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The Pyramid Sheme

The Albanian Civil War, also known as the Albanian rebellion, Albanian unrest or the Pyramid crisis, was a period of civil disorder in Albania in 1997, sparked by Ponzi scheme failures. The government was toppled and more than 2,000 people were killed. It is considered to be either a rebellion, a civil war, or a rebellion that escalated into a civil war. By January 1997, Albanian citizens, who had lost a total of $1.2 billion (the population being only three million) took their protest to the streets. Beginning in February, thousands of citizens launched daily protests demanding reimbursement by the government, which they believed was profiting from the schemes. On 2 March, President Sali Berisha declared a state of emergency. On 11 March the Socialist Party of Albania won a major victory when its leader, Bashkim Fino, was appointed prime minister. However, the transfer of power did not halt the unrest, and protests spread to northern Albania. Although the government quelled revolts in the north, the ability of the government and military to maintain order began to collapse, especially in the southern half of Albania, which fell under the control of rebels and criminal gangs All major population centers were engulfed in demonstrations by 13 March and foreign countries began to evacuate their citizens. The United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1101, authorized a force of 7,000 troops on 28 March to direct relief efforts and restore order in Albania.  The UN feared the unrest would spread beyond Albania's borders and send refugees throughout Europe. On 15 April Operation Alba was launched and helped restore rule of law in the country. After the unrest, looted weapons were made available to the Kosovo Liberation Army many making their way to the Kosovo War. These are the photographs of those days, traveling from the southern town of Saranda, the head quarter of the rebellion, towards the capital Tirana, where the protest produced a massive people's movement.

©1997 by Massimo Sciacca - All rights reserved

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