03 October 2011, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 26 to October 2

Sports and Cultural Festival "Caucasian Games" in Karachay-Cherkessia, which brought together representatives from all regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District NCFD); start of a week-long round-the-clock protest action of Armenian opposition, demanding early elections; electoral battles with shooting and hunger strike in South Ossetia; Buddhist forum in Kalmykia, where participants ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to allow a pastoral visit of the Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama XIV to Russia, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of September 26-October 2, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Karachay-Cherkessia: Festival "Caucasian Games" unites all NCFD regions

On September 30-October 2, Karachay-Cherkessia hosted the second sports and cultural festival "Caucasian Games" - an event that became a cultural event for all regions of Northern Caucasus, since participants from all over the NCFD came to take part in it. The event started with presentations of dance groups of NCFD subjects, which performed Caucasian folk dances.

Great interest of local residents was aroused by improvised national yards of the participants of the festival. Visitors could get acquainted there with the unique culture of Northern Caucasus and taste the national cuisine. Besides, the yards presented handicraft articles, antiques, and paintings.

The festival programme included 15 Caucasian traditional sports: arm-wrestling, lifting and carrying of weights, cross-country running, belt wrestling, running uphill, climbing a rope, walking on stilts, etc. This year it was decided to hold personal competitions. As a result, athletes from all the regions became winners. 

At the final press conference, Alexander Khloponin, Russian President's Plenipotentiary for the NCFD, said that Karachay-Cherkessia would build a unique sports complex; the funds of 100 million roubles are already envisioned in the federal budget. According to his story, it was decided to include Olympic sports, along with the national ones, into the permanent programme of the "Caucasian Games".

Armenia: Opposition starts round-the-clock protest action

After the thousands-strong protest action held on September 30 in central Yerevan, the oppositional Armenian National Congress (ANC) decided to hold a weeklong day-and-night rally. The opposition has also set up a tent camp, where supporters and opposition leaders are staying.

The Armenian opposition began holding regular protests after the dialog opposition-authorities, launched in mid-July, was interrupted because of arrest of Tigran Arakelyan, a young ANC activist, charged with disorderly conduct. The ANC announced that it stopped its participation in the dialogue and would return to it only after Arakelyan's release from custody. In its turn, the ruling coalition accused the ANC of unconstructive behaviour.

Within the week of protest, the opposition demands from the authorities to determine their compliance with the following eight conditions: to hold early presidential and parliamentary elections before the end of the year; to amend the electoral code; to solve - in the next three months - the ten murders committed on March 1, 2008; to start criminal prosecution against those responsible for these murders; to release political prisoner Tigran Arakelyan and stop the criminal cases instituted against young ANC activists; to cancel the ban on street trading in Yerevan; to cancel the decision of dismantling the kiosks built in Yerevan; to prohibit construction of multi-storey buildings in Yerevan; and to eliminate the practice, when state officials, Deputies of the National Assembly and heads of local bodies of self-management initiated criminal persecution of the press and journalists.

South Ossetia: electoral battles with shooting and hunger strike

On November 13, South Ossetia will hold the presidential election, since the second term of the incumbent president Eduard Kokoity is expiring. The deadline for registration of presidential candidates is October 9. So far, 28 initiative groups and two parties have submitted their election documents to the republic's CEC (Central Election Commission). Those registered as presidential candidates are Alan Kochiev, a teacher of the children's and youth school of weightlifting; Vadim Tskhovrebov, director of the Tskhinvali Bakery; and Vladimir Kelekhsaev, an MP of the parliament of South Ossetia of the 3rd and 4th convocations.

On September 30, the CEC members voted against registration of Djambolat Tedeev, the head coach of the Russian national free-style wrestling team. On that very day, supporters of Tedeev, in expectation of the CEC sitting, went out to the streets of Tskhinvali. The building of the government, where the CEC sits, was put under protection of law enforcers, because of the incident that took place in the building: some people broke into the premises and opened fire into the air. The presidential administration and the government of South Ossetia believe that Tedeev convoked his supporters with the aim to put pressure on the CEC.

On October 1, the confrontation of the oppositionist's supporters and OMON (riot police) fighters continued near the house of Tedeev's family. According to the election office of the candidate, 25 persons were detained, of them 20 were arrested; relatives and advocates were not allowed to meet them. However, the General Prosecutor's Office claims that five persons were detained, and two of them were arrested for 15 days each.

Then, Alan Kochiev, a registered presidential candidate, who is in custody on charges of beating the MP Alexander Pliev, went on hunger strike. He believes that his arrest violated the constitution of South Ossetia and restricted his electoral rights.

Kalmykia: Buddhists ask MFA to let Dalai Lama XIV to Russia

On October 2, Elista ended the International Forum "Buddhism: Philosophy of Non-Violence and Compassion", which started on September 22. Its programme included various events - the roundtables on "Buddhism and Sciences: Contact Points" and "Buddhism in Modern World", the festival of Buddhist films "Dharma without Frontiers", as well as rituals dedicated to removal of obstacles, purification and sanctification of the territory, call in the wealth, which were conducted by monks from the Tantric Monastery Gyudmed from Tibet.

Also, the ceremony of consecration of the largest Buddhist temple in Europe "Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni" took place.

The participants of the forum addressed the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) asking to allow a pastoral visit of the Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama XIV to Russia.

The main reason that impeded a positive decision on Dalai Lama's pastoral visit to Russia was in the fact that the Buddhist leader combined his world-leader spiritual functions with the position of the political leader of the Tibetan government in exile. However, according to the head of Buddhists of Kalmykia Shadjin-Lama Telo Tulku Rinpoche, this obstacle no longer exists, since in March 2011, the Dalai Lama officially resigned as political leader and now acts solely in the status of the spiritual leader of one of the world's major religions.

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