02 March 2011, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 21-27

While the whole Russia was choosing cartoon characters as symbols of the Olympic Games in Sochi, explosions and shootings continue in Northern Caucasus; Ebzeev's term as head of Karachay-Cherkessia was cut short by two years, and he was dismissed; opposition's "revival" in South-Caucasian countries - mass protests threaten Armenia and Azerbaijan, - look these and other events in the review of the week of February 21-27, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

RESTLESS NORTHERN CAUCASUS

Kabardino-Balkaria: CTOs gaining momentum

Last week, the situation in the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR), which got dramatically escalated in mid-February because of subversive actions in the area near Elbrus, where the counterterrorist operation (CTO) regime was introduced, was far from stability: attacks frequent in the region; therefore, the area under CTO regime grows broader.

On February 21-27, incidents in the KBR were reported almost daily. Thus, on February 23, unidentified assailants in the city of Baksan, Kabardino-Balkaria, opened fire on district militiaman Aslan Afaszhev, who was later hospitalized.

In Nalchik, on February 25, an armed attack was undertaken on RPS (road-and-post service); the building of the FSB sanatorium was shelled and blown up. The shelling of the "Shalushka" RPS post wounded one militiaman. According to the ICRF (Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation), this attack was committed by four persons. It was reported that the shelling of the sanatorium wounded some 10-12 persons, but the FSB later refuted this information, saying that nobody was hurt there. According to a source from the republic's law enforcement bodies, there were about 12 attackers.

On February 26, at about 4:00 a.m. Moscow times, in Nalchik, unidentified persons drove to a filling station and opened fire on the premises, where the staff of the station was at that time. As a result, the facility was set on fire. At the same time, a grenade was blown up in Nalchik, in the courtyard of the household, where parents of Astemir Mamishev, an active member of the armed underground, who is on the federal wanted list, live.

On Sunday, February 27, the CTO regime was introduced in a part of Nalchik and in some localities of the Chegem and Cherek Districts was inducted counterterrorist operation. The earlier introduced CTO regime in the Elbrus and a part of the Baksan Districts is also still valid.

Сhechnya: series of terror attacks prevented

Three suspected militants were killed in the morning of February 25 near the dwelling settlement of Yandi, Achkhoy-Martan District. Suspicious persons were offered to stop, lay down their arms and show documents, but in response they opened on militiamen, and were shot dead in the skirmish. They were identified as Zambek Gishlurkaev, Radji Chintagov and Zelimkhan Dukhaev, who had been, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), on the federal wanted list for committing grave and especially grave crimes. Power agents reported that the liquidated militants allegedly belonged to the detachment of the field commander Abubakar Batalov.

On the following day, February 26, in the same district, during a special operation three suspected militants were liquidated. Power agents could immediately identify them as Ayub and Abubakar Shalaev, who, according to preliminary data, were cousins, and a certain Eskiev. Later, the NAC (National Antiterrorist Committee) said that the casualties belonged to a terrorist group and planning a series of major terror acts in Chechnya.

Dagestan: peaceful discussion at background of special operations

On February 26, in the village of Krasnoarmeyskoye, Kirov District of Makhachkala, near the home of the head of administration of the village, unidentified persons triggered an explosive device. Nobody was hurt. On the same day, the Dagestani militiamen and FSB officers found and confiscated a large quantity of weapons, explosives and ammunition in the house of an unemployed local resident in the village of Serebryakovka. In particular, the detainee had kept two self-made explosive devices. Besides, a man was detained in the village of Pervokizlyarskoe, in whose house a pistol was found.

On February 26, an alleged supplier of so-called "Kizilyurt" gang was killed. Law enforcement officials conducted routine operational-and-search actions, including searches in Kizilyurt. At one of the addresses they faced armed resistance. Besides, on February 25, law enforcement officials detained in a suburb of Makhachkala two residents of Bashkortostan, suspected of the intention to join the armed underground.

Besides, at the end of the week the NAC's Information Centre reported a termination of activities of a subversive and terrorist grouping, which acted in the territory of Makhachkala. According to the NAC, five members of the grouping were detained this week as a result of a number of special operations in Dagestan.

Meanwhile, amidst the tense criminal situation in the republic, last week Dagestan started a series of public discussions "Peace to the Caucasus": on February 25 they were held in the cities of Derbent and Izberbash; on February 26 - in Buinaksk, on February 27 - in Kizlyar and Khasavyurt, and debate in Makhachkala were scheduled on February 28.

SOCHI-2014 WILL BE SYMBOLIZED BY LEOPARD, BEAR AND HARE

On Saturday, February 26, Russia held the final vote on the choice of the talisman of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The final results were announced around midnight live on air of Channel One.

Right on the eve of the vote it became known that Father Frost - the favourite of the talisman - had been excluded from the list. As explained by the organizers, this was done to exclude the risk for the symbol to become the property of the International Olympic Committee.

As a result, the first place by the number of votes went to the leopard, the second place - to the polar bear, and the third place - to the hare. The Organizing Committee of Sochi-2014 decided that the Sochi Olympics will have three talismans. The symbols of the Paralympic Games will be the Raylet and the Snowflake.

Meanwhile, painter Victor Chizhikov - author of the symbol of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympiad, referred negatively about the image of the polar bear, chosen as one of the talismans of the Sochi Games, having accused its author of plagiarism.

KARACHAY-CHERKESSIA: CHANGE OF HEAD

On Saturday, February 26, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on early dissolution of the authorities of Boris Ebzeev, head of the Karachay-Cherkessian Republic (KChR). He resigned on his own will. Meanwhile, his term of office was to expire in 2013. According to his age his was quite fit under the ceiling of 70 years set by the Kremlin for governors.

The Kremlin treated Ebzeev's resignation as continuation of Medvedev's policy aimed at strengthening his regional cadre potential. According to the source, "the retired heads of regions had failed to show significant results in their work." Public leaders of the KChR see the retired Ebzeev's main mistake in that he failed to rely on public forces.

Rashid Temrezov was appointed to be the acting President of the KChR until some person is duly appointed. On March 1 parliamentarians of the region will consider his candidacy for the President of the KChR. Earlier, Temrezov, 35, was the head of Federal State Institution "Department of Federal Motor Roads in the Karachay-Cherkessian Republic"; he is an MP of the KChR.

SOUTH CAUCASUS: OPPOSITION GOES OUT TO THE STREETS

On February 26, the Civil Movement for Democracy "Public Chamber" decided to prepare mass actions across the whole of Azerbaijan with a demand of democratic changes in the country and resolute fight against corruption.

"The authorities failed to hear our call for democratic changes. For the two months since the start of the year, the government has been engaged, instead of genuine reforms, in cosmetic changes, trying to create visibility of fight on corruption, which is still more annoying people. This is another confirmation of the fact that the regime has no intention to carry out radical democratic reforms. Therefore, these changes will happen at the will of people; and the 'Public Chamber' will lead this process," said the leaders of the movement.

In the opinion of oppositionists, "the authorities should be given time till March 10; and if by that time our demands are not accepted, and real steps to implement them are not taken, we'll hold the first mass protest already on March 12."

Earlier, the opposition in Armenia had also started a series of rallies aimed at forcing the authorities into early elections. The next opposition rally is scheduled for March 1.

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