24 September 2012, 23:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 17-23
Mass protests in Georgia after disclosure of facts of torture in prison; actions of CPRF against growth of prices and utility tariffs in Southern Russia; hunger strike of Chechen refugees in Ingushetia; International Investment Forum in Sochi; shooting at policemen in Rostov Region, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of September 17-23, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Georgia: wave of mass protests after screening of video showing torture of prisoners in Gldani Prison
On September 18, Georgia released video records of inhuman treatment of prisoners in Gldani Prison No. 8 of Tbilisi, after which the country was overwhelmed by mass protests. The participants demanded an immediate dismissal and prosecution of Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, Minister of Correction, Probation and Legal Assistance, and Bacho Akhalaya, Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia. Due to deterioration of the situation, on September 19, Ms Kalmakhelidze resigned. On September 20, she was followed by Bacho Akhalaya; then protesters in the capital of Georgia demanded his arrest.
In total, within the investigation of facts of torture in Gldani Prison No. 8, ten persons were detained; and on September 22 the employees of the prison noted in mistreating prisoners were sacked. The ex-Ombudsman of Georgia Giorgi Tugushi was appointed as Minister of Correction; and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) was headed by Katerina Zguladze.
Some local experts believe that the mass protests in Georgia caused by ill-treatment of inmates in Gldani Prison can affect the outcomes of the parliamentary elections (to be held on October 1), suggesting that due to the discontent of the population the rating of the ruling party has gone down. However, part of political analysts express the opinion that the reshuffling in the government have led to strengthening of the position of Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili; and the scandal around facts of torture in Georgian prisons will not collapse the rating of the ruling party.
CPRF actions against rising prices and utility tariffs in cities of Southern Russia
On September 22 in Makhachkala, local communists held a march within the all-Russian protest campaign against rising prices and utility tariffs. The action was attended by about 60 people; and the spokesman of the republic's branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) said that Communists had made a decision to join the action, as protest moods are becoming stronger in the society, while "the authorities have undertaken a series of unpopular measures, including a sharp increase of utility tariffs and fuel cost."
The rally within the same all-Russian campaign held on the same day in Vladikavkaz and organized by the CPRF was attended by about 300 people. The speakers criticized the policy of the authorities in the social sphere, in regulation of tariffs and the decision to join the WTO; they urged voters to vote at the October 14 elections to the Republic's Parliament for the CPRF.
The rally of the territorial committee of the CPRF in Stavropol was attended by over 200 people. The participants of the event, held under the slogan "No to Municipal-Housing Terror!", demanded holding an audit of the budget expenditures on upgrading the utilities, and also to stop the persecution of the MPs from the CPRF in the Russian State Duma Vladimir Bessonov and Anatoly Lokot.
On September 22, in Elista, local communists and the movement "Native Land" demanded - during their rally in protest against rising prices and utility tariffs - resignation of Dmitry Medvedev's government, in order to form the government of national confidence; they also commemorated the victims of the crackdown of demonstration on September 22, 2004, and spoke for restart of the republic's parliamentary commission to investigate those September events eight years ago.
In Cherkessk, a rally against the rise of utility tariffs that also took place on September 22 was attended by over 100 people. The participants were holding posters reading: "Authorities are generous of myths; but only tariffs grow", "First add pensions and wages; and then increase tariffs" and "Reforms for people; not the people for reformers!"
In Volgograd, a rally against increase of utility tariffs was held on September 20; it brought together more than 500 people. It was organized by the CPRF and attended by activists of the regional branches of the parties "Yabloko" and "RPR-Parnas", and of the "Left-Wing Front", the All-Russian Public Movement "All-Russian Women's Union" - "Russia's Hope". People stood with posters: "No to municipal plunder!", "Fraudulent elections - illegitimate president!", "Let's save Volgograd embankment!" and "Volgograd is against mining nickel at Khopyor River!"
Ingushetia: refugees from Chechnya demand solving their housing problems through hunger strike
On September 20, eleven families of forced migrants from Chechnya, living since 1999 in "Promzhilbaza" in Karabulak, Ingushetia, went on hunger strike, demanding to solve their housing problems. The motto of the residents of the TAC (temporary accommodation centre) was "Ramzan Kadyrov, bring us back home!"
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, National Policy, Press and Information of Ingushetia, the "Promzhilbaza" is inhabited by 88 families; of them only 16 families are refugees from Chechnya; and 9 families are resettlers from North Ossetia, which have the right to live there. However, Ingush authorities have promised to extend the refugee status to the tenants of "Promzhilbaza" and find a solution to their housing problems; and as to those, who plan to return to Chechnya, it was promised that negotiations would be held with Chechen authorities on solution of their problems. Thereafter, on September 21, the protesters stopped the hunger strike.
Krasnodar: Sochi hosts investment forum
The 11th International Investment Forum "Sochi-2012" opened on September 20 in Sochi, where participants of regions of Southern Russia brought their most promising projects. The business events of the forum began on September 21 and ended on September 23. The host of the event - the Krasnodar Territory - presented about 1800 investment proposals in all areas of territorial economy; the territorial administration proposed building on the Black Sea shore 12 marinas for 3550 private yachts.
It is already known that the Rostov Region signed agreements worth 38 billion roubles, including on construction of a sugar factory. The leaders of Kabardino-Balkaria and OJSC "Resorts of Northern Caucasus" signed an agreement of intent to develop the Elbrus Resort.
In total, the regions of Russia and large companies signed at the forum over 80 agreements to the total sum of 53 billion roubles.
Rostov Region: unidentified criminals shot policemen, who went to a call, dead
At night on September 19, in Novocherkassk, as a result fire, opened at a police unit, two policemen were killed. The incident occurred at about three at night, when the policemen arrived in response to a call to one of the commercial objects of Novocherkassk. The criminals took away two policemen's pistols, a Kalashnikov submachine gun and ammunition. Three persons are now searched in Novocherkassk on suspicion of assaulting the police unit. The police have disseminated their descriptions; and investigators have appealed to local residents for help in searching the assaulters.