12 January 2011, 12:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 3-9

The first week of 2011 was not calm for the republics of Northern Caucasus; Christmas was celebrated in all southern regions of Russia and in Southern Caucasus; in Georgia action of veterans ended in fines for disobedience, – look these and other events in the review of the week of January 3-9, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Northern Caucasus: new year starts with explosions and gunshots

Dagestan

In the morning on January 4 power agents blocked a private house in Naberezhnaya Street in the village of Shamkhal, where, according to their data, two militants were hiding; the CTO (counterterrorist operation) regime was announced. The militants tried to break through the cordon and were killed. Grenades and two Kalashnikov submachine guns were found on them. The liquidated Badrudi Rasulov and Maksud Ismailov are suspected of involvement in attacks on employees of law enforcement bodies. On the same day at about 8:00 p.m. Moscow time in Sedov Street in Makhachkala employees of the PPS (Patrol and Post Service) were shelled: one militiaman was wounded and died on the way to hospital; one of the attackers was killed on the spot.

In the morning on January 5 in Khasavyurt power agents blocked a group of suspected militants; the CTO regime was introduced. The blocked militants opened fire; and four persons were killed. Two of them were identified as searched Zaerbek Musaev Asker Orazaliev. Another one was identified as Amir of Khasavyurt Ruslan Makavov. In the course of the special operation three law enforcers were slightly injured.

Kabardino-Balkaria

On January 4 in Nalchik, unidentified assailants blew up the building of the entertainment club named "Sahara". The explosion was triggered at about 7:30 p.m. Moscow time. Two men broke into the clubhouse, planted the bomb and fled. The explosion broke the windows and doors and damaged the furniture. No injuries were reported.

Ingushetia

On January 3, unidentified persons threw two hand grenades in the direction of a militia unit, engaged in guarding the Christmas tree in the Ordzhonikidzevskaya village. One grenade exploded causing no harm.

In the evening on January 8 in the same Ordzhonikidzevskaya village, Sunzha District, a powerful self-made explosive device was found outside the district hospital. Sappers came and neutralized the bomb, which consisted of an anti-tank grenade round and was provided with additional striking elements, with the help of water cannon.

North Ossetia

In Vladikavkaz, in the morning on January 3, an explosive device blew up in the car with the deputy chief of staff of the military unit deployed in Ingushetia. The officer was hospitalized with heavy wounds. According to the preliminary conclusion of the investigation, the explosion was caused by an unidentified case-free device planted under the front left bumper of the car. Inspectors do not rule out that the bomb could be equipped with a clockwork mechanism.

Chechnya

In the evening on January 9, a column of three vehicles with soldiers of the special-purpose battalion of the Russian Ministry of Defence was shelled at the moment, when they entered the territory of the Control Checkpoint No. 2 in the Lenin District of the Chechen capital; the soldiers opened response fire. The skirmish occurred in the afternoon in the south-eastern outskirt of Grozny. As a result of shelling near the checkpoint three persons were lost: one soldier, one civilian and an unidentified man, who allegedly was among the attackers. Seven more persons were wounded: six soldiers and one militiaman.

Caucasus sees Christmas in

At night on January 7 the Orthodox Christians living in the North-Caucasian and Southern Federal Districts (NCFD and SFD) of Russia, as well as in Southern Caucasus, celebrated their Christmas.

On that day the holiday services took place in the Orthodox churches of Kalmykia, Krasnodar Territory, Adygea, Volgograd and Rostov Regions, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia and other southern regions of the country. In the Astrakhan Region, as well as in Kuban, mass celebrations organized on the occasion of the Christmas. In many regions of Northern Caucasus, on the eve of the Christmas, Orthodox churches were taken under special control of law enforcement bodies.

Christmas services were held in Orthodox churches of Azerbaijan, where Orthodox believers make 4.2 percent of the population. In the Cathedral of Myrrh-Bearers in Baku, the service was conducted by Father Alexander, Bishop of Baku and the Caspian Sea region. Also, the service went on at the Archangel Michael Church and in the Nativity of Virgin Cathedral, and in Orthodox churches of Gyandza, Khachmaz and in the parish of Sumgait.

In Georgia, where 84 percent of the population are Orthodox Christians, the Christmas was traditionally pompously celebrated. Late at night on January 6, in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the solemn Christmas service was conducted by Elias II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. In the afternoon, the traditional Christmas march "Alilo" was held in Tbilisi.

The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrated the Christmas together with the Epiphany under the general name of Baptism of Christ on January 6. The solemn service and liturgy dedicated to the great feast took place in Armenia in the religious centre of all Armenians in the holy Echmiadzin with participation of the Catholicos Garegin II. According to the tradition, the Catholicos gave a special prayer and blessed Christmas food.

Georgia: New-Year dispersal of veterans' action

On January 3, Georgian policemen used force to disperse a protest action of was veterans in Tbilisi, who from December 27, 2010, demanded from the authorities to give attention to their problems, in particular, improvement of their social conditions. The action was held by 20 protesters; they saw the New Year in in their sleeping bags by settling in the Square of Heroes in Tbilisi. They were planning to complete the action on January 6.

In the course of the dispersal of the protest action of veterans on January 3, several persons were detained. On January 4, Judge Tea Tadashvili of the City Court of Tbilisi fined 11 protesters, who were detained on charges of rendering resistance to the police. Each of them was punished by an administrative fine of 400 laris (about 230 US dollars). The official statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) on the dispersal of the veterans' actions runs that several hunger-strikers were under the influence of alcohol, behaved aggressively, "disagreed with the demand of the patrol police to remove a tent installed at the Memorial to Heroes Fallen for Territorial Integrity of Georgia, rendered physical resistance and verbally abused the policemen.

In the end of last week, twelve non-governmental organizations in Georgia issued a joint statement, where they urge the MIA and General Prosecutor's Office of Georgia to conduct an objective investigation into the dispersal of the veterans' action in Tbilisi.

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