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Issue No. 195. - October 20 , 2000.
Contents :

       By Paulyuk Bykowski

       By Ylber Emra

       By Andrey Brstovsek


5. Special addition: NEW AT TOL

    By Paulyuk Bykowski
    The prediction Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko made
about voter participation on the morning of October 15, election
day, has almost been fulfilled: "Our Belarussians will come," he
said. "Half or more. I know that Belarussians have never deceived
me, and they never will. I think more than 70 percent will show up
at the polls. And that will be our victory."
    The statistics for Belarussian voter participation show 60.6
percent at the polls October 15, with participation in the capital
ranking the lowest (elections took place in 96 out of 110 voting
districts) according to the Central Election Committee
(Centrizbirkom). By the end of the day Centrizbirkom "had not yet
tallied the votes for Minsk." But by the morning of October 16,
officials said Minsk pariticipation weighed in at 49 percent, and
that out of 18 districts only three had not taken part in the
voting. These were the districts run by opposition leaders:
president of the Belarussian Social-Democratic Party (the People's
*Gramada*) Nikolai Statkevich, president of the Liberal Democratic
Party Sergei Gaidukevich, and the president of the Belarussian
Communist Party Sergei Kalyakin. Voting also did not occur in the
centers of Brest, Vitebsk, and Baranovichakh (Brest region), nor
in Molodechno or Borisova (Minsk region).
    It's worth noting that at 6 p.m. on October 15 (two hours
before the polls closed) the voter count in the capital stood at
only 38.8 percent. The poll manager at Centrizbirkom attributed
the jump in voter turnout during the last two hours to "people
returning from their summer cottages [dachas]." Election manager
E. Yermoshina spoke about the general low voter turnout in the
large cities: "In the provices the people are more law abiding.
That's a fact. Secondly, they still consider voting to be their
duty, and they're probably right. In Minsk and in some of the
larger cities they have adopted the strong idea that voting is a
right, not a citizen's duty, and that they will therefore use that
right however they like and according to their own judgement."
    The Belarussian opposition, which boycotted the elections,
accused the government at an October 16 press conference of
falsifying the ballot totals and bribing voters. One participant,
president of BNF Vintsuk Vyachorka expressed amazement at the
official tallies in the Grodnensky region. He said 20 percent of
the ballots there were collected before October 15. Vyachorka
called this practice of early vote-gathering "absolutely
criminal," insisted that the official results of this procedure
were invalid. The opposition noted instances of guards shortening
voter lists, letting their own their own political opinions
influence the election; voting without showing identfication; and
instances of people submitting ballots for other voters.
    A unique example of blackmail was demonstrated, strangely, by
the head of Centrizbirkom. Appearing on television on election
day, Yermoshina announced that nearly $2 million had been planned
into the budget for the election, and if the voting didn't take
place, she said, the goverment would take an equal sum out of the
state social security budget.
    But by the time Yermoshina appeared on television at 11 a.m.,
it was already clear the boycott had failed. The election had been
recognized in one of the districts (Lidsky village district #57,
Grodnensky region). And more came later: by 2 p.m. the count had
climbed to 16 districts, with voter participation at more than 50
percent led by, interestingly, the Grodnensky region, where
earlier the voting commission had been especially vigilant in
verifying the documents of deputy candidates and had been the
first to turn such people away.
    The head of Centrizbirkom promised to release the election
results October 18. But on October 16 Yermoshina announced the
election of 43 deputies in the first round of elections, more than
half of which comprised incumbents returning to their old seats in
Parliament. A total of 567 candidates competed for 110 seats in
the House of Representatives, of which only 279 belonged to
political parties. Among these last, notable representatation came
from the Liberal Democratic Party (89), the Party of Belorussian
Communists (71), and the loyal regime of the Communist Party of
Belorussia (45). Nearly 150 candidates belonged in some form or
another to the opposition, according to government statistics. In
the first round of voting only 8 party members were elected.
    This result represents a "de-Partification" of Parliament,
which Lukashenko had set as his goal. In his farewell speech to
the last meeting of this term's House of Representatives on
October 12, the goverment leader said, "We cannot allow
disagreements between parties or factions to create tension, which
leads, as a rule, nowhere."
    Judging by recent events, the formation of factions in the new
House of Representatives cannot be avoided, but they should be
weak. The election results show that, as in the registration of
deputy candidates, Party members will have a diminished chance at
power. It's not surprising that the leadership of the most active
party--the LPD--was still complaining of numerous irrregularities
when the polls closed.
    No disinterested parties were present to officially observe
the elections. The Belarussian government's announcements
notwithstanding. the only outside parties to observe the elections
were the parliaments of Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Iran,
governments all tied in one way or another to the current regime
in Belarus. Politicians visited from a few other countries (Italy,
Belgium, Germany) to observe the elections in a personal capacity,
but not as official representatives of their countries or to serve
any regulatory function.
    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
and the European "Parliamentary Three" (the Parliamentary Assembly
of the OSCE, the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Union, and
the Europarliament) disputed the announcement regarding their
oversight of the elections. Their participation, they said, ended
at monitoring the political process to ensure that Belarus
fulfilled its international obligations, and did not extend to
presence at the elections themselves. Some observers of the
October 15 elections in Belarus drew conclusions that were
compromised by the fact that the observers' activities were
organized by Belarus' Central Election Commission, according to
notes in the "Parliamentary Three"'s October 15 record of the
political situation in Belarus. For example, the record says, the
Belarussian CEC paid for hotel rooms for some of the guests it
invited, and also organized bus trips to voting centers.
    So the elections occurred. And the government, as the
opposition will say directly, observed them not at as an
independent campaign, but more as a loyalist to the presidential
throne. It's not surprising that in this situation elections lose
their meaning. October 14 was not the culmination of the election
campaign: the opposition gathered nearly 2500 supporters, but the
government propaganda that day was concentrated on their own
conflicts with the opposition, and not on the boycott of the
    Naturally, in these conditions journalists took interest in
the government leader and his chances in the 2001 race. Lukashenko
answered question after question; he added that he is not
excluding the possibility of the sudden appearance of a shining
figure, and gave as examples Russia and Yugoslavia.
    By Ylber Emra
    How deep the divisions in Kosovo run can best be seen at the
local elections, where Serbs and Albanians must vote at different
times, in voting centers separated by barbed wire. Since the Serbs
have already wrapped up their elections in the traditional manner
- with controversies and infighting that will eventually leave the
remaining Serbian population in Kosovo even worse off than before,
it is now the Albanians' turn, after an election campaign
characterized by armed conflicts, pressures, and assassinations
with obvious political motives.
    Local elections will be held in Kosovo on October 28. The
elections aim partly to soften the harshly criticized domination
of international elements over all issues in the province, and to
legally transfer some of the decision-making to representatives
from the local population. The international community has
organized the "first democratic elections in Kosovo that Albanians
will participate in", a somewhat misleading formulation, since
only Albanians will participate in the elections. A census
organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE) before the elections indicated a deep chasm between
various ethnic communities in Kosovo, since only several hundred
Serbs, Romas and other nationalities agreed to participate, in
contrast to nearly a million Albanians.
    As expected, the polls predicted that Kosovo will see the most
hotly contended race between the powerful Democratic alliance of
Kosovo headed by Ibrahim Rugova and the radical Democratic party
of Kosovo (DPK) led by former political leader of the Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA) Hashim Taci. The only other parties that can
count on some votes are the United Democratic Movement headed by
Redzep Cosja, very close to Taci's DPK; and the Alliance for
Kosovo's Future, led by the controversial ex-KLA commander Ramus
Hajradinaj and former communist official and prominent Albanian
politician Mahmut Bakalli.
    Although international representatives led by UNMIK chief
Bernard Kouchner hoped these primaries would represent various
visions of the future, statements made by party leaders,
especially Taci and Hajradinaj, have included promises of
independence, further cooling other national communities on the
idea of co-existence with Albanians. In addition to national
minorities, radical elements also targeted DSK supporters. It
seems the DSK's influence was shaken neither by Rugova's
inactivity nor by his still unexplained visit to Slobodan
Milosevic last year during NATO air strikes. Open American support
for Taci and Hajradinaj didn't hurt DSK either.
    Polls show that 40 percent of voters support Rugova, while his
biggest rival, Taci, lags behind with only 15 per cent, and may
make a local coalition government with at least two more parties.
This situation "pressured" supporters of DPK and the Alliance for
Kosovo's Future to find "alternative" means to win voter support:
there have been some dozen attacks on DSK officials throughout the
province, and in Lipljani (near Pristina) Taci's supporters
organised a counter-rally in the old Balkan way, and dispersed
Rugova's followers. Hajradinaj didn't refrain from similar
activities. While besieging the house of a DSK leader in Pec, a
town near Decani, Hajdrinaj was wounded and in murky circumstances
was transferred to Ramstein, the American military base in
Germany. American forces in KFOR suspended UNMIK police
investigations into the case.
    One reason the international reaction to this fierce election
race has been so mild is that Kouchner will step down as UNMIK
chief after the local elections. Another key reason can be found
in the change taking place in Serbia. With the removal of the
former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, the usual culprit
for trouble in province has disappeared. At the same time, the
enthusiasm with which Europe greeted the new Yugoslav president
Vojislav Kostunica caused a stir among Kosovar Albanians, whose
hopes for independence were directly linked with the survival of
Milosevic's regime.
    Observers in Pristina say the changes the Belgrade government
could help Taci and Hajradinij, but will have little impact in
Kosovo as a whole, since these local elections will not give real
power to the winning party.
    Although several hundred Serbs were placed on the election
lists, not a single Kosovar Serb organisation will participate in
the elections. While the gap between the Serbian national council
(led by the priest Artemije) and the organisation with the same
name (led by Oliver Ivanovic from Kosovska Mitrovica) has not been
bridged following the changes in Serbia, neither group thinks the
minimal requirements were met for Serbian participation at the
    According to data from international organisations, more than
100,000 Serbs remain in Kosovo, half of them with the right to
vote. However, these Serbs are likely to boycott the elections,
just as Kosovar Albanians boycotted the Yugoslav parliamentary and
presidential elections in September. According to reports from
Belgrade, there were 1,026,062 persons with the right to vote in
Kosovo in 1996 and 1997. This summer the OSCE mission completed a
list of persons over the age of 16. The organisation said that
slightly more than 1 million people living in Kosovo have
suffrage. Most of them are Albanians, more than 95 percent.
    Spokesman for the International Migration Organisation Nijurka
Pineiro says 38,000 Kosovar Albanians living abroad will be able
to vote in the local elections in Kosovo. Pineiro said that about
180,000 Kosovar Albanians who no longer live in the province have
also requested voting rights, but that they must prove that they
were in Kosovo between September 1, 1996, and January 1, 1999.
    OSCE and the international government have supervised the
elections. They formed the Central Election Committee (CIK), which
created the election rule regulated campaign finance in the
upcoming local elections. All participants must make donations
exceeding 1,000 DEM public, and must limit the money they spend on
their campaigns. Parties, coalitions, civil initiatives or
independent candidates may spend 1 DEM per potential voter during
the election campaign. Campaign expenses relate to all costs of
propaganda material produced by political parties. From the
beginning of the 45-day election campaign until the election day,
all campaign expenses are limited. Partitcipants must submit
reports to CIK detailing how much money they have at their
disposal for the election cmpaign and how much they plan to spend.
They must list all income, be it cash coming from Kosovo or from
abroad, as well as all goods and services. Afer the elections all
participants must turn over CIK special reports regarding campaign
expenses, including yet-unpaid bills and total amount of money
spent during the elections.
    At the beginning of October during the election campaign, the
OSCE mission in Kosovo said it had compiled lists of candidates
for local elections in the province containing 5,546 names, among
them 1,361 women. Kosovo is divided into 30 counties, with 18
political parties, 2 coalitions, 3 civil initiatives and 15
independent candidates participating in the elections.
    Rugova's DSK is present in 29 counties, as is the the Alliance
for Kosovo's Future, headed by Ramus Haradinaj. Taci's Democratic
Party of Kosovo has lists in 27 counties, and the Coalition for
the Independence of Kosovo headed by Redzep Cosja in 19. The
Party of Liberal Centre of Kosovo led by Djerdo Dedaj will list
its candidates in 19 Kosovar counties, the Social Democratic party
headed by Kachussa Jassari in 17, the Albanian
Christian-Democratic Party of Kosovo (Marko Krasnici) 13, the
Republican Party of Kosovo 12, the Albanian National Democratic
Party 10. The Social Democratic Party of Kosovo (Ljuljeta
Pulja-Beciri) will be present in 7 counties, the Albanian
Democratic Party (Askali Faik Maroli) also 7, the Party of
Democratic Action (Numan Balic) 6, the Party of Democratic Action
of Kosovar Bosniaks 5, the National Turkish Party of Kosovo and
Democratic Union of Turks 4. There will also be a Green Party of
Kosovars, an Albanian National Democratic party and Party of
Democratic Reforms of the Kosovar Moslems. The Turkish community
in divided Mitrovica will be represented by a civil initiative,
and another group of citizens will represent the north of that
county. One civil initiative comes from Dragas, there are four
independent candidates for local elections in Djakovica, and two
independent candidates in counties of Suva Reka and Malisevo
respectively. One independent candidate each will be in Kamenica,
Podujevo, Pristina and Prizren.
    Ten days before the elections, all prominent political parties
of Kosovar Albanians uniformly rejected the American proposal of
Kosovo becoming a republic within Yugoslavia. The vice president
of the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo Kol Berisha said that "in the
past ten years, Albanians have clearly said they do not want to
live together with Serbia or some so-called Yugoslavia." He said
that "there is no force in the world that can persuade Kosovo, or
Kosovar Albanians, to live in any kind of federation or
confederation with Yugoslavia in the future, regardless of the
level of democracy in Serbia or FRY." The vice president of
Democratic party of Kosovo Arsim Bajrami said that with the new
situation in Serbia, "the time has come for the international
community to deal with the sources of the crisis in Kosovo, and
not its consequences. The concept of a republic of Kosovo inside
some future federation is "unacceptable and bound to fail"
because, as Bajrami said, "Albanians never felt linked to a state
such as FRY." He added that "if we want a permanent solution with
a good perspective on Kosovo, then it would be to make it an
independent republic, which would stablize not only the province,
but also the whole region. We will persuade international
elements, including the USA, to allow Kosovo independence", said
Bajrami, a close colleague of Taci. The request for an independent
Kosovo, formally still a Yugoslav province that has been under the
international rule since summer of last year, will be the chief
election promise and will significantly influence whom the people
will vote for. But it is unclear how the international government
will react to all of this. Since the change of government in FRY,
international representatives have been saying they do not support
Kosovan independence, and that they have the same attitude towards
Montenegrin leadership headed by Milo Djukanovic, who is striving
for the same thing.
    By Andrey Brstovsek
    Sunday's general election in Slovenia gave the center-left
Liberal Democrats (LDS) a clear victory: no other single party has
gained so much support since the first free and democratic
elections were held in 1990. LDS won 36.3 percent of the vote and
34 seats in 90 seats parliament - more than enough to form a
comfortable coalition.
    "The results show that this time it will be easier to form a
coalition than it was four years ago,"  said president of LDS
Janez Drnovsek, 50, a prominent political figure who has led
various Slovenian governments since 1992.
    Two possible coalitions could form, political analysts say.
First, LDS could join with the center-right Social Democrats
(SDS), who won 14 seats, giving the coalition a small majority of
48. But the pre-election agreement made between SDS and New
Slovenia-Christian People's Party (NSi), which won 8 seats, poses
a problem. LDS leader Drnovsek is reluctant now to cooperate with
NSi president Andrej Bajuk. Bajuk is the premier of the current
center-right government, which has only been in power since June.
    It was actually Bajuk's government that ensured the success of
the LDS and delivered the devastating blow to the right. The
government suffered from internal conflicts, replacing many
political appointees in state-controlled business and government
with its own people, and at one point almost collapsing from
infighting over electoral law. The fight for primacy over the
center-right political sphere, which SDS eventually won,  left its
mark: the three center-right parties won only 31 seats combined,
compared to 45 in the 1996 election. They may now regret refusing
calls for early elections this May and forming a government that
had no chance to prove itself.
    As a second option, LDS could invite the United List of Social
Democrats (ZLSD), former Communists who won 11 seats, and one of
the smaller parties to form a government. One possibility is the
Pensioner's Party with four seats, which would give Drnovsek a
49-seat majority. Drnovsek can also count on the support of two
minority representatives - the Slovenian nationalist party with
four seats (but with little chance to be in government) and
perhaps the Youth Party. This latter was the big surprise of the
election, winning enough votes to bypass the 4 percent threshold.
LDS could also form a so-called "big coalition" with ZLSD and
SKD+SLS. The latter is a center-right party and the biggest loser
in the election, winning only 9 seats, after being the second
strongest party in 1996.
    Regardless of how coalitions form, it will clearly be be the
LDS who will set the pace for the new government. Top foreign
policy priorities are clear. First on the list is wrapping up
negotiations with the European Union in order to be ready for
membership by the end of the 2003, a goal tied in many ways to
domestic issues; second is entering NATO.
    Slovenia is one of six candidates for the first round of EU
enlargement, along with Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia
and Cyprus and remains, in the words of European commissioner for
the enlargement Gunter Verheugen, in "pole position" among them.
    But big tasks lie ahead and EU is not completely satisfied
with the progress. The jobs the new government will face will be
outlined in the EU report on the progress of membership
applicants, due in early November. Among them are faster
privatization and denationalization. The state still owes money to
the two biggest national banks, to the fixed-lines telephone
company, to insurance companies, etc. The new government will have
to reorganize the administration to be more effective. And EU also
wants to see an increase in direct foreign investment, which is
down in contrast to the trend in Eastern Europe. Representatives
of LDS have promised to remove bureaucratic hinderances and
restrictions on the use of state-owned property to attract foreign
investment. In contrast to other candidates Slovenia is expected
to have fewer problems with the agricultural sector, since
farmers' only contribute five percent to the GDP.
    The other major foreign policy goal is entering the NATO
alliance if NATO expands again. In recent years Slovenia has
undergone some important strategic military reforms. The US has
helped to restructure the army and has advised advised buying
modern arms. Of course, they advised Slovenia to buy American
arms. Joseph W. Ralston, commander of the allied forces in Europe,
said recently that expansion is a matter of political decisions.
And buying US armaments cannot hurt - especially since  USA
supported the invitations of Poland, the Czech Republic and
Hungary - but not Slovenia, unexpectedly - into NATO in 1997. The
decision on next expansion will be taken in 2002.
    Business leaders also say they want the new government to
establish political ties with Yugoslavia - something that became
possible after the recent fall of Yugoslav president Slobodan
Milosevic. The Serbian market of 10.6 million people has
traditionally been a friendly commercial environment for Slovenian
business, but political problems in last decade have sparked a
major decline. After the election of Vojislav Kostunica the mood
between countries is expected to improve.
    Overall, the pre-election campaign was not as fierce as
anticipated. There were few discussions on specific issues, and
candidates mostly made general promises about a better future and
taking care of Slovenia's interests. The biggest news was the
fight among center-right parties. This conflict came as surprise
to voters, since these were the parties that only last spring
created the first Slovenian government not run by parties seen by
as successors of former Communists. It can be said that LDS was
seen as the safest choice for undecided voters, and election
results prove their tactics successful. But now, political
analysts say, the LDS will be under public and media scrutiny.
Well, perhaps not in the coming weeks - it is now time for
negotiations about the new government behind the closed doors.
    IDEE and LAM Launch New Chechen Information Initiative
    More than one year after Russian Federation forces began their
brutal war against Chechnya, the armed conflict continues and the
humanitarian crisis for the Chechen people worsens.
    In the midst of unrelenting terror and deprivation, the
Chechen people are attempting to somehow improve the situation.
One of Chechnya's most important non-governmental organizations is
the Lam ("mountain" in Chechen) Center for Pluralism, which unites
intellectuals, artists, doctors, teachers, writers, and community
leaders with the common goal of preserving Chechen culture and
heritage. Since the war, it has become the leading organization
assisting in humanitarian relief, providing basic medical and
mental health services, documenting war crimes, and promoting a
peaceful solution to the conflict.
    In May, Lam became part of IDEE's ( Institute for Democracy in
Eastern Europe- Washington)  Centers for Pluralism network of NGOs
working in over twenty post-communist countries.
    In September, Lam, in collaboration with IDEE, began a regular
information bulletin reporting on the current crisis in Chechnya
and the humanitarian needs of the civilian population. In keeping
with IDEE's work to inform the public about the situation in
Chechnya and to try to alleviate the suffering of the civilian
population, these bulletins will be distributed free of charge to
interested parties and made available on our website,
Special Edition : NEW AT TOL
    Transitions Online (TOL) is the leading
Internet magazine covering Central and Eastern Europe, the
Balkans, and the former Soviet Union. If you aren't already a
member, fill out our registration form at
to receive your free two-month trial membership. If you'd like to become a TOL member
right away, go to And if you're a
citizen of a post-communist country, FREE annual memberships are
still available at

 (Free Access)
 Milosevic's Empire Strikes Back
 Croatia, Bosnia Optimistic But Wary Over Yugoslavia
 Murder Charges Against Russian Aluminum Tycoon Downgraded
 Austria Calls a Conditional Halt to Protests Over Temelin
 Eastern Europe Reacts to Events in Yugoslavia
 Albania Blacked-Out in Power Crisis
 Russian Nobel Prize Winner Decries Lack of Science Funding
 CIS States Strengthen Economic and Military Ties
 Chernobyl Victims Protest Proposed Welfare Cuts
 Ethnic Russian Adoptee Gets Estonian Citizenship

OUR TAKE: Trust, With a Grain of Salt: On who people trust in Russia. The distance between the small Austrian city of Friestadt and
Temelin, a Czech nuclear plant, is around 70 kilometers. But to
locals it seems more like seven. They feel they live next to a
time bomb, which can blow up at any time--just like Chernobyl.
That fear is almost ubiquitous and has intensified since the
plant's launch on 9 October. Claiming that the plant, a
controversial Russian-Western hybrid, is inherently unsafe,
activists have repeatedly blocked border crossings between the two
countries. The result has been the lowest point in Czech-Austrian
relations since the fall of communism. Accompanying the piece is a
sidebar, "Raising Temelin," detailing the troubled life of the
power plant.

ELECTION SPECIAL: Crashing Lithuania's Party
    by Howard Jarvis
    Throughout the 1990s, Lithuania was one of the exceptions to
the rule  of political instability in Central and Eastern Europe.
Its parliament was dominated either by the left-wing, former
communist Democratic Labor Party or the right-wing Conservative
Party.  That changed on 8 October, in the Baltic state's third
parliamentary  elections since independence in 1991. For the first
time, there is the prospect of an uneasy coalition between
ideologically opposed parties. Clashes between both party and
personal interests could slow market reforms and ease up
Lithuania's previously single-minded drive for membership in NATO
and the European Union.

ELECTION SPECIAL: Poles Vote for More of the Same
    by Wojciech Kosc
    Despite being caught on camera ridiculing the pope--not the
smartest thing to do in a predominately Catholic
country--incumbent President Alexander Kwasniewski easily cruised
to victory in Poland's presidential elections on 8 October.
Kwasniewski, a former communist, became the first Polish president
to be re-elected, and the first to be elected without a second
round run-off. His victory shows that the country's impotent right
wing will have to undergo a thorough reorganization for any chance
of future electoral success.

This month's "In Focus" package: Rotten To the Core
Two more pieces on corruption in the region.

IN FOCUS: From Grace To Disgrace
    by Alex Znatkevich and Henadz Barbarych
In Belarus, for a politician to have corruption charges thrust
upon them, it usually means they have fallen out of favor with
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. That is what probably
happened to Mikhail Chyhir, a former prime minister, who was given
a suspended prison sentence this year for exceeding his authority
as prime minister. And with the ex-premier back in the public eye
after Belarus' elections, it looks likely that new charges of
graft will come out of the woodwork.

IN FOCUS: Out of the Spotlight
by Elena Chinyaeva
Last year's money laundering scandal connecting the Bank of
New York to the Russian mafia, which had raved in the Western
press for  a good few months, greatly stimulated sales in the mass
media business: Just like the Russia of "glasnost" and
"perestroika" earlier, a new Russia of "mafia" and "corruption"
has by now become a standard item in print and on the screen.
Corruption is indeed a problem in Russia, though its causes are
too boring to make a splash in the international press: High
income disparities, underdeveloped legislation, and the legal
infantilism of the citizenry.