17 August 2009, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: main events of August 10-16

Continued murders of human rights activists in Chechnya; visit of Russian Premier Vladimir Putin to Abkhazia; sharp aggravation of situation in Northern Caucasus, - look up these and other events in the review of the week of August 10-16 in Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

New murders and persecutions of human rights activists in Chechnya

On August 10, at 2 p.m., human rights activists Zarema Sadulayeva and Alik Dzhabrailov were taken away by unknown persons from the office of the NGO "Let's Save the Generation". In the morning on August 11 their bodies with plural gunshot wounds were found in the Zavodskoy District of the Chechen capital have been found in Factory area in the luggage compartment of their own car. The casualties were engaged in youth-related charitable projects.

It was reported that before her death Zarema Sadulayeva was severely beaten. One of her close friends asserts that huge bruises could be seen on her body, and one of her arms was broken in two points. 

Besides, a member of a local human rights NGO said that before being murdered Sadulayeva and Dzhabrailov had been brought to one of militia stations in Grozny.

The Amnesty International (AI) has stated that "hunt on human rights activists" is underway in Chechnya, and called the international community to press on Russia with the aim to enforce a fair investigation into the murders of Natalia Estemirova, Zarema Sadulayeva and Alik Dzhabrailov.

The investigation considers three versions, one of them being a blood feud murder. The remaining versions have not been announced yet.

President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov promised that power agents would take "comprehensive measures" to solve this crime.

However, according to Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigatory Committee at the Prosecutor's Office, witnesses are afraid to evidence on the murder of human rights activists in Chechnya.

At the same time, last week, a huge resonance was caused by a video clip placed on the YouTube platform, quoting a news report of the Chechen TV, in which Deputy of the Russian State Duma Adam Delimkhanov in the Chechen language called Chechen human rights activists to account, saying that they "help criminals-militants." "What they say and do is no less crime than what is committed by those who are in the forest... God grant, and everyone who helps the evil, will be made responsible," said Mr Delimkhanov.

The video does not inform who and where made the filming, but the comments accompanying the clip say that the report was put on air on July 4, 2009, that is, 11 days prior to kidnapping and murder of human rights defender Natalia Estemirova.

Let us note here that also last week employees of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) addressed Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin with a complaint that in Grozny they were shadowed. Human rights activists assert that persecutions and shadowing started after the murder of Natalia Estemirova, an employee of the Chechen office of the HRC "Memorial".

Terror acts committed in Abkhazia on the day of Putin's visit 

On August 12, Vladimir Putin, Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, paid a visit to Abkhazia, where, apart from negotiations with local President and Government, he also met local oppositionists, including former Vice-President Raul Khadzhimba, who at 2005 presidential election opposed the incumbent President Sergey Bagapsh.

At the meeting with Abkhazia's opposition, Mr Putin proclaimed Russia's non-interference into the country's home affairs. At the same time, it was asserted in the oppositional circles of Abkhazia that one of the aims of Russian Premier's visit to Abkhazia was "to look closely at the leaders of the opposition with an idea in mind that before the forthcoming presidential election Moscow would like to enter a dialogue with the opposition to the current Abkhazian authorities."

The authorities of Georgia treated the visit negatively; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia called Mr Putin's visit to Abkhazia an attempt to destabilize the situation in the Caucasian region.

On day of Vladimir Putin's visit to Abkhazia, explosions took place in the cities of Gagra and Sukhumi: two persons were killed and three more were hospitalized; the prosecutor's office opened a criminal case under the article of "Terrorism". Beslan Kvitsiniya, First Deputy General Public Prosecutor of Abkhazia called the crimes the work of Georgian special agencies.

Aggravation of situation in Northern Caucasus

Dagestan has become the epicentre of tension in the region.

Abdulmalik Ahmedilov, executive secretary of the republic's newspaper "The Truth", published in the Avar language, and editor-in-chief of the "Sogratl" newspaper, was shot dead on August 11 in Makhachkala near his own house. Eyewitnesses assert that shots were made by unknown persons who jumped out of a model ten "Zhiguli" without license number and with tinted glasses. They also said that they had seen the car for several days near the journalist's house.

On August 13 in the evening, four militiamen and seven women who worked in a sauna were shot dead in the Dagestan city of Buinaksk. At first unknown persons shelled a militia post, killing four militiamen in situ; then, some minutes later, the criminals opened fire on a sauna located several dozens of meters away from the post, killing seven employees there.

On August 13, a sniper wounded an employee of the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate (known as "GIBDD"), who was on duty at the Check Point "Terek-10" at the southern exit from Makhachkala. Two hours later, in the city centre, in the Yaragskogo Street, supposedly the same gunman inflicted a stomach would to an OMON fighter from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Dagestan. On August 14, in the centre of Makhachkala a sniper executed two officers of the republic's GIBDD, who later died from their wounds.

On August 15, shots were made at militiamen, who were at the post in the crossing of the Lenina and Dadakhaeva Streets of Makhachkala, from two fire positions. One of the militiamen was wounded and later died in hospital. On that very day, the exit Check Point "Yava-20" was shelled in Makhachkala. The MIA of Dagestan reported about one casualty of this shelling.

In this context, the GIBDD posts in Makhachkala were switched over to reinforced service regime.

Appointment of new Co-Chair of OSCE Minsk Group for settling Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

On August 12, Ms Tina S. Kaidanow, a career diplomat, who worked earlier as the US Ambassador to Kosovo, has been appointed to the position of assistant to US Undersecretary of State on Europe and Eurasia. She has replaced Matthew Brayza, who was also a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on Karabakh settlement.

On that very day, in a press conference in Baku Mr Brayza summed up his work in the positions of the assistant to US Undersecretary of State on Europe and Eurasia and the American Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have differently perceived the possible appointment of the US ex-ambassador in Kosovo to the position of the US representative for settlement of the Karabakh conflict. As stated by David Petrosyan, a political analyst of the "Noyan Tapan" Information Agency, Ms Kaidanow, who was appointed to the position of the assistant to US Undersecretary of State on Europe and Eurasia "has a rather specific work experience" in Kosovo.

Making his comments on the new appointment in an interview to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, the analyst said that "it is absolutely clear that Tina Kaidanow is a very high level professional."

Let us note here that Azerbaijan finds a possible appointment of Tina Kaidanow to the position of the US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on Karabakh settlement to be "not a good signal." Rasim Musabekov, an Azerbaijani political scientist, is afraid that "possibly, the USA sees certain analogies between the Kosovan and Karabakh situations." He reminds that Kosovo was finally separated from Serbia.

Let us note also that under the version of Armenian media, Gregory Karassin, Deputy Minister of Russian Foreign Affairs, will replace Yuri Merzliakov, current Russian Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.

All news

January 18, 2021 23:33

  • Azerbaijani MoD reports names of 2855 deceased soldiers

    According to the list of the deceased soldiers and officers released by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence (MoD), 2855 military men killed during the combat actions for Nagorno-Karabakh in the autumn of 2020 were buried. Other fifty military personnel are declared to be missed in action.

January 18, 2021 23:18

  • Court arrests Alexei Navalny

    Today, the Khimki City Court has arrested oppositionist Alexei Navalny until February 15, his press secretary and advocate report.

January 18, 2021 22:44

January 18, 2021 18:23

January 18, 2021 18:05

  • Almost 190 refugees return to Nagorno-Karabakh over 24 hours

    More 189 refugees arrived in Stepanakert from Yerevan, being accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. In total, 49,827 people returned to their homes after the end of the combat actions in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported.

News archive