09 April 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 2-8

Election of Speaker and Vice-Speaker in Abkhazia; verdict to Georgian citizens accused of drug trafficking in Malaysia; protest action against "Electrozink" Factory in Vladikavkaz; reintroduction of direct election of Volgograd Mayor; the second round of repeated presidential election in South Ossetia, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of April 2-8, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

South Ossetia: Leonid Tibilov is in the lead at repeated presidential election

On April 8, South Ossetia held the second round of the repeated election of the republic's leader, where the contenders after the first round held on March 25 were Leonid Tibilov with 42.48 percent of votes, and David Sanakoev with 24.58 percent. According to the latest data, after processing 95.64 percent of protocols, the leader is the former chairman of the KGB of South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov, who was supported by 53.74 percent of voters, while the republic's Ombudsman David Sanakoev has won 42.98 percent of all the voters.

The election was recognized valid already by the afternoon, when the voter turnout exceeded 30 percent. The former candidate for the post of President of South Ossetia Alla Djioeva (the winner of the initial election held on November 27, 2011, the outcomes of which were later cancelled) has treated the new presidential election as illegitimate. Meanwhile, international observers have already announced that the election was transparent, legitimate and nicely organized.

Abkhazia: Speaker and four Vice-Speakers elected

On April 3, the first session of the Parliament of Abkhazia took place; it was elected after two rounds of voting - on March 10 and 24. Valery Bganba, the former head of administration of the Gagra District and an MP of two convocations, was elected to be the Speaker. Raul Khadjimba, the leader of the opposition, was his contender. After the secret vote, Bganba received 21 votes, Khadjimba - 11. One ballot paper was nullified.

At the same sitting, the Abkhazian MPs elected four Vice-Speakers. After Mr Khadjimba was not supported as a candidate for the Speaker, the opposition refused to nominate their candidates to the positions of Vice-Speakers. As a result, these positions went to Emma Gamisoniya, Adgur Kharaziya, Vagarshak Kosyan and Otar Tsvizhba. The Speaker Bganba explained that so many Vice-Speakers were needed for promoting contacts with other countries' legislators and frequent working travels.

Georgia: authorities save women-citizens from death penalty for drug trafficking in Malaysia

On April 3, a court in Malaysia passed a verdict to Babutsa Gordadze, a citizen of Georgia, accused of drug trafficking: she received eight years of imprisonment. On March 30, another resident of Georgia - Daredjan Kokhtashvili - was sentenced in Malaysia to six years in prison. Both women were detained on October 27, 2010. According to local law enforcers, they had imported 1.5 kilos of methamphetamine into Malaysia.

The drug business in Malaysia is punished with death; and Georgian officials have stated that the court passed an unprecedented decision - the Georgian citizens were saved from death through hanging after the Georgian party had provided evidences to their Malaysian counterpart that the women had no knowledge that they were carrying the drug. In late February last year, Babutsa Gordadze's husband - a citizen of Georgia Eldar Davitiani - was sentenced in Tbilisi to 15 years of imprisonment, after he had voluntarily surrendered to the police and took the guilt of transporting the drug, stating that Gordadze and Kokhtashvili did not know that the drug was in their luggage.

North Ossetia: action against "Electrozink" was provoked by Factory bosses

On April 5 in Vladikavkaz, over 200 persons gathered to a protest action against operation of the "Electrozink" Factory. It was attended by city residents, bloggers and journalists and was a sort of response to the actions of the administration of the "Electrozink"; they posted photos and names of ecologists near the factory, accompanied by the inscription: "They want to make you jobless".

The protest action was launched on the eve on the Internet: residents of Vladikavkaz posted their photos with comments and words of protest in social networks. The participants of the rally in Victory Square wrote their names on sheets of paper and photographed each other. One of them - a sanitary doctor Atsamaz Khadikov - addressed his application to the local Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), stating that the actions of the Factory bosses who had posted ecologists' photos and names were an insult to the latter's honour and dignity.

Volgograd: Mayor to be again elected by townspeople

On April 5, Sergey Bozhenov, Governor of the Volgograd Region stated that the direct election of the head of Volgograd will take place on October 14, 2012. Ten days before the statement, on March 26, the city hosted public hearings on the return to direct election of the Mayor. The townspeople unanimously voted for making respective changes in the City Charter. The Deputies of the Volgograd City Duma have already voiced out their support to the participants of the public hearings and the Governor on holding direct election of the Mayor of the city, and promised to make the respective changes into the Charter of Volgograd.

It is notable that the amendments that assume cancellation of the direct election of the Mayor were made in the Charter in April 2011. According to those amendments, the Mayor was elected from among Deputies and - additionally - headed the City Duma. However, several attempts to elect the Mayor had failed. The previous Mayor of Volgograd Roman Grebennikov was dismissed from the position on February 22, 2011. Currently, the Mayor's duties are temporarily performed by Sergey Sokolov, who was appointed to the position in February 2011.

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