20 October 2010, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 11-17

Krasnodar Territory occurred in power of "high water" - there are casualties and victims; the calamity caused multimillion losses; electoral battles in southern Russia continue after voting; Georgia accepts residents of Northern Caucasus in visa-free mode, while Russia withdraws its troops from the Ossetian-Georgian border, - look these and other events in the review of the week of October 11-17, 2010, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Kuban area seriously flooded

At night on September 16 heavy rainfalls happened in the Krasnodar Territory, resulting in flowage of Pshenakha and Tuapsinka mountain rivers. According to the territorial Ministry for Emergencies (MfE), in total, seven villages and 17 rural settlements were partially flooded. Water has already left most of them, having destroyed three automobile and three pedestrian bridges. The Tuapse and Apsheron Districts were affected by the weather.

At the moment, the MfE confirms 13 casualties, although previously 14 lost persons were reported. Most of them are women. Nine persons more are registered as missing.

On October 16, about 300 residents, including 70 children, were evacuated from the disaster area. Temporary accommodation centres completed their work by the evening of that very day - people went home or to their relatives. Since the breakout of the calamity most of the affected villages are still without electricity, some of them - without water.

According to preliminary estimates of local authorities, the damage from the flood in the Tuapse District may exceed 500 million roubles. Russian President ordered to devise measures to support the victims of flooding; the authorities of the Krasnodar Territory also promised help to affected local communities. The administration of the Tuapse District, in its turn, plans to grant money for the funerals. At the same time, the territorial prosecutor's office opened an investigation into the top bureaucrats' behaviour during the flood.

Monday, October 18, was announced a mourning day in the Tuapse District.

Meanwhile, according to the MfE, the water level in the rivers of the Kuban River basin may rise again in the next few days.

Elections over, not everyone happy

Last week, in many regions of southern Russia, the outcomes of the October 10 local elections made the main political topic.

In Dagestan, the local prosecutor's office plans to check about 40 complaints about violations of the electoral legislation, which arrived to the office after the start of the election campaign. As stated by the office, in the course of the election they passed 55 acts of prosecutor's reaction; 27 warnings were announced to officials on inadmissibility of violating the law; and six presentations were issued demanding to eliminate violations.

Thus, according to observers, in the Kurakh District, authorities tried to influence the outcomes of the election. Isalmagomed Nabiev, a resident of Makhachkala, a publicist and chairman of the independent trade union of entrepreneurs and drivers of Dagestan, reported about numerous violations at election of Makhachkala Mayor.

Besides, last week, the deputies from the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party, elected to the Kurakh District Assembly of Dagestan, wanted to give up their mandates. It was decided not for "ideological or political reasons." However, later, Magomedaga Nasrullaev, chairman of the territorial election commission, said that all the elected deputies of the fourth convocation, including those from "Edinaya Rossiya" and CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), were present at the first session of the Assembly. "None of them gave up," he has stressed. At the session, Zamir Azizov, a CPRF deputy, was elected the head of the district.

In the Rostov Region, the Investigatory Committee has opened three criminal cases about falsification of ballot papers at the October 10 elections to the Rostov-on-Don City Duma. Members of the Rostov Municipal Election Commission and representatives of the opposition reported numerous violations and use of administrative resources by the authorities. The former refused to sign the final protocol on the elections. In his turn, Alexander Nechushkin, head of the executive committee of the regional branch of "Edinaya Rossiya", called the elections difficult but pointed out that the victory of his party at local elections was "an index of people's trust in professionalism of the candidates from "Edinaya Rossiya".

At elections in the Krasnodar Territory, like in other regions of the SFD (Southern Federal District) and NCFD (North-Caucasian Federal District), mostly nominees from "Edinaya Rossiya" were winners. Thus, they won 39 out of 42 seats (92 percent) in the City Duma of Krasnodar. The candidates of this party received majority of votes also at elections of the heads of the Tuapse, Kanev and Seversk District of the territory. "However, the CPRF rejects the outcomes of the elections to Krasnodar Duma. Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of this party, stated it at a press conference on October 11 in the Russian State Duma. He also confirmed that the CPRF was preparing lawsuits to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg.

Georgia-Russia: new aspects in relations

Early last week, on October 11, Nino Kalandadze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, said that residents of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and Adygea will be allowed to visit Georgia for up to 90 days without the need to get their visas in advance. The first three citizens of Russia enjoyed the opportunity on October 13.

However, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and a number of senior Russian officials treated the decision as a Georgia's provocation and a PR act.

The Georgia's cancellation of the visa regime caused extensive debates among residents of the North-Caucasian region. In Chechnya, for example, many people believe that the decision taken by the Georgian authorities in relation to residents of the above republics will remove many problems, arising at crossing this country's borders. Along with that, people fear that the Russian government may now toughen the rules of crossing the state border for its nationals. At the same time, according to residents of Adygea, opening of the customs check point "Verkhni Lars" for visa-free entry to Georgia only for a number of Russian republics is a natural but incomplete step, as it looks like an attempt to sort out residents of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, by the end of last week it became known that Russia would withdraw its border troops stationed in Perevi village in the border of South Ossetia and Georgia. This is the result of the regular - the 13th - round of Geneva talks. "Now it is time to actually withdraw to the territory of South Ossetia, since this area - and we've always recognized it - was rather disputable," said Grigory Karasin, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, after debates.

However, the Georgian party has some disbelief in Russia's intention to withdraw troops from Perevi, but "if Moscow keeps its promise, in the long term, it may be a start of a more important process," said Giga Bokeriya, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister. According to his version, such statements had been made by the Russia's MFA more than once.

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