09 July 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 2-8

Catastrophic flood in the Krasnodar Territory; Communists' actions in South of Russia against Russia's accession to the WTO; loss of Kadyrov's representative of litigation against HRC "Memorial"; removal of deputy's immunity from Vladimir Bessonov, Rostov Region's State Duma MP; hunger strike in Makhachkala SIZO and action against the ban imposed on "Anji" FC to play Europa League matches in Dagestan; poisoning of dozens of people in Georgia with chlorine and support by the country's parliament of the renewed government, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of July 2-8, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Krasnodar Territory: flood claimed over hundred lives

Violent rainstorms have triggered a catastrophic flood in the Krasnodar Territory. At night on July 7 it flooded more than 5000 houses in three cities (Gelendzhik, Krymsk and Novorossiysk) and a number of dwelling settlements of the Territory. According to official figures available as of the evening of July 8, 171 people fell victim to the natural calamity; unofficial sources claim at least 250 casualties; while some local residents insist that there were about a thousand dead persons. 320 persons addressed for medical help; 104 patients were hospitalized. The Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) has reported 12,071 suffered persons.

Residents of Krymsk, where most casualties were registered, are sure that they were flooded after opening floodgates of the Neberdjaev Water Reservoir, located near the city. However, the bosses of the Company "YUVK Novorossiysk", which operates the waterworks of the Reservoir, deny this and claim that the Neberdjaev Water Reservoir had even softened the blow of the disaster.

Communists protest against Russia's accession to WTO in country's south

On July 3, several cities in Southern Russia hosted protests against Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), organized by the regional branches of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). The protesters stuck to the opinion that Russia's accession to the WTO (the issue was to be voted at the State Duma right on July 3) would destroy the national economy and aggravate the social and economic situation in the country.

"WTO is Russia's slavery", "WTO, come on, goodbye!" - these were Communists' slogans, in Vladikavkaz in particular. In Volgograd, Communists claimed that about 500 people came to the Russian President's reception office located in the centre of the regional capital; while in total there were more than 7000 protesters in the Volgograd Region. In Krasnodar, tents were set up, and signatures were collected to the letter against ratification of the protocols on accession to the WTO.

The participants of the rally in Maikop were not only Communists, but also activists of the organization "Children of War", the Workers' Council of Maikop and the regional branch of the Union of Communist Youth. The main slogan of the action in Rostov-on-Don was supported by defrauded real estate shareholders, workers of the "Rostselmash" Factory and activists of the non-systemic opposition. The resolution adopted at a rally in Stavropol treated an economic union between Russia and other former Soviet countries, such as the Customs Union or EurAsEs, as an alternative to the WTO.

Moscow court dismisses lawsuit of Kadyrov's representative against rights defenders on protection of business reputation

On July 4, the Tver Court of Moscow ruled to dismiss the claim for protection of business reputation lodged back in late 2010 by Andrei Krasnenkov, the lawyer of the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, against the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", claiming compensation of 500,000 roubles. The pretext of the litigation was in the article posted on the official website of the "Memorial" entitled "Ramzan Kadyrov's representative misleads journalists". In Mr Krasnenkov's opinion, the article contained "slanderous fabrications."

The litigation was suspended in February 2011 at the claimant's request, who then assured that part of the information needed to justify the claim, would be used during in debates on the criminal case "Kadyrov vs. Orlov" (Oleg Orlov is the former head of the HRC "Memorial") initiated after the latter's remarks about Kadyrov's responsibility for the murder of Natalia Estemirova, an employee of the HRC "Memorial". On June 14, 2011, Orlov was acquitted by the court. Kadyrov's representatives appealed against the decision, but the case against Orlov was stopped on January 20 this year due to decriminalization of the slander article.

MP from Rostov Region partially deprived of immunity

On July 6, the Russian State Duma ruled at its session to withdraw deputy's immunity from the Communist Vladimir Bessonov, an MP from the Rostov Region, who is accuses of resisting the police during an election action in Rostov-on-Don on December 2, 2011. The Duma gave consent to initiate a criminal case against him. Vladimir Bessonov asserts that he was not guilty and argues that there are no evidences of his guilt.

Before the vote, Oksana Dmitrieva, an MP from the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party, said that it was the first case, when the Duma intended to strip immunity for political reasons; while, according to the Constitution, protection from politically-motivated persecution is the primary sense of immunity. However, Ildar Gabdrakhmanov, the head of the Duma Committee on Regulations, is sure that the lifting of Bessonov's parliamentary immunity will make an objective investigation and establishment of the truth possible.

Makhachkala: hunger strike of SIZO inmates and protest against the ban imposed on "Anji" to play Europa League matches in Dagestan

On June 30, the UEFA Executive Committee decided that the "Anji" FC would not be able, because of problems related to security, to play its home matches of the 2012/2013 Europa League in the territory of Dagestan. The FC bosses sent an official letter to the UEFA asking to allow them to play in Makhachkala, but the UEFA Directorate said "No". In response, the club fans announced preparation of a protest rally on July 7. During the event, a resolution was adopted urging the UEFA to set up a commission of independent experts to arrive in Makhachkala for making an objective decision.

On July 7, it became known that the inmates of the Makhachkala SIZO (pre-trial prison), dissatisfied with their custody conditions, went on a hunger strike. The protest began on July 6. The hunger-strikers demand to stop "humiliating and insulting" them and respect their rights. On July 8, relatives of the inmates reported that new protesters had joined the hunger strike; and the total number had reached one hundred.

Georgia: dozens get poisoned with chlorine; Parliament supports new Govt

At night on July 4, in a suburb of Tbilisi, a chlorine leakage from an 800-litre tank happened in the territory of the private Iranian Company "Crystal". Residents of nearby houses and occasional passers-by, 73 persons in total, got poisoned; one of them, Lasha Narimanidze, 18, was in grave condition. Director of the "Crystal" Levan Datuashvili, accused of violating safety regulations, was detained by the police on July 4 and arrested on July 6.

On July 4, at the extraordinary session, the Parliament of Georgia announced - by a majority vote - its confidence in the Government and the government programme "More good to people", presented by Vano Marabishvili, who was appointed on June 30 by President Mikhail Saakashvili to the post of Prime Minister. However, oppositionists doubt that the authorities will cope with their promises.

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