08 October 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 1-7

Parliamentary elections in Georgia, won by Ivanishvili's oppositional bloc; opening in Dagestan of Gimry Tunnel after years of reconstruction; killing of ex-judge and suicide of the kidnapper of the girl in Rostov-on-Don; pickets of Ingushetia residents in Moscow; clashes of protesting believers with police and opposition's demand to disband the parliament in Azerbaijan, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of October 1-7, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Georgia: Ivanishvili's bloc wins parliamentary elections

On October 1, at the voter turnout of 61 percent Georgia elected its parliament. The coalition of businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili "Georgian Dream" has won, according to the preliminary data of the country's Central Election Commission (CEC), 54.92 percent of votes. As a result, the split of MP seats between the "Georgian Dream" and the ruling "United National Movement" will be 83:67.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said that his party "United National Movement" would become oppositional, and offered the "Georgian Dream" to form the government. On October 3, the "Georgian Dream" set up a working group to consult the President and the current government. The government also formed a group for consultations with the coalition. On October 5, consultations on transfer of power began; they should be over by October 8, when candidates for ministerial positions will be announced.

Dagestan: Gimry Tunnel opened after years of reconstruction

On October 2, the Gimry Tunnel was commissioned in the Buinaksk District of Dagestan. It was closed in 2009, which caused inconveniences to local residents. Initially, it was planned to finalize the reconstruction in 2010. The longest tunnel in Russia (over four kilometres) communicates eight districts of mountainous Dagestan with the republic's centre.

Locals assert that they benefit a lot from the tunnel, since the travel for farmers from mountainous regions of Dagestan to their customers in Makhachkala is now several hours faster. However, residents of other districts, who earlier serviced the flow of traffic, state that its redirection to Gimry Tunnel will damage their businesses.

Rostov Region: murder of ex-judge and suicide of girl kidnapper

In the evening on October 2, a retired judge of the Rostov Regional Court was found dead in Rostov-on-Don. The woman, born in 1955, died from a gunshot wound in her head. This is not the first incident with judges for the last time. At night on July 20 in the village of Chaltyr, Samvel Manukyan, Chairman of the Myasnikov District Court, was killed; and in August district courts of Rostov-on-Don and Rostov Region received letters with threats addressed to the staff.

On October 2, the businessman Alexander Maksimov, who was suspected of kidnapping the eight-year-old Dasha Popova, who was found on September 27 after seven days of search, committed suicide in the Rostov SIZO (pre-trial prison). Maksimov hang himself up in a solitary cell, where he was placed, as law enforcers feared that he could be lynched by cellmates.

Moscow: residents of Ingushetia hold pickets demanding respect for human rights

On October 3, over 20 residents of Ingushetia held solo pickets near the buildings of the Government of the Russian Federation, Russian Presidential Administration, Council of the Federation and State Duma. They were protesting against extrajudicial killings and kidnappings committed in their republic. At one of the pickets a relative of Aushev, who is accused on charges of undermining the "Neva-Express" Train, demanded an open trial of the case.

The actions received reaction from officials of the Russian Government and senators of the Council of the Federation, who appointed a meeting with the picketers. The picketers' stories interested not only officials and senators, but also ordinary citizens, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent reported from the venue.

Azerbaijan: protesting believers clash with police; oppositionists demand dissolution of parliament

On 5 October in Baku, about 200 worshipers held a protest against the ban on wearing hijabs (headscarves) in schools. In the course of the unsanctioned protest action held outside the Ministry of Education, which grew into protesters' clashes with the police, 65 persons were detained. According to the police, the protesters resisted law enforcers by using wooden sticks and nailed batons prepared in advance. As a result, according to official sources, 20 policemen were injured.

A new protest action in Baku is scheduled for October 13; it is initiated by the Civil Movement for Democracy "Public Chamber", whose activists demand to disband the parliament after the scandal caused by the video of the talk of the MP Gyulyar Akhmadova with Elshad Abdullaev, the former rector of Azerbaijani International University, where they discussed the size of a bribe for the latter's election to the National Assembly. The opposition has regarded the video as evidence of the corrupt nature of the regime. In his turn, the country's Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov said that a bribe case should not be "politicized.

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