07 May 2012, 12:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 30 to May 6

May Day actions; change of Governor of Stavropol Territory; double terror act in Makhachkala; deadline for nominating presidential candidates of Nagorno-Karabakh; election of Armenian Parliament explosion of balloons at pre-election rally in Yerevan, – look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of April 29-May 6, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

South of Russia: participants of May Day actions talk social problems

On May 1, tens of thousands residents of the South of Russia, who support different political forces, took part in the events on the International Day of Spring and Labour. Despite special Soviet roots and traditions of May Day, in 2012, the most crowded demonstrations were convoked not by communists, but by the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russian) Party. At actions, people spoke about social problems.

Unlike other regions of Southern Russia, Volgograd could not to without accidents on that day. IN the course of the march, the police detained eight persons and brought them to the Tsentralny ROVD (District Interior Division).

The celebratory march in Krasnodar, dedicated to the Day of Spring and Labour, organized by activists of the above party, was – as asserted by its regional branch – was one of the most populous over the whole of Russia. The demonstration of the "Edinaya Rossiya" brought together about 65,000. However, some participants complained that they had been forced to take part in it by employers and administrations of educational institutions.

Residents of the countries of Southern Caucasus also marked the First of May with rallies, marches and sports competitions.

Stavropol Territory: new Governor appointed

On May 2, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accepted the resignation of the head of the Stavropol Territory Valery Gaevskiy, who was in the post since May 23, 2008. Valery Zerenkov, a State Duma Deputy, was appointed as Acting Covernor. Mr Gaevskiy's resignation was preceded by a number of criminal cases against bureaucrats and a conflict in the city of Lermontov. Alexander Khloponin, the Plenipotentiary Envoy of Russian President for the NCFD, has also expressed his dissatisfaction with the work of the Governor.

After Gaevskiy's resignation, nomination of Valery Zarenkov to the post of the Governor was approved by the Russian President. On May 5, an extraordinary sitting of the Stavropol Territorial Duma was convoked, where the Deputies considered Mr Zarenkov's appointment to the post of the Governor. All the 45 Deputies of four factions present at the session, voted for his appointment.

Dagestan: double terror act in Makhachkala

On May 3, Makhachkala suffered from a double terror act. The first explosion was triggered at the police post "Alaska-30" at about 10:20 p.m. Moscow time; the second one – at about 10:40 p.m. The explosions killed 13 persons, and over 100 people were wounded. This double terror act was the sixth similar terror act, committed in Northern Caucasus since the start of 2011.

The republic's leader Magomedsalam Maromedov said on May 5 that the suspected executors of the double terror act were brother and sister Rizvan Aliev and Muslimat Alieva. On the eve of the terror act, a source from power agencies of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) named these people among the five terrorist, searched by operative agents in connection of the information about their preparation for terror acts on May 9 in Central Russia. Law enforcers of Dagestan have drafted an identikit of one of the suicide bombers. The operative headquarters is also searching four members of the "Makhachkala" armed grouping suspected of involvement in the terror act.

Nagorno-Karabakh: four candidates for presidency

May 5 was the deadline for nominating candidates to the post of President of Nagorno-Karabakh, who will be elected on July 19. Four persons were nominated as candidates, namely: Bako Saakyan, the incumbent President; Vitaly Balasanyan, a Deputy of the National Assembly; Arkady Sogomonyan, Pro-Rector for Science and Education of the Stepanakert Branch of the State Agricultural Academy of Armenia; and an unemployed Valery Khachatryan, who earlier worked as the head of the general division of the Karabakh Parliament. All the four candidates are self-nominees and non-party members.

The previous election of President of Nagorno-Karabakh took place on July 19, 2007, when Bako Saakyan was the winner with the official 85.12 percent of votes.

Armenia: parliamentary elections and explosion of balloons at concert

On May 6, Armenia voted at elections of the National Assembly (Parliament) of the fifth convocation. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), in total, the country opened 1982 polling stations, where 13,825 persons were members of election commissions. Under the majority system 41 Deputy's mandates were contested for by 139 candidates. Apart from the three coalition parties – Republican Party of Armenia, the "Prosperous Armenia" and "Orinats Erkir" (Country of Law), the contenders were the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) "Dashnaktsyutyun", the "Heritage" (united list with the Party "Free Democrats"), the Armenian National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Party of Armenia, the Communist Party of Armenia and the Party "United Armenians".

According to the police, the voters' registry of Armenia lists 2,482,238 voters. Local political experts note that one of the main peculiarities of the current campaign was that the authorities did not stand as a united front; also experts have highlighted the trend towards a split of the political playground in the country under the geopolitical principle.

On May 4, an explosion occurred in Republic Square in Yerevan in the course of the pre-election rally-concert of the Republican Party of Armenia. The number of victims made 144 persons. According to eyewitnesses, the fire burst out over the crowd that gathered for the concert. Some people ran completely captured by fire, with their burning hair and clothes. Currently, various versions of the incident are investigated, including self-ignition; violation of fire safety regulations; violation of storage rules of inflammable substances; deliberate or occasional harm to human health, etc. At the same time, the Armenian Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) excludes the version of a terror act.

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