18 June 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 11-17

Participation of residents of Southern Russia in the oppositional "March of Millions"; formation of government and lawyers' strike in Armenia; court's verdict on Oleg Shein's lawsuit on cancellation of elections in Astrakhan; visit of the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE to the region of Karabakh conflict; presenting charges to Mirzaev and restart of preliminary investigation of his case, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of June 11-17, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

South of Russia: residents support the all-Russian "March of Millions"

On June 12, in the Chistyakov Grove of Krasnodar, public activists and members of the Krasnodar regional branches of the "Left-Wing Front" and the "Yabloko" Party held a rally within the all-Russian action "March of Millions". The event passed without incidents. Then, a group of participants came to the monument to Cossacks near the territorial administration, where Yegor Laskin and Viktor Chirikov were detained and accused of breaking the order of organizing rallies and disobedience to the police. On June 14, the court fined both of them by 500 roubles each.

Oppositionists were also detained in Astrakhan. In particular, Oleg Shein, an ex-candidate for the city Mayor and the leader of the regional branch of the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party, was detained together with three of his supporters. They were brought to the police station No. 2 of the Levoberezhny District. Mr Shein was released; he will be tried on June 19. One of his supporters was fined on June 13, and the two others received two and six days of arrest.

In Rostov-on-Don ten oppositionists held a flash mob in support of the "March of Millions" and against the new Law "On Rallies". With white ribbons and balloons inscribed "We've seen everything!" they marched across the "Gorizont" Trading Centre. The securities of the Centre approached the flash mob on several occasions asking not to disseminate the balloons - no other counteraction was registered.

On June 12, the central Stavropol hosted a protest march, organized by the city oppositional movement "Narodnaya Volya" (People's Will). It was attended by about 150 persons; each of them had a painted red cross on the lips as a symbol of censorship. The march was headed by the activists of the movements "Narodnaya Volya" and "Patriots of Stavropolye"; they carried a 1.5 meter high puppet of a two-head rat, with a single crown put on the two heads. The action ended with a rally in the Castle Mount Square.

In Volgograd, at the oppositional rally, a woman-pensioner was detained for non-coordinated posters. The rally was held near the transport station "Mamay Mound"; it was organized by the regional branch of the CPRF, and activists of the regional branches of the "Yabloko" Party, Movements "For Fair Elections" and "White Ribbons" were also invited. The rally ended at midday; no provocations were noted. The oppositionists spoke mainly against the new law on rallies, which, in the opinion of the speakers, contradicts the Constitution and leads to the radicalization of the protest movement.

Armenia: formation of the government and lawyers' strike

On June 15, a sitting of the executive body of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) formed the new government of the country, since the previous one resigned after the May 6 elections of the National Assembly of the 5th convocation. The only remaining issue is the appointment of the Minister for Youth and Sports, whose name will be announced at the sitting of the government on June 18. In general, the new Govt changed a little - only the Minister for Transports and Communication and the Minister for Public Health are new ones. Most of the posts went to the members of the RPA.

The strike on June 11 one involved 545 out of 1152 registered lawyers of the Bar Association of Armenia. In this manner, they expressed dissatisfaction with the operation of the Cassation Court of the country. The lawyers assert that the Court acts voluntarily; and it is not clear why this instance accepts or dismisses complaints. In response to these statements, Sergey Marabyan, Advisor to the Chair of the Cassation Court, offered the lawyers to improve their professionalism and stop politicizing the raised issues. A group of judges characterized the lawyers' strike as "illegal".

Astrakhan: court dismisses Shein's claim to nullify the Mayor's election

On June 15, the Kirov District Court of Astrakhan refused to satisfy the lawsuit lodged by Oleg Shein, an ex-candidate for the Mayor, demanding to nullify the outcomes of the election of the Mayor of Astrakhan held on March 4. The Court has dismissed Mr Shein's claim in full. After the end of the trial was announced, people in the courtroom began chanting "Shame!"

The motivated opinion of the court will be ready on June 20. Oleg Shein has already announced his intention to challenge the refusal at the ECtHR (European Court of Human Rights); but so far, he will go to the regional court. The representative of the respondent - the City Central Election Commission - noted after the announcement of the decision that the trial was complex; however, the studied video materials had confirmed a number of procedural violations at some polling stations, which cannot serve the basis for recognizing the election illegitimate.

Karabakh conflict zone: continued violations of ceasefire and visit of OSCE Chair

Last week Armenia and Azerbaijan were visited by Eymon Gilmor, Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE. The visit took place at the background of aggravated tension at the contact line of both armies - on June 10-16, the parties repeatedly reported about mutual skirmishes; on June 10, two officers of the Azerbaijani troops were wounded as a result of a mine explosion in the Geranboi section of the contact line.

While in Baku and Yerevan, Mr Gilmor urged the parties in the Karabakh conflict to observe their commitments to coordinate the basic principles and stated that the parties should withdraw snipers away from the contact line. He also spoke in favour of introducing the mechanism for investigating incidents in the Karabakh conflict zone.

Moscow: after presenting charges preliminary inquiry resumed in Mirzaev's case

On June 14, Rasul Mirzaev, world champion in martial arts, after the conflict with whom almost a year ago Ivan Agafonov, a 19-year-old Muscovite, died, saw the final wording of his indictment of committing intentional grave damage to one's health, which resulted in the victim's death by inadvertence. On June 15, it became known that the preliminary investigation on the case was resumed for five days.

According to the victims' defence, the reason to resume the inquiry was in the damage of the CD - one of the main proofs of the defendant's guilt. After this information was announced, the victims' lawyer expressed her opinion that the damage of the CD would not affect the course of the case. On June 13, the results of the fourth and the final examination held on the case became known. They failed to give a categorical answer on the presence of the causal connection between the blow rendered by the athlete from Dagestan and the victim's death.

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