07 January 2011, 12:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of the period from December 27 to January 2
On the New Year days the state of "interethnic unrest" persisted in Russia; residents of Rostov-on-Don met 2011 with a communal disaster; Kuban residents congratulated President with a collective video appeal; human rights activists are unhappy with the New-Year amnesty announced in Azerbaijan, – look these and other events in the review of the week of December 27, 2010, to January 2, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
New Year: interethnic unrest
In the last days of 2010 the Human Rights Centre "Sova" disseminated their research data, according to which in 2010 as a result of attacks on the grounds of racism and xenophobia more than 400 persons suffered in Russia. The last year's leaders by the level of violence were Moscow and Moscow Region (19 casualties and 174 injured victims), St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region (2 and 47) and Nizhny Novgorod (4 and 17, accordingly).
Human rights activists associate the splash of violence in December 2010 with the events in Manege Square and attacks of the following days in Moscow.
Let us note here that incidents with interethnic context were registered in Russia in the last days of 2010. Thus, in the evening on December 31, law enforcers detained over 250 armed persons in Manege Square. Later, the figures provided by power agents about the native of the Caucasus detained in Moscow on the eve of the New Year varied from several dozens to several thousands.
In the Stavropol Territory, at the New Year's night, nationalistic leaflets were spread. According to law enforcers, at night on January 1, 56 leaflets "calling to incitement of hatred, hostility and humiliation on the basis of nationality" appeared in the streets of the village of Novo-Blagodarnoe of the Predgorny District. A criminal case was initiated under Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – "Inciting hatred or hostility, and humiliation of one's dignity".
Rostov: New Year without heat and water
In the morning on January 1, several thousands of residents of Rostov-on-Don remained without central heating and hot water because of a major accident in the heat distribution networks.
The accident happened in the network section located within the territory of a military unit; and as stated by the utility services of the city, it was difficult to get there because of problems with getting permits during the New Year holidays. As a result, twelve high-rise residential buildings in a densely populated district remained without hot water.
Only late at night repairmen managed to eliminate the accident. The heating engineers immediately began switching on hot water and heating systems directly in the multi-storey buildings.
Kuban – to Russian President
On the eve of the New Year, in the evening on December 31, residents of the Krasnodar Territory (also known as "Kuban" by the name of the main river) posted on the Internet 38 video appeals to the Russian President, united under the name "Kuban – to Russian President".
The authors of the video appeals to Dmitri Medvedev shared their problems with the Russian President; since for a long time they were unable to receive any solution from the regional authorities.
In particular, residents of the Krasnodar Territory told stories from their life about raiders; attempts and illegal criminal prosecution of small and medium businessmen in Krasnodar, Timashevsk and Tikhoretsk District, Novorossiysk, Kropotkin, Gelendzhik and Anapa; torture in the militia and SIZOs (pre-trial prisons) of Krasnodar, Armavir and Caucasian District of the Krasnodar Territory; mass falsification of criminal cases across the Territory; province, confiscation of land and property from residents of Novorossiysk, Gelendzhik, Krasnodar and Timashevsk District; machinations of local authorities with gasification of villages in the Temryuk District; problems of orphans and deceived shareholders who failed to receive their housing in Krasnodar; facts of extortion in the garage and building cooperatives; outrage of the militia in relation to elderly citizens as a result of corruption arrangements; and about many other violations of the rights of local residents.
As stated by the initiators of action "Kuban – to Russian President", the video messages of 38 residents of the Krasnodar Territory to Dmitri Medvedev, which became available on the Internet in the evening on December 31, 2010, make just the first part of public statements of "Kuban residents, sick and tired of lawlessness". The action will continue in 2011.
Amnesty in Azerbaijan: problems remain
On December 27, the Pardon Commission at the Azerbaijani President presented to Mr Aliev the list of persons who had applied for amnesty in connection with December 31 – the Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis of the world and the New Year. The list included about 300 persons.
On December 29, President Ilham Aliev signed a decree on pardon, according to which 71 prisoners, 15 persons, in respect of whom courts had ruled on freedom restriction, and one person under conditional imprisonment were released from their remaining punishment terms. Five persons more were exempted from payment fines. There are four citizens of Bangladesh, two Pakistanis and two Afghans among those pardoned.
However, according to local human rights activists, the decree to pardon 92 persons, signed by President of Azerbaijan, has not solved the problem of political prisoners in the country. At the same time, Saida Godzhamanly, head of the Bureau on Human Rights and Defence of Legality, has positively treated the decree from the standpoint of humanism.
According to her version, out of the list of the Monitoring Group of Human Rights Organizations of Azerbaijan (MGHROA) 20 other political prisoners are still in jail. On the other hand, according to Leila Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, only one political prisoner out of from the list of the Federation of Human Rights Organizations of Azerbaijan (FHROA) was pardoned, while at least 50 persons out of this list are still behind bars.