01 September 2009, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 24-30

First anniversary of Russia's recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; commissioning of the Dzuarikau-Tskhinvali gas pipeline; new explosions of suicide bombers in Chechnya; resignations and appointments in governments of Northern and Southern Caucasus - look up these and other events in the review of the week of August 24-30 in the Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Abkhazia and South Ossetia celebrate one year of independence

On August 26, Abkhazia and South Ossetia marked the first anniversary of Russia's recognition of their independence. On this occasion, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has restated that the Russia's decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia is irrevocable and will not depend on decisions of other countries of the world.

Residents of Abkhazia met their meaningful date with celebratory actions, which covered the whole republic.

In Tskhinvali, the anniversary was marked by signing an intergovernmental treaty on rendering assistance by Russia in social and economic development of South Ossetia, opening of a new dwelling micro-district named "Moskovskiy" and built in the place of the Georgian village Tamarasheni, and commissioning of the Dzuarikau-Tskhinvali gas pipeline, designed for direct supply of Russian to residents of the republic.

The solemn ceremony of starting the pipeline took place in Tbet village, some 200 meters off Tskhinvali. President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity was absent - at that time he was in Moscow at negotiations with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin.

Georgia expressed its protest against this pipeline in South Ossetia, having stated that its construction and further operation are directly encroaching on Georgia's sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers.

South Ossetia decides to disband eight ministries

Last week, President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity signed a decree about reorganization of his government, assuming to reduce the number of ministries - from eighteen down to ten.

According to the new republic's prime-minister Vadim Brovtsev, not just the number of ministries was cut, but their functions have essentially changed; and the scope of problems they should solve was corrected. Changes in the government structure, as Mr Brovtsev has explained, were caused "by the need to radically improve the way South Ossetia is managed." He assured that reorganizations will not be accompanied by mass lay-offs.

New resignations and appointments in Caucasian regions

Last week saw a lot of new resignations and appointments in governmental structures in Northern and Southern Caucasus.

On Tuesday, August 25, President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh signed a decree about dismissal of Stanislav Lakoba from the position of the Secretary of the Security Council of Abkhazia, who submitted his resignation application on August 18.

President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili sacked his Minister of Defence David Sikharulidze and approved his former first deputy Bacho Akhalaya in this position. This was announced at the sitting of the National Security Board of Georgia on August 27.

On the eve, on August 26, former Georgia's ambassador in Spain Zurab Pololikashvili was officially presented as the Minister for Economic Development of Georgia. He has replaced Lasha Zhvaniya, who was dismissed on August 21.

In Chechnya, Ahmad Gekhaev was dismissed from the post of the Minister of Construction "for failure to execute direct duties and negligent attitude to restoration works in the Chechen Republic." Earlier Mr Gekhaev had been dismissed from the post of the First Vice-Premier by the order of President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. Abu Sugaipov, Minister of Housing and Communal Services, was appointed as Acting Minister of Construction.

A new boss of the GUVD (City Interior Department) was presented on August 26 to the administration of the capital of Dagestan - Ahmed Magomedov. He defined the work with human resources as his main priority. "All those who sat in their offices and took bribes from gambling centres will be dismissed," the new Makhachkala militia boss has promised.

The new General Public Prosecutor was also appointed in Dagestan - Andrei Nazarov, former deputy public prosecutor of the Chelyabinsk Region. Mr Nazarov's predecessor - Igor Tkachov, who had been in the post since July 2006, was removed for work in the Orenburg Region.

In the Krasnodar Territory, Valery Katanaev Mayor of the city of Kurganinsk, submitted his resignation application; according to the investigation, he had knocked down two pedestrians, when driving his Chevrolet.

Chechen separatists sentence Ahmed Zakaev to death

On Monday, August 24, Zhellaudin Saralyapov, speaker of the parliament of the self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, dismissed former emissary of Chechen separatists Ahmed Zakaev and the whole cabinet.

Meanwhile, separatists of Chechnya, had sentenced Zakaev to death under the motive that he had renounced Islam and recognized legitimacy of Ramzan Kadyrov's government - when after the meeting with the speaker of the parliament of Chechnya Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov he expressed readiness to cooperation with Kadyrov.

The verdict to Zakaev was signed by Anzor Astemirov, Supreme Judge of the self-proclaimed Islamic state named "Caucasian Emirate", who is in search for participation in the armed attack on Nalchik on October 13, 2005. However, people in Zakaev's retinue believe that the death verdict was passed by one of militants' leaders Movladi Udugov.

In Chechnya, explosions of suicide bombers continue

In the morning on August 25, in Mesker-Yurt village, Shali District of Chechnya, four militiamen perished and one was wounded as a result of another terror act committed by a suicide bomber. Also, two civilians were killed. According to law enforcement bodies, the suicide bomber was Magomed Shakhidov, a resident of Argun, who joined militants in spring of 2008 and was a member of the armed grouping of field commander Hussein Gakaev.

At night on August 28, in the city of Shali, Saikhan Uspanov and Adam Ustarkhanov triggered their "shahid belts". The terrorists were lost, and three militiamen who participated in the operation and three civilians received wounds. It was already the sixth terror act, committed by suicide bombers after lifting the counterterrorist operation (CTO) regime in Chechnya.

In the meantime, on Wednesday, August 26, a video record appeared in one of Chechen separatists' websites, showing one of the main ideologists of Wahhabism in Northern Caucasus Alexander Tikhomirov. 27, more known as Sheikh Said Buryatskiy, who said about his intention to commit a terror act as suicide bomber.

The record was made in a car. Said Buryatskiy, by quoting the Koran, justifies the need of the war on those whom he treated as "Allah's enemies". Behind him a barrel could be seen, as Buryatskiy asserted, stuffed with explosive and armature rod pieces. The authors of the video assert that the barrel was used during the terror act in Nazran on August 17. The clip also specifies: "The operation was executed by Sheikh-shahid Said abu Saad". Besides Said Buryatskiy's statement, the website also shows the video of the explosion.

The investigation admits that the ideologist of militants Said Buryatskiy could be involved in the organization of the explosion near the GUVD building in Nazran, and in the attempt at the President of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Evkurov, however while inspectors do not undertake to assert that the leader of militants has made terror act in Nazran personally.

Estemirova's colleagues demand Kadyrov's resignation

In the evening on August 24, the participants of the rally in memory of Natalia Estemirova, held in the Chistoprudny Boulevard in Moscow, demanded resignation of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. The memory action was dated to the fortieth day after kidnapping and murder of the prominent human rights defender, who worked for the Chechen branch of the HRC "Memorial".

Oleg Orlov, head of the HRC "Memorial", who had accused President of Chechnya of his involvement in Estemirova's death, reported on August 28 at the Moscow GUVD about his motives to make those statements, which later caused the President of Chechnya to apply to law enforcement bodies. "They asked about what I had said, what I meant and what my grounds were. I gave them my arguments," said Mr Orlov, having added that the conversation at the GUVD was "a usual remedial action."

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