04 January 2010, 14:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 28, 2009-January 3, 2010

Resonant litigation on Mukhrovani mutiny coming to end in Georgia; approval of Sochi civil development rules; Russian-Georgian negotiations on New-Year direct charter flights; New Year celebrations in the regions of the Caucasus, - look up these and other events in the review of the week of December 28, 2009-January 3, 2010, in Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Litigation on Mukhrovani mutiny: defendants' last plea

On December 29, at the trial dealing with the Mukhrovani mutiny in Georgia the floor was given to the defendants' for their last plea.

Koba Otanadze, one of the main organizers of the mutiny in Mukhrovani on May 5, according to the prosecution, refuted in his brief last plea all the accusations and said that even if the plot had been planned, he would have never made any business with such person like Giya Gvaladze (the main witness of the prosecution).

Koba Kobaladze named "absurd" the charge against him of organizing a mutiny with the aim of overthrow the power and illegal storage of arms and expressed hope that the court would acquit him and he would not have to "fight against Georgia" at the European Court of Human Rights.

Shota (Mamuka) Gorgiashvili, who had initially admitted both charges presented to him - of participation in organization of the mutiny with the aim of overthrow the power and disobedience, said that he recognized his guilt of disobedience only.

Rules of Sochi development adopted

The deputies of the City Assembly of Sochi have adopted the "Rules of Land Use and Development of Sochi" (RLUD), which were criticized by the public town-planning board.

The new Rules, which restrict construction in this or that city zone, will cover the buildings, newly built or reconstructed with change of the volume and dimensions. The Rules forbid buildings above 25 floors in the city-resort.

Many city residents are dissatisfied with the Rules, believing that high-rise construction is impossible at all in Sochi, whereas the RLUD admit construction of 20-25-storey houses in the future.

Azerbaijan starts exporting gas to Russia

Starting January 1, 2010, Azerbaijan delivers gas to the Russian Federation. The official opening of the valve took place in Shirvanovka village, Gusar District. Exports go along the Mozdok-Gasmammed pipeline, which was stopped from 2007.

It is assumed to deliver 1.5 million cubic meters of gas per day. At the first stage, Azerbaijan will transport 500 million cubic meters per year; later the volume will reach 1 billion cubic meters.

The mid-term contract (with a possibility of prolongation) on sale of Azerbaijani gas to Russia was signed by the SOCAR and "Gazprom" in Baku on October 14, 2009, and covers the period of 2010-2014.

Russia and Georgia settle New Year air flights

On December 28, the Georgian Airways reported that it would not cope with organizing charter flights to Moscow by the New Year, on which it has received a permit from the Russian Ministry of Transports. Another Russian Ministry - of Foreign Affairs - accused Georgia of unwillingness to timely address the issues of flight organization. The official Tbilisi called these allegations groundless.

On December 31, Russian media reported that that the Ministry of Transports of the Russian Federation gave a permit to the Georgian Airways to make Tbilisi-Moscow-Tbilisi flights on January 8, 9 and 10 and Tbilisi-St Petersburg-Tbilisi flights on January 9 and 10, on the condition to make one flight a day.

However, on January 2 Georgian media reported, with reference to Nino Giorgobiani, head of the PR service of the Georgian Airways, that they were still waiting for the permit on making the flights from the Russian "Rosaviatsia" (aviation department of the Ministry of Transports).

Caucasians celebrate the New Year

Residents of different regions of the Caucasus saw the year 2010 in differently. In many regions preparation started well in advance; due safety measures were taken, and New Year actions and mass festivities took place.

In Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, there were no mass actions on the New Year night. Because of the flu epidemic, the local branch of the "Rospotrebnadzor" (Federal Agency on Consumer Supervision) made a decision to restrict mass entertaining and sporting events, including New Year Tree festivals.

By the way, Moslems, who make an essential part of the population of the Caucasus, do not celebrate the secular New Year; and January 1 is not on the list of Islamic holidays in the majority of Moslem countries. The Moslem New Year 2010 started on December 7.

Bad weather brings harm to Southern Caucasus

The hurricane that started at night of January 3 caused serious damage to the Lerik and Yardymlin Districts of Azerbaijan. Houses and electric mains were damaged, both districts remain without electricity. The heavy wind resulted in forest fires, which are now being extinguished.

In Adzharia, at night on January 3, a hurricane wind was also registered. In Batumi, the roof was blown off a nine-storey building, and the apartments of several top levels were flooded.

On January 3, the trans-Caucasian highway connecting North Ossetia with Southern one was closed because of a heavy snowfall. According to the Ministry for Emergencies of North Ossetia, in the mountains snowfall made up to 30 centimetres. Stone falls are expected in the highway section from the Devil's Bridge to the Northern Portal. Avalanche control experts went to examine the section.

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