08 December 2010, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 29-December 5

Tu-154 crash questions the work of "Dagestani Airlines"; OSCE summit in Astana failed to help in settling conflicts in Southern Caucasus; cities of Southern Russia start getting ready to receive 2018 World Football Cup matches, - look these and other events in the review of the week of November 29-December 5, 2010, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Tu-154 crash: victims, circumstances, versions

One of the most resonant last week's topics was the accident with the passenger airliner of the "Dagestani Airlines" in Domodedovo Airport. On December 4, the Tu-154 aircraft, which was on the flight from Moscow to Makhachkala, made an emergency landing in Domodedovo. When landing, the craft skidded off the runway and broke into three pieces. There were 163 passengers and 9 crew members onboard. As a result of the accident two persons were lost: Rosa Gadjieva, 80, mother of a member of the Constitutional Court, and Gadjimurad Magomedov, 49, brother of the incumbent President of Dagestan. At least 80 people were injured; 55 of them are still in hospital.

Currently, the investigation is considering several versions of the aircraft's emergency landing; the main ones are a crew error, technical malfunctions of the aircraft prior to take-off and a failure of aggregates and components during the flight.

At the same time, according to Mirza Omariev, Director General of the "Dagestani Airlines", a year ago the aircraft underwent capital repairs, while any crew's error is excluded. In his turn, Magomed Tolboev, a famous test pilot, expressed an opinion that "nasty operation and maintenance" of the aircraft, caused by stupid economy, could cause the accident. At present, the Investigatory Committee of Russia does not move any of the versions as a priority.

OSCE summit was of no help to Caucasus

Last week, one of the major foreign policy events for the Caucasus was the OSCE summit held in Astana, Kazakhstan, which ended on December 3, and which, however, almost failed to answer the earlier hopes on settling the situation in the regions of Southern Caucasus.

Thus, within the summit, on December 1 Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia were to meet and discuss the issues of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, the planned meeting never took place. The two leaders accused each other at the summit of unwillingness to solve the problems peacefully.

Despite all this, on December 1, the summit promulgated a joint declaration of the heads of delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group (USA, Russia and France) and Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Armenian experts have already expressed the opinion that the negotiation process for peaceful settlement of the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh remains in the deadlock; and the Astana declaration made no changes for the better: the conflicting parties, as before, remain in opposite positions. A similar opinion is shared by Azerbaijani political scientists, who keep saying that the Astana OSCE summit had no significance for settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The summit was no more successful also for Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia. In Astana, Georgia tried to ensure that the final resolution fixes the fact of occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and once again reaffirms the territorial integrity of Georgia. The declaration adopted in Astana aroused fierce controversy between Georgia and Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov left the OSCE summit before time, having refused to sign the final document of the event, in which the participating countries had intended to fix support for the territorial integrity of Georgia. However, this was not done.

Meanwhile, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, speaking at the summit on December 1, appealed to Russia to stop confrontation and start comprehensive peace negotiations. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov parried, in his turn, that "there is no dialogue possible."

It is also worth noting that Astana failed to adopt the final document - the Declaration on Security. Instead, the "Astana Memorable Declaration: Towards Secure Community" was signed, dated to the 35th anniversary of the OSCE and the 20th anniversary of the Paris Charter. However, this document mentions neither Georgia, nor the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, nor the conflicts in Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Cities of South of Russia get ready for 2018 World Cup

On December 2 in the evening, the FIFA Executive Committee chose Russia to be the venue of the Football World Cup of 2018. We already know that football players from around the world will be received by stadiums of 13 cities of Russia, among them - Volgograd, Krasnodar, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don. It is planned that the sporting facilities, required for the championship in these cities, will be put into operation in 2013, in order to have them duly settled by 2018.

Earlier, the "Caucasian Knot" has reported that the authorities in Rostov and Rostov Region began preparations to construction of a football stadium with 45,000 seats, meeting the requirements of the 2018 World Cup, after it became known that Krasnodar and Rostov-on-Don were included as candidates into the 2018 World Cup programme.

Meanwhile, the Chechen authorities have also declared that they intend to offer the city of Grozny as a venue for a number of matches of the 2018 World Cup. According to President Ramzan Kadyrov, "Grozny is completing a world-level sports complex, where the stadium will be able to hold the highest level matches" and "football is loved in Northern Caucasus."

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