13 June 2011, 21:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 6-12

Negotiations in Transcaucasia on Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia's conflicts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia; resonant murder of religious leaders in Makhachkala, Dagestani capital; and assassination in broad daylight in Moscow of Yuri Budanov, "an enemy of the Chechen nation", – look these and other events in the review of the week of June 6-12, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group hold 3rd round of talks in Karabakh conflict zone over the past 9 months

On June 6-9, the region of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was visited by co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, which was set up back in 1992 and is the only international format on Nagorno-Karabakh talks. The mediators held talks with the leaders of Azerbaijan, authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian leadership.

The peculiarity of the visit was in the fact that the international mediators crossed the contact line. This, in their opinion, is an indicator of possible contacts between military commanders of the opposing parties.

According to Elmar Mamedyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group failed to bring new proposals on settling the Karabakh conflict; and the discussions were held within the framework of the principles, earlier proposed by them. Commenting on the visit, Bernard Fassier, the French co-chair of the Minsk Group, said that the mediators hoped that the meeting of Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, forthcoming on June 25 in Kazan, will approve the final version of the document on settlement, which was proposed during a similar meeting in Sochi on March 5.

Geneva discussions: situation in Transcaucasia recognized as consistently strained

June 7 was the final day of the 16th rounds of the Geneva international discussions on the agreements reached by Presidents of Russia and France security and stability in Transcaucasia, held on the basis of, reached after the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008. The discussions involve officials of South Ossetia, Russia, Abkhazia, United States, Georgia, EU, OSCE and United Nations. The parties agreed that the next round of discussions will be held on October 4, 2011.

On the outcomes of the discussions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia issued a joint statement, which treats the agreement on non-use of force as the key to solving the refugees' problem. Much attention during the meeting was to the current situation in place, which was recognized as stably tense, and to facts of intentional violations of the border. Members of the delegation of South Ossetia spoke about unwillingness of Georgian authorities to cooperate in defining the border route. The outcomes of the last three meetings held within the framework of the mechanism for to preventing and responding to incidents, where steps were taken to resolve them, were assessed as positive.

Immediately after the completion of the talks, the members of the Georgian delegation accused the Russian secret services of preparing terror acts and threatened to quit the Geneva discussions, having accused the Russian and South-Ossetian parties of preparing a terror act in the Georgian territory. Russia and South Ossetia have denied their involvement in this.

Northern Caucasus: religious leader shot dead in Makhachkala

On June 7, in Makhachkala, two unidentified persons attacked and shot dead Maksud Sadikov, Rector of the Institute of Theology and International Relations. His nephew, who was with him, was also shot dead. The attackers fled.

Inspectors view Mr Sadikov's professional activities as the main motive of the murder – his active stand against the extremist trend of Islam. The Working Group of the Public Chamber of Russia, headed by Mikhail Shevchenko, noted in its statement of June 8, 2011, that Sadikov was a key figure of the process of transfer of religious and political differences among believers in Dagestan into the public and legal framework. Public figures of Dagestan and experts on the Caucasus believe that the murder was backed by the forces opposing the process of reconciliation of republic's religious communities.

The murder of Sadikov continued the series of attacks on religious public figures in Northern Caucasus. According to calculations run by the "Caucasian Knot", Maksud Sadikov is the 12th religious figure killed in Northern Caucasus during the 17 months elapsed since the beginning of 2010.

Moscow: the shooting of the main helper loud case of the murder of a resident of Chechnya

In the afternoon on June 10, former colonel Yuri Budanov, who in 2003 was convicted for murdering Elza Kungaeva, a resident of Chechnya, and in 2009 released from prison, received four pistol bullets in his head in Komsomol Avenue in Moscow. Law enforcers regard revenge and provocation among the versions of his murder; in this context the police said that they did not exclude possible attempts of nationalist groupings to use the murder for their own aims.

Experts do not rule out that Budanov's murder is now capable to cause serious consequences, which may become a more extensive continuation of nationalists' actions in late 2010 in Moscow and other Russian cities. On June 10 football fans laid flowers at the place where Budanov was shot dead; on the same day the police prevented a spontaneous rally. On June 11, twelve persons, including representatives of nationalist organizations, were detained in the vicinity of Manege Square while trying to conduct an unsanctioned protest action.

Visa Kungaev, father of the Chechen girl Elza, murdered by Budanov, who is living in Norway, did not associate Budanov's murder with the death of his daughter; however, the human rights defender Kheda Saratova, the head of the "Objective" Information-Analytical Centre, is more inclined to the version of the "Chechen trace". Other observers also speak about it, recalling that Budanov in Chechnya had been treated negatively both by ordinary citizens, who found him guilty of deaths of their relatives, and by the authorities of the republic, whose head Ramzan Kadyrov treated Budanov, in his comment on the 2009 court decision to apply CER (conditionally early relief) to the former colonel, as "the enemy of the Chechen nation."

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