Moscow Holds That Major Conditions For Holding Democratic Election In Kosovo Were Not Met

Moscow holds that major conditions for holding a democratic and just election in Kosovo were not met. Speaking in an interview with RIA Novosti, Russian Foreign Ministry official Alexander Yakovenko said that "after the almost two years and a half of international control in the region many problems there remain unsolved, among them safety, the return of refugees and displaced persons, and equal access for the non-Albanian population to such achievements of any civilised society as education, health care, culture and information." Yakovenko said Moscow fully shares the concern expressed by Belgrade in this connection and views the November 17 Kosovo Assembly (parliament) Election as "only a stage in the fulfilment of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which remains to be the basis of the Kosovo settlement." The Foreign Ministry official emphasised that, despite its skeptical attitude to holding elections at present, Russia did not object to the Kosovo-wide election and did not intend to create artificial obstacles to efforts by international structures in the region to org! ! anise it. Moscow is satisfied with the fact that the election proceeded without incidents. Yakovenko said this became possible owing to tightened security measures taken by international structures in view of the high level of inter-ethnic violence and crime in the region. He said the election results were certified on November 24 by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Kosovo. Ballots were cast by 64.3 percent of registered voters. The Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, headed by Ibrahim Rugova and representing moderate circles of the region's ethnic Albanian community, won the largest number of seats in the Assembly. On the whole, representatives of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo won a majority in the Kosovo parliament, as was expected. In Moscow's view, Belgrade's appeal to Kosovo Serbs and to refugees staying outside Kosovo to take part in the voting yielded positive results for the Serb community. The Return coalition, representing Serbia's ruling bloc of democratic parties, won 22 seats in the Kosovo parliament (including ten seats reserved for the Serb community). The full text of Alexander Yakovenko's interview is placed at the RIA Novosti web site (the Politics section) at: