06 August 2012, 10:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 30 to August 5

Successes and failures of Caucasian athletes at London Olympics; polemics of heads of Chechnya and Ingushetia after special operation in Galashki; set up of office in North Ossetia to help compatriots in Syria and real measures already taken in Armenia; announcement of the date of parliamentary elections in Georgia; debates on future of Stavropol, including return of pre-revolutionary names to its streets, – look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of July 30-August 5, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Olympics-2012: successes and failures of Caucasian athletes

Athletes from regions and countries of Southern and Northern Caucasus who went to London to take part in the Olympics continue performing there. For some of them the Games ended last week; some bring medals to homeland; others return empty-handed.

By August 5, 28 out of 53 athletes from Azerbaijan had started; 23 of them completed their performance – one with a bronze medal: it was a successful debut in weightlifting of the 18-year-old Valentin Hristov (56 kg). Given the fact that by that day Azerbaijan already had an Olympic medal, Azerbaijani sport fans were hoping for successes of others. These hopes came true, as Greco-Roman wrestlers were successful: Rovshan Bayramov (55 kg) won the silver medal, and Emin Akhmedov (74 kg) won the bronze one.

Lasha Shavdatuashvili is the first and only Georgian athlete to win a medal at the 30th Olympic Games in London – he is the Gold Medal Winner in judo in the weight category of up to 66 kg. The competitions in Great Britain will be remembered also by the fact that Betkil Shukvani, a member of the Georgian judo team, said that he ran away from the Olympic Village for fear of physical execution by Deputy Sports Minister of Georgia Giya Udesiani. According to the athlete, he received threats after his statement that, being an active supporter of the coalition "Georgian Dream" and its leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, he would dedicate his victory in the Olympic tournament, if any, to the Georgian opposition. In his turn, the deputy minister has rejected all the accusations.

The first Olympic week was extremely poor for the athletes from Armenia – they had no medals until August 5, when Hripsime Khurshudyan won bronze in weight in the category of over 75 kg, and Arsen Dzhulfalakyan won silver in Greco-Roman wrestling in the weight category of up to 75 kg. Karen Mnatsakanyan, director of one of swimming schools of Armenia, has treated the failures of Armenian athletes at the Olympic Games as unprecedented. Dmitry Manukyan, a former boxer and a master of sports, named the shortcomings in selection of Olympic athletes as one of the reasons of the failures.

At this background, the members of the Russian Olympic team, associated – in this way or other – with the southern regions of the country, look more successful.

For example, Darya Pischalnikova, an athlete from Mordovia, who earlier trained in Adygea, won a silver medal in discus throw. Earlier it was reported that Arsen Galstyan from Adygea was the first from the Russian team to win an Olympic medal in London – gold in judo in the category of up to 60 kg. Maria Sharapova, who represented the Krasnodar Territory in tennis at the Olympics in London, won the silver medal. Tatiana Chernova from Krasnodar won bronze in heptathlon; and her fellow countryman Dmitry Ushakov won silver in trampoline jumping.

Apti Aukhadov, who represented Chechnya in the Russian weightlifting national team, won the silver medal in the weight category of up to 85 kg. Yulia Efimova, 20, who was born in Grozny and now lives in the city of Taganrog, Rostov Region, won the bronze medal at the Olympics in the 200 m breaststroke swimming. Silver medals in team foil fencing at the Olympic Games in London went to Larissa Korobeinikova from Rostov and Aida Shanaeva, a resident of North Ossetia.

Natives of Dagestan were successful in judo – Mansur Isaev won gold in the weight category of up to 73 kg; and Tagir Khaibulaev became Champion in the weight category of up to 100 kg. Svetlana Tsarukaeva, a native of North Ossetia, won a silver medal in weightlifting; and on August 1, Ilya Zakharov, an athlete from the Stavropol Territory, who performs together with Evgeniy Kuznetsov, won silver in synchronized diving from three-meter springboard.

Heads of Chechnya and Ingushetia differ in assessing each other's actions against militants

On August 4, the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov voiced criticism of the head of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Evkurov, having treated the opposition of Ingush authorities to terrorism as insufficient. The immediate pretext was in Evkurov's statement that Chechen power agents had nothing to do with the special operation in the village of Galashki. On July 29, around 10:40 p.m., an explosion occurred in a private house situated at the entrance to Galashki. Two persons were killed, and one more was wounded and hospitalized. The victims were militants, while the explosion was caused by a bomb detonation; this was announced by the head of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Evkurov on July 31. On August 1, the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov announced that on July 29 Chechen security forces conducted a special operation in Galashki, during which the organizers of the attack on the Chechen village of Tsentoroi on August 29, 2010, were liquidated.

Yunus-Bek Evkurov has proclaimed that every true Muslim in the holy month of Ramadan should exhibit self-restraint and modesty, and refused to comment on Ramzan Kadyrov's criticism. A source from the permanent mission of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) has explained the sharp exchange of viewpoints between the heads of the two republics by the political competition between Kadyrov and Evkurov and their different styles of ruling.

Caucasus is concerned about the situation in Syria

On July 26, representatives of Syrian Ossetians made an official statement addressed to the head of North Ossetia Taimuraz Mamsurov and Russian authorities, where they ask for help in returning to their historic homeland. The republic has set up an inter-agency coordination office to help compatriots in Syria; it was decided at its first sitting on August 2 to send from Vladikavkaz to Syria several members of the organization "Styr Nykhas" (Supreme Ossetians' Council) with the aim to assess the situation the members of the Ossetian community living there.

In Armenia, on the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a special commission was set up to provide consultations to Syrian Armenians on how to start their businesses or transfer such from Syria to Armenia. According to official sources, during the first seven months of this year, 3000 Syrian Armenians have already received their entry visas to Armenia. From July 26, the Armenian government simplified the process of obtaining citizenship for foreign nationals of Armenian origin; is primarily refers to Armenians from Syria. Besides, in the context of aggravated situation in Syria, starting August 1, the "Armavia" Airline launched an additional flight Yerevan-Aleppo-Yerevan.

The problems of the Circassian Diaspora in Syria were in the focus of the Repatriate Day, marked by members of the international Circassian community and residents of Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Georgia.

Georgia: Parliamentary elections scheduled for October 1

On August 1, the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili appointed the parliamentary elections on October 1 this year. On July 31, Mamuka Katsitadze, the head of the commission for updating voter lists, held a presentation of the work and stated that they cross-checked the list of 3,483,142 voters, by working under the principle "from door to door". The lists were obtained from the Civil Registry, the Ministry for Punishment Enforcement, the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the data was taken as of February 1, 2012. The information about 2,160,608 voters turned out to be accurate.

According to the Constitution of Georgia, parliamentary elections are held every four years. In October, 150 MPs will be elected. The previous elections were held in 2008; the current parliament is dominated by the ruling party "United National Movement". By July 30, the Central Election Commission of Georgia had registered five political parties for participation in the elections – the "New Right-Wingers", "Merab Kostava Society", "Industry will Save Georgia", "Kakha Kukava – Free Georgia", and the Conservative Party.

Stavropol: general city plan to be corrected; pre-revolution street names to be returned

Last week Stavropol hosted two events that discussed the future of the territorial capital. On August 3, a roundtable was held in the Stavropol Territorial Museum-Reserve, dedicated to historical place names. The City Mayor Georgy Kolyagin supported the idea to return historical names to the streets and squares of the city centre. He promised to bring this issue to the next sitting of the City Duma.

On August 2, the administration of Stavropol held the first sitting of the Public Ecological Council, where the development prospects of the city were discussed; it was decided to develop a number of green areas. In particular, according to the chief architect of the city, the western direction will be the main direction of city development. Also, officials of the city administration reported about prepared update of the city master plan, which may be presented for public hearings in the near future.

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