14 September 2009, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 7-13

New terror acts committed by suicide bombers; recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Venezuela; visit of the Commissioner of the Council of Europe for Human Rights, - look up these and other events in the review of the week of September 7-13 in the Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Armed clashes in Northern Caucasus

The week in question has brought new information about victims of conflicts in Northern Caucasus.

On September 10 in Khasavyurt (Dagestan), Magomed Sakhratulaev, a former head of the Botlikh District of the republic, was assassinated. On September 11 in Makhachkala, unidentified criminals shot dead Maksud Maksudov, Deputy Public Prosecutor of Makhachkala for supervising the observance of law in corrective establishments.

At the same time, the authorities of Dagestan have announced their achievements in combating the armed underground.

On September 11, four supposed militants were liquidated in an armed clash in the Tabasaran District.

On the following day, law enforcers blocked a house in a suburb of Makhachkala; then, a skirmish burst out, and power agents killed the four persons blocked in the house. The Department of Russian FSB for Dagestan asserts that among the casualties was Bagautdin Kamalutdinov, leader of the armed underground, operating in the city, and a nephew of Magomed Bagautdinov, ideologist of Dagestan militants. Kamalutdinov was in international search.

In another "hot spot" of Northern Caucasus - in Ingushetia - two peaceful residents suffered in a skirmish. It happened on September 8, when two suspected militants - Magomed Ortskhanov and Ahmed Tsaroev - were murdered. Power agents introduced the counterterrorist operation (CTO) regime in Nazran.

On September 11, one more CTO was launched in Ekazhevo and Gazi-Yurt villages of the Nazran District. By the decision of the Operative Staff of Ingushetia, special operations were conducted in the vicinities of these villages. Then, the FSB stated that it had information about possible presence of illegal armed formations (IAFs) in the district.

Acts of terrorists-suicide bombers

Actions of such terrorists spread far beyond Chechnya, which is confirmed by the past week's reports.

On September 9, names of suicide bombers who prepared terror acts in Moscow became known: they are cousins - Bekkhan Ospanov, 29, and Islam Bataev, 30. They planned to bring explosives to the venues not only in shahid belts, but also in soles of their jogging shoes.

In the evening on September 11, in Nazran, on the "Kavkaz" Federal Highway, a "Lada-Priora" car blew up. The terrorist ran into the road patrol post, triggered his bomb and killed himself. Simultaneously with the explosion, the post was shelled: the number of victims of this terror act in Ingushetia reached 8 persons.

In the evening on September 11 in Makhachkala, a suspected would-be woman-suicide bomber was detained.

On September 12, an explosion in the central Grozny wounded three militiamen, but did not damage any civilians. Militiamen noticed a young man with suspicious behaviour. At an attempt of detention, he triggered a self-explosion.

Venezuela recognizes independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

At his negotiations with President Dmitri Medvedev, President of Venezuela Hugo Chaves said on September 10 that his country would recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, having thus become the third country leader (after Presidents of Russia and Nicaragua) to announce recognition of these two breakaway Georgian enclaves.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia find recognition by Venezuela a very significant event and expect that other Latin American countries will follow Venezuela.

By his statement about recognition by Venezuela of Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence, Hugo Chaves practically chaffered special terms of military shipments from Russia. This is the opinion of Kakha Gogolashvili, an expert of the Centre of European Studies of the International Strategic Foundation of Georgia.

Zurab Abashidze, a Georgian political scientist and an expert on international issues, is also inclined to see the link between Venezuela's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia announced on September 10 and this country's arrangements with Russia on weapons shipments.

New round of Georgian-Abkhazian conflict

On September 9, the General Assembly of the United Nations held voting on the Resolution "Situation with internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia and Tskhinvali District/South Ossetia, Georgia", initiated by Tbilisi. 48 delegations voted for the document, 19 - against, and 78 refrained; 47 delegations evaded from voting. Russia voted against.

Sergey Shamba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, said that refugees' return to Abkhazia can lead to new conflicts and bloodshed, and, as a consequence, to a new war, both within the republic, and between Sukhumi and Tbilisi. According to his version, the draft resolution cannot be viable, since it has recommendatory character and was offered by Tbilisi without any coordination with Abkhazians and Ossetians.

The naval conflict of Abkhazia and Georgia has also received a new development.

On September 8,  captain of the Turkish tanker "Buket" Mekhmet Osturk was released in Georgia. On September 7, after his meeting with Ahmet Davutoglu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, his Georgian colleague Grigol Vashadze said that Ankara and Tbilisi had reached "the decision acceptable for both parties" as to the fate of the "Buket" captain, which had been sentenced in Georgia to 24 years in prison for illegal imports to Abkhazia. Also on September 7, 16 members of the "Buket" crew were released on bail by the court in Georgia. Later it became known that Mekhmet Osturk had been sentenced by the Kutaisi court to three years of conditional imprisonment and a fine of 18,000 US dollars, which will be paid by the owner of the tanker.

At the same time Vladimir Pronichev, head of the Frontier Service of the FSB of the Russian Federation, said that the Russian Army will send additional troops to guard the marine border of Abkhazia.

Persecutions of human rights activists

Last week, reports about suits against activists of human rights organizations and pressure on them exerted by the authorities arrived from several regions of Russia.

Thus, on September 10, the Tver Court of Moscow appointed on September 25 the consideration on the merits of the civil suit on defence of honour, dignity and business reputation of President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov against head of the Human Rights Centre "Memorial" Oleg Orlov. The Human Rights Watch called Chechen President to recall his claim, in order to let the investigation of the murder of Natalia Estemirova and other NGO activists go its usual way.

On September 11, the Prosecutor's Office of Novorossisk sent to the court its statement on suspension of the operation of the Novorossisk Committee on Human Rights (NCHR). The reason for the claim was the slogan "Freedom is not given - it is taken", which was used in one of the NCHR's actions, when human rights activists protested against the local law on prophylaxis of child neglect, according to which a sort of "curfew" for children and teenagers was introduced in the Krasnodar Territory.

On September 12, an employee of the HRC "Memorial" in the Krasnodar Territory complained of pressure on her by frontier guards, when she crossed the border with Abkhazia.

Besides, President of Dagestan Mukhu Aliev called a provocation the statement of the HRC "Memorial" about the existence in the republic of illegal prisons and extrajudicial executions. The President said it in the course of a sitting on the problem of kidnappings. Earlier, the "Memorial" and the Movement "For Human Rights" called President of Dagestan Mukhu Aliev, Public Prosecutor of Russia Yuri Chaika and Director of the FSB Alexander Bortnikov to do everything necessary to ensure safety of those, whom the anonymous grouping of "relatives of lost militiamen" in Dagestan had labelled as enemies and put on the "execution list".

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