07 June 2011, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 30-June 5


Funeral of President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh; verdict of guilty in the case of murdering Chechen Israilov in Vienna, in which head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov had figured; meeting of the Presidential Council for Human Rights in Makhachkala; another victim in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, - look these and other events in the review of the week of May 30-June 5, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

During meeting of Presidential Council in Makhachkala Dagestanis protested against human rights violations

On June 1-2, the capital of Dagestan hosted the travelling session of the Council under Russian President on Development of Civil Society and Human Rights. The event was positioned by its organizers as one of preparation phases for the upcoming meeting with Dmitry Medvedev in Northern Caucasus. The participants of the session, prominent Russian human rights defenders among them, spoke about direct dependence of escalating violence in Northern Caucasus from human rights violations and disregard for the law by law enforcement officials. They argued about the efficiency of the local law on prohibition of Wahhabi activities and agreed that peaceful negotiations between the warring parties are required to establish peace in the republic.

Magomedsalam Magomedov, the head of Dagestan, opened the sitting and noted that holding the sitting in Makhachkala could be regarded as a sign of respect to Dagestan and the desire to take serious steps to improve the situation in the republic. The sitting participants diverged in estimating its outcomes. Thus, Garun Kurbanov, head of information policy and presidential press service of Dagestan, assured that all expressed opinions will be taken into account by the authorities, while Ruslan Mirzaev, Chairman of the Supreme Court of Dagestan, noted, referring to disagreements among the participants that it would not bring the desired result.

It is noteworthy that right during the sitting the republic saw a number of incidents related to the topic of debates. On June 1, unidentified assailants in civilian clothes kidnapped Magomed Magomedov, a resident of the village of Cheryomushki, Kizlyar District, who, as it turned out later, was kept at the Kizlyar GOVD (City Interior Division). On May 1, in Makhachkala, people protested against the closure of the mosque in the village of Sovietskoe, which took place the day before. The rally was over 3000 strong; and the protesters also demanded to stop extrajudicial killings and abductions committed by police officers. The police detained two journalists, who then were kept for several hours at the GOVD without any explanations. According to one of them - Abubakar Rizvanov, - on the way policemen detained three more men, who had beards, like the journalists.

Already after the guests left, on June 2, Makhabat Musaeva, a resident of the village of Kokrek, Khasavyurt District, reported the disappearance of her husband on May 27. On June 4, his body showing signs of torture was found in the canal near Kokrek.

Court in Vienna rules on the case of Chechen Israilov's murder

On June 1, the court in Vienna found three natives of Chechnya, who have refugee status, guilty of killing Umar Israilov, a former security of the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. Otto Kaltenbrunner (known as Ramzan Edilov before moving to Austria) was sentenced to life imprisonment; his accomplices - Suleiman Dadaev and Turpal-Ali Esherkaev - to 19 and 16 years in prison, respectively.

Umar Israilov was shot dead near his house in Vienna on January 13, 2009. The trial was closely watched by rights defenders, since Israilov, who was granted political asylum in Austria in 2006, had filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), where he argued that the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov had personally taken part in killings, torture and kidnappings. Israilov later addressed the prosecutor's office in Vienna trying to initiate a criminal case on the same facts.

As stated at the trial by prosecutor Leopold Bin, in the opinion of the prosecution, Umar Israilov died because he possessed some "dirty information" about Ramzan Kadyrov. As they say at the prosecutor's office of Austria, Kadyrov's links with the murderers caused no doubts; however, inspectors failed to collect enough evidence for bringing the head of Chechnya to justice.

After the verdict, lawyer Andrei Krasnenkov, who is representing the interests of the head of Chechnya, categorically denied allegations of Kadyrov's involvement in killing Israilov. Kadyrov himself had repeatedly assured that he had nothing to do with the crime. He believes accusations against him to be a provocation and argued that an information war is waged against him and Chechnya; however, he refused to go to trial in Vienna. The court failed to answer the question about the customer of the crime.

According to Sasha Kulaeva, head of the division of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the trial was of "huge historical significance", as the court had carefully considered the case connected with the Chechen events and deeply penetrated into the situation. Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, an employee of the HRC "Memorial", said that the case in Austria was not yet closed, as the main figurants from Chechnya, who may pass over into the category of suspects - Lechi Bogatyryov, Shaa Turlaev and Ramzan Kadyrov - had not been questioned.

Abkhazia pays last tribute to President Sergey Bagapsh

The funeral of President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh, who died on May 29 in Moscow, took place in Sukhumi on June 2. Tens of thousands of residents of Abkhazia came on that day to the capital to say farewell to Bagapsh. People began gathering at the building of the Philharmonic Society at 8 in the morning. At 9:00 a.m., the coffin was brought from 9 Chachba Street to the Philharmonic Society. Already at 10 a.m. the farewell ceremony began, which was not over by 1 p.m. - the time, when a mourning rally was appointed.

The funeral was attended by delegations from the republics of Northern Caucasus and Southern Russia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, South Ossetia and representatives of the Abkhazian Diaspora in Turkey, and Peter Semneby, former EU Special Representative for Southern Caucasus. The ceremony was attended by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whom the Georgian Foreign Ministry accused on this occasion of infringing the Georgian state border. Bagapsh was buried in his native village of Dzhgerda, Ochamchira District next to his parents.

The official Tbilisi did not react to the death of the head of Abkhazia, with the exception of the words of Nino Kalandadze, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, who said on May 30 said that Georgia had not recognized the election of President of Abkhazia, which now, according to the Law "On Elections of President of the Republic of Abkhazia", should take place within the next three months. The date will be appointed by the National Assembly of the Republic of Abkhazia. Currently, Alexander Ankvab is acting president.

Zone of Karabakh conflict: a new casualty

On June 3, Azerbaijan reported a civilian's death as a result of a ceasefire break by the armed forces of Armenia. As stated by the Azerbaijani party, Yelmar Ganimat oglu Piriev, born in 1959 in the village of Yukhary Giyamadynly, Agdzhabedin District, was tending sheep near the village of Chemenli, Agdam District, where he got under fire and died from wounds. However, the Defence Army of Nagorno-Karabakh declares that the information is untrue and was spread as propaganda and another misinformation.

Thus, the incident in the Agdam District became a continuation of the practice, when the military authorities of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh accuse each other of violating the ceasefire and of emerging shootings. In such cases, as a rule, the monitoring of the contact line, held by the OSCE, reveals no violations.

Note that less than a month ago, on May 11, Araik Balasanyan, a tractor driver and a Nagorno-Karabakh resident, perished near the contact line separating the Armenian and Azerbaijani troops, from a bullet. Karabakh believed that Azerbaijani militaries were guilty of his death; however, the official Baku had accused the Armenian party of a lie.


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