10 September 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 3-9

Elections to local self-government in Armenia, discussion of Chechen-Ingush border raised by head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov; release of Azerbaijani poets arrested in Iran; shelling of military column with killing of six servicemen; motor rally "White Stream", within which opposition held meetings and actions in Rostov-on-Don, Volgograd, Krasnodar and Stavropol, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of September 3-9, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Armenia: violation fixed al local elections

In Armenia on September 9 elections to local self-governments were held in the cities of Kapan, Sisian, Meghri, Kajaran and Dastakert of the Sisian Region; in Masis, Ararat and Vedi of the Ararat Region; in Echmiadzin and Metsamor of the Armavir Region; in Gyumri and Artik of the Shirak Region; in Vanadzor, Stepanavan, Tashir, Akhtala and Tumanyan of the Lori Region; in Agarak of the Ashtarak Region; and in Abovyan of the Kotayk Region. According to the country's Central Election Commission (CEC), the highest voter turnout was recorded in Abovyan, the lowest - in Echmiadzin.

During the voting day, messages arrived about violations and other mistakes. Thus, Naira Zograbyan, the secretary of the parliamentary faction of the "Prosperous Armenia" Party (PAP), said that all the communities, where the party had nominated its candidates, called from the very morning and informed the PAP about evaporating ink. At the same time, according to the CEC of Armenia, the local elections were passing "in the natural way." However, the CEC admitted that seals were lost at some polling stations.

Let us note here that the Ministry of Regional Administration of Armenia set up an on duty telephone line for the period of local elections - on September 8-23. Khachatur Matulyan, the head of the division for monitoring local budgets and programmes of the Department of Local Self-Governments, said that in case of any violation citizens were free to call the Ministry.

Chechen authorities raise the issue of establishing border with Ingushetia

On August 26, the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced his intention to raise, at the federal level, the issue of establishing the administrative border with Ingushetia. His Ingush counterpart Yunus-Bek Evkurov agreed that the border should be fixed and noted that the border with Chechnya should pass through the already established territories. Chechnya set up a republic's commission for fixing the border with Ingushetia, which held its first sitting on September 1. On September 4, Kadyrov said that Chechen authorities possess documents that confirm the belonging of the Sunzha and a part of the Malgobek Districts of Ingushetia to Chechnya.

On September 7, Alexander Khloponin, the presidential envoy to the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), demanded from the leaders of both republics to stop their disputes about the Chechen-Ingush border and noted that the issue should be first resolved by working groups and not to bring to public debate. Let us note here that a number of experts have expressed their concern about Kadyrov's initiatives.

Azerbaijan poets freed from Iranian arrest

On September 6, the poets from Azerbaijan Farid Gusein and Shahriyar Gadjizade, who were arrested on May 2 in Tabriz, returned home. Let us remind you that the Iranian authorities acknowledged their arrest on June 21. Nariman Orujev, Vice Consul of Azerbaijan, was allowed to see the poets only on July 26, when the detainees told him that they had been accused of visiting Iran without the authorities' permit. On August 7, their case was considered and the sentencing was scheduled for September 10; however, the poets were released on September 4.

On September 8, Farid Gusein and Shahriyar Gadjizade announced that the charge against them in Iran had been fabricated. According to their version, they were innocently arrested and convicted; and then released by a pardon of the supreme religious leader of Iran Seyed Ali Khamenei. Let us note here that the arrest of the poets in Iran caused protests of the official Baku and the public. On July 5, a group of Azerbaijani writers and journalists set up a committee to protect the rights of the poets arrested in Iran. On July 7, Chingiz Abdullaev, the chairman of the Azerbaijani PEN-Club appealed to global human rights agencies with a call to "raise their voice of protest against violations of the rights of Azerbaijani poets arrest in Iran and demand their release."

Six people killed in shelling of military column in Ingushetia

At about 1:00 p.m. Moscow time on September 5, on the motor road near the village of Datykh an explosion was triggered under one of the armoured vehicles of the column; and then unidentified persons opened fire on the column. Initially it was reported that the shelling of the convoy in the Sunzha District of Ingushetia killed five policemen. According to latest data the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), six policemen were killed and one more wounded. The casualties are Lieutenant T. M. Bulguchev, Junior Sergeants I. S. Khalukhaev and A. A. Gegiev, and Sergeants M. M. Archakov, M. B. Matsiev and U. L. Gardanov.

The 25-year-old Kharon Beinoev was taken to the Sunzha Central District Hospital with a large blood loss. As reported by Marifa Lyanova, the head of the personnel department of the separate regiment for protection of administrative borders of the MIA of Ingushetia, four other employees of the road-and-patrol service (known as PPS), who also were in the attacked column, were taken on September 6 to the Malgobek Central Hospital with closed head injuries and brain concussions. According to Lyanova, over the past two and a half weeks - from August 19 to September 5 - 13 PPS inspectors were killed and 20 others wounded in Ingushetia.

Rostov-on-Don, Stavropol, Krasnodar and Volgograd: motor rally "White Stream" and opposition rally

On September 5, Rostov-on-Don welcomed the motor rally and a public rally "White Stream". Oppositionists put forward the following slogans: "Free people - great country!" and "People are free - country is free!" The participants announced establishment of the Coordination Council of opposition forces. Around 50 young people came up with alternative slogans. No incidents were noticed at the rally.

On September 4, the participants of the "White Stream" drove through the cities of Mineralnye Vody, Pyatigorsk and Stavropol. Ilya Ponomaryov, a Russian Duma Deputy from the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party, and Mikhail Schneider, Executive Director of the Moscow Branch of the "Solidarity" Movement, invited activists from the Stavropol Territory to join the organization of the nationwide referendum on making changes in the electoral law.

As part of the motor rally, on September 3 and 5 the MP Ilya Ponomaryov held meeting in Volgograd and Krasnodar, where the audience discussed the state of the roads in the Volgograd Region, and the protest movement in Russian regions and Moscow.

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