20 February 2012, 12:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 13-19

Murder in Pyatigorsk of Kurman Ismailov, Deputy Mufti of Stavropol Territory; special operation on the Chechen-Dagestani border with a large number of casualties and victims; explosion in a cafe in Volgograd, which affected more than 20 people; former Russian national team coach Guus Hiddink signs contract with the Dagestani "Anji" FC; case of world champion Rasul Mirzaev, a native of Dagestan, sent for additional inquiry in Moscow; presentation in Tbilisi of initiative group of the party of businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, – look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of February 13-19, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Murder in Pyatigorsk of Deputy Mufti of Stavropol Territory

In the evening on February 13, at a car explosion in Pyatigorsk, Kurman Ismailov, Deputy Mufti of the Stavropol Territory, was killed. Initially, a road accident and an explosion of gas cylinder were considered as the main version; however, later it became known that a bomb attached underneath Ismailov's car was blown up. On February 15, the churchman was buried in his homeland.

Investigators do not rule out that Ismailov's murder could be committed under extremist motives or out of revenge; the domestic or hooliganism motives are also not excluded. Public figures express a variety of reasons for Ismailov's murder, noting that the deputy mufti was an active religious preacher; while active Muslim leaders of Northern Caucasus are under constant threat.

Detachment of militants' leader liquidated on Chechen-Dagestani border

On February 13, a special operation was launched on the administrative border of Chechnya (in the Nozhai-Yurt District) and Dagestan after power agents found an unknown grouping of militants in a local forest. On February 17, the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov said that multiple units of power agencies had blocked and completely defeated the detachment of Magarbi Timiraliev, one of the leaders of illegal armed formations (IAFs), also known as "Abudar", who was on the federal search list.

Seven liquidated militants were reported. The special operation was completed in the Kazbek District of Dagestan; however, initially it was reported about blocking of three groups of suspected militants numbering several dozens fighters. The death toll of law enforcers is 17, 24 more power agents were wounded, said the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Chechnya.

About 20 visitors of cafe in Volgograd suffered from gas explosion and fire

On February 14, an explosion happened in the cafe named "Bellagio" in the Tsentralny District of Volgograd, which resulted in 21 injured persons. According to investigators, gas cylinders installed in the facility and intended for heating went up. The fire was extinguished in more than two hours; its area made 514 square meters.

Eighteen victims, of whom 13 are in stably grave condition, were taken to hospitals of Volgograd and Moscow. Three most seriously injured were sent for treatment to Germany. The tenants of the house, where the cafe was situated, were evacuated and accommodated at the preventorium of the Municipal Unitary Enterprise (MUE) "Metroelectrotrans". The building was de-energized, water and gas supplies were stopped. The city authorities have promised to start repairs after six months.

On February 16, the first interrogation of the cafe owner Andrei Koshkadaev was held. He promised to pay for treatment in Germany of one of the three seriously injured, as well as to provide financial assistance to other victims of the explosion. With this circumstance in mind, he was left at large under recognizance not to live.

Case of native of Dagestan world champion Rasul Mirzaev sent to additional inquiry

On February 13, the Zamoskvoretskiy Court of Moscow satisfied the motion of the defence of the world champion in mixed martial arts Rasul Mirzaev, after whose punch in August 2011 the 19-year-old Muscovite Ivan Agafonov died. The court decided to release the athlete on bail of 100,000 roubles and recognizance not to leave. It became possible because since the athlete had been initially accused of charged with intentionally causing serious bodily injury that resulted in death of the victim, on January 12, the investigation re-qualified the charge into a softer article – "causing death by negligence".

On February 14, the decision to release Mirzaev on bail was appealed against to the Prosecutor's Office at the appeal board of the Moscow City Court, which overturned it; and on February 15 the Zamoskvoretskiy Court decided to extend Mirzaev's custody until April 1, and returned his criminal case to the Prosecutor's Office.

On February 16, the Presnya Court in Moscow again considered extension of Mirzaev's detention and decided that the athlete will remain in custody until May 17. On that day, Mirzaev again was presented the initial charge. The investigation was extended until July 8.

On February 18 in Moscow, a protest action was held "Mirzaev shall stay behind bars!" It was organized by nationalists and sanctioned by the authorities; the participants demanded a verdict of guilty for Mirzaev. According to organizers, the rally was attended by about a thousand people; however, the GUVD officers said that the crowd was about 200 strong.

Dagestani "Anji" FC will be trained by former coach of Russian national team

On February 17, the "Anji" Football Club (FC) officially announced the signing of a contract with a new head coach – the famous Dutch expert Guus Hiddink. The contract is for 18 months. Apart from the post of the head coach, the Dutchman will take over as the vice president for development of the FC.

Guus Hiddink was coaching the teams of the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Russia, and the football clubs PSV, "Real", "Chelsea", etc. His last place of work was the national team of Turkey. At the European Football Championship in 2008, the Russian national team led by Guus Hiddink showed the best results in 20 years and unexpectedly won bronze medals. In the words of the Dutchman himself, he discussed the offer from the "Anji" at the end of last year; therefore, now he was fast in making decision.

Ivanishvili presents initiative group of his future party "Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia"

On February 15, in Tbilisi, the businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili presented 18 members of the initiative group of his future party "Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia". Last December he presented the movement "Georgian Dream", which he himself had headed.

The group comprises a footballer Kakha Kaladze; an Olympic Champion, a wrestler Leri Khabulov; a businessman and a brother of Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania – Georgiy; a scientist, Academician Ivan Kiguradze; a scientist Nugzar Davitashvili (USA); an economist Nodar Khaduri, a human rights activist Manana Kobakhidze, an expert Irakli Sesiashvili; Irakli Garibashvili, the head of the International Charity Fund "Kartu"; a journalist Eliso Chapidze; a writer Guram Odishariya; an actress Nineli Chinkvetadze; lawyers Archil Kbilashvili and Zakariya Kutsnashvili; Tamazi Avdaliani; and diplomats Georgiy Volskiy, Maya Panjikidze and Tedo Djaparidze.

Ivanishvili plans to head the party and to be No. 1 in the party list at the upcoming parliamentary elections, if he is returned the citizenship of Georgia. If not, the party will be headed by the businessman's wife Ekaterina Khvedelidze. According to Bidzina, 44 regional structures of the party are already in place; and before the end of March, he plans to establish his party structures in all the regions of the country.

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