23 November 2009, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 16-22

Visit of Belarusian MPs to Abkhazia and South Ossetia to get ready for consideration of recognizing the breakaway republics; preparation to elections in regions of Northern and South Caucasus; kidnapping and liberation of the son of Buinaksk administration head, - look up these and other events in the review of the week of November 16-22 in the Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Belarusian MPs visit Abkhazia and South Ossetia

On November 17-20, Belarusian parliamentarians were in Abkhazia with the aim to thoroughly study the situation in the republic prior to starting debates on the appeals of parliaments of Abkhazia and South Ossetia asking their Belarusian counterparts to recognize the independence of their republics. The official visitors met the authorities of Abkhazia, churchmen and students, and left the place with "the most favourable impressions."

The delegation of Belarusian MPs also visited South Ossetia has and the pre-frontier Georgian district Shida Kartli.

In Tbilisi, the Belarus deputies had meetings with the parliamentary opposition, speaker David Bakradze and Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze.

Negotiations of Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders on Karabakh

Another meeting of Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliev on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict-settlement took place on November 22 in Munich. In the course of the summit, already the sixth one this year, the parties exchanged opinions on the current status and prospects of negotiations on Karabakh settlement.

On the eve of the meeting, Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliev said that should the meeting in Munich bring no fruit, the war in Karabakh can restart.

Preparation for elections in the Caucasus and South of Russia

On Thursday, November 19, the Presidium of the General Board of the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party approved candidates for Dagestan presidency. The list presented to Russian President includes: incumbent Dagestan leader Mukhu Aliev; Saigidhussein Magomedov, head of the local department of the Federal Exchequer; Magomed Abdullaev, vice-premier of Dagestan government; Magomed Magomedov, assistant to the Chair of the Council of Federation; and Magomedsalam Magomedov, former speaker of the National Assembly of Dagestan and son of the former republic's leader Magomedali Magomedov.

Political scientists differ in assessing the chances of the above five candidates; however, most of the analysts stick to the opinion that Mukhu Aliev will, most probably, preserve the post.

Last week, the Volgograd Region also gave start to consultations on appointment of the new regional governor. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has approved the list of candidates, presented to him by the "Edinaya Rossiya", namely: Nikolai Maksyuta, incumbent governor; his deputy Anatoly Brovko; Igor Rudenya, Director of Department of Agro-Industrial Complex of Russian Government; and Valery Yazev, vice-speaker of the State Duma.

Abkhazia launched, from November 16, within the presidential election campaign, agitation of candidates, held on air of the of the Abkhazian State TV and Radio Company and on private TV Channel "Abaza-TV", which is covering Sukhumi and Sukhumi District; the election will take place on December 12. The candidates are provided with 4 hours of free-of-charge broadcasting time on the state TV and radio; and they may present their up to 3-minute clips to be broadcast three times a day.

Azerbaijan is also getting ready for elections - here, the campaign is underway for municipal elections to take place on December 23. The OSCE has stated pressure on oppositional candidates for local Azerbaijani governments. Oppositionists also complain of violations of the law during the election campaign. In their turn, local electoral commissions, including the Central Electoral Commission of Azerbaijan, reject all accusations.

Senator from Karachai-Circassia

Last week, the members of the parliament of the Karachai-Circassian Republic (KCR) elected Zurab Dokshokov, speaker of the local parliament and member of the "Edinaya Rossiya", to represent the KCR at the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. The deputies ruled to elect him as Senator by electronic voting.

The Dokshokov's voting was held at the moment when Vyacheslav Derev, who had been repeatedly offered to this position by President Boris Ebzeev, but not supported by the MPs, left the hall of the parliament for some unknown reason.

Those who happened to be in the hall could see that certain deputies pressed the voting buttons not only of their own panels, but also of their absent neighbours. One of the MPs Kharshim Tekeev told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that this is a usual practice in the parliament of Karachai-Circassia: deputies issue proxies to each other empowering them to vote for their missing colleagues.

Resonant kidnapping in Dagestan

In Dagestan, in the evening on November 17, Magomedshamil Shakhbanov, son of the head of the administration of Buinaksk, was kidnapped when he was working, together with his friend, at construction of a private house. The kidnappers were dressed in sportswear and had no masks.

On the following day, November 18, his parents went to pick up their son to the Untsukul District of Dagestan; it became known to them that he was kept there.

A source from the law enforcement bodies of Dagestan said on November 18 that the kidnapped Shakhbanov was released; however, on November 19 the Investigatory Department for Dagestan of the Russian ICPO (Investigatory Committee at the Prosecutor's Office) refuted this information and said that the search of Magomedshamil continued.

Now, he is already at large, and on November 22 he came back home.

Protests against verdict to bloggers in Azerbaijan

The advocates of the convicted young Azerbaijani bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Gadjizade filed a complaint to the Baku Appeal Court. They demand cancellation of the verdict of the Sabail District Court of Baku, which sentenced Messrs Milli and Gadjizade to imprisonment on charges of hooliganism and inflicting bodily injuries.

On November 22, about 30 youth activists held a protest action in Baku demanding to release the bloggers and imprisoned journalists Einullah Fatullaev, Ganimat Zakhidov and Mushvig Guseinov.

The Amnesty International has launched a campaign in support of the convicted Azerbaijani bloggers Gadjizade and Milli.

The official Baku rejects the international criticism of the bloggers' conviction, treating it as prejudiced.

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