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    January 28


    The Central Election Commission (CEC) has organised a demonstration visit for the press to the department that checks the authenticity of signatures collected in support of presidential candidates. The deadline for the submission of signatures is 6:00 p.m. Moscow time today. The journalists were not shown the signatures collected for Putin, which CEC chairman Alexander Veshnyakov explained by "the specific conditions of the current shift" of controllers, who were checking signatures in support of Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov, leader of the Party of Life. The controllers said no more than 5% of all the signatures were questionable. Registration is denied when the number of false signatures exceeds 25% of the total.

    The newspaper reminds its readers that today is the last day for the submission of signatures and says only three candidates have met the deadline so far: Vladimir Putin, Sergei Mironov and Ivan Rybkin. Veshnyakov dropped a scary hint to the other candidates: "Practice shows that those who submit their signatures at the last possible moment usually turn in signatures of inferior quality." He thus hinted that such candidates will have fewer chances to be registered than other candidates.

    Irina Khakamada and Sergei Glazyev are expected to submit signatures in their support today.


    On January 27, the Office of the Prosecutor General admitted officially that proceedings had been instituted against Yukos's largest shareholders - Leonid Nevzlin, Vladimir Dubov and Mikhail Brudno, who are on the international wanted list. Big businessmen have never been hunted on such a large scale. The cases of Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky were a mere trifle compared to the Yukos case, writes the newspaper.

    Ten people are wanted in connection with the Yukos case, said First Deputy Prosecutor General Yuri Biryukov. This is one more unprecedented element of the case. He said seven of these "are heads of front firms that were used to imitate the sale of oil and avoid taxes." Never before have the Russian law enforcers put so many people on the wanted list simultaneously as part of one case. "They have been put on the list with court approval," said Biryukov. Nobody knows, though, which court provided the approval and when. The defendants' lawyers know nothing about this, and the Prosecutor General's Office refused to expound on Biryukov's comments.


    During the night of January 26/27, the Internet was attacked by the largest e-mail virus epidemic in the past two years. Within a few hours, the Novarg worm, allegedly created by Russian hackers, infected over 500,000 PCs throughout the world. It continued to spread on Tuesday, slowing down the Internet. The authors of anti-virus programmes say the Novarg attack could become the most serious epidemic in the web's history.

    Analysts say the attack was organised very cleverly and hence could inflict incredibly serious damage, writes the newspaper.


    The newspaper, which carries an interview with Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid and Macedonia, head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, writes that Macedonia is one of the "hottest" spots in Europe today. After Albanians had assumed, with the help of Western allies, control over Kosovo, which formally is part of Serbia, they turned their eyes to the neighbouring republic, where Orthodox Slavs constitute the majority of population at the moment. The goal of those who are dreaming of Greater Albania is to tear from Macedonia several provinces populated mostly by Albanians.

    When asked how the Russian Orthodox Church could help his country, Archbishop Stefan said: "You should remember Russia's strong influence in Macedonia after the 1828-1829 Russo-Turkish war. Many churches and monasteries were built in my country then and services were in Russian in some of them. When a devastating earthquake hit Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, in July 1963, the Patriarch of All Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church provided considerable material assistance to us."

    "I am convinced that Macedonia could become the outpost of Russia in the Balkans in terms of strengthening the influence of Russian culture, language and Orthodoxy," said the archbishop. "While some regional countries are increasing distance from Russia, for certain reasons, Macedonia is seeking active co-operation and friendship with Russians."


    The newspaper carries a commentary, entitled The Massacre of the Innocents, which writes that child abuse is, regrettably, a widespread vice in the world and Russia is not an exception to this sad rule. This is the conclusion of the experts of the Serbsky State Research Centre of Social and Forensic Psychiatry. Every year parents beat about 2 million Russian children aged under 14, provoking catastrophic consequences: about 2,000 children try to commit suicide to escape the beatings and over 50,000 run away. Most of these children have development problems and psychological disorders. Worse still, violence is an "infectious disease," say experts: 74% of adolescents who committed crimes against an individual were either victims of parental abuse or saw how their father beat up their mother.

    The probability of such children becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol is 50% higher than in the case of their peers from normal families. There is nearly a 100% probability that the boys who witnessed the abuse of their mothers will beat up their partners when they grow up, conclude experts.

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