23 December 2009, 10:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 14-20

Official outcomes of presidential election in Abkhazia; recognition of this republic and South Ossetia by the Republic of Nauru; violations of the freedom of speech in Azerbaijan; skirmishes in the contact line with Karabakh; terror acts in the south of Russia and return of the HRC "Memorial" to Chechnya, - look up these and other events in the review of the week of December 14-20 in Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Election in Abkhazia

On Monday, December 14, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of Abkhazia announced the final totals of the presidential election held on December 12. According to the Commission, the President-elect of Abkhazia is Sergey Bagapsh with 62,231 votes in his support, or 61.16 percent of all the participating voters.

As to the other candidates for the post, the final figures look as follows: Zaur Ardzinba - 9296 votes in support, Vitaly Bganba - 1326 votes, Beslan Butba - 8395 votes and Raul Khadzhimba - 15,584 votes.

According to the CEC head, as of 6:00 p.m. December 14, no complaints arrived to the Commission from the candidates for the presidency.

As reported in a press conference by Cooper Curtis (USA), spokesman of the mission of foreign observers, "the presidential election in Abkhazia was free, open and legitimate."

Another mission of observers - from Russian and CIS NGOs has also recognized the election as free, open and meeting international electoral standards.

Meanwhile, the oppositional candidate Raul Khadzhimba said that would not recognize the voting totals, since "gross violations were made at the election."

The authorities of Georgia have treated the presidential election in Abkhazia as a "rough violation of sovereignty" of Georgia and its legislation.

The European Union refused to recognize the constitutional and legal bases of Abkhazian election.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia win more recognition

On December 15 an agreement was signed in Sukhumi on establishment of diplomatic relations between Abkhazia and the Republic of Nauru - the smallest country in the world with the population of 14 thousand persons. Thus, Nauru became the fourth country in the world to set diplomatic relations with Abkhazia, i.e., to recognize the independence of this republic.

"It doesn't matter how many people lives in the country, with which Abkhazia has established diplomatic relations today. Nauru is a member of the United Nations; and it's for the first time in Abkhazia that we sign an agreement on diplomatic relations, actually, about our recognition," President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh told journalists after signing the agreement.

On December 16, the Republic of Nauru recognized the independence of South Ossetia. "The recognition process of the new state - Republic of South Ossetia - by the international community is irreversible. In the near future, the republic will be recognizes by about ten countries," President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity said after signing the agreement on diplomatic relations.

The authorities of Georgia hurried to state that the recognition was bought. Temur Yakobashvili, vice-premier and state minister of Georgia for reintegration, accused Russia of "bribing" Nauru.

"Russia has actually paid 50 million dollars for it," Mr Yakobashvili has stated. "It's a comedy." According to his version, every resident of the Republic of Nauru should get about 3500 US dollars for recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

Journalists' rights broken again in Azerbaijan

On December 15 in Nakhichevan, three activists of the local Resource Centre on Human Rights and Democracy were beaten by a group of people. The reason of the attack was in the anticorruption project implemented by the public organization.

Ilgar Nasibov, an employee of the Resource Centre and the regional correspondent of the Azerbaijani Service of Radio Liberty for the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (NAR), told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that the attackers were about 40 in number, and they were headed by Mamed Razi, pro-rector of the Nakhichevan State University, and Elman Dzhafarly, leader of the university branch of the party in power "Eni Azerbaijan".

"They threw us on the ground and kicked and beat, swearing all the time," said Nasibov. As a result of beating, on of his ribs, nose and face were injured. Another employee of the Centre - Vadafar Eivazov - also has his nose and face damaged; journalist Elman Abbasov (an employee of the regional representative office of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS)) was also beaten, but less then the others.

"The police arrived to the venue after attackers left us; we told them about what happened, but the policemen did nothing," said Nasibov and added that all the three victims were going to lodge an official complaint.

The "Caucasian Knot" correspondent could not receive any comments at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the NAR. The person on duty there refused to talk on the telephone, as soon as he learnt that a journalist from Baku was calling.

After local law enforcement bodies refused to investigate the fact of their beating, the activists addressed to the Institute of Media Rights (IMR), where they were promised that official applications would be sent by the IMR to the MIA and State Office of Public Prosecutor of Azerbaijan.

It is affirmed in the statement of the permanent mission of the NAR in Baku, which has arrived to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, that the Resource Centre of Human Rights and Democracy and the IRFS are illegally working in Nakhichevan. However, activists of these organizations have rejected these accusations.

Europeans shelled at Azerbaijan-Karabakh border

The monitoring tour of the OSCE mission planned for December 15 in the southeast direction of the contact line of the armed forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Azerbaijan was suspended because of a single shot.

The "Caucasian Knot" correspondent was told at the press service of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the NKR that the shot has was made at the group, which was monitoring the situation from the positions of the Defence Army of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the Ministry, the reason of the incident was in the failure of the Azerbaijani party to bring OSCE observers to their advanced positions.

In its turn, the press service of the Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan has reported that in the course of monitoring the shot was made from the Armenian side.

New explosions in south of Russia

On December 16, near a road police post in Ingushetia, a car with relatives of the Ingush human rights defender Maksharip Aushev, who was killed on October 25, was blown up. The car carried the whole family: pregnant Maksharip's widow Fatima Dzhanieva; her mother Leila and two brothers - Amirkhan and Muslim (the latter was driving).

The explosion and subsequent fire caused death in situ of Leila Dzhanieva, 51, and Muslim, 24. Amirkhan and Fatima with heavy wounds were brought to the Ingush Republic's Clinical Hospital.

By the versions of the investigation, the attempt had been planned on political motives and was directed against Maksharip's widow Fatima Dzhanieva.

"By preliminary data, the car drove out into the highway in direction to Magas, but, having noticed a group of road policemen, standing not far from the place, the driver started manoeuvring, and at that moment an explosion happened," the prosecutor's office has reported, having added that there were no attempts to detain the vehicle.

Initially, officials asserted that some explosive was transported by the car. However, Maksharip Aushev's relatives responded that the charges of terrorism against the members of his family were caused by the intention to hide the circumstance of the attack on the oppositionist's family and his own death.

Under another version, the car with the Dzhaniev family blew up after it was shelled from the road police post. The leader of the Ingush opposition Magomed Khazbiev told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that before the explosion the car was examined by special agents. According to still another version, the driver of this car with tinted glasses made a turn around near the post, but fire was opened on it, and, probably, bullets could inadvertently get into the gas bottle in the car and cause the tragedy.

However, Mussa Aushev, Maksharip's brother, named this variant improbable, referring to eyewitnesses who assert that the gas bottle blew up already after the first explosion.

After the tragedy Magomed Aushev, Maksharip's father, expressed his intention to continue his son's efforts. Under his chairmanship, every Saturdays in Ingushetia, the committee on independent investigation of Aushev's murder and other crimes holds its sittings. According to Magomed Aushev, the independent investigation already has "certain results."

On December 17, another explosion happened in the south of Russia. In Krasnodar in the evening, under the Volga car, which was used by the acting head of "Rosprirodnadzor" (Federal Agency for Nature Supervision) for the Krasnodar Territory and Adygea to arrive to the office of the Limited Liability Company (LLC) "Radiation Monitoring", an unidentified object blew up. Two tires were broken, the bumper and the lattice were damaged. There was nobody in the car at the moment, and nobody suffered.

HRC "Memorial" returns to Chechnya

On December 16, at the awarding ceremony of the Sakharov's Prize in Strasbourg, the Human Rights Centre "Memorial" (HRC) stated a resumption of its activities in the territory of the Chechen Republic.

The work of the HRC "Memorial" in Chechnya was suspended in July after the kidnapping and murder of Natalia Estemirova, 50, one of leading employees of this organization. "Since what we do is a mortal danger for our people, we've no right to take the risk," Alexander Cherkasov, a member of the board of the Centre, told then.

"Today we declare that we resume in full our activities in the territory of the Chechen Republic. This hard decision was made after consultations with our employees in Northern Caucasus and with a big group of Russian and international human rights organizations," Oleg Orlov, head of the HRC, told journalists after the awarding ceremony of the 2009 Sakharov's Prize.

In Chechnya activists of some local NGOs and local residents were positive to restart of the work of the "Memorial" in the republic and expressed hope that the organization will contribute to improvement of the situation with human rights in Chechnya.

Persons accused of attacking Sulim Yamadaev point to Adam

On December 17, Iranian Makhdi Lorniya, horseman of President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, a suspect of the attempt on the ex-commander of the Vostok" (East) battalion Sulim Yamadaev, told about involvement in the crime of two Chechen natives and a certain Adam. The investigation believes that this is the State Duma Deputy Adam Delimkhanov.

On December 17, at the regular session of the Dubai Court, the floor on the case was given to the lieutenant, who interrogated two suspects. As he said, the Iranian of 37, a figurant in this case, said in the course of interrogations that he took a certain Adam to the international airport (presumably, it was Adam Delimkhanov, whom now the authorities of Dubai demand to extradite because of this case).

It is asserted that he and two Chechens were shadowing the car, which brought a man, a woman and a child (supposedly, Sulim Yamadaev and his family) from the airport to the dwelling complex Jumeirah Beach Residence, where the attack on Sulim was committed.

The other detainee in this case - a Tadjik of 37 - told inspectors that on the day of the attempt he was in the area of the dwelling complex with one of the suspects. They spent about an hour in a coffee house watching the dwelling complex.

South Ossetia sets Georgian teenagers free

On December 19, President of the Republic of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity signed a pardon decree in relation to three convicted citizens of Georgia. The "Caucasian Knot" correspondent reports that 15 minutes after signing, in the frontier zone, three earlier convicted Georgian minors - Leval Khmiadashvili, Victor Buchukuri and Georgiy Archvadze - were handed over to the Georgian party.

The released boys went to the other side accompanied by Thomas Hammarberg and Zurab Nogaideli.

In reply to this step of the South-Ossetian leader, the parents of the citizens of South Ossetia, imprisoned or disappeared in Georgia, announced a protest hunger strike. "We've lost any hope to have our children ever released. We demand a meeting with President of Georgia Saakashvili."

The Georgian teenagers - Aleko Tsabadze, born in 1995, Levan Khmisuashvili, born in 1992, Victor Buchukuri, born in 1993, and Georgiy Romelashvili, born in 1995, - were detained on November 4 in South Ossetia for violating, as the Ossetian party had asserted, the border and illegal bearing of firearms and explosives.

On December 2, the Supreme Court of South Ossetia sentenced Khmisuashvili and Buchukuri to one year of deprivation of freedom with serving the punishment at a minimum security corrective colony. Romelashvili and Tsabadze received a year of conditional imprisonment each and were released in the courtroom.

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