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Newsline - January 10, 1997

President Boris Yeltsin has pneumonia of "medium gravity" in both lungs, Ekho Moskvy reported on 10 January, citing anonymous sources at the Central Clinical Hospital. A Kremlin spokesman refused to comment on the report, according to Reuters, but an official statement did concede that although the president is "breathing with more ease," and his "temperature remains normal," his doctors believe "it is too early to speak about a breakthrough." Reuters on 9 January cited international heart experts as saying that the pneumonia could complicate Yeltsin's recovery from his 5 November heart surgery. -- Laura Belin and Scott Parrish

While officials play down Yeltsin's illness, some journalists are expressing skepticism about the president's health. In an editorial on 10 January, Izvestiya said it is clear that Yeltsin is seriously ill, and expressed concern for the country's stability. Like many other papers, Izvestiya avoided covering Yeltsin's health problems during his re-election campaign. Vitalii Tretyakov, editor of Nezavisimaya gazeta, wrote in the paper's 10 January edition that "The country is much sicker than the president." Meanwhile, the weekly Obshchaya gazeta for 9-15 January wrote that a Kremlin censor vetted all television footage of Yeltsin's meeting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to delete everything that betrayed the true state of Yeltsin's health. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii told Ekho Mosvky on 9 January that President Yeltsin is incapable of ruling Russia -- not because of his illness, but because of "the way he sees the political situation, grasps it, selects people, makes decisions, assigns tasks, and his general abilities to resolve the problems our country is facing." He claimed that since nobody in the president's circle understands what policies are needed, it is irrelevant whether Yeltsin is in the Kremlin or the Central Clinical Hospital. However, Yavlinskii did not call for the president to resign, noting that citizens had elected Yeltsin and their choice must be respected. Commenting on repeated calls for Yeltsin's resignation by former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, Yavlinskii pointed out that Lebed helped Yeltsin get re-elected by joining his team after the first round of the presidential race. -- Laura Belin

Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev on 8 January fired Ruslan Kutaev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for CIS Affairs, for being too active in support of rival presidential candidate Aslan Maskhadov, Ekho Moskvy reported. The next day, five ministers and 15 deputy ministers and department heads, all members of Maskhadov's Party for National Independence of Chechnya, resigned from the government in protest. NTV suggested that Maskhadov and Movladi Udugov are the front-runners in the 27 January race, while Ekho Moskvy and Russian TV (RTR) saw Yandarbiev and Maskhadov as the leading candidates. -- Peter Rutland

Russian ministers still show a reluctance to admit that Chechnya is well on the way to independence. Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev said on 9 January that "there are no prospects for Chechen separatists to gain independence with arms in hands," and urged negotiations to amend Chechnya's status by "constitutional" means, ITAR-TASS reported. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov was more realistic. The same day he told a government meeting that "there is a real danger that Chechnya will leave Russia de jure and de facto," ITAR-TASS reported. Primakov said Russia should "put the brake on this process" by exerting diplomatic pressure on foreign countries, particularly Russia's Islamic allies. -- Peter Rutland

Sergei Osipov from the Russian Commission for Prisoners of War, Detainees, and Missing Persons has provided more precise figures for the number of Russian servicemen missing in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 January. He said the whereabouts of a total of 700 soldiers are unknown. This number includes 300 unidentified bodies in a morgue in Rostov-on-Don. Osipov estimated 200 of the remainder are probably buried in unmarked graves, and 200 soldiers are being held captive. -- Peter Rutland

Procurator General Yurii Skuratov told a press conference that the Duma should not grant an amnesty for the perpetrators of the kidnappings in Budennovsk (June 1995) and Kizlyar-Pervomaiskoe (January 1996), ORT reported on 9 January. The Budennovsk raid was led by presidential candidate Shamil Basaev. Skuratov's position was supported by deputy Duma speaker Mikhail Gutseriev, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. The Duma rejected an amnesty plan in December: it will probably discuss the issue again in February. The lack of an amnesty could delay the release of Russian captives. -- Peter Rutland

Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov told a meeting of the Russian government on 9 January that Moscow "should not be afraid to use economic sanctions" to defend the human rights of Russians living in the Baltic states, Russian and Western agencies reported. In order to pressure Estonia into halting what he claimed are discriminatory policies toward its Russian minority, for example, he said that Moscow will refuse to sign a border treaty with Tallinn until the issue was resolved. Since Estonia dropped its demands for the recognition of the 1920 Tartu treaty, a border agreement, which would bolster Estonia's bid to join the EU and NATO, is all but ready for signature. Segodnya on 31 December accused Moscow of deliberately dragging its feet over the border treaty in order to hamper Estonian integration into Western institutions, and said the policy "resembles crude blackmail." -- Scott Parrish

The Indian government has decided to purchase two Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarines from Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 January. The new submarines, plus two others to be built at Indian shipyards under license, will replace six older Soviet-designed submarines which are slated to be scrapped. India already has eight Kilo-class boats in service, and Moscow hopes to sell New Delhi equipment ranging from helicopters to surface combatants for its naval modernization program. On 6 January ITAR-TASS reported the delivery of a third Russian-built Kilo-class submarine to Iran. -- Scott Parrish

The Russian and Belarusian UN missions complained to a UN panel on 9 January that New York police violated international law in the 29 December incident involving two allegedly drunk diplomats in a dispute over a parking ticket, Russian and Western agencies reported. Sergei Lavrov, Russian ambassador to the UN, reiterated Moscow's demands for an apology over the incident, adding that the U.S. should pay compensation to Russian diplomat Boris Obnossov, whose arm was injured by police during the scuffle. Lavrov refuted charges that Obnossov and his Belarusian colleague Yurii Oranzh had been intoxicated, pointing out that the two had not been asked to take a breathalyzer test and that police had allowed them to drive away. A New York official stuck by the police version of events, however, and the State Department is still investigating the incident. -- Scott Parrish

The Supreme Court has confirmed the legitimacy of the 8 December runoff gubernatorial election in Kurgan Oblast, Sovetskaya Rossiya and ITAR-TASS reported on 9 January. Communist-backed candidate Oleg Bogomolov ran unopposed in the second round and received over 67% of the vote. Anatolii Koltashev and incumbent Governor Anatolii Sobolev, who finished second and third respectively in the first round, both withdrew on the eve of the runoff. An aide of the presidential representative in Kurgan filed an appeal, saying federal legislation prohibits candidates from running for office unopposed; his case was supported by the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK). When pro-Yeltsin candidates ran unopposed and won presidential elections in Kalmykiya in fall 1995 and Tatarstan in spring 1996, the TsIK announced its dissatisfaction with the single-candidate races, but those election results were not challenged in court. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

Moscow military procurators have sued the government in a desperate attempt to secure the payment of servicemen's back wages, but the courts have been in no hurry to hear their case, Obshchaya gazeta reported in its first issue of 1997. The procurators filed suit against the Defense Ministry's Main Military Budget and Finance Administration and the Finance Ministry in a Moscow district court and then appealed to the Moscow City Court when the district court refused to accept the case. The city court, however, has taken no action on the matter since 20 August. The courts' hesitancy is not surprising, given that a verdict in favor of the military would set an expensive precedent and wreak havoc with the budget. According to Moskovskii komsomolets on 6 January, the government currently owes servicemen nationwide about 6 trillion rubles in back wages. -- Penny Morvant

Former dissidents Andrei Sinyavskii and Mariya Rozanova have sharply criticized Russia's "egotistical intellectual elite" for ignoring the plight of the poor and the hungry. In excerpts from a British radio broadcast published in the 9 January edition of Sovetskaya Rossiya, Sinyavskii and Rozanova claimed that private enterprise was beginning to flourish in 1990 and goods were widely available at reasonable prices . But they said the "shock therapy" reforms of the government of Yegor Gaidar in 1992 destroyed honest enterprise and impoverished millions. They assailed intellectuals, many of them former dissidents, for defending Gaidar's reforms rather than the people who suffered under them. Sinyavskii and Rozanova have lived in Paris since 1973, having emigrated after Sinyavskii served six years in a labor camp for publishing "anti-Soviet" literature abroad. They supported former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's presidential bid last year. -- Laura Belin

Secretary of State Warren Christopher has asked Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to ensure that diplomat Georgi Makharadze, who reportedly caused a five-car accident in Washington in which an American girl was killed (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 January 1997), is not recalled home until the United States gets a formal response from Georgia to its waiver request, Western agencies reported on 9 January. Meanwhile, an unidentified U.S. official said Makharadze will "leave the country shortly." The report contradicts an earlier statement by Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarashvili that the diplomat will not be recalled until the investigation is complete. -- Emil Danielyan

The foreign ministers of Georgia and its breakaway republic of Abkhazia have met in the Abkhaz resort town of Gagra, Russian and Western media reported on 9 January. According to Abkhaz Foreign Minister Konstantin Ozgan, the fact of direct talks testifies to the two sides' readiness to reach a compromise on the Abkhaz conflict and is not a sign of Russia's decreased role in settling it. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarashvili warned the Abkhaz side that Georgia will ask CIS member countries to tighten the blockade of Abkhazia unless the latter provides for the return of more than 200,000 ethnic Georgian refugees. Menagarashvili said there was no progress on the issue of Abkhazia's future status. -- Emil Danielyan

The body of the director of the Internews Network Agency in Kazakstan, 28-year-old Chris Gehring, was found in his apartment on 9 January, Western and Russian media reported. Chief detective Alibek Shapenov said Gehring was apparently murdered during a burglary that went wrong. As a foreigner in Kazakstan Gehring was likely to be considered wealthy. Gehring's computer was missing and boxes containing a stereo, VCR, and television were found near the doorway. However, many journalists doubt the validity of the burglary theory, noting Gehring was found with his hands and feet bound and his throat cut. Gehring had been working in Kazakstan since May 1995 as part of a US AID-funded project to aid independent media. The Committee to Protect Journalists has sent a strongly worded note to the Kazakstani government demanding an immediate investigation. -- Bruce Pannier

The commander of Tajikistan's First Brigade, Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, said on 9 January, he and his unit are ready to comply with a presidential order that they return to their base in Kurgan-Tyube, international media reported. Khudaberdiyev's unit managed to push the outlaw group of Kadyr Abdullayev outside the city limits, according to Russian television. Abdullayev says he will not surrender nor heed Khudaberdiyev's order that he permanently vacate Tursun Zade. Khudaberdiyev said he was satisfied with the recapture of military hardware Abdullayev's group stole from the First Brigade on 29 December and the departure of Abdullayev's criminal band from the city. -- Bruce Pannier

Peace negotiations between the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) taking place in Tehran became bogged down on 8 January, RFE/RL reported. UTO representatives had the impression the planned National Reconciliation Commission would consist of 40% representation from both the government and the UTO, with the remaining 20% being made up of regional and ethnic groups. However, government negotiators in Tehran now say they want an 80% share of the commission to be from the Tajik government and that all proposals for amendments to the constitution be approved by a two-thirds vote. The deputy leader for the UTO, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, said that is not what was agreed at the Moscow talks in December between Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri. -- Bruce Pannier

The Cabinet of Ministers is to impose stricter controls over the production and sale of alcohol, Ukrainian Radio reported on 9 January. State Food Production head Leonid Svatko said that, in the last six months of 1996, Ukraine earned $175 million from alcohol exports. He added that if the state had not regulated the sale and production of alcohol, $120 million of that sum would have remained outside Ukraine.
The new regulations include a minimum price for imported alcohol. The state has also stepped up inspections of alcohol vendors; and since the beginning of the year alone, more than 2,000 vendors have lost their licenses. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko criticized the government for its "lack of discipline," particularly the Finance Ministry. He said that the ministry has already received eight warnings and that a ninth would not be issued. -- Ustina Markus

Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko has agreed to the European Union's request to allow an EU fact-finding mission into the country to assess the situation in Belarus, AFP reported on 9 January. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, meeting with Syanko in Berlin the same day, expressed EU concerns about recent political developments in Belarus. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported that First Deputy Foreign Minister Valeryi Tsypkalo has begun talks with the EU and the Council of Europe. The council is considering revoking Belarus's special status with the organization later this month. The Belarusian National Assembly, the new lower house of parliament, also ratified a number of international agreements on minority rights, the rights of deportees, and other human rights issues. -- Ustina Markus

Syamyon Sharetsky, speaker of the parliament that was dissolved last year, arrived in Warsaw on 9 January to meet with Polish officials, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. A number of deputies to the 1996 parliament continue to meet under Sharetsky and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the new legislature. Opposition leader Zyanon Paznyak, who was granted political asylum in the U.S. last year, is also in Warsaw. The same day, Radio Rossii reported that the nationalist Belarusian Popular Front picketed the presidential administration building in Minsk. They protested food shortages in the country and demanded that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka guarantee to make dairy and meat products available in shops at prices correlated to wages and pensions. The previous day, Belarusian TV reported that Lukashenka has appointed former Justice Minister Valyantsin Sukala as head of the Supreme Court. Sukala supported the president during last year's political crisis. -- Ustina Markus

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 9 January said that Russia will not sign a border agreement with Estonia, Western agencies reported. He added that Russia should not be "afraid" to impose economic sanctions on Estonia to protect the rights of Russian speakers living there. Former Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas said Primakov's statement was probably due to a domestic political struggle in Russia. Last November, he agreed to drop the Estonian demand that the agreement mention the 1920 Tartu Treaty. His successor, Toomas Ilves, said during an official visit to Sweden that Primakov's statement was "regrettable" and "incomprehensible," particularly because it demarcates where Russia had unilaterally fixed it two years earlier. He noted that Estonia was prepared to sign the agreement and expected Russia to do the same as a step toward enhancing the security and stability of Europe. -- Saulius Girnius

Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius on 9 January announced that in 1996 the state failed to collect 356 million litai ($94 million) in planned revenues and the state social security fund Sodra 691 million litai, BNS reported. Noting that only 22% of Lithuania's GDP was collected in taxes last year, Vagnorius said that it would be "realistic" to aim to collect 32-33% of GDP in taxes, as had been the case several years ago. -- Saulius Girnius

Bronislaw Komorowski, former secretary-general of the Freedom Union (UW) and one of the six deputies who have recently quit that party, has said that the UW has no program because it is split over ideological and values issues, Polish dailies reported on 10 January. He added that the leadership wanted to mend the split through "liberalism" but had failed to do so. Another dissenter, Jan Maria Rokita, announced his support for Solidarity Electoral Action (SAW), saying that the UW leaders should not be "offended" by the existence of SAW simply because it was not them who had founded the movement. Former Internal Affairs Minister Krzysztof Kozlowski, a UW senator, criticized the dissenters, saying he himself had wanted to reach an agreement with the SAW but its program was still unclear. -- Jakub Karpinski

The Sejm commission drafting the lustration law has decided that journalists in both the state-run and private media will be screened for cooperation with the communist-era secret service, Polish media reported on 10 January. The new provision is supported by the ruling post-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party, while the opposition Freedom Union and Labor Union fear that broadening the scope of lustration will delay or even prevent screening state officials. Speaking to journalists, SLD deputy Jerzy Dziewulski did not deny that his party would like to try to avoid the screening of deputies and other high-ranking officials. He called the new provision "irrational," Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Beata Pasek

The Statistical Office on 9 January announced that the annual inflation rate for 1996 was 8.8%. That is lower than predicted by economic analysts but higher than government projections at the beginning of last year. Most economists agree that the main reason for the high inflation rate is that wages grew faster than expected, outpacing the growth in labor productivity. -- Jiri Pehe

Opposition representatives on 9 January slammed the Justice Ministry's draft law restricting basic human and political rights in a state of emergency, Slovak media reported. Those rights that would be targeted in such a case include personal immunity and freedom as well as the rights to ownership, assembly, and travel. Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota demanded the passage of such a law in January 1996 in exchange for his party's support of the Slovak-Hungarian bilateral treaty. Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky called the bill "a serious violation of basic civil rights," saying it provides for imprisonment and the confiscation of property in a state of emergency. The bill would also allow the mobilization of the army, customs guards, railway police, airport guards, and other armed forces. -- Sharon Fisher

Vladimir Meciar on 9 January told a Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) rally that while his party supports changes to the Slovak constitution, it will not support the referendum on direct presidential elections organized by the opposition, CTK reported. Meciar said that if the referendum does take place, the ruling coalition will suggest including a second question on the immediate recall of President Michal Kovac. He also said that if the Constitutional Court agrees that it is possible to change the constitution through a referendum, the HZDS will call for a referendum on "the stabilization of Slovakia's constitutional order." Meciar plans to call a meeting of government and opposition parties next week to discuss changes in the electoral system and the timing of the next elections, which are currently scheduled for fall 1998. -- Anna Siskova

The opposition Young Democrats on 9 January rejected a proposal by the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), the junior coalition partner, that only four of the seven parliamentary parties draft the new constitution, Hungarian dailies reported. Previously, the SZDSZ had suggested that only those parties that had supported the concept for the new basic law in December should take part in drafting the final document. The governing Socialists and Free Democrats as well as the opposition Young Democrats and Democratic People Party all voted in favor of the concept, while the other three parties voted against or abstained. The Young Democrats argue that all parliamentary parties should take part in drawing up the new constitution. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

Student protesters held a triumphant and noisy march through the heart of the capital in the early hours of 10 January following the withdrawal of security forces. The students had organized shifts in order to confront the police for 13 hours, CNN and AFP reported. It was the first march since the authorities banned such demonstrations on 25 December, and the students say they will now seek a formal lifting of that prohibition. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, for his part, demanded that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic resign. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on 9 January recognized the opposition's 17 November election victory in Vrsac, but the protesters say they will continue until all 14 of their successes are acknowledged. Also on 9 January, 52 of the 160 members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences warned the government to recognize all opposition victories lest the country degenerate into "a complete police dictatorship" and civil war, Nasa Borba wrote. -- Patrick Moore

Prince Alexander, heir to the throne from the Karadjordjevic dynasty, who has spent his entire life in Britain, has said he has close links to the Serbian opposition and is ready to return as king if the people want him. He told the Daily Telegraph on 9 January that "it's time for a change. The people are fed up." Royalist roots run deep in Serbia, and many observers and politicians have suggested that the country might eventually restore the Karadjordjevic dynasty, which the communists overthrew in 1945. Alexander's realm would be confined to Serbia and Montenegro rather than the entire former Yugoslavia, which his family had ruled since 1918. But he does not exclude Bosnian Serb territories linking up with Serbia: "One day, there will have to be a Dayton Two," he argued. He also warned that "Milosevic is planning a collective suicide of the nation" and must be gotten rid of. Alexander added that his role model is Spain's King Juan Carlos, who helped Spain become a prosperous democracy integrated into Europe. "What does the king provide? He provides unity," Alexander concluded. -- Patrick Moore

Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian Presidency, has said establishing an international police force to apprehend indicted war criminals in Bosnia would pose a threat for peace in the country, Onasa reported on 9 January, citing Bosnian Serb Radio reports. Krajisnik said the Serbs are willing to try their own war criminals using files received from the Hague-based international criminal tribunal. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the Bosnian Serbs will not hand over their former President Radovan Karadzic or military commander Ratko Mladic, both of whom are indicted war criminals, Reuters reported on 9 January. Plavsic said the indictments were no longer valid since fighting was over and there were no more reports on war crimes in the Republika Srpska. Delivering Karadzic and Mladic to The Hague would only threaten peace, Plavsic added. -- Daria Sito Sucic

While international mediators were meeting in Rome to discuss the fate of Brcko (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 January 1996), Bosnian Serb leaders warned that war could re-ignite in the Balkans if the town was awarded to the Muslim-Croat federation, Reuters reported. "Brcko is Serb and must remain Serb," Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic said at a ceremony in the northern Bosnian town marking the founding of the Republika Srpska. Krajisnik said Serbs would be compelled to wage war if the town were not in Serbian hands. But the Bosnian Federation argues that Brcko should be granted to Muslims and Croats, who constituted a majority of the city's pre-war population and were subsequently "cleansed" by Serbs during the war. Kresimir Zubak, the Croatian member of Bosnian Presidency, warned the Serbs of "total defeat" if they were to go to war over Brcko, AFP reported on 9 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic

The Croatian government has extended the broadcasting license of the independent Radio 101 until the end of this month, Croatian media reported on 10 January. The license was due to expire on 15 January. Some 100,000 people staged a protest in Zagreb in November when the government tried to silence the station by granting its broadcasting concession to a rival station. The government gave no reason for the short-term extension of Radio 101's license. -- Daria Sito Sucic

U.S. Defense Undersecretary for Policy Walter Slocombe, in Bucharest on 9 January for a one-day visit, said Romania's chances of early admission into NATO have significantly increased following recent democratic elections and improved relations with its neighbors, international media reported. But Slocombe stressed that his visit to the Romanian capital should not be interpreted as indicating which countries will be nominated to join the alliance first. At meetings with senior defense officials, he discussed Romania's efforts to join NATO. President Emil Constantinescu and Premier Victor Ciorbea both argued for the country's integration into NATO, stressing again that Romania has no alternative but to join NATO. -- Zsolt Mato

President-elect Petru Lucinschi on 9 January handed in his resignation as parliamentary speaker, Moldpres reported. In a secret ballot the same day, Dumitru Motpan, head of the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party, failed to win the required 50% of the vote to be elected to that post. Another round of voting is expected to take place today after further consultations. One of the favorites for the post is Dumitru Diacov, who is deputy speaker and one of the organizers of Lucinschi's election campaign. Lucinschi will officially take office as president on 15 January. He defeated Mircea Snegur in the second round of presidential elections last month. -- Dan Ionescu

Thousands of people took to Sofia's streets again on 9 January to call for new elections, AFP reported. Organizers have promised a third consecutive day of protests today, saying they hope to form a human chain around the parliament building. The protests follow the BSP's nomination of Interior Minister Nikolai Dobrev to replace Zhan Videnov, who resigned as prime minister on 28 December. Videnov had been blamed for Bulgaria's dire economic situation. President Zhelyu Zhelev is scheduled on 11 January to formally ask Dobrev to form a new government backed by the BSP and its two allies, Ecoglasnost and the Agrarian Party. Dobrev has said he will take no action against the demonstrators "unless they become violent." Opposition leader Ivan Kostov has likened the Bulgarian protests to those currently taking place in Belgrade. -- Fabian Schmidt

According to the Statistics Institute, inflation soared to 310.8% in 1996, AFP reported on 9 January. The head of the institute said this was 10 times the average rate in east and central Europe. Inflation in December totaled 26.9%--the highest monthly figure since prices were deregulated in February 1991. The institute forecast that inflation in 1997 would be 150%, but it warned that if the lev continued to fall against the dollar, inflation this year could exceed the figure for 1996. -- Fabian Schmidt

Nexhmije Hoxha, the 76-year-old widow of late communist-era dictator Enver Hoxha, was released from a Tirana jail earlier today, Reuters reported. She was arrested in 1991 and sentenced in 1993 to 11 years in prison on embezzlement charges, but her term was reduced three times in various amnesties by President Sali Berisha. She is quoted as saying "I am very pleased to be out but I am now rushing off to see my children and family.... I don't know where I'm going to live because I have no home." She added that one of her first priorities is to visit the grave of her husband, which, she said, she has not seen. Enver Hoxha was buried in the Martyrs of the Nation cemetery in 1985. His body was exhumed and re-buried in a public cemetery in 1992. -- Fabian Schmidt

The Malvasia investment company has gone bankrupt, Republika reported on 9 January. The Kucove-based investment company, which was founded in 1991, offered monthly interest rates of 7-10%. It is the third pyramid scheme to collapse since December. Meanwhile, Koha Jone on 9 January published the full text of a Democratic Alliance Party (PAD) statement accusing the government of having received substantial funding from various pyramid investment schemes. According to the PAD, the Gjallica investment scheme alone gave the equivalent of $500,000 to the Democrats for their election campaign. The government has denied the charges. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave