10 October 2011, 23:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 3-9
Anti-corruption rally in the capital of Dagestan, ending with violent dispersal and mass detentions; sentence to former deputy of Volgograd Regional Duma, accused of paedophilia; fifth anniversary of murder in Moscow of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and failed indictment; autumn session of the PACE, which passed a resolution calling not to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and a declaration of 32 PACE delegates on recognition of independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of October 3-9, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Dagestan: anti-corruption rally ends with violent dispersal and mass detentions
On October 3 at 11 a.m., next to the building of Makhachkala Mayoralty, a republic-wide anti-corruption rally was held, which was attended, according to different sources, by 100 to 500 persons. At the end of the event, protesters were dispersed by law enforcers. Some of them were detained. Eyewitnesses assert that at dispersal of the rally in Makhachkala some of the detainees were treated with electric shockers.
In total, 28 persons were detained; six of them were fined for violating the order and disobedience to the police and released by the evening on October 4; the remaining 22 persons were transferred on October 4 to SIZO (pre-trial prison) No. 1 of the capital of Dagestan; they spent the night there and were released only on October 5.
The authorities make no official comments regarding the violent dispersal; however, the organizers of the rally, including representatives of the Union of Public Associations "Otechestvo" (Homeland), the Dagestani Republic's Organization "Russian Union of Afghan Veterans" and the Tabasaran Anti-Corruption Committee, insist that the rally was legitimate. They note that the letter from the local Ministry of Justice offering them another venue for the rally was answered by their statement with disagreement and justification of their position; on this, the correspondence with the authorities was over.
The detainees expressed their intention to appeal against the actions of law enforcers, believing that their rights had been violated. The situation is supervised by the Ombudsman in Dagestan Ummupazil Omarova, who had appealed to the General Public Prosecutor of Dagestan with a request to assess the legitimacy of organization and holding the rally in Makhachkala, and the law enforcers' actions undertaken to suppress it.
Volgograd Region: local ex-MP, accused of paedophilia, convicted
On October 4, the Dzerzhinsky District Court of Volgograd sentenced Nikolai Volkov, who had been a member of the regional parliament before the elections in March 2009 and subsequently was an assistant of Oleg Mikheev, a Russian State Duma Deputy from the Party "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia), to 14 years of high security colony. Volkov was accused of a series of sexual crimes against children, forging his passport and escape.
Nikolai Volkov, a suspect of raping minors, was detained by the police on March 14, 2010, but on March 15, 2010, he managed to escape, and was put on the federal search list. At night on March 18, 2011, Volkov was detained in the "Anapa-Moscow" train in the Rostov Region. In May, it became known that the ex-MP had fully pled guilty and repented. On September 6, the first session on his case took place. The state prosecution asked for 14 years of high security colony for him. In his last plea, he again admitted his guilt and repented. It is not known yet whether the verdict will be appealed against.
It is remarkable that right on October 4, the Russian State Duma adopted the first reading the presidential bill, which assumes tougher penalties for paedophiles, up to life imprisonment and introduction of special forced medical measures against such offenders. The bill runs that such measures may include chemical castration of paedophiles.
Moscow: indicting on Anna Politkovskaya's murder case postponed
October 7 was five years after assassination of the observer of the "Novaya Gazeta" newspaper Anna Politkovskaya, who gained prominence primarily because of her materials on Chechnya and Northern Caucasus. The journalist was shot dead on October 7, 2006, in the entrance of the apartment house in Lesnaya in downtown Moscow, where she rented her flat.
On the anniversary of the murder, the Central Investigatory Department of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) was planning to present charges against three figurants in the murder case: an entrepreneur from Chechnya Lom-Ali Gaitukaev, who is now treated by inspectors as the organizer of the crime, and Sergey Khadjikurbanov, a former captain of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), who had been acquitted by the court. However, Gaitukaev rejected the appointed advocate and said that he would wait for the defence, found for him by his relatives. Thus, his indicting was indefinitely postponed.
Further, investigators plan to present the indictment of complicity in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya to residents of Chechnya Ibragim and Djabrail Makhmudov, who had been acquitted at the trial in 2009 together with Khadjikurbanov, and to their brother Rustam Makhmudov, who was arrested in May 2011 and who is treated by the investigation as the direct killer.
The "Caucasian Knot" correspondent was informed by Sergey Sokolov, the deputy editor-in-chief of the "Novaya Gazeta", where Politkovskaya had worked, that bringing new charges against Gaitukaev and Khadjikurbanov became possible because another suspect - a former militia lieutenant colonel Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov - concluded a deal with the investigation.
Southern Caucasus: PACE asks not to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia; 32 delegates find Nagorno-Karabakh independent
In the course of this week's session, 32 delegates of the PACE issued a joint declaration, which recognized the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. The document was signed by the PACE delegates from Armenia, France, Serbia, Belgium, Slovenia, Austria, Andorra, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Malta and Luxembourg. According to the authors of the declaration, Nagorno-Karabakh had exercised its right to self-determination and decolonization from the Soviet Union, together with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
Samed Seidov, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the PACE, said that the declaration has no legal force and was prepared for provocations initiated by the Armenian party.
Almost at the same time, on October 5, the PACE adopted a resolution calling upon all the member states of the PACE to refrain from recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying that they appeared "as a result of illegal secession."
The resolution notes that at present "a number of territorial formations located in the member-states of the Council of Europe are seeking recognition as independent states" and that "the criteria of statehood remain a contentious issue in contemporary international law." Moscow has opposed the ideas of the resolution, stating "the difference in approaches to sovereignty and the right of nations to self-determination."