19 March 2012, 12:30

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

Appointment of the second round of parliamentary elections in Abkhazia at majority of electoral precincts; sentencing the person accused of committing terror ac in Stavropol; hunger strike of supporters of the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party in Astrakhan; dismissal of the Prosecutor of the Rostov Region for violation of oath; protest actions in defence of Yerevan park, look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of March 12-18, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Abkhazia: 22 out of 35 electoral precincts to hold second round of parliamentary elections

At the elections of Abkhazian MPs, which were held on March 10, 13 MPs were elected, and on March 24, 20 electoral precincts will hold re-voting, since at those electoral precincts, the candidates gained less than 50 percent of votes needed for being elected to the highest legislative body. At the Sukhumi District No. 1, due to the fact of low activity of voters, re-elections will be held in two months.

According to international observers, who were present at the elections, political competition was evident. However, the United States, the European Union and the speakers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued statements about non-recognition of the legitimacy of the elections to the Abkhazian Parliament. Earlier, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also claimed illegitimacy of the elections in Abkhazia.

Stavropol Territory: defendant, accused of terror act in Stavropol, sentenced

On March 13, the Stavropol Territory Court found Cherkes Rustamov, a 22-year-old native of Dagestan, guilty of committing the terror act in May 2010 near the Palace of Culture and Sports in the centre of the city of Stavropol, which killed eight persons and injured more than 57 persons. The Court sentenced Cherkes Rustamov to life imprisonment.

In the course of the court session held on March 6, Cherkes Rustamov delivered his final speech, in which he pleaded not guilty. After sentencing, the defendant's lawyer stated that she would file a complaint and demand cancellation of the verdict, since her client had not been involved into the terror act committed in Stavropol.

Astrakhan: supporters of "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" go on hunger strike to protest against results of elections held on March 4

On March 15, the office of the faction of the political party "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) at the State Duma of the Astrakhan Region went on a hunger strike. 12 hunger-strikers demand to cancel the results of the election of Mayor and the elections to the State Duma of Astrakhan, which were held on March 4. According to official information, Sergey Stolyarov, who was supported by 60 percent of voters, won the mayoral election. However, the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party refuses to recognize the results of the election of the Astrakhan Mayor, believing that its representative Oleg Shein has won the mayoral election.

On March 18, the health state of Valentina Kukushkina, the 71-year-old participant of the protest action, the member of the Precinct Election Commission with a consultative vote right, sharply deteriorated, and she was brought to the hospital by "emergency ambulance" vehicle.

Rostov Region: Regional Prosecutor dismissed for violating oath

On March 16, Alexander Buksman, Acting General Prosecutor of Russia, signed an order to dismiss Valery Kuznetsov, the Prosecutor of the Rostov Region, with formulation "for gross violations of the prosecutor's oath". The reason for that dismissal was a perfunctory, according to the Prosecutor's Office, inspection of the activity of the "Donskaya Vodnaya Kompaniya" conducted after the instruction received from the President of the Russian Federation. Earlier, Valery Kuznetsov was suspended from the exercise of his duties, and, when he returned on March 11, he immediately initiated an inspection of the Government of the Rostov Region in the sphere of housing and utilities.

Valery Kuznetsov was appointed Prosecutor of the Rostov Region in November 2008. Prior to his appointment to the Rostov Region, during three years from 2005 to 2008 he worked as Prosecutor of Chechnya. After the news of the temporary suspension of Valery Kuznetsov from the exercise of his duties, on February 23, a rally to support the Prosecutor was held in Rostov-on-Don. On the Internet, people organized collecting signatures in support of the Prosecutor.

Armenia: defenders of city park demand to dismantle trade pavilions built there

On March 13, in Yerevan, ecologists, demanding to dismantle trade stalls, which were moved to the park near Mashtots Avenue from Abovyan Street, began sitting day-and-night picket. On the same day, they held the action "Independent Civilian Court". In the course of the action, the symbolic court considered the lawsuit in the case of demand of dismantling of the pavilions in the park.

On March 14, the participants of the picket claimed that the police dispersed their peaceful action the confiscated their tent. On March 15, the Government of Armenia decided to dismantle trade stalls near Mashtots Avenue during the three-year term; however, representatives of the ecological organizations decided to continue sitting day-and-night picket in the park. Starting from January 30, the capital of Armenia hosts protest actions.

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