19 December 2011, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 12-18

Approval by the State Council – Khase of Adygea – of Aslan Tkhakushinov as the republic's leader; Geneva discussions on security in Transcaucasia; resonant killing in Dagestan of journalist Khadjimurad Kamalov; fire at chemical plant in Budyonnovsk, Stavropol Territory, which was extinguished only two days later, – look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of December 12-18, 2011, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Adygea: republic's parliament approved Tkhakushinov as local leader

On December 12, an extraordinary session of the State Council – Khase of Adygea – re-empowered Aslan Tkhakushinov, the incumbent head of the Republic of Adygea, as the local top official. His inauguration will be held in January next year.

Initial meetings on nomination of candidates for the post of the leader of Adygea took place back on November 27. Kremlin sources did not rule out, then, that Tkhakushinov could be dismissed under the pretext of "health problems"; however, this version was never made public officially.

On December 1, the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party formed its list of candidates for the post of the leader of Adygea for the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Apart from Tkhakushinov, it included the Prime Minister Murat Kumpilov and a member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Shverikas. Mr Medvedev made his choice in favour of Tkhakushinov.

Transcaucasia: at Geneva debates, parties fail again to agree on non-use of force

On December 13-14, Geneva hosted the 18th round of Geneva discussions on security in Transcaucasia, which began after the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008. The parties are the Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, Russian Federation, United States, Republic of South Ossetia, as well as the UN, OSCE and EU.

The delegations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia once again offered Georgia to sign an agreement on non-use of force and to hold consultations on border demarcation. According to the Abkhazian and South-Ossetian parties, the border demarcation will minimize potential conflicts. The delegation of South Ossetia put emphasis on continuing violations of the republic's borders, including by Georgian unmanned aircrafts (drones).

Grigory Karasin, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister, who represented the official Moscow in Geneva, said that the parties of the debates have fundamental contradictions regarding non-use of force, which could not be resolved. According to his story, the parties failed to reach any agreement on the non-use of force; however, the "talks on the topic would continue; and exchange of arguments revealed certain opportunities, which are still there."

So far, there is no official reaction of Tbilisi to the outcome the 18th round of Geneva discussions. On the eve of the talks, the Georgian party had planned first to agree with Russia that the latter would take the obligation not to use force against Georgia. "We have no great expectations, as no political will is present with the Russian party," Sergi Kapanadze, Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia had stated earlier.

Dagestan: unidentified criminals kill the founder of "Chernovik" weekly Khadjimurad Kamalov

On December 15, at 11:30 p.m. Moscow time, in Makhachkala, in Magomed Gadjiev Street, not far from the office of the Dagestani weekly "Chernovik", Khadjimurad Kamalov, its founder, was shot dead. The gunmen made 14 shots at Kamalov. The fatally wounded journalist was taken to the Republic's Trauma Centre, but he died on the way there. Kamalov was buried on December 16, after the Friday prayer into the cemetery in Makhachkala.

Khadjimurad Kamalov was engaged in journalistic investigations of disappearances and wrote numerous articles that criticized the authorities and bosses of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Dagestan.

Investigators associate Kamalov's murder with his professional activities. Local experts note that the journalist was uncomfortable for members of various influential groups of Dagestan, which gave many reasons to liquidate him. In September 2009, Khadjimurad Kamalov was put on the "execution list " of journalists, who were treated in the leaflets as "militants' helpers".

After the crime, at a meeting in the office of the "Chernovik", relatives, friends and colleagues of the casualty decided to set up a civil committee to deal with investigating murders of journalists. The committee will include workers of the leading mass media, public figures, human rights defenders and political analysts. As to the murder of Kamalov, the participants of the meeting at the "Chernovik" noted that the society has no confidence in the investigation; therefore, they decided to turn to a private detective agency for the inquiry into the crime.

Stavropol Territory: chemical factory in Budyonnovsk was on fire for two days

On December 15, at about 2:18 p.m. Moscow time, a fire burst out at the plastics factory named "Stavrolen" in the city of Budyonnovsk, Stavropol Territory; flames spread over the area of about a thousand square meters. By 4:00 p.m., the fire was localized. Nine victims were reported. As of December 16, two workers-fire victims remained in hospital.

The burning of gas in one of the processing units continued for two days. The fire was extinguished only at 2:30 p.m. Moscow time on December 17. Fire fighters feared formation of explosive mix and used water to cool the adjacent processing units to avoid fire on them. The Limited Liability Company (LLC) "Stavrolen" temporarily suspended its work.

The reasons of the fire will be established by a special commission; a criminal case was initiated on breaking safety regulations at an explosion-dangerous object. The Open Joint-Stock Company (OJSC) "Lukoil", the owner of the factory, has assured the residents of Budyonnovsk that they have no reason to worry about their health.

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