25 June 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 18-24

Demand of Muftis of Northern Caucasus to hold fair consideration of the ban of 65 books on Islam in Orenburg; calamity that struck Djeirakh District of Ingushetia; arrival of repatriates from Syria in Kabardino-Balkaria and criminal case against Mayor of Nalchik; amnesty of "prisoners of conscience" in Azerbaijan; court's decision to fine Oleg Shein by 20,000 roubles for an unauthorized rally; protest action in Yerevan in context of beating military doctors near the MP's restaurant, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of June 18-24, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Northern Caucasus: Muftis condemn Orenburg court for treating books on Islam as extremist

On June 18, the representative of the Limited Liability Company (LLC) "Publisher Ezhaev E" lodged an appeal complaint to the Orenburg Regional Court against the decision of the Lenin District Court of Orenburg of March 21, which labelled 65 materials on Islam as extremist. The list includes books and brochures published by major Russian publishers of Islamic literature: "UMMAH", "New World", "Ansar", "Sad" and "Dilya", including collections of hadiths "Gardens of the Righteous" and "40 Hadiths of Imam al-Nawawi", a book of the well-known Russian theologian Shamil Alyautdinov "Way to Faith and Perfection", as well as the book "On the Way to Koran" by Elmir Kuliev, an Azerbaijani scientist and translator of the Koran into Russian.

The Muftis and Imams of Northern Caucasus have already declared that they look forward to a fair consideration. They also expressed an opinion that an independent examination of the literature with attraction of competent experts is needed.

Djeirakh District of Ingushetia blocked by rainfalls

On June 18, as a result of prolonged heavy rains the water level in the Armkhi River went up. In the Djeirakh District of Ingushetia the river overflowed its banks. The villages of Olgetti and Guli occurred in isolation; the state of emergency was introduced in the district. According to latest data, in the flooded zone in the Djeirakh District the level of the water in the river went down.

Olgetti, which was cut off the outside world by the flood, was reached by a medical emergency unit. According to doctors, all the villagers are healthy; only one child needed help - it was sick with angina. A helicopter was sent to Guli to take large families out of the flooded area. The road leading to Olgetti was cleaned and restored; liquidation of consequences of the flood continues.

Kabardino-Balkaria: arrival of repatriates from Syria and criminal case against Mayor of Nalchik

On June 22, two groups of repatriates from Syria - 31 persons in total - arrived in Nalchik. 15 of them were placed at the tourist camp, 7 - at the sanatorium "Elbrus". The rest of them were taken by relatives. Activists of the "Peryt" - the public organization set up to help in repatriation of compatriots and accommodation in the land of their ancestors - help in drawing up all the necessary documents. Since the onset of the armed conflict in Syria, over 220 repatriates have arrived in Kabardino-Balkaria.

On June 22, it became known that a criminal case was opened against the Mayor of Nalchik Zalimgeri Khagasov, accused of abusing his office with causing the loss amounting to more than 14 million roubles. The case relates to a free allocation of land plots for summer cottages to two Nalchik residents in 2009. So far, it is unknown whether the Mayor has admitted the charges.

Azerbaijan: nine "prisoners of conscience" at large after

On June 22, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev signed a decree to pardon 66 prisoners, among whom there are people recognized as political prisoners by a number of international organizations, namely: Arif Gadjily, the head of the central executive office of the opposition party "Musavat"; Sakhib Kerimov, the deputy chairman of the opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA); and seven activists of youth movements: Rufat Gadjibeili, Babek Gasanov, Tural Abbasly, Akhad Mamedli, Zulfugar Eivazly, Makhammad Medzhidli and Ulvi Guliev.

The liberated Arif Gadjily has already said that he owed his freedom to a number of oppositional political parties and international organizations; and that he would continue his struggle for democratic reform in the country. The leader of the "Musavat" Party Isa Gambar said that the liberation of political prisoners is an important event; however, prisons are still keeping a lot of innocent activists, among them Vidadi Iskenderli and Shakhin Gasanli; there are other political prisoners in the country.

Astrakhan: Shein fined under the new law on assemblies

On June 22, Oleg Shein, a former candidate for the Mayor of Astrakhan, was fined by the magistrate court of the Kirov District of the city by 20,000 roubles for organizing an unauthorized mass action on June 12 on the embankment in central Astrakhan. On that day, Oleg Shein's supporters brought their symbols to the Palace of Weddings, which hosted the festivities and the sanctioned rally of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). According to the police, they began their own action there, which was not coordinated with the authorities.

The participants treat their action as "a stroll along the embankment", and the police detained three most active participants, including Shein, after they began chanting political slogans. Oleg Shein said that he would appeal against the decision of the court, and, in case of failure, the suit will be filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Armenia: Yerevan residents hold protest action demanding inquiry into fight at "Harsnaqar" Restaurant

On June 19, the Armenian police opened a criminal investigation into the beating on June 18 of military doctors by securities of the "Harsnaqar" Restaurant, which belongs to the Member of Parliament Ruben Airapetyan. As a result of the fight, three persons were injured and hospitalized: Major Vage Avetyan, whose condition is estimated as extremely grave; Captain Artak Bayadyan and Senior Lieutenant Garik Sogomonyan.

On June 22, Yerevan hosted a protest action, organized by an initiative group in the social network Facebook. The protesters chanted: "No to permissiveness!", "Fair investigation!" and "No more victims to criminal regime!" in front of the Chief Department of the Armenian Police. On June 19, Ruben Airapetyan made a statement, in which he qualified the incident as unacceptable fact and said that he would do everything to find and punish the criminals to the fullest extent of the law. According to recent reports, as of June 22, seven persons had been detained in the case of the beating of the military doctors.

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