17 December 2012, 13:38

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 10-16

Collapse of building in construction in Taganrog killing five and injuring over ten persons; first meeting of special representatives for settling Georgian-Russian relations; verdict to one of the figurants in the Anna Politkovskaya's murder case; announcement of suspects of murdering Gekkiev, a journalist of the GTRK "Kabardino-Balkaria"; earthquake in several regions of South of Russia; dispersal of another action of opposition in Azerbaijan, – look these and other events in the Caucasus in the review of December 10-16, 2012, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Rostov Region: five casualties at house collapse in Taganrog

In the evening on December 13, a three-storey building at 55 Chekov Street in the city of Taganrog that was in the process of construction collapsed, injuring 19 persons, of whom five later died. The city authorities announced December 15 to be the mourning day for the casualties.

The Ministry for Construction, Architecture and Territorial Development of the Rostov Region did not rule out that the construction was accompanied by technology violations. Investigators have initiated a criminal case under the article "Violation of safety at construction works". For clarifying the circumstances, on December 14, the contractor and the foreman in charge of the site were detained. Later, the court ruled to arrest both of them.

Georgia-Russia: special envoys of both countries agree to hold dialogue on less pressing issues

On December 14, Geneva was the venue of the first meeting of the special representatives (envoys) for settling the Georgian-Russian relations Zurab Abashidze and Grigory Karasin. The parties have recognized that the interrelations of their countries, which have no diplomatic relations after August 2008, are in a deadlock; and that some way out should be looked for. To start with, the envoys decided to talk on trade relations, humanitarian and cultural ties and restart of regular air flights. An agreement was reached to continue the dialogue in this format on the regular basis.

Court sentences a figurant in Anna Politkovskaya's murder case

On December 14, the court found Dmiltry Pavlyuchenkov, the former head of a division at the Operative-Search Department of the Moscow GUVD (Chief Interior Administration), guilty of organizing the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist of the "Novaya Gazeta" newspaper (Anna became famous for her articles on Northern Caucasus), and awarded him with 11 years of high-security colony. According to investigators, Pavlyuchenkov shadowed Politkovskaya, involved his subordinate operative agents in following her, and purchased the pistol for the killer.

The Pavlyuchenkov's case was isolated into a separate proceeding and was tried under a special procedure. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov concluded a deal with investigators and pled completely guilty. The victims have announced their intention to appeal against the verdict, since they had insisted on cancellation of the pre-trial agreement concluded by Pavlyuchenkov and objected to the consideration of his case in a special order. The defence of Pavlyuchenkov was also dissatisfied with the verdict.

Kabardino-Balkaria: inspectors name suspects of murdering journalist Gekkiev

Last week, law enforcement bodies identified two suspects of murdering on December 5 Kazbek Gekkiev, a journalist of the TV Channel GTRK "Kabardino-Balkaria". One of the attackers was Zijtun Boziev, 30, the second one – Inoyat Tabukhov, 24, a native of Nalchik. On December 14, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the Russia's Minister of Interior, stated that quite soon in this crime "all the i's would be dotted, and all the t's would be crossed'. He added that starting December 15, the GTRK "Kabardino-Balkaria" would be guarded day and night by special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).

Earthquakes in several regions of Southern Russia

On December 13, the piedmont Urus-Martan District of the Chechen Republic was hit by an earthquake, the epicentre of which was very deep and the magnitude was about four points; residents did not feel any earth surface tremor. On the same day, a weak earthquake was registered in the territory of the Stavropol Territory. On December 15, an earthquake with magnitude of 3-4 points according to the Richter scale took place in the territory of Karachay-Cherkessia and the Stavropol Territory.

In the evening on December 10, underground shocks were felt by residents of the Krasnodar Territory. The earthquake was reported by townspeople from Krasnodar, Novorossisk, Gelenzhik, Slavyansk-on-Kuban and Anapa. Anapa felt the strongest shocks – up to 4 points. In total, the area of the earthquake covered 236 dwelling settlements with the total population of 890,371 persons, as reported by the Russia's Ministry for Emergencies (MfE). The natural calamity brought no victims and destructions.

Azerbaijan: dispersal of another oppositional action

On December 10, the Civil Movement for Democracy "Public Chamber" (CMDPC) tried to hold an action in Baku dated to the World Day of Human Rights marked right on December 10. The Baku Mayoralty had refused to sanction a picket in front of the building of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan; however, oppositional activists had stated their intention to hold a protest action in spite the ban of the authorities in central Baku – in the Fountain Square.

Starting from midday, the square and adjacent streets were monitored by the police; and when at 2:00 p.m. a group of about 50 protesters tried to get into the square shouting "Freedom!", "Resign!" and holding posters calling to protect human rights, policemen began detaining the participants of the action. The list of detainees included Fuad Gakhramanly and Gezyal Bairamly, Deputy Chairs of the People's Front Party of Azerbaijan, and young activists of the "Musavat" Party Tural Abbasly and Sakhavat Soltanly.

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