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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 103, Part II, 27 May 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 103, Part II, 27 May 1999

A daily report of developments in Eastern and
Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central
Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty.

This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning
Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.  Part I
covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is
distributed simultaneously as a second document.  Back
issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline

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Headlines, Part II

* CZECH CABINET SAYS 'NO' TO WALL

* HAGUE COURT TO INDICT MILOSEVIC

* SERBIAN ARMY ISSUES WARRANT FOR CACAK MAYOR

End Note: PERSONALITIES, NOT POLICIES, TO DECIDE
ARMENIAN ELECTIONS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PARTY OF COMMUNISTS DENIED REGISTRATION. The
Justice Ministry has denied registration to the
opposition Belarusian Party of Communists (PKB), one of
the country's two communist parties that emerged after
the dissolution of the Soviet-era Communist Party of
Belarus (KPB), RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on
26 May. The Justice Ministry explained its refusal to
register the PKB by saying that the party cannot claim
in its charter to be a successor to the KPB. According
to PKB Chairman Syarhey Kalyakin, the Justice Ministry's
move is "absurd." Kalyakin said the other communist
organization, the pro-government Party of Communists of
Belarus, is composed of "impostors." Under a
presidential decree, all parties and public associations
in Belarus must re-register by 1 July (see also "RFE/RL
Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," Vol. 1, No. 1, 25
May 1999). JM

BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FACES BAN. The State
Press Committee has issued its second warning to the
newspaper "Naviny" within one year, which gives grounds
for the authorities to close the newspaper. The
committee accused "Naviny" of "stirring social enmity"
in an article on Belarusian policemen published two
weeks earlier. The first warning was issued in February
after "Naviny" had reported on the opposition
presidential elections. "Naviny" deputy chief editor
Mikalay Khalezin told RFE/RL that the newspaper will
challenge the warning in court. But anticipating a
worst-case scenario, it has already registered another
newspaper under the title of "Nasa svaboda" in order to
continue publication after "Naviny" is closed. The
independent newspaper "Svaboda" made a similar move in
1997 when it was banned and resumed publication under
the current name of "Naviny." JM

UKRAINE DENIES SHIPPING OIL TO YUGOSLAVIA. The Ukrainian
Foreign Ministry on 26 May denied U.S. allegations that
Ukraine is delivering oil to Yugoslavia in violation of
the oil embargo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1999).
"Ukraine does not provide oil deliveries to Yugoslavia,
does not offer its vessels for such deliveries, and does
not possess any information concerning oil transit
through Ukrainian ports to Yugoslavia by a third party,"
dpa quoted the ministry's statement as saying. JM

KUCHMA SIGNS DECREE ON LOCAL TAXES. Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma has signed a decree on local taxes, which
will take effect on 1 January 2000, UNIAN reported on 26
May. The decree establishes mandatory taxes on
advertising and foreign tourism as well a hotel tax for
those staying in hotels and camping areas. The decree
also legalizes the collection of fees for operating
trade outlets and service facilities. Under the decree,
towns may impose parking fees, charge for holding
auctions, sales, and lotteries, and collect payment for
crossing the territory of Crimea and border regions. JM

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES EU STRATEGY. The cabinet on
26 May approved its national program for integration
into the EU. According to officials, the document
considers every aspect concerned with the EU and not
only priority areas, BNS reported. The plan will be
presented to the 16 June meeting of the EU associate
committee. MH

CONFIDENTIAL BUDGET TALKS VIOLATED LATVIAN LAW? LETA
suggests that the 26 May government session may have
been in violation of the law. Finance Minister Ivars
Godmanis reportedly requested that the discussion on
possible budget cuts be labeled "confidential,"
alongside two sensitive foreign-policy topics: border
negotiations with Lithuania and arms purchases from
Sweden. LETA pointed out that the Law on Budgets
prohibits discussions on the budget to be confidential.
MH

LITHUANIAN PREMIER INVITED TO MOSCOW. Russian ambassador
to Lithuania Konstantin Mozel on 26 May handed an
invitation to Lithuanian Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas
to visit Moscow. The invitation schedules a one-day
visit on 29 June. Preliminary plans foresee a bilateral
meeting with Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and
the signing of several important bilateral agreements,
according to BNS. MH

POLISH CABINET APPEASES MINERS, THROWS OUT ARMAMENT
WORKERS. The government on 26 May ended a coal miners'
protest by promising to spend an extra 400 million
zlotys ($100 million) on severance payments to the 8,000
miners to be laid-off this year under a mining
restructuring plan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1999).
Economics Minister Janusz Steinhof told the 27 May
"Gazeta wyborcza" that the government will "most likely"
have to take out a credit to cover the cost, since this
year's budget has no provision for making severance
payments to the redundant miners. The same day, the
police used force to remove five workers from the
Lucznik arms plant who were staging a sit-in at the
Labor Ministry over restructuring plans. Those workers
are demanding the payment of overdue wages, increased
production orders from the Defense Ministry, and
severance payments. JM

POLISH FARMERS THREATEN NEW BLOCKADES. Poland's farming
unions are continuing negotiations with the Agricultural
Ministry to obtain higher tariffs on grain and dairy
imports from the EU, increased state purchases of
domestic agricultural produce, and a freeze on loan
repayments. The radical Self-Defense farming union has
threatened road blockades throughout the country on 27
May to pressure the government. "Agricultural Minister
Artur Balazs is willing and knows what to do, but his
capabilities end before the door to the Finance
Ministry," Self-Defense leader Andrzej Lepper commented,
adding that the Finance Ministry "treats [us] with total
contempt." Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz of the
liberal Freedom Union is widely seen by farmers as the
main culprit of Poland's agricultural woes. JM

CZECH CABINET SAYS 'NO' TO WALL. The Czech cabinet on 26
May announced it will order the head of the regional
administration in Usti nad Labem to put a stop to the
construction of a wall separating Roma from Czechs in
the city of Usti nad Labem, Czech media reported. Local
officials expressed dismay at the decision, saying the
government is interfering in a municipal issue. City
councilors in Usti nad Labem can legally overrule the
regional administration chief. If they do so, the issue
will have to be decided by national parliament. In other
news, President Vaclav Havel's decision to pardon a
woman who was found guilty of killing someone while
driving when drunk has come under fire from the family
of the victim, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 27 May.
Havel's office said he pardoned the woman because she is
a single mother of a 12-year-old girl. VG

SCHUSTER, MECIAR MAKE FINAL PRE-ELECTION APPEARANCES.
The two candidates in the Slovak presidential elections,
Kosice Mayor Rudolf Schuster and former Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar, made separate, final campaign
appearances in the media on 26 May, three days before
the second round of voting, Slovak media reported.
Schuster, who is supported by the current governing
coalition in Slovakia, said the country needs unity
among its top political authorities. Meciar said that
the political equilibrium in the country would improve
if he were elected president. He also referred to the
fact that Schuster had been a high-ranking Communist
Party official until 1990, whereas he, Meciar, had been
expelled from the party after the Soviet-led invasion of
Czechoslovakia in 1968. VG

NATO AIR TANKER MAKES FORCED LANDING IN HUNGARY. A NATO
air tanker on 26 May was forced to release 50,000 liters
of kerosene in mid-air in eastern Hungary before turning
back to make a forced landing at Budapest airport. The
office of the U.S. Air Force said this was the first
malfunctioning in Hungarian air space of a refueling
tanker taking part in NATO operations against
Yugoslavia. The tanker unit stationed in Budapest has
supplied more than 550 NATO planes since early May. In
other news, U.S. Ambassador Peter Tufo said on 26 May
that any attack by the Serbian army on the ethnic
Hungarian minority in Vojvodina would draw a rapid
response from NATO, Hungarian media reported. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

HAGUE COURT TO INDICT MILOSEVIC. Louise Arbour, who is
the chief prosecutor for the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal, will announce later on 27 May that the court
has indicted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for
war crimes in Kosova and has already issued an
international arrest warrant for him, international
media reported. He will be the first serving head of
state of any country to be indicted by an international
court for war crimes. In Washington, State Department
and White House officials declined to comment on the
report but stressed that it is U.S. policy to cooperate
with the court. Arbour said in April that the court
needs "the sophisticated kind of assistance that only
states can provide" if it is to indict top-ranking
Balkan leaders for war crimes. In recent weeks, U.S.,
U.K., and German officials offered to increase their
cooperation with the tribunal. PM

WHAT FUTURE FOR PEACE TALKS? It remains unclear what
effect the reported indictment of Milosevic will have on
the plans of Russian special envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor
Chernomyrdin to travel to Belgrade on 27 May, Reuters
reported (see related story in Part I). Unnamed
diplomats in Brussels suggested to AFP that at least
some Western governments may have encouraged the court
to indict the Yugoslav president as a pressure tactic to
intimidate him and encourage his closest associates to
break with him. Other diplomats argued that the
indictment will pose difficulties for Russian and
Western officials who seek a negotiated settlement for
Kosova with Milosevic. Observers noted, however, that
indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and General
Ratko Mladic were present at some of the talks that U.S.
envoy Richard Holbrooke and his staff held in Belgrade
in conjunction with the 1995 Bosnian peace settlement.
PM

GERMANY WELCOMES INDICTMENT... Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs Wolfgang Ischinger said in Bonn on 27
May that the German government "can only welcome this
action," Reuters reported. "This is the only way that we
can convince the Serbian people that they should not
feel tied to the Milosevic line for the future," he
added. Ischinger was speaking to representatives of some
30 countries who came to discuss a long-term "stability
pact" for the Balkans. PM

...BUT SERBIA DISMISSES IT. Branko Brankovic, who is
Belgrade's representative to the UN in Geneva, said on
27 May that the indictment by "a non-existing court" is
a ploy by NATO to sabotage peace efforts. Other Serbian
diplomats told the BBC that the indictment is further
"proof" that the Hague-based tribunal is a political
instrument to "demonize Serbs." PM

FRESH FIGHTING ALONG ALBANIAN BORDER. Serbian forces
shelled the village of Vlahen in the Has Mountains on 26
May, killing two people and damaging several buildings,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana. Villagers
said that at least 15 artillery shells hit the village.
Serbian troops also used heavy artillery to fire on the
village of Padesh near Tropoja. Nearby, Serbian troops
entered Albanian territory at Kamenica. Albanian troops
exchanged fire with the intruders, who later withdrew.
RFE/RL's correspondent also reported heavy fighting at
the Morina border crossing. Officials of the Public
Order Ministry said that Serbian troops fired artillery
shells from a distance of eight to 10 kilometers into
the Albanian villages of Kishaj, Pogaj, and Cahani. NATO
planes later pounded Serbian positions in the White Drin
valley, Reuters reported. At the border crossings, the
influx of refugees has been reduced to a trickle. FS

VEDRINE MEETS THACI BEFORE RUGOVA. French Foreign
Minister Hubert Vedrine met with Hashim Thaci, who
is the prime minister of the provisional government
of Kosova and a leader of the Kosova Liberation
Army (UCK), in Paris on 27 May. The meeting took
place hours before Vedrine's scheduled talks with
Ibrahim Rugova, who is Thaci's rival, Reuters
reported. A spokeswoman for Vedrine said that "it's
important to review the situation with all
parties." She added that Vedrine is meeting the two
because they are signatories to the Rambouillet
accords. In Skopje on 26 May, Abdurrahman Aliti,
who is the leader of the moderate Party of
Democratic Prosperity, told an RFE/RL correspondent
that Rugova agreed with him "that it is necessary
to promote cooperation among all political and
military forces of Kosova." He added that after
visiting Paris, Rugova will visit Tirana. FS

INTERNATIONAL DONORS PROMISE $200 MILLION FOR ALBANIA. A
meeting of international aid donors in Brussels on 26
May promised $200 million in economic assistance to
Albania to help it cope with the flood of Kosovar
refugees and to continue economic reform. Prime Minister
Pandeli Majko told dpa that he is happy with the aid
pledges and said that Albania will continue to welcome
refugees fleeing Serbian ethnic cleansing. EU officials
urged Majko to honor his government's commitment to
economic reform. Majko said that maintaining stability
is his government's "top priority." FS

SERBIAN TELEVISION LOSES SATELLITE LINK. Eutelsat
stopped broadcasting the programs of Radio-Television
Serbia (RTS) throughout Europe in the evening of 26 May.
Members of the Eutelsat consortium voted recently to
stop broadcasting RTS' programming on the grounds that
the station foments ethnic hatred. RTS broadcast a
commentary on its local Belgrade frequencies on 26 May
saying that Eutelsat's move is "another attempt to
prevent the dissemination of truth on developments" in
the Balkans. PM

SERBIAN ARMY ISSUES WARRANT FOR CACAK MAYOR. The
military authorities in Belgrade issued an arrest
warrant for Velimir Ilic, who is mayor of Cacak, for
"hampering the military in carrying out their duties"
and for "treason," the state-run daily "Politika"
reported on 26 May. The text added that his main offense
was to tell RFE/RL recently that the military had placed
tanks and other equipment near civilian buildings in
Cacak, which led to civilian deaths (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 19 May 1999). In Krusevac, police took RFE/RL
correspondent Ljubisa Popovic to a police station on 26
May and told him that he will be detained for three
days, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. And in
Belgrade, a military court began the trial of two
Australian aid workers on charges of spying. The court
turned down a request by their government that
Australian officials be present. In Canberra, Prime
Minister John Howard said he hopes the two will receive
a "fair trial." PM

NATO TO STATION KFOR TROOPS OUTSIDE MACEDONIA? Jamie
Shea, who is a spokesman for the Atlantic alliance, said
on 27 May in Brussels that NATO will discuss with the
Macedonian authorities how many more of its KFOR
peacekeeping troops Macedonia is willing to accept (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1999). He added that he has
"no doubt that the [other] countries in the region will
continue to show the cooperation that they have thus
far" if Macedonia cannot accept additional troops.
Observers note that the governments of several countries
in the region hope to acquire membership in NATO as a
result of their cooperation with NATO's campaign against
Serbia. PM

SCREWS TIGHTEN ON MONTENEGRO. Montenegrin aid officials
said in Podgorica on 26 May that Serbian authorities are
preventing refugee relief supplies from the West and
from Russia and Belarus from reaching Montenegro.
Elsewhere, the state oil company Jugopetrol imposed
limits on gasoline sales in Montenegro. Car owners will
be able to buy only 30 liters at any given time, while
the limit for bus and truck drivers is 50 liters.
Gasoline has recently become increasingly scarce in
Montenegro, Reuters reported. PM

CROATIAN PARTIES AGREE ON ELECTION LAW. Representatives
of the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) and
a coalition of six opposition parties agreed in Zagreb
on 27 May on new legislation governing parliamentary
elections due by the end of 1999. The HDZ accepted that
Croatian Television, which the HDZ now tightly controls,
will become a public broadcaster. The ruling party also
agreed to additional proposals by the opposition and the
international community to enable Croatia to gain entry
into Euro-Atlantic structures. The coalition dropped its
objections to continued representation in the parliament
of Croats living abroad. Voters abroad will, however, no
longer have a bloc of seats reserved for them (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1999). PM

ROMANIA, BULGARIA REJECT OIL EMBARGO CLAIMS. Romania and
Bulgaria rejected suggestions that they are not doing
enough to enforce an oil embargo on Yugoslavia, AP
reported on 26 May. Both countries, however, added that
they will not interfere with shipments originating in
other countries because they are signatories of the
Danube Convention. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, speaking at a 25 May news conference with her
German counterpart, Joschka Fischer, expressed concern
over the continuing oil deliveries by barges on the
Danube River. In other news, the Romanian Environment
Ministry has released a study analyzing the
environmental impact of the NATO bombing campaign on the
River Danube and areas bordering Yugoslavia, Reuters
reported on 26 May. While the report noted that
pollution levels have increased since the campaign began
in March, it also said those levels are within
permissible limits. VG

ROMANIA TO MAKE SECURITATE ARCHIVES PUBLIC. The Romanian
Chamber of Deputies on 25 May announced it will allow
the publication of documents on the activities of the
communist-era secret service, the Securitate, according
to a 26 May Mediafax report cited by the BBC. In
addition, citizens will be able to look at their
Securitate files by sending a written request to the
National Council for Studying the Securitate Archives.
VG

ACTING MAYOR OF CHISINAU DECLARED WINNER OF ELECTION.
The municipal election council in the Moldovan capital
has announced that acting Mayor Serafim Urecheanu won
the 23 May mayoral election with 51.05 percent of the
vote, BASA-Press reported on 26 May. Earlier, election
officials had said that a second round would be held in
Chisinau because no candidate obtained the necessary 50
percent of the vote required for a first-round victory.
And according to earlier reports, Urecheanu had won 47
percent of the vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May
1999). The chairman of the local election commission,
Ion Plesca, said discrepancies in earlier reports were
due to "a computer error." Meanwhile, Communist leader
Vladimir Voronin said a massive number of ballots were
falsified, BASA-Press reported. Veronica Abramciuc of
the Communist-Agrarian-Socialist electoral bloc said the
largest number of violations took place in Chisinau. She
said the bloc will "seek the truth in the courtroom." VG

GREEK PRESIDENT VISITS BULGARIA. Greek President Kostas
Stephanopoulos on 26 May said his country will back bids
by Bulgaria and Romania for early EU membership, Reuters
reported. Stephanopoulos and his Bulgarian counterpart,
Petar Stoyanov, both emphasized the need for an
effective post-war Balkan reconstruction plan.
Meanwhile, Greek Development Minister Evangelos
Venizelos, who is also visiting Sofia, stressed the
importance of finalizing plans for a trans-Balkan
pipeline to carry Russian crude oil to Greece from
Bulgaria, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 26 May. A
trilateral meeting of Russian, Greek, and Bulgarian
officials is scheduled to discuss the proposed pipeline
in Moscow this July. The pipeline would run from the
Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis in
northeastern Greece. VG

BULGARIAN PREMIER IN GERMANY. During a 26 May meeting in
Bonn, Ivan Kostov presented to German Foreign Minister
Joschka Fischer two reports on Bulgaria's preparations
for EU accession, according to a 26 May BTA report
monitored by the BBC. Kostov said that the
reconstruction plan for the Balkans after the Kosova
conflict should correspond with EU and WTO regulations
and should make no allowances for any perceived regional
peculiarities. Kostov said that "oligarchic regimes"
tend to ask for special treatment to avoid having to
fulfill international regulations. VG

END NOTE

PERSONALITIES, NOT POLICIES, TO DECIDE ARMENIAN
ELECTIONS

By Liz Fuller

	On 30 May, Armenians go to the polls to elect a new
parliament. A total of 627 candidates are vying for 75
seats allocated in single-candidate constituencies,
while 1,002 candidates representing 21 parties and blocs
will contend 56 seats allocated under the proportional
system to those parties that poll a minimum of 5 percent
of the vote.
	The election campaign has been the subject of
intense discussion in the press, not least because
Armenia's chances of being accepted as a full member of
the Council of Europe depend largely on the voting being
perceived as free and fair--in contrast to the
parliamentary elections of 1995 and the presidential
polls of 1996 and 1998, all of which international
monitors criticized as marred by vote-rigging. But much
of the country's electorate is reportedly apathetic,
leading some observers to predict a low turnout.
Commentators note the broad similarities between the
various parties' election programs, virtually all of
which vow to stamp out poverty, revitalize the economy,
rebuild the area of northern Armenia that was devastated
by the 1988 earthquake, and "achieve a just solution to
the Karabakh conflict."
	The lack of alternative programs has reinforced the
widespread impression that what is ultimately at stake
is who will gain control over political decision-making
and its attendant privileges. Many voters are convinced
that the outcome of that distribution of power and
privilege will have no positive impact on their daily
struggle to make ends meet. In particular, many people
see the outcome of the poll as crucial to the fortunes
of Prime Minister Armen Darpinian and two "power"
ministers from the government of the Republic of Armenia
as well as those of the powerful defense minister of the
unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
	Darpinian, whom most observers believe will forfeit
his post after the elections, is reportedly sponsoring
the recently created Decent Future party, headed by the
respected sociologist Lyudmila Harutunian. Defense
Minister Vazgen Sargsian's Republican Party of Armenian
(HHK) has joined forces with the People's Party of
Armenia, founded last year by former Armenian Communist
First Secretary and defeated 1998 presidential candidate
Karen Demirchian. Interior and National Security
Minister Serzh Sargsian (not related to Vazgen) is
widely believed to be supporting the Country of Law
party. And Karabakh Defense Minister Samvel Babayan has
openly declared his backing for the nationalist Right
and Accord bloc. Babayan explained his involvement in
the election campaign by citing his strong disapproval
of the economic policies of the present Armenian
leadership.
	Most observers agree that the Miasnutyun (Unity)
bloc of Karen Demirchian and Vazgen Sargsian is likely
to win the largest number of seats, if not an absolute
majority, within the new parliament. They base that
prediction on Demirchian's undoubted popularity, which
derives largely from the "nostalgia factor." Other
commentators, however, suggest that some voters who
backed Demirchian against Robert Kocharian in last
year's presidential election may construe the former's
alignment with Vazgen Sargsian as a betrayal, and
transfer their support to the Communist Party of
Armenia, one of five or six parties considered likely to
poll the minimum 5 percent needed for representation
under the proportional system.
	Of the "traditional" parties that have played a
prominent role in Armenian politics since 1991, only the
Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (HHD),
Vazgen Manukian's National Democratic Union, and Paruyr
Hayrikian's Self-Determination Union are believed likely
to surmount the 5 percent barrier, along with the
Country of Law party. The former ruling Armenian Pan-
National Movement (HHSh) is not expected to do so,
although individual candidates, including its
controversial chairman Vano Siradeghian, may win several
seats under the majoritarian system.
	Kocharian has hinted strongly that he will ask
Miasnutyun and the HHD to form a new cabinet after the
elections. But neither Vazgen Sargsian's repeated
denials that he harbors presidential ambitions nor
Kocharian's expressions of support and approval for
Miasnutyun have dispelled the perception of a rift
between Sargsian and the president, which is believed to
pose a long-term threat to the latter.
	Some analysts have even suggested that Miasnutyun
was created with the backing of former Russian Premier
Yevgenii Primakov and the Russian military to torpedo
Kocharian's policy of balancing Armenia's traditional
pro-Russian orientation with a drive for integration
into European structures. Sargsian, by contrast, has
made no secret of his view that Russia should be
Armenia's main defense partner.
	 Other aspects of the election campaign have given
grounds for concern. Leaders of several opposition
parties, including Vazgen Manukian and Paryur Hayrikian,
have charged that the registration of candidates and
parties was marred by widespread irregularities, and
they predict that the poll will be no more free and fair
than previous elections. Some prominent HHSh members,
together with the chairmen of the Liberal Democratic and
21st Century parties, Vigen Khachatrian and David
Shahnazarian, are boycotting the poll in the belief that
the outcome has been determined in advance. And the fact
that numerous businessmen with connections to the
present government or to the Republican Party have spent
large sums of money on campaigning has engendered fears
that many of the future parliamentary deputies may be
reluctant to enact legislation that would benefit the
country and the population at large but at the same time
could undermine their own financial interests.

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