17 May 2010, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 10-16

Human rights are still trampled on in the south of Russia and Southern Caucasus; Armenian and Azerbaijani journalists fail to reach information armistice; Georgia and Azerbaijan suffer from calamities; investigation reports establishment of organizers of Moscow metro terror acts; house restoration stopped in South Ossetia; co-chairs of Geneva debates visit the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflict zones, - look up these and other events in the review of the week of May 10-16, 2010, in the Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Human rights violations in Dagestan

On Monday, May 10, it became known from the leaders of the Regional Public Association "Legal Assistance" that on May 8 OMON (special militia) fighters illegally rushed into the apartment of Albina Magomedova, a member of the board of this organization, who lives at No. 23 Akushinskogo Avenue in Makhachkala. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Dagestan could not explain the reason of the special operation.

On May 12, Louisa Khaigaeva, a resident of Aksai village, Khasavyurt District addressed her letter to Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin asking him to punish the militiamen of the Kazbek District, who had beaten her husband Marat Satybalov to death.

On May 14, Aziza Ahmedulaeva, a resident of Makhachkala, addressed her letter to heads of power agencies of Dagestan, First Vice-Premier of Dagestan Rizvan Kurbanov and Ombudsperson of Dagestan Umupazil Omarova with the request to launch service investigation on the fact of preparing a special operation with participation of heavy armoured machinery on May 8. According to the woman, during the search power agents roped her son-in-law and used her pregnant wife as a shield, when forcing under sub-machine gun barrel to show them the house. The stress caused uterine bleeding in the poor girl, and she had a miscarriage. Preparation of the special operation caused damage to neighbouring houses - power agents dismantled part of the roof for deploying a sniper there. The press services of the MIA and FSB of Dagestan said that they know nothing about the incident.

Karabakh journalists offer information armistice, their Azerbaijani counterparts find it unrealistic

On May 10, Gegam Bagdasaryan, President of Stepanakert Press Club and editor-in-chief of an analytical monthly "Analyticon", addressed his appeal to heads of media and journalistic organizations of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh offering to stop, on the armistice date of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, hostile actions in the information field as of midnight of May 12, 2010.

His Azerbaijani colleagues were sceptical to the idea. In the opinion of Elchin Shikhly, Chairman of the Association of Journalists of Azerbaijan and editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Aina-Mirror", until the war goes on and "occupation of the Azerbaijani territories" is not eliminated, no information armistice is ever possible.

"Armenian propaganda throws in the idea of the so-called 'information armistice'. It cannot be the case, when 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories are occupied, and the persons who had committed war crimes against Azerbaijani people are not punished. The press can't keep silent about it," said Khikmet Babaoglu, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Eni Azerbaijan" (organ of the party in power with the same name).

In Georgia, hailstones destroy crops, in Azerbaijan, river floods 300 houses

Early in the week, bad weather again caused serious damage to the region of Kakheti in Georgia, where hailstones destroyed practically all the crops in the Gurdzhaani District.

On May 11, a landslip that occurred in four places of the 18-kilometre long road section has left four villages of the Dusheti District of Georgia (region Mtskheta-Mtianeti) without communication, the message, having completely blocked motor traffic in the region.

These phenomena continued the range of calamities in Georgia. In March, April and already in May the whole country suffered from downpours, which flooded dwelling settlements and arable land plots, landslips and destructions of dwelling houses and roads.

The authorities of Georgia until now have no data about the material damage caused by natural cataclysms. Neither Minister of Agriculture Bakur Kvezereli nor Minister of Wildlife Protection Goga Hachidze have yet reported the damage caused by this year's calamities and say that it will be possible by this autumn only.

The neighbouring Azerbaijan has also suffered from the nature. Late at night on May 10 the Kura River overflowed its banks and flooded Murselli village, Sabirabad District of Azerbaijan, where over 300 houses were covered with water.

As stated by President Ilham Aliev, who spoke on May 11 at his travel meeting in the city of Shirvan, in the calamity zone, the damage caused to the population will be calculated - with the aim of compensation payments - after the situation has stabilized.

By the evening of the same day a dam was broken near Azadkend village, Sabirabad District. This and another village - Ulachaly - were flooded. Downpours also strongly damaged the western areas of the country.

Victims of Moscow metro terror acts go to court, FSB reports establishment of all organizers of explosions

On May 11, the first claim was submitted to the Tver Court of Moscow on compensation of 5 million roubles for moral harm to the child, whose parents died as a result of the terror act in Lubyanka metro station on March 29.

In the meantime, law enforcement bodies continue their investigatory actions. On Wednesday, May 12, they detected the apartment in Odintsovo near Moscow, which was rented allegedly by the organizers of the metro explosions.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that operative agents had asserted that Ahmed Rabadanov, a resident of the Novy Kostek village, was one of helpers of female suicide-bombers and accompanied them from Dagestan to Moscow. He was killed during a special operation in Dagestan.

On May 12, one of Rabadanov's fellow villagers told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, while preferring to stay anonymous, that Ahmed had nothing to do with the terror acts. "On that very day he was in his village, and many people saw him. He often spoke by his telephone - there are no problems for the respective agencies to clear out his whereabouts at that time," said the source.

On the following day after appearance of this information, on May 13, Director of the FSB Alexander Bortnikov stated at the meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that executors and organizers of Moscow metro explosions had been established, and some of them already liquidated. Mr Medvedev noted, in his turn, that there should not be no mercy to terrorists.

Georgia adopts new draft Constitution

On May 11, the state constitutional commission has adopted the draft of the new Constitution of Georgia. Should it be approved also by parliament, all the President's main functions will pass over to the prime minister to be elected by the parliamentary majority. Experts express concern that the draft, if passed, will help President Mikhail Saakashvili to remain in authority after expiry his presidential term.

Housing construction stopped in South Ossetia

South Ossetia has completely stopped building houses for lack of restoration funds. This was confirmed by Prime Minister of South Ossetia Vadim Brovtsev at the sitting of the government on May 12. Earlier, this was stated by Zurab Kabisov, Chairman of the State Committee for Recovery Projects. At present, the Audit Chamber is revising the checks made in state structures of South Ossetia.

Also, the government of South Ossetia has brought a bill "On Distribution of Housing Fund among Population" to the parliament. Once approved, it will make a motivated basis for distribution of houses among the needy residents of the republic.

On May 14, Nugzar Gabaraev, ex-minister of public health and nowadays state adviser of the President of South Ossetia, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that construction of some of public health sites was also stopped. According to his story, out of 21 sites of this kind, initially listed in the restoration plan of South Ossetia, only 6 have been rebuilt so far.

Co-chairs of Geneva debates visit South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Georgia

On May 12, on the eve of the eleventh round of Geneva debates to take place on June 8, the co-chairs of the process Pierre Morel (EU), Anti Turunen (UN) and Bulat Nurgaliev (OSCE) held preliminary consultations with the Abkhazian party.

"We spoke out our proposals and remarks on the documents adopted at international discussions, in particular, concerning terminology, and others," Maxim Gvindzhiya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, said after the meeting to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

On May 13, the co-chairs visited South Ossetia and had a meeting with Boris Chochiev, Plenipotentiary of the President of South Ossetia for post-conflict settlement. During the meeting Mr Chochiev said that the situation with Georgia remains stably tense - evidence may be the statement of Temur Yakobashvili, Minister of Georgia on Reintegration, about refusal of the Georgian party to sign the agreement "On Non-Use of Force" with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which he made to journalists on May 12.

On May 14, Messrs Morel, Turunen and Nurgaliev came to Tbilisi and had their first meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. "A key component of the Geneva negotiations is the issue of refugees; their safety is same important. We discussed these matters in Tskhinvali too," said Mr Morel. According to his story, they also discussed the issues of disappearances and detainees. Besides, the presence of OSCE's mission in region was considered.

Azerbaijan: police disperses oppositional action

On May 15, in the capital of Azerbaijan policemen prevented the "Azadlyg" oppositional block from holding a protest action.

Gasan Kwerimov, head of the Supreme Majlis of the PFPA, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that arrests of opposition activists began in the morning. In total, about 10 persons were detained; more activists, according to his story, were blocked in their flats under the threat of arrests: "outside, in the street, groups of persons in civilian clothes were waiting for them with the intention of detaining them."

Nevertheless, a number of protesters gathered in the square in front of the "Narimanov" cinema. Practically all of them - some 50-60 persons - were detained and forced into buses, which were removed for this purpose from city routes.

According to Mr Kerimov, "the police caught everybody - even women and elderly persons." Avez Temirkhan, deputy chair of the Liberal Party, Fuad Gakhramanly, deputy chair of the PFPA, Gezyal Bairamova, and activist of the PFPA, and Gan Turaly, a youth activist, are among the detainees.

The Baku police motivated the dispersal of the action by the fact that it was not sanctioned by the authorities and reported "several detainees."

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