01 November 2010, 12:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 25-31

Bodies of flood casualties are still found in Krasnodar Territory; Northern Caucasus commemorates victims of repressions, Ossetian-Ingush conflict and terror acts; pre-election situation is heating up in Azerbaijan, - look these and other events in the review of the week of October 25-31, 2010, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

New casualties and victims of flooding in Kuban River area

Last week, rescuers of the "Kuban-SPAS" finished their major works in the aftermath of the floods in the Tuapse District, Krasnodar Territory, which struck the area at night on October 16.

According to the latest data, the body count of the disaster in the Tuapse District makes 16 persons. However, on October 30, rescuers found another male body in the flood zone; supposedly, he also perished in the flood.
Besides, seven persons are still regarded as missing; the search of them continues.

Control phase of census is over

The main phase of the 2010 All-Russian population census, started on October 14 under the slogan "Everyone is Russia's value", was over on October 25. However, in many regions of the country, including the SFD and NCFD (Southern and North-Caucasian Federal Districts), census centres and census takers went on working on October 26-29 - the time for the so-called "control checks".

In some regions of southern Russia the main census phase was also extended. Thus, in Ingushetia the deadline was set off till October 29, although the official census process was over in much of the territory of the Russian Federation on October 25. According to "Ingushetiyastat" (local statistics agency), not all residents of the republic agreed to take part in the census, but "in general, it has no effect on the totals." The census campaign was also extended in the flood-affected districts of the Krasnodar Territory - the Tuapse and part of the Absheron ones.

In the meantime, people actively discuss the census. Specialists, experienced in the 2002 census, when North-Caucasian republics dramatically increased their population by means of "double count"; the same is expected this time either. In the experts' opinion, after the 2002 census, about a million of "dead souls" appeared in the Caucasus. Already today, we can state that such fears are quite reasonable. As reported by a resident of Ingushetia, who took part in the census, somewhere in the republic the statistical data may turn to be unreliable: under pressure of their bosses, some census takers had to "inflate" their totals.

Situation aggravates on the eve of elections in Azerbaijan

A week is left till the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan; and the situation in the country escalates day after day. On Saturday, October 30, the observatory mission of the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) released its second interim report on the election campaign in Azerbaijan, covering the period of October 16-26, 2010.

While preparing its second report, the OSCE/ODIHR observatory mission received reports about intimidation and pressure on voters aimed to force them to recall their signatures in support of this or that candidate, as well as complaints of direct pressure on candidates, their relatives and confidants.

At its sitting on October 30, the Azerbaijani Central Election Commission (CEC) decided to install webcams at polling stations during the upcoming parliamentary elections. This initiative was moved at the sitting by Natik Mamedov, Secretary of the CEC. According to his story, the cameras will cover 500 polling stations in all regions of Azerbaijan. Besides, as it became known, the elections in Azerbaijan will be monitored by 991 international observers from 42 countries.

In the end of last week, the independent research centre named "Els" finished its preparations for the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan. The centre will conduct exit polls at 1180 polling stations of 118 constituencies. In conducting the poll, the centre will make use of the experience of social networks for the first time. No exit polls conducted by international organizations are expected. At the same time, on October 29, in the course of debates held at the Baku Media Centre on the topic "Are exit-poll litmus test of elections?", Anar Mamedli, Head of the Election Monitoring Centre and Training Democracy, said that in the conditions of Azerbaijan there is no trust to results of exit polls.

Memory actions in the Caucasus

Last week, residents of the southern regions of Russia commemorated victims of political repressions, Ossetian-Ingush conflict and terror acts.

Thus, on October 31, in the centre of Vladikavkaz, members of the All-Russian Public Organization "Voice of Beslan" held a picket with a demand to pass the law on the status of victims of terror acts and investigate the terror acts committed in the territory of North Ossetia. The picket in front of the monument to Lenin was sanctioned. Over 50 protesters were expected, but in fact fewer people came.

Last week, a number of events were held in Ingushetia to commemorate victims of the 1992 Ossetian-Ingush conflict. On October 30, the city of Nazran held a nationwide mourning rally. The rally was initiated by local NGOs and prominent public and political figures of Ingushetia. Besides, the Nazran Memorial Complex opened an exhibition of photographs and documentary materials related to events of autumn 1992; mosques held memory services; the elders of the republic visited the cemetery of jihad victims in Nazran, where they prayed for the casualties of those days.

Similar events took place in North Ossetia, where people also commemorated the victims of the 1992 Ossetian-Ingush conflict. On October 30, the memorial cemetery in Vladikavkaz was visited by more than 1500 persons.

Every year on October 30, Russia and some other former socialist countries mark the Memory Day of Victims of Political Repression. This year, the mourning actions were held in Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Vladikavkaz and other regions of southern Russia, and in Abkhazia.

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