28 September 2009, 23:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 21-27
Progress in investigating the murder of ex-Deputy of Russian State Duma Ruslan Yamadaev; news events in litigation of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov against the head of the HRC "Memorial" Oleg Orlov; information leak from the Commission of the EU for investigating the circumstances of the August 2008 military conflict in the Caucasus and results of Georgia's negotiations with Abkhazian and South-Ossetian parties, - look up these and other events in the review of the week of September 21-27 in the Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Investigation of Ruslan Yamadaev's murder and destruction of the mosque in Gudermes built by Yamadaevs
On Wednesday, September 23, the Investigatory Committee at the Prosecutor's Office (ICPO) of the Russian Federation presented the charge to Aslambek Dadaev of murdering Hero of Russia, ex-Deputy of Russian State Duma Ruslan Yamadaev, who was shot dead on September 24 practically in the centre of Moscow. Under the version of the investigation, Dadaev was the direct gunman.
Aslambek Dadaev is already in custody for an attempt on banker Alexander Antonov. According to the spokesman of the ICPO, Dadaev's guilt was confirmed by evidences, including the one of General Sergey Kizyun, who was heavily wounded during the attempt on Ruslan Yamadaev.
Another witness in the criminal case about the attack on Ruslan Yamadaev has disappeared under strange circumstances. According to the investigation, he was a resident of Chechnya; he provided Dadaev with lodging shortly before Yamadaev's murder and often communicated with the executors of the crime.
The suspects of murdering Ruslan Yamadaev were detained in April 2009; they are three Chechens: Alimpasha Khatsuev, Timur Isaev and Aslambek Dadaev. The latter is a cousin of the head of administration of the Achkhoy-Martan District of Chechnya Musa Dadaev and of the latter's younger brother Ibragim Dadaev, head of the ROVD (District Interior Unit) of the Shatoy District of the republic. All of them were closely familiar with Adam Delimkhanov.
In this week, also the story with the intent of Chechen authorities to demolish the mosque built in 2005 in the city of Gudermes with support of the Yamadaev family and named after Hero of Russia Dzhabrail Yamadaev, who fell victim of the terror act in the Vedeno District in 2003, received its further development. The administration of Gudermes and republic's Mufti Sultan Mirzaev assert that the decision to demolish the mosques is caused by its emergency condition; and that another mosque will be erected in this place. However, Yamadaevs' relatives find the decision to demolish the mosque illegal, and the declared reasons - far-fetched. In the opinion of one of family members, the local authorities want to wipe out not only the mosque built by the Yamadaevs, but also the very memory about their family.
Unofficial results of investigation by the EU commission of Georgian-Russian war
The commission of the European Union set up for investigating the circumstances of the August military conflict of 2008 in the Caucasus believes that Georgia was the party in fault of this war. This was reported on Tuesday, September 22, by the Spiegel magazine with reference to some anonymous well-informed source in Brussels.
The report is allegedly asserting that part of the responsibility for the conflict is also on Russia. In the opinion of the EU commission, Moscow is guilty of escalating the conflict because it had concentrated significant military forces in the region.
It is expected that the report of the commission will be published on September 30. The international commission should hand over the document to the leaders of the European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, United Nations, Russia and Georgia.
Back in early September, in his interview to the Georgian TV Channel "Rustavi-2", Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin assigned all the guilt for the start of the conflict to Georgia. "After what Mr Saakashvili had done, we had no choice," Mr Putin explained.
President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili expressed his sharp discontent in his comments on the information that Georgia had initiated the conflict.
In his interview to the Spanish newspaper "El Pais", Mr Saakashvili said that "no investigation will ever tell that I was wrong." President is sure that Russia had provoked the start of the war; and then, having broken the international law, occupied the Georgian territories. "Some idiots say that we began the war; but they don't account for the danger of Russian invasion," the Georgian President has noted.
It is remarkable that on Monday, September 21, Mikhail Saakashvili left for the USA to take part in the General Assembly of the United Nations. There, he again received assurance of the States' support of Georgia.
The US State Secretary Hilary Clinton promised Saakashvili, in the course of their personal meeting, on behalf of the United States to undertake all the efforts to urge other countries not to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. No media people were let to witness the meeting.
"The State Secretary gave clearly to understand that the USA aren't going and will never recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia; she let the Georgians know that we'll go on working with other members of our international community urging other countries not to recognized them either," Philip Gordon, Undersecretary for Europe and Eurasia, said to journalists, having reminded that at present, apart from Russia, the independence of these Transcaucasian republics was recognized only by Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Ms Clinton reiterated that the USA expect Russia to observe the agreements concluded in August 2008 and withdraw troops to the pre-conflict dispositions.
Two days after Saakashvili's meeting with Hilary Clinton, on September 23, some authoritative public figures and intellectuals, including former presidents of Czechia and Lithuania - Vaclav Gavel and Valdas Adamkus - addressed the broad public with an appeal to protect Georgia from Russia.
"A huge power will always find or will arrange a pretext for invading the territory of a neighbouring country, with whose independence it's not happy. Besides, the inability of western democracies to react to breakdown of a friendly country may have very serious global consequences. The peaceful and democratic reunion of Europe is on the stake," runs the message, also signed by Mart Laar, Vitautas Landsbergis, Otto de Gabsburg, Daniel Kon-Bendit, Timothy Gartom Ash, Andre Gluksman, Mark Leonard, Bernard-Henri Levi, Adam Michnik and Josep Ramoneda.
With this support in hand, on Thursday, September 24, Mikhail Saakashvili, spoke to the General Assembly and promised, having drawn a parallel between the Berlin Wall and loss of territorial integrity of Georgia, that Abkhazia would again become a part of Georgia.
Georgia's negotiations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia
On Tuesday, September 22, another five-sided meeting took place in Gale (Abkhazia) within the mechanism on incident prevention and reaction. Under the statement of the Georgian party, it was fruitless.
As reported by Shota Utiashvili, head of the information-analytical department of Georgian MIA, a broad range of issues was on the agenda of the meeting, including grave criminal situation in the Gali District, frequent attacks on peaceful residents, and problem of children's attending schools in the neighbouring Zugdidi District.
The meeting lasted for about four hours, but passed no particular decisions. However, a certain agreement was achieved on the issue of Gali schoolchildren. Mr Utiashvili hoped that children from the Gali District would be allowed to pass to the neighbouring Zugdidi District for attending Georgian schools there.
"In this context we have unequivocally stated that if Gali children want to study in Zugdidi schools, let them move to live there," Ruslan Kishmariya, plenipotentiary of Abkhazian President in the Gali District, said to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.
In its turn, the Abkhazian party raised the issue of setting up a joint investigatory group for studying the fact of detention in the neutral waters of the Black Sea by Georgian frontier guards of the ships sailing to and from Abkhazia. However, the Georgian party, according to Mr Kishmariya, is against such group.
He also noted that the Georgian party had initiated consideration of the refugee problem, referring to the resolution, adopted on September 9 by the UN General Assembly on Georgia's insistence "Status of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and Tskhinvali District/South Ossetia, Georgia".
Mr Kishmariya said that no talks about return of refugees would be possible until the international community considers the issue of Georgian refugees of early 1990s.
On demand of the Abkhazian party, during the meeting, the issue was raised again on the fate of Davi Sigua, an employee of the Gali administration, kidnapped from his own house in February 2007, by, as Abkhazia asserts, Georgia's special agents.
On Thursday, September 24, in the village of Ergneti, Gori District, in the border of Georgia and South Ossetia, the fifth meeting on incident prevention was held within the mechanism designed in the course of Geneva negotiations. As stated by Ambassador Hansjorg Haber, head of the mission of observers of the European Union (MOEU), the meeting saw a slight progress.
In particular, participants of a meeting have agreed to investigate the explosion of the Georgian police car. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia, shortly before the start of the meeting, in the morning on September 24, a Georgian police car blew up on a time bomb in the course of patrolling near Dvani village, Karelian District, not far from South Ossetia. Fortunately, there were no casualties and victims.
At the meeting, the parties also discussed security measures and the issue of releasing by Tskhinvali of Georgian prisoners. At the previous meeting, the Georgian party raised the issue of six residents of Georgia detained in Mosabruni village, Akhalgori District. Tskhinvali had stated that they were detained on charge of timber contraband.
President of Chechnya's claim against Oleg Orlov, head of the HRC "Memorial"
On September 24, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office cancelled the refusal to initiate a criminal case against the head of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" Oleg Orlov on application of President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. This news was announced by Andrei Krasnenkov, advocate of the Chechen leader.
Earlier, the GUVD (City Interior Department) of Moscow had refused to initiate a criminal case against Mr Orlov under the article of "slander" in the context of his statement that President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov was responsible for the murder of human rights defender Natalia Estemirova.
On September 8, Mr Krasnenkov appealed against the GUVD's refusal at the Prosecutor's Office.
The case was sent for re-check to the inquiry division of the GUVD of Moscow. "The division should study all the materials, including Orlov's statements made already after the refusal decision," said Andrei Krasnenkov.
He expressed his confidence that after the additional check, the GUVD would open the slander case against Orlov.
Let us remind you that the kidnapping and murder of Estemirova, a human rights defender from the Grozny branch of "Memorial", was linked by employees of the HRC with the policy of authorities in Chechnya. According to Oleg Orlov, Kadyrov threatened the human rights defender and, according to some sources her latest reports on the situation in the Chechen Republic had caused fury in the Chechen leader.
In a telephone conversation President of Chechnya assured Orlov of non-involvement in Estemirova's death. Later, Mr Kadyrov did the same on air of the Radio Liberty, having named Estemirova "a woman needed to nobody" and having stated that "she had never had honour, dignity and conscience."
In his interview to the "Zavtra" (Tomorrow) newspaper Kadyrov asserted that Estemirova forged the proofs of violations of the rights of Chechnya residents.
The words of the President of Chechnya caused resolute disapproval among members of local NGOs. Moreover, his statements can initiate a lawsuit, as regarded by Oleg Orlov.
"We respond for all the data we give, pronounce and publish; and we're to prove our rightness. Everything that Kadyrov says is on his conscience, although I have doubts that the person who dares saying insults addressed to the murdered human rights activist Natalia Estemirova has this feature," Oleg Orlov has stated.
Kadyrov announces his possible successor
In his interview to the "Zavtra" newspaper, President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov announced the name of his possible successor - Adam Delimkhanov, current Deputy of the State Duma of Russia. Not many residents of Chechnya are inspires by the prospect to see this person as the republic's President.
"I've prepared a person who can replace me. He is Adam Delimkhanov, my closest friend, closer than a brother... I believe that Adam is better than me," Ramzan Kadyrov has stated.
"This is not the person to be made President, same as other militaries from among Ramzan's retinue. Delimkhanov's activities when in command of so-called 'oil regiment' are well-known in the republic," said Ahmad, an activist from a local human rights NGO.
He reminded that Delimkhanov was announced by Dubai police into international search on charging of organizing the attempt on Sulim Yamadaev, committed on March 28 in Dubai.
According to one of independent Chechen journalists, the whole problem is that the authorities in Russia "find it possible to ignore people's will."
"Ramzan and his team actually view the Chechen Republic as their patrimony, where they can do whatever they want: nominating successors and replacements, and form new teams," Yusup, 24, a native of Chechnya and a student of a higher school in Moscow, said to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.
Protest actions underway in Armenia and Azerbaijan against "Madrid principles" and Armenian-Turkish dialogue
On September 23, opposite the presidential palace in Yerevan a protest action was held, whose participants stated unacceptability of the foreign policy of Armenia in the issues of settling the Karabakh conflict, and of the initialled Armenian-Turkish Protocols.
The action organized by the civil initiative "Miatsum" (Unification) was attended by some 50 persons. The protesters shouted: "Traitors, go away!", "He who surrenders his land is traitor!", and held posters "No to Madrid principles!", "No to Armenian-Turkish Protocols".
"Recently Serzh Sargsyan said in his interview to a Russian TV Company that the 'Madrid principles' are acceptable for him. Besides, according to his story, the territories making the safety belt of Karabakh should be surrendered for sure. It's unacceptable for us; it's unacceptable and very dangerous for our state either. Therefore, we've rallied here to raise the voice of protest both against his statement on conflict settlement and against the initialled protocols," said one of the organizers.
Another member of the initiative, Grizelda Kazaryan, a scientific worker and widow of Academician Rafael Kazaryan, informed the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent about the intention of the members of the initiative to run a continuous struggle against the present course of the authorities in the issues of Karabakh settlement and Armenian-Turkish relations.
On the following day, September 24, the parliamentary faction "Heritage" addressed its official letter to the Constitutional Court with a request to organize debates on the conformity of Armenian-Turkish Protocols to the Constitution of Armenia.
On September 25, another protest action was held in the capital of Armenia, which brought together some 150 persons near the monument to Myasnikyan. It was organized by the national initiative "Miatsum". The participants held posters: "No to Armenian-Turkish Protocols!" and "Stop Anti-Armenian process!"
According to Zhirair Sefilyan, a member of the "Miatsum", Armenians have nothing to ask for from Turks. "Signing of the protocols will lead to a new genocide. The present situation is a consequence of the domestic political conditions in Armenia, of which the authorities are guilty. We should proclaim that the authorities shall reckon with their people, and we're sure that the majority of Armenian people are against signing these protocols. We are obliged to find a way out of this deadlock; and the authorities should think of how to get justified before the people," said Mr Sefilyan.
Protests against the "Madrid principles" were also held in Azerbaijan. In the midday on September 24, the Organization for Liberation of Karabakh and the "Union for Democracy", which unites a number of oppositional parties, held a protest action opposite the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Azerbaijan.
About 50 participants of the action kept slogans: "Azerbaijani soldier, hope only on you" and "Karabakh - or govt's resignation".
The action was non-sanctioned, and the police dispersed the protesters, having detained three of them. Nevertheless, the resolution of the rally was handed over to the MFA; it emphasizes the must to give up the "Madrid principles" of the settlement.
"The authorities of Azerbaijan should reject the 'Madrid principles', which assume a referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh, which will inevitably result in tearing the region away from the rest of Azerbaijan," Ilgar Aliev, deputy chair of the Organization for Liberation of Karabakh, said in his conversation with the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.
In the context of this protest action, the press service of the MFA has stated that "the negotiations on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict are held with account of the interests of Azerbaijan and assume settlement of the conflict on the basis of the territorial integrity of the country."