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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

RUSSIA

Gorbachev, Lebedev To Form New Party

Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev said Tuesday he is teaming with former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev to form a new political party, tentatively named the Independent Democratic Party, that will challenge Russia's recent steps away from democracy.

Gorbachev, 77, could not immediately be reached for comment, and it was not clear whether he planned to seek an active political role more than 17 years after the Soviet Union collapsed around him, costing him his job as its last leader.

Gorbachev is popular abroad but reviled by many Russians, who blame him for the Soviet breakup. He won less than 1 percent of the vote in the 1996 presidential election and has not run since.

In a statement on his Web site, Lebedev, a former lawmaker, called the new party Gorbachev's idea and said it would advocate restoration of gubernatorial elections, a stronger parliament, independent courts and media, and a smaller state role in the economy.

SERBIA

Kosovo Split Proposed

Serbian President Boris Tadic said he would consider dividing Kosovo by absorbing the small, Serb-dominated portions from ethnic Albanian areas if Belgrade cannot stop the territory from winning full independence.

Ethnic Albanians make up 88 percent of the 2 million people in Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in February.

Kosovo Albanian officials flatly rejected Tadic's suggestion.

"Kosovo is now an internationally recognized state with its defined borders," parliamentary speaker Jakup Krasniqi said Tuesday. "Any attempt to change its borders would trigger new problems in the Balkans."

BELARUS

Landslide Rationalized

Belarus's authoritarian president on Tuesday defended the ex-Soviet nation's parliamentary elections despite the opposition's failure to win a single seat.


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