07 November 2011, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 31 to November 6

Poisoning in the canteen of the Agricultural Academy in Nalchik; dismissals of high-ranking officials in Armenia; one year after the massacre in the village of Kuschevskaya, Krasnodar Territory; actions on the National Unity Day in Southern Russia, the "Russian March" among them, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of October 31-November 6, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Kabardino-Balkaria: poisoning at students' canteen with fatalities

Back on October 29, seventeen students and employees of the Kabardino-Balkar State Agricultural Academy (KBSACA) were brought to the city infectious hospital with symptoms of poisoning. Subsequently, botulism was diagnosed in them. According to doctors, the patients reported that they had eaten the salad "Olivier" in one of private cafes located in the territory of the Academy. According to investigators, the source of poisoning was in pickled cucumbers bought in the marketplace.

On November 3, it was reported that Radima Ezieva, a fifth-year student of the KBSACA and a native of the city of Nartkala, who got poisoned with the salad at the canteen, died in the Urvan District Hospital.

As on the evening of November 5, the number of hospitalized students and employees of the Academy reached 46. Three of them are under intensive care; however, according to doctors, their lives are out of danger.

Armenia: dismissals of high-ranking officials

Within less than a week, several senior officials were dismissed in Armenia. Back on October 28, the Mayor of Yerevan Karen Karapetyan left his post. On November 2, Karapetyan filed an application and quitted the Board of Elders of the Armenian capital. On October 31, the sitting of the Board of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia unanimously approved the Vice-Mayor Taron Margaryan in the position of Yerevan Mayor. On November 4, at the extraordinary sitting of the Board of Elders, it was decided that the election of the Mayor of Yerevan would be held on November 15.

On November 1, Alik Sarkisyan, the head of the Police of Armenia, was sacked; on the same day it became known about resignation of Ovik Abramyan, the Speaker of the Armenian Parliament. On November 3, Mikael Minasyan, First Deputy Head of the Office and the son-in-law of the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, was dismissed on his own will.

Some experts have associated the series of resignations with the upcoming parliamentary elections. Thus, in the opinion of Ovsep Khurshudyan, an expert of the Armenian Centre for National and Strategic Studies, the authorities are preparing for elections; and on the eve of them, Serzh Sargsyan is reducing cadre risks and appoints less vulnerable persons to high posts.

On November 1, Galust Saakyan, the head of the parliamentary faction of the ruling party, said that Armenia is expecting further resonant resignations. The potential victims are the General Public Prosecutor Agvan Ovsepyan, Vice-Premier Armen Gevorkyan, Governor of Syunik Suren Khachatryan, and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia Yuri Khachaturov.

Krasnodar Territory: villagers of Kuschevskaya hold morning rally one year after massacre

November 4 was one year after the massacre in the village of Kuschevskaya, Krasnodar Territory, after which the name of the small Russian village became a household word. Twelve bodies were found at a fire extinguishing in a private house in the village of Kuschevskaya on November 5, 2010. The house belonged to the family of the farmer Server Ametov. The casualties were his family members and their guests who had come to visit them from the Rostov Region. Most of them died from stab wounds. The investigation revealed that the house had been set on fire deliberately with the aim to hide the traces of the massacre.

The mass murder in Kuschevskaya received a special resonance, when inspectors revealed a stable criminal grouping that had long operated in the region. According to local residents, the criminals were closely linked with the local militia. The Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) reported - back on November 12 last year - that the crime had been solved completely; and on August 20 this year they published a list of twelve defendants-figurants in the case. It was also reported that one more suspect committed suicide in custody.

On November 4, one year after the massacre in Kuschevskaya, local residents held a mourning rally and paid tribute to the perished families. Some 300-400 persons came to the rally - relatives of the casualties, local state officials and deputies, groups from organizations of Kuschevskaya, mothers with children, and elderly people. As stated at the rally by Vladimir Khanbekov, the head of the Kuschevskaya District, neither the authorities nor the residents of Kuschevskaya had forgotten and would be able to forget the tragedy; he expressed his confidence that "there would be no return to the past."

Southern Russia: "Russian Marches" within celebrations of National Unity Day

On November 4, the Southern Russia held like other regions of the country, celebrations of the National Unity Day. In the capital of Chechnya, a festive procession marched along Akhmai-Hadji Kadyrov Avenue and was attended by representatives of various nationalities living in the Chechen Republic. In North Ossetia, the National Unity Day was marked with tree planting and a concert. In Rostov-on-Don, on the eve of the holiday, the Regional House of Folk Arts hosted a festival of national cultures "Close-Knit Family of Don Nations", which brought together musical companies from the neighbouring republics.

Besides, a number of Russian regions held "Russian Marches". Thus, in Moscow, the March was the most numerous in the last 7 years. According to the organizers, the event was attended by over 20,000 persons.

In Krasnodar, in contrast to previous years, the nationalists' rally was for the first time sanctioned by the regional authorities, although their procession through the main streets of Krasnodar was not allowed. However, as noted at the administration of the Krasnodar Territory, the application on the rally, which had been submitted by organizers, did not specify that it would be the "Russian March". It was expected that about 200 residents of the Territory would take part in the rally, but in fact there were more of them - about 400 persons. Many participants in the rally noted that they had arrived right to the "Russian March", about which they learnt from social networks.

In Volgograd, the "Russian March" was attended by more than a thousand persons. The police detained one activist who glorified Hitler. The protesters' posters and banners read as follows: "Russians, go ahead!", "No lezginka on Russian land!", "Russian, stop drinking vodka!" "Russians are coming!", "Glory to Russia!" and "Slavs are united and invincible!" There were also some anti-governmental slogans: "Putin-Medvedev-prison!", "Party of cannibals eats Russia" and "Edinaya Rossiya Party - into garbage can!" In the opinion of local human rights activists, such nationalists' actions are extremely dangerous for the society.

The participants of the "Russian March" proceeded without incidents along the streets of Stavropol and Pyatigorsk. In Rostov-on-Don, where the action was not sanctioned by the authorities, it was reported about 30-70 detainees.

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