26 November 2012, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 19-25

Solidarity actions with Syrian Circassians; victory of FC "Anji" over Italian "Udinese Calcio"; explosions in Shamilkala and sentence to policemen accused of beating a teen in Dagestan; a failed session of Armenian Parliament initiated by the opposition and telethon in Los Angeles; return of Irakli Okruashvili to Georgia and mass pardoning of prisoners; first sessions of Parliament of North Ossetia, - look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of the week of November 19-25, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Solidarity actions with Syrian Circassians held in cities of Southern Russia

Circassians all over the world announced mass rallies and pickets on November 24-25, within the Global Solidarity Action with Syrian Circassians. The pretext for the actions was the catastrophic situation with Circassians in Syria whose settlements are exposed to regular bombing.

Within the action, on November 24, Cherkessk hosted two solo solidarity pickets with fellow countrymen in Syria. The picketers held posters reading: "We demand urgent evacuation of Circassians and Abazins to their historical homeland - Russia - from the warfare zones in Syria!"

On November 23 and 24, the city of Maikop, the capital of Adygea, also hosted solo pickets in solidarity with Syrian Circassians. On November 24 in Nalchik, Beslan Teuvazhev, a solo picketer in support of Syrian Circassians, was taken to police, together with five passers-by. "They were not detained - just taken there for questioning. No violations of the law by them were found," the spokesman of the UVD (Interior Department) for Nalchik said later.

In Moscow, an application on a 300-strong rally on November 24, submitted to the Mayoralty, was denied, but on the same day a series of solo pickets was held. The picketers approached - one after the other - the buildings of the Presidential Administration and Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). No incidents were registered.

A solidarity action with the Abkhazian-Adyg and Circassian Diaspora in Syria was held in Sukhumi in November 22; its participants called the Abkhazian leadership to take measures in defence of their compatriots.

Dagestan: victory of "Anji" over Italian "Udinese", explosions in Shamilkala, and sentencing of policemen accused of beating a teenager

On November 22, at the "Lokomotiv" Stadium in Moscow, the FC "Anji" from Makhachkala held a match against the Italian "Udinese Calcio" within the Europa League - the Dagestani team won 2:0. This victory at the group qualification stage has ensured the playoff round for "Anji" next spring.

On November 21, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were triggered in the village of Shamilkala, Untsukul District of Dagestan, and claimed three human lives. Both bombs were triggered by radio; the first one was 0.5 and the second one - about 4 kilos in TNT (trotyl) equivalent. The first blast occurred at 09:15 a.m. Moscow time near the empty building of the "Vitas Bank"; nobody was hurt. At 12:15 a.m., when policemen were examining the damaged building, the second IED was triggered killing three persons - two investigators and a former employee of the bank; another policeman was wounded.

On November 22, the court of the village of Khebda, Shamil District, announced a sentence on the case of beating Makhmud Akhmedov, 14, by policemen in July 2010. According to his relatives, policemen tried to force him into confession that he had stolen a drill. The agents of the Shamil ROVD (District Interior Division) Gamzat Nurudinov and Shamil Magomedaliev were sentenced to two years of conditional imprisonment each. Earlier, on July 2, another policeman-figurant in the case Magomed Magomedov was sentenced to three years in prison. This was the second trial on the case - on May 20, 2011, the defendants Gamzat Nurudinov, Shamil Magomedaliev and Magomed Magomedov were sentenced to conditional terms of 2.5-4 years; however, the Supreme Court cancelled the verdict and returned the case to the prosecutor's office.

Armenia: failed parliamentary session initiated by the opposition; and telethon in Los Angeles

On November 21, the extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly of Armenia, convoked by the opposition, failed for lack of quorum. The oppositional MPs wanted to discuss amendments to the electoral legislation. After the failed session, about 70 supporters of the opposition held a protest action in front of the Parliament, while the oppositional MPs stated that they would address the Ethics Commission. Earlier, the MPs from the ruling "Republican Party of Armenia" had disagreed to take part in the session, claiming that in this way the opposition was imitating their activeness on the eve of the upcoming presidential election scheduled for February 2013. The "Armenian National Congress" is drafting a lawsuit to the Constitutional Court of Armenia about the disrupted parliamentary session.

In Los Angeles, on November 22-23, a tradition telethon of the All-Armenian Fund "Ayastan" was held. The action raised 21,422,477 US dollars. According to the press service of the Fund, the telethon was attended by the Armenian organizations of the USA and many other members of the Diaspora. It is supposed to send the funds to improvement of a number of rural communities in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and to help Syrian Armenians. A similar telethon held in Europe on November 15-18 raised 11.4 million euros.

Georgia: return of Irakli Okruashvili and mass pardoning of prisoners

At night on November 20, Irakli Okruashvili, ex-Minister of Defence of Georgia, who had been granted political asylum in France, returned to Georgia. After his resignation in 2007, he announced creation of an oppositional movement and accused the top leadership of the country. Soon he was arrested under the extortion case and sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison. Upon his return to Georgia, Okruashvili was immediately put into the Gldani Prison under charges of setting up and commanding an illegal armed formation. He has come back to Georgia in order to prove his innocence, as Teya Tsulukiani, the Minister of Justice, has supposed.

On November 22, in connection with the St George Day (Giorgoba), President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili pardoned 519 prisoners. On the same day, it became known that three Early Relief Councils - in Eastern Georgia, Western Georgia and On Minors' Cases - had decided, also in the context of the holiday marked on November 23, to release 115 prisoners.

North Ossetia: new Parliament holds its first sessions

On November 20, the first sitting of the new Parliament elected on October 14 and November 11, where members of the regional branch of the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party won 45 seats. 14 seats in the Parliament went to "Patriots of Russia", 5 - to the CPRF and "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) each; and one more seat was won by a self-nominated MP. Alexei Machnev, an MP from the winning party, was elected to chair the Parliament. On November 22, two Vice-Speakers were elected - Stanislav Kesaev - to the post of the First Vice-Speaker; and Lyudmila Tokaeva - to the post of the Vice-Speaker, both from the faction of "Edinaya Rossiya".

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