06 October 2010, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 27 - October 3

Georgia gets used to revised Constitution; election race in SFD regions becomes more complicated; instability in south of Russia brings people out to rallies of protest against terrorism and violations of human rights, - look these and other events in the review of the week of September 27-October 3, 2010, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Situation in Northern Caucasus remains restless

This week, Dagestan introduced the CTO (counterterrorist operation) regime twice. In the morning on September 29, two groupings suspected of armed underground actions were blocked in Kaspiisk and Makhachkala, where the CTO regime was announced. Ten rebels were liquidated in armed clashes: eight in Kaspiisk and two in Makhachkala.

In the morning on October 1, power agents blocked a private house in Makhachkala, in Salikhov Street, and also introduced the CTO regime. A man who rendered armed resistance was killed; later he was identified as Naib Nasirov, born in 1989, a member of the Khasavyurt grouping. The special operation continued there in the morning on October 2. Law enforcers of Dagestan surrounded two dwelling houses in different parts of Makhachkala and blocked suspected members of IAFs (illegal armed formations).

The week was unquiet also in the Stavropol Territory. In the morning on September 30, law enforcers were informed about a suspicious car. A man's body was found inside. The car was de-mined; later, one more bomb was found and neutralized. According to the NAC (National Anti-Terror Committee), the total power of these two explosive devices was equivalent to 90 kilos of TNT (trotyl). Moreover, ammonia nitrate was mixed with striking elements - metal balls, rollers and chopped nails.

The terror act was planned in 50th Komsomol Anniversary Street, busy in the morning because of a kindergarten, school, residential houses and cafe "Gloria" located there. Up to three thousand persons could get into the hitting area: residents of two high apartment blocks, schoolchildren, kindergarten pupils and occasional passers-by. An ordinary Stavropol taxi driver - Gennady Tolboev, 43, - was prepared by terrorists for demonstration as a suicide bomber: his body was found in the car stuffed with explosives.

During the weekend, the Volgograd Airport received two emergency landings of Moscow-Grozny flights. The first one happened on October 3 at 5:46 p.m. Moscow time, when the pilots had to make an emergency landing of the aircraft en route from Moscow to the Chechen capital. The reason was in the information that the craft had been mined; later, it was found false. After inspection, the flight was continued; and all the passengers safely got from Volgograd to Grozny.

On the following day, another emergency landing was made in Volgograd by another Moscow-Grozny aircraft. This time, the emergency had nothing to do with terror - a woman on board experienced premature delivery.

People go out to rallies

Last week abounded in rallies and protest actions - residents of the South and North-Caucasian Federal Districts (SFD and NCFD) went out into the streets with a demand to ensure their safety and investigate terror acts and stop violations of citizens' rights by the authorities and power agents.

Thus, on October 2, residents of North Ossetia who came to a rally in Vladikavkaz demanded from law enforcement bodies to make reports to the society about their work. The expected unauthorized anti-terror rally in Vladikavkaz was disrupted by local law enforcers.

On the same day, October 2, in four cities of Ingushetia, more than 3000 persons went out to anti-terror rallies: about 2000 gathered in Nazran and some 1500 in Malgobek, Karabulak and Ordzhonikidzevskaya village. A picket in memory of casualties of the terror act committed on September 9 in Vladikavkaz was held in Moscow on October 2.

A number of actions were organized on October 2-3 in the Krasnodar Territory. On Saturday, October 2, a three-hour-long protest rally was held in Krasnodar in defence of the rights of deceived housing shareholders; against tyranny of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies and violations of citizens' legitimate rights by governmental bodies. The rally, organized by the Krasnodar Territorial Public Organization "For Krasnodar", was coordinated with city authorities. About 100 persons came to take part in it - deceived housing shareholders, who are waiting for their fully paid apartments for 5-7 years; members of the initiative group of raiders' victims in the Krasnodar Territory and public activists.

On the next day, October 3, Krasnodar hosted a march and rally of opposition political parties. The marching column brought together members and supporters of the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), LDPR (Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia), "Patriots of Russia", activists of public organizations and deceived shareholders. On their route from Marshal Zhukov Mini-Park along Krasnaya Street to the Square of Perished Heroes, the protesters were carrying posters: "No to elections without choice", "Tkachov shall follow Luzhkov" and "Putin's government shall resign!" Then, a rally was held near the Eternal Flame.

On that very day in Tuapse, an ecological protest rally was sanctioned by local authorities. The rally-concert organized by the local branch of the "Yabloko" Party was on two issues: defence of ecological rights of local residents in the context of the plans of the "Eurochem" Company to expand the trans-shipment facility of mineral fertilizers; and protest against dismissal of candidates from the election list of the head of the Tuapse District.

Pre-election passions heat the South

This week, the topic of local elections in the Southern Federal District (SFD) was especially burning in the Krasnodar Territory and Rostov Region. Now, in the pre-last week, rather peaceful election campaigns in these regions have escalated into fights of candidates with each other and with the local Central Election Commission (CEC).

Thus, 31 candidates to the Krasnodar City Duma from the CPRF, both communists and independents, lodged personal applications to the CEC asking to cancel their registration. The decision to recall all its candidates and boycott the local elections in Krasnodar was made by the CPRF after 4 out of its 39 candidates registered for elections to be held on October 10 were dismissed by the court. Communists are sure that the court ruling was made on formal grounds; however, the CEC insists that the CPRF has no grounds for claims.

The decision of the CPRF to withdraw all its candidates to the Krasnodar City Duma was treated by the Russian CEC as groundless and made contrary to the Party's Charter. This explanation from Moscow was made in response to the request of the Krasnodar CEC. "The Federal Law does not provide any grounds for recalling a candidate nominated by a political party to municipal elections", runs the Russian CEC's letter.

The CPRF is going to challenge the letter-explanation at court.

These days, opposition candidates were in the focus of attention also in the Rostov Region. Shortly before the registration deadline for elections to the Rostov City Duma, 13 candidates of the Rostov LDPR branch were dismissed, and one - from the CPRF branch. Local election commissions say that the applicants failed to present all the documents required for registration; the opposition insists that the authorities are using the "administrative resource."

By the end of the week, representatives of the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party declared that they withdrew their signature under the agreement "For Fair Elections". According to their version, the reason was in unfair struggle of their rivals during the election campaign towards the upcoming October 10 elections to the City Duma of Rostov-on-Don.

Earlier, the CPRF and LDPR had also quitted the agreement signed on August 20.

With the approach of October 10 elections, the situation in Dagestan becomes increasingly tense; a number of experts told about it in their interviews to the "Caucasian Knot". In their opinion, the elections are just a catalyst for tension escalation in the republic.

In the beginning of the last week, a criminal case was initiated against Safidin Mursalov, incumbent head of the Akhtyn District, suspected of bribe-taking. According to the Prosecutor's Office of Dagestan, the criminal prosecution is based on the claim lodged by Rabiyat Gildieva, a resident of the Akhtyn District. She asserts that Mursalov had suggested that the Republic's State Enterprise "Dagestan Venture for Explosives and Blasting Works" headed by her took part in the construction of the Akhty-Maza water supply line, but on the condition that Mursalov gets 20 percent of the contract value as a bribe. The latter, in his turn, stated that Gildieva had spread false information, and there was no criminal case.

By the end of the week, on October 2, Sharafidin Mukhurov, a CPRF nominee for a deputy of the Akhtyn District Assembly, said that his confidant - Mankuli Lamazov, a resident of the village of Kurukal, was severely beaten by Mursalov's supporters. The on duty unit of the Akhtyn ROVD (District Interior Division) confirmed the fact that the militia was addressed on the beating incident. Safidin Mursalov, head of the Akhtyn District, assured that neither he nor his supporters were involved in the incident.

Meanwhile, residents of Dagestan report about arrival of echelons with soldiers and military machines; while Dagestani bloggers are actively discussing possible introduction of the counterterrorist operation (CTO) regime throughout the republic. As noted by Nariman Gadjiev, a Dagestani journalist and radio broadcaster, "reinforcement has to do with the elections; the stake was placed on the military way to solve the problem."

Georgia updates its Constitution

The amended Constitution of Georgia became one of the most resonant political events in Southern Caucasus. On October 2, the local MPs voted for it in the second reading with the 125:4 score of votes.

The new version of the document has no statement that the president is the head of the state. Thus, the decision reached at last year's talks between President Mikhail Saakashvili and non-parliamentary opposition on decentralization of the state power will be implemented.

Under the amendments, the president's powers will not include the right to initiate legislation; his (or her) influence on foreign policy and armed forces is restricted. However, the president will be able to appoint the Chief of Joint Staff and Minister of Defence, and take part in shaping the budget of the army. Besides, since December 13, 2013, when the new Constitution will come into force, the president of Georgia will have no right to make proposals on amending the Constitution and other laws. These powers will pass over to the prime minister.

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