast attempted to get the status of Ural republic in 1993, adding that the proposal has now been agreed with First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

Hrant Bagratyan announced his resignation on 4 November, Western media reported the same day. He was replaced by Armen Sarkisyan, Armenia's Ambassador to Britain. Bagratyan declined to give any reason for his decision. The move follows recent statements by several leaders of the ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement blaming Bagratyan for the poorer than expected showing of President Levon Ter-Petrossyan in the controversial 22 September elections. During his first post-election speech, Ter-Petrossyan promised a "serious reshuffle" in the government. A staunch supporter of market reforms and tough monetary policy, 38-year old Bagratyan headed the government since February 1993 and is credited by the West for Armenia's good macroeconomic indicators. Speaking at his last news conference, he called for a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition. -- Emil Danielyan

In his regular Monday radio address, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze called on Russia's leaders to state more clearly their country's official position towards the parliamentary elections scheduled for 23 November in Georgia's breakaway Black Sea region of Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS and Radio Mayak reported. Shevardnadze argued that this would dispel suspicions in Georgia that certain unnamed forces in Russia support the separatist regime in Sukhumi. The Georgian parliament has denounced the planned elections as illegal; the UN has called for their postponement pending the repatriation to Abkhazia of some 200,000 ethnic Georgian refugees who fled the fighting in 1992-3. On 2-3 November, Georgian terrorist groups attacked Russian peacekeeping forces on the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia and launched an artillery attack on the town of Gali, Ekho Moskvy reported, citing Abkhaz government statements. -- Liz Fuller

Fighters of the Tajik opposition have seized two more villages along the road to Khorog, Russian and Western sources reported. They attacked Sagirdasht and Kalai-Hussein on 1 November, capturing both by 3 November. The villages lie along the only highway leading to the Eastern city of Khorog. More importantly, these are the last two villages of any size on the way south to Afghanistan. Russian and Kazakstani border guards at the Kalai-Khumb posts are now sandwiched between Tajik opposition forces based opposite their positions in Afghanistan and behind them in the Tavil-Dara region. The Tajik Ministry of Defense is moving about 3,000 soldiers into position to launch a counter-offensive. -- Bruce Pannier

The French construction company Bouygues has been awarded the contract to build a convention center in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat, according to a 4 November AFP report. This latest contract is worth about $98 million but Bouygues is already building the presidential palace at a cost of about $80 million and a national park complex for an undisclosed figure. -- Bruce Pannier

Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko announced that his government will raise duties on food imports by as much as 50% over the next few months, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 2 November. The move is aimed at protecting domestic food producers. Kyiv has already upped duties on potato imports and will soon do likewise on meat and dairy products. Overall, duties should go up on more than 600 goods. The government also revealed that monthly inflation in October was 1.5%. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

The Constitutional Court ruled that the president's and parliament's draft constitutions may be put to a popular referendum, but the results would not be legally binding, international agencies reported on 4 November. Constitutional amendments put to a referendum are legally binding, but the court ruled the two competing drafts were effectively new constitutions. Chief Justice Valeryi Tsikhinya said the referendum results would have only an "advisory character," and could not be used as a basis for changing the constitution. The court ruled eight to three that parliament would decide what actions to take after the referendum. Parliament was also instructed to either rework the questions or pass a new referendum resolution. -- Ustina Markus

Head of the judicial department, Alyaksandr Plaskovitski, said that the Constitutional Court "had no right to decide on the issue," Reuters & ORT reported on 5 November. The ruling "does not correspond to the current constitution," he said, warning that if the president decides the verdict contradicts the constitution, he might ignore it. The president's press-service has accused the court of "crudely violating the referendum law," adding, "the Constitutional Court has denied the people their right to make a decision." Justice Minister Valentin Tsukalo said that the court has disrupted the referendum, and that the country's situation from a legal point of view is becoming uncontrollable. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that the court has been used while a terrifying struggle in going on in the country. He also said he will ignore the ruling. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

Ziedonis Cevers, chairman of the Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS), announced on 4 November that the party's three state ministers: Ernests Jurkans, Juris Dzenis, and Sarmite Jegere would resign the next day, BNS reported. On October 31, Prime Minister Andris Skele presented a government optimization plan calling for the elimination of all but two of the 11 state minister posts by the beginning of 1998. The DPS board, however, called that incomplete and will propose cutting all state ministers and creating a work group to reduce the number of state officials by 10-30%. Cevers said the savings generated from that move should be redirected to educational and social institutions and local governments. -- Saulius Girnius

Conservatives leader Gediminas Vagnorius announced on 4 November that his party will not support the law proposed by President Algirdas Brazauskas on 25 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996) unilaterally establishing Lithuania's northern sea border since it does not conform to international norms, BNS reported. The Conservatives want parliament to adopt a decision on further negotiations with Latvia that would explicitly state Lithuania's position on the border question. The Seimas will approve one of the two alternatives today. -- Saulius Girnius

A group of citizens who in July began a boycott of vendors distributing pornography in Bialystok announced it would expand its actions, Polish dailies reported on 5 November. The move is in response to the prosecutor's decision not to investigate a distribution of allegedly pornographic magazines by the state-owned company Ruch and by newspaper stands. The prosecutor said none of the seven alleged pornography magazines "includes so-called hard pornography," and that pornography is showing sexual acts "contradictory with commonly-accepted sexual behavior," listing homosexuality, sodomy, pedophilia, and necrophilia. Volunteers in other Polish cities are boycotting newspaper vendors, passing out leaflets, and suing pornography salesmen and publishers. -- Beata Pasek

Half of the population approves of the way President Aleksander Kwasniewski is fulfilling his duties and 42% approve of Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz as prime minister, Rzeczpospolita reported on 5 November. The poll, conducted in October by the Social Research Bureau listed a 31% disapproval rating for Kwasniewski and 33% for Cimoszewicz. Both politicians are particularly popular among supporters of the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance: 91% for Kwasniewski and 80% for Cimoszewicz. Among the supporters of the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party, 66% approves of Kwasniewski and 59% approves of Cimoszewicz. -- Jakub Karpinski

According to a poll published 5 November in the Czech Media, candidates of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the opposition Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) will face each other in most of the 81 electoral districts in the second round of the elections. The first round will take place on 15 and 16 November, the second one week later. The poll, conducted by the Factum agency, indicates no candidate is likely to win over 50% of the vote in the first round and thus gain a seat in the senate without having to face a run-off. Out of some 580 candidates who compete in the Senate elections, 79 candidates from the ODS, 73 from CSSD, 19 from Christian Democratic Union, 16 from Civic Democratic Alliance, 10 from the Communist Party, 1 from the Moravian-Silesian Coalition, and seven independent candidates appear to have reasonable chances of making it into the second round. It is almost certain that ODS and CSSD candidates will face each other in the second round in 35 districts and are likely to do so in another 37 districts. -- Jiri Pehe

Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and Slovak and Hungarian Prime Ministers Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn met on 4 November in the Slovak spa town of Piestany to discuss regional cooperation, and foreign and security policies, Slovak and international media reported. Meciar and Horn met separately to discuss bilateral treaty implementation and the Gabcikovo dam controversy,
agreeing on the possibility of an out-of-court settlement. The case is scheduled for review next year by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Meanwhile, Meciar promised Vranitzky that reactors at the aging Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power plant will be decommissioned one year after the first two reactors at Mochovce are completed. He said a decision has yet to be made on whether to complete Mochovce's third and fourth reactors. -- Sharon Fisher

The Slovak Foreign Ministry "did not recommend" that Ambassador to the Vatican Anton Neuwirth take part in a private pilgrimage to Rome, Radio Twist reported on 4 November. Neuwirth was recalled from his post on 19 April by former Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk for consultations concerning an internal affair of the ministry. He has since remained in Slovakia, despite the Vatican's importance to the mostly Catholic Slovakia. Both former and current foreign ministers failed to react to interpolations by parliamentary deputies on the matter. -- Anna Siskova

Mihaly Varga of the opposition Young Democrats on 4 November presented to the parliament details of newly discovered political links to privatization, Hungarian media reported. Varga asked why a consortium--with connections to the ruling Socialist Party--was allowed to purchase the Diosgyori Gepgyar machine factory in February for only one-sixth of the 600 million forint ($3.7 million) price. Finance Ministry State Secretary Laszlo Akar said the ministry will examine the transaction. The Socialists' parliamentary caucus chairman Imre Szekeres proposed that a committee be established to oversee privatization. Zsolt Harsanyi, head of the Digep Holding consortium that purchased Diosgyori Gepgyar, said the 100 million forints was just the first installment, adding that Digep has five years to pay the remainder. Meanwhile, the executive presidential board of the Socialists' parliamentary caucus announced that it will make its assets public on 30 November and urged party deputies to follow. -- Sharon Fisher

The Bosnian Croat Habena news agency reported on 2 November that five Croat returnees were killed and seven injured as the result of an incident taking place a day earlier in a part of Serb-controlled northwestern Bosnia. According to Habena--which reported that its information came from the International Police Task Force's (IPTF) local information office--Bosnian Serbs opened fire on 47 displaced Croats returning to their former villages in an attempt to visit the graves of their relatives, while the IPTF fired back at Bosnian Serbs. After checking local UN office reports, IPTF spokesman Patrick Svensson said on 4 November that the story was totally invented by Habena, AFP and Oslobodjenje reported. IPTF has protested the report, raising tensions, and asked Habena to make a public apology. Svensson said that Habena sent a letter of apology to the command of the IFOR division North, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told U.S. human rights envoy John Shattuck that the four indicted war criminals recently identified as serving with the Bosnian Serb police will be dismissed (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 5 November 1996). She refused, however, to turn the men over to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. In response, Shattuck threatened "negative political and economic consequences," Oslobodjenje reported on 5 November. A major scandal emerged when the accused war criminals were discovered on the police force, because it appears that UN police, Carl Bildt's office, and IFOR knew they were there but did and said nothing until The Boston Globe broke the story last week. -- Patrick Moore

With over half the votes counted in federal Yugoslav elections, parties loyal to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic hold a convincing lead. Beta reported that 48.15% of votes tallied went to Milosevic's coalition, 23.94% to the opposition Zajedno or Together coalition, and 18.47% to the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party. In terms of representational breakdown for the 138-member legislature, Reuters reported that Milosevic's coalition so far is guaranteed 50 seats, while Zajedno has 21 and the SRS 13. Meanwhile, Montena-fax reported that in Montenegrin republican elections, the ruling Democratic Socialist Party has, with nearly all ballots counted, an absolute majority of 45 of 71 seats. Only in local voting did the opposition manage inroads, and in Belgrade the Democratic Party leader, and mayoral candidate Zoran Djindjic nearly won a majority, but will compete in the 17 November run-off. -- Stan Markotich

Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal has protested publication in Croatia of the "Protocol of the Elders of Zion," first published by anti-Semites in 1903 purporting to prove that Jews want to dominate the world, AFP reported on 4 November. Wiesenthal sent a letter to the Croatian embassy in Vienna protesting that the Croatian government had agreed to the publishing and sale of an "extremely anti-Semitic" book in a country where some 20,000 Jews were killed during World War II, and some 1,000 of those who remained in Croatia were "defenseless" before it. In other news, thirteen veteran officers who served with Croatian forces allied with Nazi Germany during World War II were awarded equivalent ranks in the country's present-day army, Reuters reported that same day. The move was intended to rehabilitate the men, but it is unknown whether they were members of the Domobrani, the then-regular Croatian conscript army, or the Ustasha militia, responsible for war-time atrocities against Jews and Serbs. -- Daria Sito Sucic

The latest public opinion polling in advance of Slovenia's 10 November general elections has the largest parliamentary party, Premier Janez Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party (LDS), gaining in public support, Reuters reported on 4 November. According to a Delo poll, backing for the LDS has risen to 15.3% of decided voters, up from 11.6% recorded about a week ago. But according to the daily Dnevnik, decided voters' support for the LDS has jumped from 15.3% to 21.8%. Trailing in second place is the rightist Slovenian People's Party, which according to several polls, is hovering around the 9% mark of decided voters' support. In 1992 general elections, the LDS took about a third of the votes, and won 30 of 90 legislative seats. -- Stan Markotich

Data released on 5 November confirm the opposition's victory in the 3 November parliamentary elections, Romanian media reported. They also show incumbent President Ion Iliescu slightly ahead of his main rival, Emil Constantinescu from the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR). With 95% of the votes counted, the CDR leads by 30.19% for the Senate and 29.61% for the Chamber of Deputies. Trailing the CDR are the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania with 23.26% and 21.73%; the Social Democratic Union with 13.17% and 12.97%; and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, with 7.01% and 6.84%, respectively. The extremist Greater Romania Party and the Party of Romanian National Unity also passed the 3% electoral hurdle. In the presidential race, Iliescu leads by 32.45%, followed by Constantinescu with 27.70% and Petre Roman with 20.61%. -- Dan Ionescu and Zsolt Mato

With final results in the 3 November general and presidential elections still pending, post-electoral bargaining has already begun in Romania, Reuters reported. Although the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) appears to rank first in parliament's two chambers, it has clearly failed to gain a majority. This makes future coalitions and alliances unavoidable. Petre Roman and his Social Democratic Union (USD) are generally seen as the key factor in any attempt to form a viable government. The CDR, however, expects Roman to back Emil Constantinescu in the run-off for presidency as the price for allowing the USD into government. CDR's options are limited as it has rejected any cooperation with Iliescu's Party of Social Democracy in Romania. The CDR might also rely on the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, which already showed its interest in participating in a future government. -- Zsolt Mato

Mircea Snegur on 4 November launched a sharp verbal attack against Premier Andrei Sangheli and Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi, his two main rivals in the 17 November presidential election, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Snegur was quoted as saying that, if he was re-elected president, he would dismiss the current government and dissolve the parliament. He further threatened to ask for a referendum to be conducted in case the parliament opposed his decision to change the government, dominated by the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. Snegur ruled out any reconciliation with either Sangheli or Lucinschi. -- Dan Ionescu

Nineteen leading socialists on 4 November demanded Premier Zhan Videnov's resignation. The 19 have criticized the government for the past six months, primarily over the catastrophic state of the economy, and made their resignation call in an official letter to the High Council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). Duma, citing the letter, remarked the BSP now has one last chance to initiate changes which could enable it to hold onto its parliamentary mandate until 1998. But the Socialists demanding Videnov's resignation failed to offer an alternative to Videnov's leadership, and this could lead to a further "cementing" of his behavior, Trud commented. Videnov has already decided to call an extraordinary party congress in January 1997, banking that the interval will not allow any challengers enough time to engineer his ouster. -- Maria Koinova

The IMF is apparently encouraging Bulgaria to consider adopting a currency board (as employed in Estonia and Lithuania), which would fix the exchange rate and only allow changes in the money supply in response to flows of foreign currency. Trud reported that the fund insists on tough anti-corruption measures and that the government is preparing to arrest the bosses of a number of business groupings and the heads of six or seven large banks. Standard reported that the IMF wants to appoint Bulgaria's "chief accountant" and the head of the national bank's bank supervision department. It asserts that the standby agreement approved in July had fallen apart by August and that the country can now count only on short-term financing for emergencies. No matter which government rules the country, wrote Kontinent, the IMF will determine not just policy directions but the details as well. -- Michael Wyzan

Social Democratic Party leader Skender Gjinushi said that 20 October's local elections were not fair, because the ruling Democratic Party could spend much more on the electoral campaign than the opposition, Koha Jone reported on 5 November. He also said that most foreign observers did not participate in the vote-counting process, and claimed that major irregularities occurred. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court rejected a suit by the Socialist Party, which claimed the elections were fraudulent. -- Fabian Schmidt