16 January 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 9-15 January

Fifteen Georgian seamen back at home after Somalia captivity; Aslan Tkhakushinov re-enters presidency of Adygea; appointment of oppositionist as State Adviser to President of South Ossetia; re-qualification of indictment to Dagestan athlete, whose punch led to death of Moscow student; commissioning of cottage settlement in Ingushetia for resettlers from landslide area; investigation in the Rostov Region into the death of a child attacked by dogs, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of January 9-15, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Georgia: 15 seamen captured Somalia pirates return home

On January 13, an aircraft with fifteen Georgian seamen liberated from Somalia pirates' captivity landed in Batumi. At the airport, the seamen greeted by their relatives and friends with cries of joy and applause. The seamen had spent almost 18 months in captivity after on September 8, 2010, in the Gulf of Aden, the Georgian merchant ship "Oilb G" sailing under the flag of Malta was captured by pirates. So far, the Georgian authorities have not disclosed the details of the terms, on which the pirates agreed to release them.

Release of hostages was delayed several times; and the fact of their liberation became known on January 8, 2012. From Somalia they were first sent to Kenya, where they arrived on January 12. Family members of Georgian seamen held actions forcing the Georgian government to step up diplomatic resources and release the captured crew. They also sent a written appeal to Mikhail Saakashvili urging him to meet family members and take the issue under his personal control.

Adygea: Tkhakushinov re-enters republic's leadership

On January 13, Maikop, the capital of Adygea, hosted a ceremony of Aslan Tkhakushinov's taking his second term in office: he took the oath of allegiance to the republic and its people. Earlier, it was reported that no festivities were planned in the context of inauguration, because Mr Tkhakushinov would take the post for the second time.

For the first time, the State Council-Khase of Adygea approved him as president of the republic on December 13, 2006. Then, 52 out of 53 deputies present at the session voted for him. On December 12, 2011, Aslan Tkhakushinov was re-empowered as the top official of Adygea. He was supported by 45 deputies of the State Council-Khase of Adygea out of 48 deputies, who took part in secret voting.

It is noteworthy that on November 17, 2011, a number of well-known public, political and culture figures of Adygea sent an appeal to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev asking him to consider appointing a new leader of the republic, because "Tkhakushinov was unable to perform in full the functions of the republic's leader due to his health problems; and the power had actually passed over to his nephew - Prime Minister Murat Kumpilov." However, on December 7, 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev approved Tkhakushinov's candidacy to lead the Republic of Adygea for the second term.

South Ossetia: oppositionist becomes state adviser to local president

On January 12, South Ossetia saw a number of dismissals: Tarzan Kokoity, the representative of the president of South Ossetia in the parliament; Kosta Dzugaev, the state adviser to the president on relations with citizens' public associations and political parties; Chermen Khugaev, the minister of capital and road construction, and architecture; and Nugzar Gabaraev, the state adviser to the president on public health and social development, lost their posts.

On January 13, Vadim Brovtsev, the acting president of South Ossetia, decreed to appoint Jemal Djigkaev, an oppositionist and a former presidential candidate, to the vacant position of the president's state adviser.

Earlier, the government of South Ossetia had already undergone significant cadre reshuffling launched by the former president Eduard Kokoity shortly before his resignation. In particular, on December 25 last year, Maya Kharebova was appointed the Chair of the State Committee for Information, Communications and Mass Media of South Ossetia; and on December 21, 2011, new members of the Security Council were approved.

Moscow: investigators believe that a native of Dagestan Mirzaev killed student Agafonov involuntarily (manslaughter)

On January 12, it became known that the investigation had re-qualified the accusation of Rasul Mirzaev, a native of Dagestan and a martial art champion, of murdering the 19-year-old student Ivan Agafonov in Moscow into an "involuntary manslaughter". Earlier, the athlete was accused of "intentionally causing grievous bodily harm, entailing victim's death".

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that the conflict between the 25-year-old Mirzaev and 19-year-old Agafonov happened on August 13, 2011, in Moscow at the night club "Garage". During their quarrel Mirzaev punched Agafonov, after which the student was hospitalized and died on August 18 without regaining consciousness.

According to unofficial sources, the re-qualification was decided after studying the examination results, which did not confirm the causal link between the punch and the death onset. The spokesman of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) said that the criminal investigation against Mirzaev was actually over; and the parties began examining the materials of the case.

Ingushetia: Nizhnie Achaluki opens cottage village for landslide victims

On January 11, the rural settlement of Nizhnie Achaluki opened a new cottage village for resettlers from the landslide area of the Malgobek District. The construction of 58 cottages on a 32-hectare land plot began in December 2010. On December 23, 2011, the moves-in received keys from their new houses.

The resettlers distributed the cottages by means of a draw. The village was visited by the republic's leader Yunus-Bek Evkurov, who obliged local authorities to improve the adjacent territory of the village, and to build a school, a fitness centre and a kindergarten.

This is the second cottage village for residents of the landslide area; the first one for 500 houses was built in September 2010. According to Mr Evkurov, the republic plans to resettle over 700 families more. It is planned to build about 100 cottages and several apartment blocks.

Rostov Region: pack of stray dogs bite child to death

On January 9, it became known that on January 8 in the city of Novocherkassk, in the garden comradeship Molodyozhny, a seven-year-old boy was killed by stray dogs. According to preliminary data, the child was on his way to visit his mother, who looked after the summer cottage of her friend. On the way to the place, the boy was attacked by a pack of stray dogs.

On January 10, investigators in the criminal case interrogated officials from the city administration. The case was initiated against employees of the Department of Housing and Municipal Services of Novocherkassk under the article of "causing death by negligence as a result of improper performance of one's professional duties". The Prosecutor's Office of Novocherkassk has started its own check of the work of administration officials of the city of Novocherkassk, Rostov Region, towards organisation of catching stray animals.

Pavel Astakhov, the Children's Rights Ombudsman under the Russian President, has instructed Irina Cherkasova, his counterpart for the Rostov Region, to conduct her own inquiry into the incident.

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