23 April 2012, 12:00

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

Oleg Shein's lawsuit on cancellation of the outcomes of electing Mayor of Astrakhan and his demand to release his supporters as precondition for his quitting the hunger strikes; thousands-strong oppositional action in Baku; demand of Evkurov's resignation declared at a public conference held in the republic; inauguration of new president of South Ossetia, suicide of suspects of attempt on president of Abkhazia; opening of NGO resource centre in Grozny, – look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of April 16-22, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Astrakhan: Shein files lawsuit on cancellation of Mayor election outcome and announces conditions for his exit from hunger strike

On April 16, Oleg Shein, an ex-candidate for Mayor of Astrakhan, who continues in Astrakhan his hunger strike since March 15 in protest against the outcome of the election of the city Mayor on March 4, submitted a lawsuit to the Kirov District Court of Astrakhan asking to cancel the election result. The lawsuit claims violations at 173 polling stations of the city. The first court session is scheduled for April 26. Prior to the submission, Mr Shein's team was analyzing and making copies of the videos, hoping that violations would be confirmed at at least 120 out of the total of 202 polling stations, opened, according to the CEC, at the day of voting.

Also, on April 16, Oleg Shein came to Moscow, where he began watching, together with the head of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) Vladimir Churov, the videos from Astrakhan polling stations. The watching session lasted for about 10 hours and ended on April 17 at 6 a.m. For further watching a working group was formed with the participation of CEC members, which completed its work on April 20. As a result of the watching, Vladimir Churov said that violations were revealed at two thirds of the polling stations of the city; however, he added that the violations were procedural and did not affect the election outcomes.

In parallel, Astrakhan and other cities of Russia continue holding protest actions both of supporters and opponents of Oleg Shein. In the course of the flash mob, held on April 20 in Astrakhan by Oleg's supporters, some participants were detained and punished by the court by administrative detention for three to five days. On April 21, during another action in support of Oleg Shein, he said that he would stop his hunger strike, when the activists detained on the eve would be released. On April 22, Shein reported about detention of at least three more of his supporters, who came to the court to testify on the case of the protesters detained on April 21.

Azerbaijan: opposition calls for democratic reforms

On April 22, a protest action with a demand of democratic reforms, which was coordinated with the city authorities, was held in Baku. It was initiated by the Civil Movement for Democracy "Public Chamber" (CMDPC). According to the organizers, the rally was attended by about 12-15 thousand people, while the police of Baku announced 1200 participants. According to the organizers, the city authorities deliberately removed buses, which brought people from the nearest metro stations to the venue of the rally; therefore, the event started later.

According to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, thousands of people who gathered at the rally were chanting "Freedom!", "Resign!" and "Ilham, go away!" There were posters in the square reading "Freedom to political prisoners!", "Freedom of assembly! "" We need Karabakh, not Eurovision", "Down with corruption!", "We want education without corruption!" "Return the Soviet deposits one to one!", "Property is untouchable!", "Government is destroyer!" and " Stop repressions!"

Ingushetia: opposition calls for changes in Ingushetia; Evkurov offers dialogue

Two public movements under the same name took part in two different events, held on April 21 in Nazran.

During the conference of the Republic's Public Movement (RPM) "Mekhk-Khel", many speakers treated the situation in Ingushetia as critical and severely criticized the leadership of the republic, declaring the plight of the economy of Ingushetia, the flourishing corruption, arbitrariness of law enforcement bodies in relation to the civilian population. The resolution of the conference put forward demands to the authorities to investigate crimes against local residents, including the execution in the course of a special operation on April 3 of innocent citizens. Besides, the document also contains a demand for resignation of the republic's leader Yunus-Bek Evkurov.

An indirect answer to the criticism was given by the head of the republic on the same day at the enlarged sitting of the Coordination Board of the Ingush public organizations with participation of the Board of Elders of Ingushetia, which also bears the name of "Mekhk-Khel". According to the head of Ingushetia, the problems of the armed underground and kidnappings are willingly used for speculations by those, who call themselves the opposition. The key instrument for consolidation of the society should be an all-sided dialogue, said Evkurov.

South Ossetia: new president of the republic comes into office

On April 19, the city of Tskhinvali held inauguration of the president-elect of South Ossetia, the former head of the KGB Leonid Tibilov, who was elected on April 8. The head of South Ossetia took the oath in the Ossetian language; then, he was congratulated by the guests who attended the ceremony. After the inauguration, Leonid Tibilov had a meeting with Sergey Naryshkin, Speaker of the Russian State Duma, and said that South Ossetia would perform all the agreements in the political, economic, military, technological and other spheres, achieved with the Russian Federation.

With the new president of South Ossetia taking office, the republic's government has resigned. It is unknown so far, when the new government will be formed. The head of the republic Leonid Tibilov gave no comments about the new government.

Abkhazia: two suspects of attempting on Ankvab commit suicide

Over the past week, three suspects of the sixth in a row attempt on the president of Abkhazia Alexander Ankvab, which was undertaken on February 22 near the township of Druzhba, Gudauta District, made attempts to commit suicide. Two of them were successful.

On April 17, Almasbey Kchach, the former Interior Minister of Abkhazia, shot himself at an attempt to detain him. At night on April 18, in SIZO (pre-trial prison) of Sukhumi, Timur Khutaba committed suicide – he hanged himself in his cell. On April 18, another suspect Murtaz Sakaniya, after receiving summon to interrogation, tried to commit suicide by knifing his neck. After taking medical care at hospital, Sakaniya gave evidences to the investigatory body. Three more suspects of the attempt on Ankvab are still in custody, namely: Anzor Butba, Ramzi Khashig and Alkhas Khutaba; one more resident of the republic Rushbey Bartsits was put on the wanted list.

Chechnya: Grozny opens its first NGO resource centre

On April 17, the interregional public organization for promoting civil society and freedom of speech "Centre of Caucasian Initiative" (CCI) opened in Grozny its representative office and resource centre, which will hold forums, conferences, seminars, roundtables and debates on various issues. On the basis of the centre, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be able to organize their actions, while journalists and members of the public – to use the office equipment and Internet connection.

Besides, the founders of the centre plan to open – at the representative office of the CCI in the Chechen capital – a legal division for rendering legal services and consultations to the population free of charge. In the near future, it is also planned to open a similar resource centre for NGOs in Ingushetia.

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