Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (23 October): A Victory in Qom?

1835 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Safar Mousavi, the head of Foulad Shahr city council in Isfahan Province, has been released on bail after 40 days in prison.

1820 GMT: Subsidy Watch. More warnings for the Government as it may or may not introduce subsidy cuts....

Ali Asghar Yousefinejad, the chair of Parliament's Industry Commission warns that subsidy refunds will not cover rising costs. Ayande News adds substance: new gas bills will be 800,000 Toman (about $800) but the support payments are only 1/10th of this.

1815 GMT: Economic Transparency? Adel Azar, the head of Iran's Statistics Center has declared, that if the government accepts the offer, the Center will publish the data on inflation.

1753 GMT: The Budget Battle. Khabar Online reports that the main obstacle to Parliament-Government compromise on the 5th Budget Plan is the future of national development funds.

1650 GMT: MediaFail Update. More on The Story So Bad It Became a Success....

Reuters' wildly inaccurate elegy of the Supreme Leader's "success" in Qom --- noted in our updates on Thursday and Friday --- makes it, with approval, into Khabar Online.

1640 GMT: Clerical Pressure. An indication of the political tensions the Supreme Leader has to negotiate in Qom....

Hojetoleslam Jafar Shojouni of the "conservative" Society of Combatant Clergy, while criticising nationalists who reject clerics in politics, has warned that many grand ayatollahs are refusing to meet government officials because of "torturing currents" within the administration.

1610 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Azeri activist Hamid Valayi has been given a one-year sentence.

1545 GMT: Economy Watch. Reformist MP Jamshid Ansari has claimed that the government has no economic model for its 5th Budget Plan, which is still held up because of a dispute with the Parliament.

1535 GMT: Khamenei's Cement-Barriered Road Trip. Rah-e-Sabz has posted video that it claims is of a double-stacked cement barrier around the Supreme Leader’s residence in Qom.

1510 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Los Angeles Times reports, from the husband of detained attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh, that he has not spoken to his wife in more than two weeks.

Sotoudeh had told her husband, Reza Khandan, that she went on hunger strike on 25 September. She has reportedly been in solitary confinement since her arrest on 4 September.

Khandan said of their last conversation, "It lasted three seconds, because as soon as she mentioned the words 'hunger strike' and 'threat' her phone was cut off."

1505 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Take your pick....

Hojetoleslam Akhoond Alam-Alhoda, the Friday Prayer leader in Mashhad, stands tall: "We are not afraid of Bluetooth and will fight bloggers."

Or should it be Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi, who waves off the recent suspension by Russia of deliveries of S-300 missiles: "We will make them domestically"?

1455 GMT: Graffiti of the Day. An Iranian blog posts a series of pictures of inscriptions on a hillside in Behbahan in Khuzestan Province in western Iran. The message in this photograph is to the point: "Long Live Freedom."

1445 GMT: Economy Watch. Soleyman Alizadeh, of the West Azerbaijan Trade Organization, puts the Central Bank's "official" inflation rate of 8% in perspective, saying that the cost of goods made of iron has risen 18%.

1435 GMT: MediaWatch. A new "democratic" TV channel, Nahade Mardomi (Popular Organisation) has begun broadcasting.

1421 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz reported that detained Kurdish activist Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand, is in serious condition with heart disease.

Journalist and political activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi has gotten a message out of Rajai Shahr Prison: the regime will not win, the Green Movement is not dead and it will not die.

Photojournalist Majid Saeedi has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Saeedi, who has 20 years of experience, was arrested at his house on 30 June 2009 by security agents and was amongst the defendants in the August 2009 mass trial in Tehran.

1420 GMT: Back from Break. Apologies to readers that the site was down for about an hour and many thanks to the German reader who came for a coffee at EA headquarters....

0907 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man (cont.). Ayande reports on an ultimatum to President Ahmadinejad by a Mashhad group of "followers of velayat-e faqih and the Supreme Leader": Remove Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

0903 GMT: Economy Watch. Ayande News claims that, despite revenues from proposed subsidy cut, the government will still have a $4 billion deficit because it has already spent most of the anticipated savings. 

0900 GMT: Grounding the Clerics. Rah-e-Sabz claims that a group of Sunni clerics at a Tehran airport had their passports confiscated and were banned from travelling to Turkey

0850 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Mehdi Karroubi has written to legislators urging them not to accept the Oversight on Members of Parliament bill.

The measure would allow the Guardian Council to remove elected members at any point on the grounds of behave against the interests of those in power; in some cases, MPs could be prosecuted and arrested. (The Guardian Council already scrutinises proposed candidates for Parliament to determine who is suitable to stand for election.)

Karroubi wrote, "The content of this bill shows that those who proposed it do not want just to have oversight of the members of the parliament, but want to threaten them....Whenever [a member] says anything that is not desired by those in power, [he will] be confronted, threatened or dismissed from his post easily."

0845 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. Rah-e-Sabz claims that a pro-Government student organisation has withdrawn its invitation to Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai to speak. 

0730 GMT: We open this morning with a snap analysis of the Supreme Leader's breakthrough on the fourth day of his mission to Qom seeking clerical support: after days of effort, Ayatollah Khamenei got a photo opportunity and a private meeting with Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, joined by other Ayatollahs who had seen Khamenei earlier in the week.

Perhaps surprisingly, IRNA has already left the Golpayegani story behind, preferring to lead with Khamenei's late-night visit to the holy mosque of Jamkaran

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