12 March 2012, 12:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 5-11

Outcomes of presidential election in South of Russia questioned by some observers and the opposition; Medvedev offers to reappoint Tkachov as Governor of Krasnodar Territory; explosion of female suicide bomber in Dagestan kills five policemen; Armenia's decision to skip "Eurovision-2012" in Baku; parliamentary elections in Abkhazia, – look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of March 5-11, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

South of Russia: Putin's victory at presidential election and opposition's statements about violations

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Russian Federation, the North-Caucasian regions cast most of the votes, as compared with the rest of Russia, for Vladimir Putin at the March 4 presidential election; these regions also demonstrated the highest voter turnout. Thus, in Dagestan, Putin won almost 93 percent of the votes, and the voter turnout in the republic was 91.13 percent. The voter turnout in Chechnya was 99.59 percent; and the incumbent Prime Minister won 99.82 percent of the votes there; in Ingushetia, with the voter turnout of 86.4 percent, Putin was the winner with 91.9 percent of the votes. In Karachay-Cherkessia Putin won 91.36 percent of the votes.

North Ossetia stands somewhat alone: here Gennady Zyuganov won more than 20 percent of the votes, while Vladimir Putin scored a little over 70 percent. In Kabardino-Balkaria, Vladimir Putin received 77.64 percent of the votes; Gennady Zyuganov was the runner-up with 13.81 percent.

Despite the fact that the Russian CEC and the regional election commissions kept asserting – both during the election and after it – that there were no significant violations, human rights activists and members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) insist that the election was not fair. Their list of violations includes voting with invalid ballot papers, non-admission of observers to polling stations and voting of persons, not registered and not living in the territory of these precincts. According to some observers, the officially announced high level of voter turnout in the republics of Northern Caucasus is suspicious.

Some regions of the North-Caucasian and Southern Federal Districts (NCFD and SFD) saw rallies of those who disagree with the outcomes of the election.

Krasnodar Territory: Medvedev offers to reappoint Tkachov as Governor

On March 6, Boris Gryzlov, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the ruling "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party, submitted three candidates for the post of the Governor of the Krasnodar Territory to the Russian President, namely: the incumbent head of the region Alexander Tkachov; the head of the Tuapse District Vladimir Lybanev and the Rector of Kuban State Agrarian University, Alexander Trubilin. On March 7, Dmitry Medvedev approved the nominees, and on March 11, he brought Tkachov's candidacy into the territorial parliament for approval as the Governor.

It is notable that in January 2012 Dmitry Medvedev brought in a bill to the Russian State Duma, which gives Russians the right to directly elect heads of their regions for the term of up to five years, and vests political parties with the right to nominate their candidates for governors. On February 28, the Duma passed the bill in the first reading.

Dagestan: blast triggered by female suicide bomber kills five policemen

On March 6, five policemen were lost and two others were wounded in a terror act at the police post in the village of Karabudakhkent. The power of the bomb was about two kilos in TNT (trotyl) equivalent. As established by investigators, the suicide bomber was Aminat Ibragimova, the former wife of the leader of the Caspian grouping of militants Zaur Zagirov, liquidated this February in Dagestan in a special operation.

It is notable that in the evening on March 6, in the city of Kaspiisk a district policeman and a man who came to reception to him were shot dead. At that very night, director of the medical school in Izberbash was killed. On March 4, the day of the Russian presidential election, the policemen who were guarding the polling station in the village of Oktiabrskoe, Khasavyurt District of Dagestan, were shelled – three policemen were lost.

All these crimes, according to the Dagestani Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) were committed by militants, whose activation is explained by the struggle for the post of Amir, now vacant after the death of the head of the local armed underground Ibrakhimkhalil Daudov (also known among militants as Amir Salikh).

Armenia decides not to participate in "Eurovision-2012" to be held in Baku

On March 7, the Public Television of Armenia (PTA) officially notified the European Broadcasting Union about its refusal to participate in the international song contest "Eurovision-2012", which will be held in Baku this May.

The PTA's special statement reads that, despite the assurances of the Azerbaijani authorities that the safety of all the participants of the contest will be secured, a few days ago the President of Azerbaijan made an "exception" for one of the countries, saying that the enemy No. 1 for Azerbaijan are the Armenians scattered all over the world. In its turn, Azerbaijan believes that the refusal to take part in the "Eurovision" will damage the image of Armenia and asserts that all the conditions are in place for participation of all countries, including Armenia.

As a result, the contest will be attended by 42 countries. The refusal of performers from Armenia to participate in "Eurovision-2012" will entail impossibility for the viewers from this country to cast their votes for the singers.

Abkhazia: parliamentary elections announced valid, but the second round to be held in most constituencies

On March 10, Abkhazia held its parliamentary elections under the majority system. The CEC has registered 148 candidates for 35 seats in the one-chamber National Assembly. The CEC has recognized the Abkhazia's parliamentary elections as valid, since as early as 3:00 p.m., the republic's voter turnout made over 25 percent. In accordance with the preliminary outcomes, the second round will take place in 22 out of 35 constituencies.

In the course of the voting, the CEC of Abkhazia recorded no serious violations, said today the CEC Chairman Batal Tabagua. According to his version, the voter turnout made 44.50 percent. The voting was monitored by 46 international observers from nine countries. All of them, when speaking at the Information Centre of the CEC, noted a nicely concerted work of the precinct election commissions. The official Tbilisi had already declared that the elections in Abkhazia were illegitimate and their outcomes will not be recognized by the international community.

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