24 October 2011, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 17-23

Attack in Ingushetia on Dagestani football fans on their way from Nalchik causes great resonance in both republics; three outbreaks of African swine fever within a week in the Krasnodar Territory; ecological festival and ecological protest actions in Yerevan; jurymen find Aslan Cherkesov, a native of Nalchik, guilty of killing a Muscovite Yegor Sviridov, and arouse discontent at his homeland; concern of rights defenders of the torture applied to a native of Chechnya in Russian prisons, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of October 17-23, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Ingushetia: hooligans attack Dagestani football fans returning home from Nalchik

In the morning on Monday, October 17, it became known about an incident near the city of Nazran, where on October 16 Dagestani football fans, who had arrived in several buses to watch the match in Nalchik of the Makhachkala-based "Anji" FC with the local "Spartak" FC, were attacked. On the way back, in the territory of Ingushetia, the column of buses was stopped by armed persons. According to eyewitnesses, stones were thrown at the buses, and the fans were beaten.

The incident caused a great resonance in both republics. Already on the following day, October 18, Adam and Islam Gazdiev, residents of Nazran, were arrested on suspicion of assaulting the fans. Also on that day, 15 Ingush policemen involved in the attack were sacked. To investigate the incident, Dagestan was visited by Akhmed Kotiev, Secretary of the Security Council of the Republic of Ingushetia, and Azamat Nalgiev, Assistant-Adviser of the head of Ingushetia, who met the victims and assured them that the course of investigation into the attack would be covered by mass media, the victims would receive compensations, and all the hooligans would be punished in accordance with the law.

After the incident in Ingushetia, information appeared that Ingush students were beaten in Makhachkala; however, Dagestani officials refuted it.

It is worth noting that the incident occurred during the work of the forum of bloggers that took place in Djeirakh District of Ingushetia with participation of about 50 participants from the regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), including Dagestan. The bloggers from the both above republics, notable for their active position, have resolutely condemned the incident, called to punish those guilty persons under the law and stated that it should not affect the relations between the peoples of Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Krasnodar Territory: three ASF outbreaks within a week

Last week, outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), which can be stopped only by tough quarantine measures, causing great economic losses, were registered in three districts of the Krasnodar Territory.

On October 17, it became known that ASF caused animal deaths in the farm of the Closed Joint-Stock Company (CJSC) "Starominskaya" in the Starominsky District of the Territory. On the following day, studies of assays confirmed the ASF virus in 14 pigs perished in the village of Anastasievskaya in the territory of the Slavianskiy District; and on October 19 another ASF outbreak was registered in the Primorsko-Akhtarskiy District.

Besides, on October 7, the ASF virus was detected in the Pavlovsk District of the Krasnodar Territory. In September, in the Scherbinovskiy District of the Krasnodar Territory, after an ASF outbreak, specialists of the "Rosselkhoznadzor" (Russian federal Agency for Agriculture Supervision) had to kill and burn 21,088 pigs. And in early August, because of swine deaths from the ASF virus, the state of emergency was introduced in the Krylov District of the Territory.

Armenia: international ecological festival and ecological protest actions

On October 18, Yerevan marked the end of the Third International Ecological Festival "Arevordi" (Son of the Sun), which was launched on October 14 at the initiative of the "Foundation for Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Values in Armenia"." The "Arevordi" is the only such festival in Southern Caucasus; it is held once every two years. This year the festival was held under the motto ''Your Trace in Nature'' and dedicated to the protection of wildlife.

During the festival, 70 best films from 30 countries were screened simultaneously in 11 cinemas of Yerevan. The festival had three contests and one information programme. Within the contests, films were shown in the nominations: "Wildlife", "Ecology" and "Children and Youth Films".

Coincidentally, last week Armenia also saw several ecological actions.

Thus, on October 19, Yerevan hosted a rally in defence of Lake Sevan "SOS Sevan", where activists demanded from the Armenian president to stop the companies that pollute the lake. The rally was organized at the initiative of the "Ecolur". According to members of this organization, the company named "GeoProMining Gold" went around the law "On Lake Sevan" and built a gold-extracting crushing and screening factory in the basin of the lake, near the Sotk River.

On October 20, at the Armenian government building, another action was held - in protest against construction of a hydroelectric power plant (HPP) on the Trchkan Waterfall. The initiative "Let's Preserve Trchkan Waterfall!" has already held numerous actions in defence of the protected territory. Activists express their concern about the fate of the largest Armenian waterfall, located on the border of the Shirak and Lori Regions. Ecologists promised to continue their actions.

Moscow: jurymen find Aslan Cherkesov guilty of killing Yegor Sviridov

The trial on a mass brawl in Kronstadt Avenue in Moscow last December, where a football fan Yegor Sviridov was shot dead, is nearing its end. On October 20, at the Moscow City Court, where the case is considered, the jury unanimously found Aslan Cherkesov, a native Nalchik, guilty of murdering Sviridov, and of a robbery. According to the jury, Cherkesov deserved no leniency.

This decision caused discontent in the homeland of the main defendant. On October 22, Maria Square in Nalchik hosted a 150-person-strong picket in defence of Aslan Cherkesov. On October 21, his relatives held two solo pickets demanding his fair trial. Aslan Cherkesov's mother, who earlier asserted that the criminal investigation was biased and expressed her concern about her son's life, decided to go on a termless hunger strike.

The prisoner's dock also contains residents of Chechnya and Dagestan Akai Akaev, Arthur Arsibiev, Khasan Ibragimov, Nariman Ismailov and Ramazan Utarbiev. Dmitry Pankov, Cherkesov's advocate, said that he would appeal against the future verdict. In his opinion, the chairing judge gave more freedom to the prosecution that to the defence, while the questions for the jury were too complicated, and jurymen could get confused answering them.

The court appointed the discussion of legal consequences of the verdict on October 25.

Let us remind you that a special attention to the case was caused by the fact that Sviridov's murder had triggered mass nationalist actions in late 2010 and early 2011 in different cities of Russia.

Russian Federation: rights defenders are concerned about their fellow citizens kept in jails and prisons

On October 20, Moscow held a press conference "Torture and Beatings in Russian Prisons", where the audience was informed about the torture applied in colony to the native of Chechnya Zubair Zubairaev. Human rights activists have repeatedly reported about the extreme cruelty in treating Zubairaev, convicted in 2007 to five years in prison. Initially, he served his term in the Volgograd Region; later he was transferred to the colony of Minusinsk. Now, as it was stated at the press conference, only coverage by mass media of Zubairaev's history can save him from death in prison.

Just a few days before, Russian rights defenders reported about the health condition of businessman Stanislav Kankiya, a native of Georgia and one of the prisoners of the Moscow jail "Matrosskaya Tishina", who has been kept behind bars for more than 17 months under a fraud charge. During this time, the 47-year-old man suffered four strokes; he is half-paralyzed and nearly blind; however, they still keep him in custody.

Human rights activists state that Zubairaev and Kankiya are not the only ones who need help; therefore, they plan to discuss the issue of SIZOs (pre-trial prisons), where people often die due to poor conditions or because of torture, at the meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, upcoming in December.

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