13 July 2010, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 5-11

Trial on Ruslan Yamadaev's murder begins; members of the OSCE Minsk Group (MG) visit the Caucasus; rights defender Orlov is officially accused of slandering Chechen President; Ingush Imams rise ransoms for murder and bride kidnapping, - look these and other events in the review of the week of July 5-11, 2010, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Trial on Ruslan Yamadaev's murder: defendants refuse to plead guilty despite identification

On Monday, July 5, the Moscow City Court started considering on the merits - in an open session - the murder case of Hero of Russia and former Deputy of the Russian State Duma Ruslan Yamadaev.

The figurants in the case are Aslanbek Dadaev, Timur Isaev and Elimpasha Khatsuev. Dadaev and Khatsuev are accused of the murder, and Isaev - of a murder attempt. None of them admitted their guilt at the first session.

The victim - General Sergey Kizyun, who was wounded during the attack on Yamadaev, - said that he recognized by the eyes one of defendants - Dadaev - as Yamadaev's killer.

The materials of the criminal case on Ruslan Yamadaev's murder make 27 volumes, said Anna Usachova, head of the press service of the Moscow City Court. It is planned to interrogate about 40 witnesses.

Members of the Yamadaev clan hope that the litigation will be "fair and open." At the same time they are surprised that the investigation allegedly failed to establish the customers of the crime.

Co-chairs of OSCE MG sum up their inspection of Southern Caucasus

On July 5, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (MG) Igor Popov (Russia), Robert Bradtke (USA) and Bernard Fassier (France) finished their visit to the countries of Southern Caucasus.

On July 2, Messrs Bradtke and Popov visited Nagorno-Karabakh, where they discussed the latest developments of Karabakh settlement with the authorities of non-recognized republic, including the statement made by Presidents of the countries-co-chairs of the OSCE MG - Dmitri Medvedev, Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy - in June in Toronto at the G8 summit. On July 3-5, the co-chairs visited Armenia and Azerbaijan.

As they say in the statement of the co-chairs that arrived to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent from the Baku-based OSCE office, the mediators discussed and condemned the incident that burst out in the contact line of armed forces on June 18-19 in the north of Nagorno-Karabakh, when both parties suffered losses.

The mediators reiterated adherence of their countries to peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict and noted progress and "recognition by both parties of the fact that the elements formulated in the statement of Presidents of Russia, USA and France last year in Aquila and reconfirmed on June 26, 2010, should be the basis of peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict."

The mediators also called the parties to strictly observe the 1994 ceasefire agreement.

The co-chairs also hoped for the meeting of foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia on July 16-17 in Almaty during the OSCE informal ministerial conference. However, Elkhan Polukhov, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said that there were no such arrangements.

Right after the co-chairs' visit - on July 5-6, as reported by military agencies of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, another violation of the ceasefire regime took place in the armies' contact line. The parties accuse each other of restart of shelling.

In Azerbaijan, new prison term awarded to journalist Fatullaev

On July 6, the Garadag District Court of Baku sentenced the already imprisoned editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Real Azerbaijan" Einullah Fatullaev to additional 2.5 years of imprisonment. He was found guilty of illegal drug storage.

The journalist rejected the charge and kept insisting that he was persecuted on political motives.

His defence is going to appeal against the verdict.

Representatives of the regional and international democratic public have resolutely condemned the new verdict.

Kadyrov versus Orlov case receives a new start

On July 6 in Moscow, the Investigatory Department at the UVD of the Tsentralny Administrative District of Moscow held interrogation of Oleg Orlov, head of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", under the slander case against President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, whom Mr Orlov made responsible for the murder of the employee of the "Memorial" in Grozny Natalia Estemirova.

The human rights defender was officially charged of slander. Oleg Orlov refused to plead guilty and is going to defend his rightness.

Alvi Karimov, press secretary of Chechen President, said that Mr Kadyrov does not insist on Oleg Orlov's criminal prosecution. At the same time earlier Andrei Krasnenkov, Kadyrov's lawyer, said that his boss was against amicable agreement.

The head of the HRC "Memorial" assumes that his trial under the claim of President of Chechnya will take place in autumn.

Human rights activists unite in Dagestan

On July 7, Makhachkala hosted a constituent conference, where human rights activists, public figures, lawyers and journalists unanimously voted for creation of a new movement named "Association of Human Rights Activists of the Republic of Dagestan.

The participants of the conference adopted the text of the open letter to President of Dagestan Magomedsalam Magomedov. It lists the measures, which, in the opinion of the authors of the document, should promote radical changes of the situation in the republic in the sphere of human rights and return of people's trust in the authorities.

Ingushetia increases bride-price and buy-out of blood feud

On July 7, a conference of Ingush Moslems was held, where the Muftiyat of Ingushetia increased, under the request of local residents and the clergy of the republic, by 10 times the sum of buy-out of the blood feud and by more than three times the bride-price. This was reported by the Mufti of the republic Isa-Hadji Khamkhoev.

More than 240 persons came to the conference: religious figures, imams of mosques and elders.

Mr Khamkhoev said that the participants harshly condemned the tradition of bride kidnapping. According to his version, for several recent years the bride-price was 12,500 roubles, but because of inflation the purchase power of Russian money dropped; therefore, under the request of local residents, it was decided to increase the bride-price up to 40,000 roubles.

Besides, the participants of conference increased the sum of buy-out of the blood feud for intentional murder up to one million roubles.

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