02 July 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 25 to July 1

Continuation of struggle for power after the election in the city of Lermontov of the Stavropol Territory; new claims to the courts, filed by Oleg Shein, ex-candidate for the position of Mayor of Astrakhan; an updated law on election of Dagestani leader and continuing military confrontation; collection of signatures in support of human rights defender Mamedov, arrested in Azerbaijan; new Prime Minister of Georgia and amendments to the Georgian Electoral Code and strategy of the North-Caucasian policy, adopted by Georgian Parliament; protest actions of different directions in Volgograd, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of June 25-July 1, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Stavropol Territory: political struggle in Lermontov continues

In the morning of June 26, deputies of the Council of the city of Lermontov, who were elected on June 17 at early elections, gathered for the first meeting and failed to reach consensus on the candidates for the position of Mayor. After several hours of discussions, they decided to postpone the election of Mayor for the other day, and in the evening, 9 deputies continued the procedure of appointing the Mayor and elected Igor Bukhlaev to the position of City Mayor.

Alexander Dunaev, ex-Mayor of Lermontov, who was the second candidate for the position of Mayor, states that he intends to challenge those elections, since he believes that they were held unlawfully, in the absence of a quorum. It should be noted that the conflict in Lermontov, which became known throughout the entire country because of hunger strike of its residents and interference of Alexander Khloponin, Plenipotentiary Envoy of Russian President, arose after in September 2011, 6 of the 15 deputies of the City Council deliberately waived their mandates, reasoning that step by their wish for dismissal of Alexander Dunaev from the position of Mayor. After that, the Stavropol Regional Court granted the lawsuit on the illegitimacy of the City Council and appointed new election.

Astrakhan: Oleg Shein to challenge outcome of election of City Mayor in district courts

On June 27, Oleg Shein, ex-candidate for the position of Mayor of Astrakhan, filed new lawsuits, demanding to cancel the results of early election of City Mayor, held on March 4. After losing on June 15 a similar lawsuit for the city in general, at present, Oleg Shein intends to seek justice in each of the four Astrakhan District Courts, demanding to cancel the results of the election of the territorial election commissions.

Dagestan: adoption of law on direct election of republic's leader and series of resonant murders

On June 28, the People's Assembly of Dagestan adopted the law on election of the republic's leader, in accordance with which, self-nominees would not be able to take part in election, and nominees for the position should pass a 10-percent municipal mark. The law is similar to that adopted in other regions of Russia; however, it differs by the fact that the next election of Dagestani leader will be direct and nationwide for the first time in the history of the republic.

Besides, the past week in the republic was marked by a large number of victims of armed conflict several policemen and civilians and suspected militants were injured and killed in shelling and special operations. Besides, at night of June 29, in the village of Karamakhi of the Buinaksk District, Mosque Imam Magomedkamil Gamzatov was shot dead; in the evening of June 28, in the village of Kirovaul of the Kizilyurt District, Magomedkhabib Zaurbekov, well-known Dagestani Islamic scholar, was shot dead by a sniper shot in his heart; at night of June 26, in the village of Lyakha of the Tabasaran District, unidentified persons shot dead Tagir Tagirov, the administration head of the village of Gurik of the Tabasaran District; and on the day of June 25, in the village of Akusha, Abdulla Aliev, the head of the Department of the Russian Pension Fund in the Akusha District of Dagestan was shot dead.

Russia: human rights defenders start collecting signatures in support of Ghilan Mamedov, arrested in Azerbaijan

On June 28, Russian human rights defenders announced collecting signatures on the petition in support of Ghilan Mamedov, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Tolyshi Sado", published in Azerbaijan in Talysh language, the deputy head of the Talysh Cultural Centre. On June 21, Ghilal Mamedov was detained in Baku, and the court sanctioned the 3-month arrest of Ghilal Mamedov on charges of illegal drug possession.

According to Russian human rights defenders, the case against Ghilal Mamedov was fabricated because of his public activity. Collection of signatures in support of Azerbaijani Gilan Mamedov is being conducted on the website of the Committee "Civil Assistance" and will be run until 12:00 a.m. of July 3. The petition will be sent to the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the Presidential Administration and the General Prosecutor's Office of Azerbaijan, and to the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Russian Federation.

Georgia: new Prime Minister, amendments to Electoral Code, and adoption of concept for North-Caucasian policy

On June 30, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili appointed Vano Merabishvili, who used to be Minister of Internal Affairs from December 31, 2004, to the position of Prime Minister. It is planned that on July 2, the updated government will be presented to the Parliament.

On June 29, the Georgian Parliament adopted amendments to the Electoral Code, and the most resonant of them stipulated that, during pre-election period, all cable networks undertake to broadcast all those TV Companies, which are licensed for broadcasting in the country's territory, and those, which broadcast via satellite. Consideration of the amendments was held with participation and consultations of a number of NGOs, and their approval was held in accelerated mode. For the first time, the new requirements will come into force this October, during elections to the Georgian Parliament.

Besides, on June 29, the Georgian Parliament adopted the concept for the relations with the nations of Northern Caucasus addresses the issues of relations between the nations, economy and trade, human rights, freedom of media, relationship of Diasporas and health care. The document considers issues of development of cooperation in science, education, culture, and sports. The initiators of the adoption of the document believe that Russia should be interested in the implementation of the concept. Meanwhile, according to a number of Russian experts, the Georgian leadership tries to use the "Circassian issue" to expand its influence in Northern Caucasus.

Volgograd residents hold protest actions against bad roads, Russia's WTO accession and environmental pollution

During the last week, Volgograd hosted several actions, initiated by various public and political institutions.

At night of June 28, in the Dzerzhinsky District of Volgograd, a protest action against bad roads was held: at the section of the Dorozhnikov Avenue and in Tankistov Street, the protestors marked the holes, which were larger than the GOST permitted, with yellow paint. Besides, the participants of the protest action marked "emergency" holes with emergency signs to warn drivers of the presence of a dangerous section of road.

On June 30, regional offices of the social movements "Narodny Sobor" (People's Assembly) and the "Sutj Vremeni" (Essence of Time), held a picket against Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) under the slogan reading: "If we enter WTO, we will eat GMOs (genetically modified organisms, - note of the translator)", "Let stop liberal monster!" Another action, which also voiced statements against Russia's accession to the WTO, was held by the regional office of the unregistered party "Volya" (Freedom).

Besides, on June 30, Volgograd hosted a picket of residents of the Voroshilov District of the city against the activity of the Limited Liability Company (LLC) "Tekhoil", the oil-refining company, which, according to the protesters, harm health state of inhabitants of the village of Dar-Gora. The participants of the protest action condemned the decision of the Volgograd Regional Court on the legality of the "Tekhoil" activity.

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