14 November 2011, 23:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 6-13
Election of South-Ossetian President will, according to preliminary data, need the second round, as none of the 11 candidates won more than half of electors' votes; celebration of Kurban Bayram (Eid al-Fitr), one of the major Muslim holidays; snowfalls hit South of Russia and Transcaucasia and provoke various accidents and other emergencies; defence motion demanding to review the case of former military Arakcheev, convicted for murdering residents of Chechnya, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of November 6-13, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
South Ossetia: presidential election to continue
On November 13, South Ossetia held its presidential election and a referendum on recognizing Russian as a state language. The Central Election Commission (CEC) has already stated that the second round is necessary to decide, according to preliminary data, among Anatoly Bibilov, the local Minister for Emergencies, and Alla Djioeva, the ex-Minister of Education.
The final list of candidates included 11 persons. On November 11, two days before the voting, Eduard Gabaraev, a presidential candidate, recalled his candidacy in favour of Georgiy Kabisov, and Alan Kochiev, another candidate, did the same in favour of Anatoly Bibilov. The initial list of presidential candidates, registered by the CEC, contained 17 persons.
The fact that the election was valid became known well before the end of voting - as of 4:00 p.m., more than half of the voters - 53.8% - had cast their votes.
Almost all the presidential candidates have noticed various violations. In their turn, representatives of the Russian Foundation for Free Elections, who monitored the voting process, said that the election passed without violations. The process was monitored by international observers from Russia, Abkhazia, Transnistria, Great Britain, France, Israel, Poland and Ukraine. As to Georgia, as stated earlier by Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze, the country was not interested in the spread of political forces at the presidential election in South Ossetia, since Georgia refused to recognize the legitimacy thereof.
The Caucasus marks Kurban Bayram, one of the main Muslim holidays
On November 6, the Muslims of the southern regions of Russia, like all their fellow believers, marked the Kurban Bayram (Eid al-Fitr), one of the main Muslim holidays - the feast of sacrifice. Mosques were visited by tens of thousands of Muslims, who were congratulated by heads of regions. In Makhachkala, the celebrations were attended by more than five thousand residents; the festivities ended with fireworks. According to the participants, such festivals are able to overcome the intra-religious conflict.
On the eve of the holiday, a new mosque for 1500 believers was solemnly opened in the village of Terese, Malokarachay District of Karachay-Cherkessia. In Chechnya, the public foundation named after Akhmad Kadyrov had allocated funds to buy 7000 sacrificial sheep for needy families.
November 7, the last day of the holiday, was announced a day-off in Chechnya, Karachay-Cherkessia, Adygea, Dagestan and Ingushetia.
Southern Russia and Transcaucasia: winter brings in accidents and other emergencies
On November 7, Chechnya saw a heavy snowfall. Because of bad weather conditions, a major road accident happened on the highway Mozdok-Kizlyar, which killed four people. On November 8, the "Kazbegi-Verkhni Lars " check-point - the only official surface crossing point of the Georgian-Russian border in North Ossetia - was closed for passage of trucks because of unfavourable weather conditions.
In the evening on November 9, a heavy snow and heavy wind caused a partial power outage in 13 villages of Adygea and the city of Maikop. Specialists immediately began repairs, and on November 12 in the evening the last 700 victims of the outage - residents of the villages of Dagestanskaya and Kurdzhipskaya of the Maikop District - had their electricity supply restored. On November 9, electricity supply was also disrupted in the Krasnodar Territory and resumed by midday on November 10.
On November 10, a car jam occurred on the M4 Federal Highway in the Rostov Region, near the city of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, caused by a large number of road accidents provoked by bad weather - sleet and fog. At least four road accidents with victims happened here in the section of about 3-5 kilometres.
At night on November 8, the Eastern Georgia suffered from an unexpected heavy snowfall, which caused a several-hour-long traffic blockage of the major motorways of the region. In certain regions of Georgia the snowfall damaged power lines; and some consumers suffered from temporary outages. Roads were cleared of snow by the night on November 9. On November 11, due to a heavy snowfall, Adzharia had to suspend gathering of citrus. On November 12, heavy snowfalls caused traffic suspension or restriction on several highways in the Khuloy, Shuakhevi and Kedsk Districts of Georgia, where the snow depth reached 1.5 meters.
Azerbaijan was also affected by the disaster. Torrential rains at night on November 7 turned out into the snow. Because of the incessant snowfall, dozens of villages lost their electricity supplies in the Goranboy District in the Western Azerbaijan, and in the Lerik District. A heavy snowfall also paralyzed the electric grid of the Yardymli District. The weight of snow collapsed 100 electrical posts and damaged up to 3 kilometres of electric cable. Forty settlements of the district remained without electricity. Due to a heavy snowfall, the Lencoran District also had some temporary electricity outages.
In Armenia, snowfalls and icing caused traffic problems. On November 11, more than 100 cars were blocked in the Aragatsotn Region on the highway Gegarot-Tslkar as a result of bad weather. The Selim Pass - one of the roads of national importance in Armenia - was closed.
Chechnya: defence of Arakcheev, convicted for murdering three locals, petitions for case revision
On November 10, Dmitry Agranovsky, the advocate of Sergey Arakcheev, a former officer of Internal Troops of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing three residents of Chechnya in January 2003, said that he had appealed to the prosecutor's office with a request for reconsideration of his client's criminal case.
On November 9, Agranovsky announced his intention to apply to the Russian General Prosecutor's Office, citing the basis for this in the study by means of a lie detector, held in June this year, which showed Arakcheev's innocence. On the same day, one of the women-active Internet users asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to interfere in Sergey Arakcheev's fate, when Mr Medvedev held an online meeting with his supporters.
Let us note here that the verdict against Arakcheev and another officer Evgeny Khudyakov was passed by the North-Caucasian District Military Court in December 2007; however, only Arakcheev was taken into custody, as Khudyakov had failed to appear at sentencing and is still in search. Prior to the consideration of the case by the North-Caucasian District Military Court, the jury had twice acquitted the defendants, and the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court twice cancelled the jurymen's decision. In Chechnya, the verdict of guilty to the above two former MIA officers was welcomed, while actions in their defence were held in cities of Russia.