28 July 2014, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 21-27

Shuffling in government of Georgia that required approval of the parliament; withdrawal of license from Makhachkala "New Commercial Bank"; registration of first candidate for Governor of Astrakhan Region; burial of two militants' bodies in Nalchik; election of a new head of Volgograd; conviction of Igor Bestuzhy, former Stavropol City Manager, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 21-27, 2014, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Georgia: new cabinet received vote of confidence from parliament

On July 21, the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili announced resignation of seven ministers. Later, he introduced new candidates. In total, the Government of Georgia consists of 20 officials; and according to the Constitution of Georgia, when at least one third of the cabinet is changed, the whole government with its new programme should receive a vote of confidence from the parliament. Therefore, on July 24, the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili presented his new cabinet to the MPs for the vote of confidence; and on July 26 the vote was granted. The confidence was granted to the govt and its programme "For Strong, Democratic and United Georgia" was expressed by 89 MPs from the ruling coalition "Georgian Dream". The oppositional MPs refused to vote.

Dagestan: licence withdrawn from Makhachkala "New Commercial Bank"

On July 25, the Central Bank of Russia annulled the license of the Dagestani credit organization "New Commercial Bank", explaining its decision by the failure of the above bank to follow the federal laws regulating the banking activities; by violating within a year the law "On Countering Legalization (Laundering) of Criminal Proceeds and Financing Terrorism", and by conducting suspicious transactions with cash money, the total volume of which in 2013 exceeded 1 billion US dollars. As of July 1, in terms of its assets, the "New Commercial Bank", registered in Makhachkala, was ranked the 825th in the Russian banking system; and it did not take part in the deposit insurance system. Since the start of this year, this is the fifth bank in Dagestan, stripped of its license: earlier, the same fate befell the banks named "Kaspij", "Dagestan" Social Development Bank, "Esidbank" and "Imbank."

Astrakhan Region: Governor Zhilkin is first registered candidate for new term

On July 25, Alexander Zhilkin, the incumbent Governor of the Astrakhan Region, received a certificate of a registered candidate for the election of the Governor, scheduled for September 14. He is the first registered candidate for the post, having provided the Central Election Commission (CEC) with 156 signatures of local MPs, and heads of regional rural and urban districts in his support. Apart from Zhilkin, other contenders are Oleg Shein (from the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party); Oleg Snegov (from the CPRF), Alexander Starovoitov (from the LDPR) and Alexander Tukaev (from the "Automobile Russia"). It is noteworthy that the leadership of the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party has recommended its office in the Astrakhan Region to help to collect signatures of municipal deputies in favour of the candidates of the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" and the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russian (LDPR). The website of the Administration of the Astrakhan Region reports that the CEC will decide, before August 8, on registering other candidates.

KBR: bodies of militants Anzor Astemirov militants and Valery Etezov buried in Nalchik

On July 25, the city of Nalchik hosted the burial of Anzor Astemirov, the leader of the armed underground of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR), who is considered by power agents the organizer of the attack on Nalchik in 2005, and his assistant Valery Etezov; both were killed in 2010. Relatives of Astemirov and Etezov were contacted by employees of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF), who invited them to take the militants' bodies from Rostov-on-Don for burial; and it was done, said one of the local residents who attended the funeral. The information about the burial of bodies of Astemirov and Etezov was confirmed by Valery Khatazhukov, the head of the KBR's Human Rights Centre. It is noteworthy that on July 17 the Ingush authorities announced their decision to bury, before the end of Ramadan, six unidentified militants, killed during special operations conducted in the territory of the republic. However, the Russian Law "On Combating Terrorism" imposes a ban on giving out the bodies of suspected terrorists and those killed as a result of special operations.

Volgograd: nonpartisan Andrei Kosolapov elected as city Mayor

On July 24, the Volgograd City Duma elected, at its extraordinary session, the nonpartisan businessman Andrei Kosolapov, nominated by the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party, to be the city Mayor. The election was caused by the retirement from the post of Mayor of Irina Guseva, who announced her resignation on July 17 in connection with her departure to work for the Russian State Duma. The new city Mayor will have to solve the problems in the urban economy in order to win the sufficient credibility in the eyes of the public, local analysts believe, adding that Kosolapov has no serious experience of working within the bureaucratic environment.

Stavropol court convicts former City Manager Igor Bestuzhy

On July 24, the Oktiabrsky District Court of Stavropol sentenced Igor Bestuzhy, the former head of the Stavropol city administration, to nine years in a high security colony on charges of an attempt to receive a bribe of 50 million roubles, of taking a bribe in the amount of 1.8 million roubles, and of illegal arms circulation. The court also fined him by 500 million roubles and deprived him of the right to occupy certain state posts. The prosecution demanded 13 years in prison for the former city manager. Bestuzhy himself refused to plead guilty on all the episodes of the indictment. His advocate Oksana Sadchikova said that the defence had hoped for an acquittal and now intends to appeal against the verdict. On the day of sentencing, the ICRF announced the arrest of Igor Bestuzhy's property worth 30 million roubles, including an elite seven-room apartment in the centre of Stavropol, a country house, expensive cars, numerous stocks of Russian companies and bank accounts.

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