18 May 2011, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 9-15

Thanks to this year's victory of the Azerbaijani duet, the country will host the "Eurovision-2012" in Baku; more than 2000 residents of South Ossetia stand for referendum on the third presidential term; Kuban residents again draw attention to falsification of criminal cases; victims of floods in Azerbaijan left homeless and without property go on hunger strike, - look these and other events in the review of the week of May 9-15, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

"Eurovision-2011": Azerbaijan celebrates victory

Last week one of the major events in the Caucasus was the victory of representatives of Azerbaijan at the European song contest "Eurovision-2011". As a result of the first semi-final of "Eurovision-2011", held early last week in Dusseldorf, performers from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia were among those 10 who advanced to the final. In total, this semi-final group included performers from 19 countries. In the final, the duet from Azerbaijan named "Ell/Nikki" (Eldar Gasymov and Nigyar Jamal) took the first place.

Before their victory in the national qualifying contest, the Azerbaijani duet was little known in their country. The decision to delegate Nigyar Jamal and Eldar Gasymov to the "Eurovision-2011" was made by the national jury after two rounds of qualification contest. The Azerbaijani singers, who performed the song named "Running Scared", took the first place with 221 points gathered by them from spectators' voting and the jury's decision. The maximum score - 12 points - was given to Azerbaijani signers by Russia, Turkey and Malta.

The group "Eldrine", representing Georgia, was ranked the ninth. The Russian Alexei Vorobyov, who performed the song "Get You", was in the 16th position with 77 points. The performer from Armenia "Emmy" (Emma Bedzhanyan), who performed the song "Boom Boom", failed to pass the qualification round. The victory of Azerbaijani singers means that the next contest - "Eurovision-2012" - will take place in Baku.

Baku residents took the victory of the Azerbaijani duet with exultation. After the final, despite the deep night, people took to the streets with flags, chanting "Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan!" and "Eldar and Nigyar!"

Kuban: in search of justice

In the evening on May 11, the Krasnoarmeisk District Court of the Krasnodar Territory announced the verdict to Vladimir Petenko, Manvel Saaryan, Temur Gamisoniya and Alexei Alexeev, recognized by the panel of judges guilty of committing a series of robberies (Article 162) and a murder (Article 105 of the Russian Criminal Code). After announcement of the verdict (from 13 to 17 years in a high security colony), the four defendants cut their wrist veins and ripped open their stomachs right in the eyes of those present in the courtroom. It was a protest of the defendants, who claim that their criminal case was fabricated.

According to investigators, the defendants, acting on a preliminary conspiracy, committed six robberies on households, stealing property, money and jewellery worth more than 1.6 million roubles. Also, the investigation found Petenko, 34, guilty of killing a fortune-teller. According to the court, all the defendants were found guilty of their alleged crimes and sentenced to 13-17 years of high security colony.

On May 14, Alina Zhurbenko, a resident of the village of Poltavskaya, Krasnodar Territory, held a solo picket in defence of Vladimir Petenko, her common-law husband and one of the defendants in this case. The picket took place in front the Krasnodar Territorial Court for about half an hour. The woman held the posters: "We demand fair verdict on Case No. 959705" and "Krasnoarmeisk ROVD: threats + torture + humiliations = voluntary surrender". As noted by the picketer, she intends to carry out such actions repeatedly.

Besides, the defendants' relatives and advocates also intend to appeal against the verdict of the District Court at the Krasnodar Territorial Court and are ready to reach the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

Azerbaijan: villagers on hunger strike

In the district centre Imishli, several persons went on hunger strike in protest to the fact that, in their statement, the funds allocated to help the victims of the flooding of the Kura and Araz Rivers had been distributed unfairly or stolen.

The hunger strike in Imishli was announced on May 10 and lasts the whole week already. Doctors have stated worsening of health condition of one of the protesters - Category I invalid Elman Shakhbazov. Nobody from the district authorities has visited the hunger-strikers during the week; however, they were visited by the chief physician of the district hospital.

The office of the society named "Kura" has urged the Imishli hunger-strikers to stop their action. In parallel, activists sent a letter to the State Commission for elimination of spring 2010 flood consequences and reminded the officials about the problem, which had forced people to undertake the extreme step.

South Ossetia: referendum or not?

In the end of last week, the initiative group engaged in preparing and holding a referendum to amend the Constitution of South Ossetia suspended the collection of signatures. According to the organizers, they have gathered enough signatures - several times more than needed under the legislation of South Ossetia.

Currently, all the collected signatures are processed and prepared for presentation on May 16 to the Central Election Commission of South Ossetia.

As of May 13, over 2000 signatures had been gathered in favour of the referendum in support of the third presidential term in South Ossetia. The referendum is planned on two questions: "Do you agree to have the Ossetian and Russian languages the official languages of South Ossetia?" and "Do you agree to have one and the holding the office of President of the Republic of South Ossetia for three consecutive terms?" At the same time, the incumbent Eduard Kokoity himself said that he did not want to stand for the presidency at the forthcoming autumn presidential election.

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