23 January 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 16-22

Hackers' attacks on websites of Azerbaijan state agencies; resignation of Anatoly Brovko, Governor of Volgograd Region; termination of criminal case against human rights defender Oleg Orlov accused of slandering Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov; first nominations for re-election of President of South Ossetia; start of election campaign for Abkhazian parliament; investigation into deaths of several babies at the Republic's Hospital in Nalchik, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of January 16-22, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Azerbaijan: Telecom Ministry holds inquiry into hackers' mass attack on websites of state agencies

On January 16, a number of Azerbaijani governmental websites fell victim to a mass hackers' attack. In particular, attacks were undertaken on the Internet portals of the state leader Ilham Aliev, Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, the ruling party "Eni Azerbaijan" and the Constitutional Court.

Then, the Telecom Ministry informed about the start of inquiry into the mass hackers' attack, while on January 17 a group of Azerbaijani hackers attacked a number of Iranian websites. At the same time, the official Iran had distanced off the hackers' actions. The US-based Symantec joined the inquiry.

Volgograd Region: resignation of Governor Anatoly Brovko

On January 17, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev decreed resignation of Anatoly Brovko as Governor of the Volgograd Region. According to the decree, the resignation was accepted "under the Governor's own will application." The same decree appointed Sergey Bozhenov, ex-mayor of Astrakhan, as acting head of the administration of the Volgograd Region.

Mr Brovko's work caused dissatisfaction among the residents of the region, who had repeatedly held mass protests during his a bit more than two years in power as Governor of the Volgograd Region. The subject of the recent wave of protests was the outcomes of the elections of deputies to the State Duma, which, according to protesters were falsified. According to the official totals, in the Volgograd Region, the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party had won 35.48 percent of votes; and the votes were recounted for three times.

Anatoly Brovko's resignation was entirely predictable, experts believe and note that among his achievements were a quite successful lobbying of the interests of the Volgograd Region at the federal level and attempts to attract investments.

Moscow: full stop in criminal case on slandering Ramzan Kadyrov

On January 20, Judge Andrei Lutov from the Khamovniki Court of Moscow decided to stop the criminal case against Oleg Orlov, Chairman of the Board of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" Oleg Orlov, initiated in the context of Mr Orlov's statements about responsibility of Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya for the murder of Natalia Estemirova, an employee of the HRC "Memorial".

Earlier, the Khamovniki Court in Moscow found Orlov innocent, and on June 14, 2011, gave him an acquittal. This ruling was challenged by Kadyrov's lawyer Andrei Krasnenkov.

While announcing his decision, Judge Lutov said that the acquittal passed by Judge Morozova was subject to cancellation due to decriminalization of the slander article, while the criminal case was stopped "for lack of crime attributes in Mr Orlov's actions." Oleg Orlov himself said that he was satisfied with the course and the outcome of the process, while Andrei Krasnenkov said that he had not yet decided whether to appeal against the decision or not. He was going to "contact Grozny and learn their decision."

South Ossetia: candidates for repeated presidential election are nominated

The Central Election Commission (CEC) of South Ossetia has announced a start of reception of applications from initiative groups and political parties with their nominees for the repeated presidential election to be held on March 25. February 29 is the deadline of registration of candidates.

On January 20, the CEC accepted a package of documents from a group of citizens, who nominated Roin Kozaev, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as their presidential candidate. The initiative groups of Igor Alborov, Deputy Defence Minister for Educational Work, and Georgiy Kabisov, Chairman of the State Committee for Information, have been already registered.

On January 21, Djambolat Tedeev, the head coach of the Russian national free wrestling team, who had been rejected registration as a candidate at the presidential election on November 13, 2011, for non-observance of the residence requirement, announced his intention to run for the presidency once again. However, Alla Djioeva, a former presidential candidate, who won the second round of the November 13 election and refused to recognize their results as invalid, now said that she would not participate in them.

Abkhazia starts parliamentary election campaign

Abkhazia has also launched a new campaign for the election of the National Assembly of the Republic to be held on March 10. On the first day of registration, on January 20, the CEC of Abkhazia registered 23 initiative groups for nomination of candidates.

The previous parliamentary elections in Abkhazia were held in March 2007. The supreme legislative body is elected in the number of 35 deputies for the period of five years. The elections are held under the majority system.

Kabardino-Balkaria: investigators find crime attributes in pre-investigation check of babies' death

On January 21, as a result of the pre-investigation check, conducted on January 6-8 by the investigatory committee on the death of eight newborns in the Republic's Children Hospital of Nalchik, a criminal case was opened under the article of negligence. Seven out of eight babies-casualties were under artificial respiration and depended on oxygen supply; however, on these days power outages occurred in the hospital.

The Ministry of Public Health of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR) has reported that all the babies were in grave condition, when they were brought to the hospital from maternity houses, resuscitation measures were applied in full, and the personnel acted correctly. This viewpoint was supported by Svetlana Indrokova, the acting chief physician of the hospital. According to her version, on the day of power outage only one baby died; it was not under artificial respiration.

Pavel Astakhov, Russian Children's Ombudsman, asked Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigatory Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) to take the investigation of the incident under his personal control, while Arsen Kanokov, the head of the KBR, dismissed Fatimat Amshokova from the post of the Minister of Public Health of the KBR.

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