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AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL AGAIN ACCUSES OPPOSITION OF PREPARING FOR COUP. Presidential administration official Fuad Akhundov has accused the opposition of preparing to seize power during the night of 6-7 November in the wake of the 6 November parliamentary elections, reported on 25 October quoting Interfax-Azerbaijan. Ahundov alleged that the series of abortive opposition rallies in Baku in recent weeks, including that on 23 October, were intended as "dress rehearsals" for seizing power. Also on 25 October, the "Financial Times" quoted U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, who visited Baku during a tour of the South Caucasus last week, as rejecting complaints by some Azerbaijani oppositionists that Washington is not pressuring the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that the 6 November ballot is free, fair, and democratic. At the same time, Fried rejected comparisons between Azerbaijan today and Ukraine during last year's presidential ballot, saying that the regime of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma "had exhausted and discredited itself." LF

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VETOES BILL ON COMPENSATIONS FOR SOVIET-ERA SAVINGS. President Viktor Yushchenko has vetoed a bill obliging the government to compensate Ukrainian citizens for devalued or lost savings that were deposited in the former Soviet Union's Savings Bank, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 24 October. Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk said the government would have to pay 12 billion hryvnyas ($2.4 billion) annually beginning next year if the bill were enacted. "We understand the problem, but the figure [we would have to pay] reaches 12 billion hryvnyas per year. It is an issue of capabilities and wishful thinking," Pynzenyk said. According to him, a 2006 budget draft provides for the payment of 600 million hryvnyas in compensation for the savings Ukrainians held in the Soviet-era Savings Bank. JM

UKRAINIAN PROPERTY FUND HEAD TENDERS RESIGNATION. Valentyna Semenyuk, chairwoman of the State Property Fund, has tendered her resignation to the president, Ukrainian media reported on 24 October. The previous day the Socialist Party, of which she is a member, asked her to step down in connection with the planned sale of the Kryvorizhstal steel mill (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October 2005). The Socialist Party sought to have Kryvorizhstal turned over to the state. "A member of the Socialist Party cannot be involved in a deal that contravenes the party's program," ITAR-TASS quoted Yosyp Vinskyy of the Socialist Party as saying. JM