News round-up

3 - 10 February 1997

Demonstrations in Albania

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the Albanian capital, Tirana, on Sunday, following the collapse of several Government approved Pyramid Investment Schemes. Prime Minister Alexander Meksi appealed for calm and order to the tens of thousands of Albanians who have lost substantial savings in the schemes. The Government intends to distribute next week part of the £137 million of funds frozen ten days ago in deposit accounts at state banks.

Chechens vote for independence

Officials throughout Chechenya kept the polls open for a further two hours on Tuesday as the turnout at the country's elections exceeded expectations. Voting appeared to be tight between the two main candidates, Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev. All of the six candidates, however, favour independence from Russia bringing further embarrasment to the Kremlin after its recent military losses in the region.

Yeltsin Dutch trip cancelled

Following medical advice President Boris Yeltsin has delayed plans to visit the Dutch prime minister, Mr Wim Kok next week. A Russian official said the visit would be moved to Moscow later in the month.

Russian budget is cleared

Russia's 1997 budget passed its fourth and final reading in the lower house of Parliament clearing its biggest legislative hurdle, by 245 votes to 90. The budget, designed to entrench Russia's successful stabilisation programme, envisages revenues of Rbs434,400bn(£47bn) and expenditures of Rbs529,000bn, leaving a budget deficit of 3.5 per cent (excluding interest payments on Government borrowings).

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