08 September 2014, 09:00

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

Mourning events to commemorate victims of the terror act in Beslan in 2004; Knowledge Day celebrated by children of Southern Russia together with children of Ukrainian refugees; Georgia's receipt of NATO package of "enhanced cooperation"; beginning of construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait in the Crimea; two aircraft accidents in the Krasnodar Territory; consideration of the claim filed by opponents of construction of a maternity hospital in a wooded area of Stavropol, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 1-7, 2014, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Mourning events to commemorate victims of terror act in Beslan in 2004

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the attack on School No. 1 in Beslan, where on September 1-3, 2004, militants held 1128 hostages. The terror act killed 334 persons, including 186 children, and 810 persons were injured. Last week, North Ossetia organized mourning events to pay tribute to the victims. The mourning ceremonies held on September 3 were attended by more than 10,000 people. Vladikavkaz launched the second international forum "Children-Victims of Terror Acts in Modern History: Problem of Historical Memory" dated to the 10th anniversary of the tragedy in Beslan. On September 2, Vladikavkaz held a premiere show of documentary film by director Vadim Tsalikov "Beslan. Memory" dedicated to the victims of the terror act. On September 1, in Beslan, Susanna Dudieva, the leader of the Committee "Mothers of Beslan", held a press conference, during which she criticized the investigation into the tragedy and reported that on October 14, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) would start court hearings on the complaint filed by the victims.

Other Russian regions, including the South, have also commemorated the victims of the terror act. In Moscow, the art project "Beslan" was dated to the anniversary of the terrorist act, and the public campaign "Remember Beslan!" issued the brochure containing the stories of hostages held at the BeslanSchool and the results of the independent investigation into the circumstances of the terror act.

Children of Southern Russia celebrate Knowledge Day together with children of Ukrainian refugees

On September 1, Russia began a new school year, and children and their parents celebrated the Knowledge Day. Meanwhile, the southern regions of the country report about an increased number of pupils and first-formers, and shortage of educational institutions. Thus, the Ingush authorities report on need to open additional 92 schools. In Chechnya, the authorities also report on the problem of shortage of schools and claim that the problem is being solved step by step: by 2020, the republic plans to open 120 schools in addition to the existing 450 institutions of general education. The Stavropol Territory became the leader among the regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) on the number of first-formers in the region, 30,000 children sat at desks for the first time. At schools of Southern Russia, the first bell also rang for children of Ukrainian refugees. So, in the Rostov Region 7307 children of refugees from Ukraine started visiting classes, and the region organized additional summer training for them.

However, on September 1, the school year began not for all children. In Dagestan, residents of the village of Belidji of the Derbent District have refused to send their children on that day to school, since the school is 2.5 kilometres from the village and to reach it, children are to use the road along the railroad tracks. In the village of Irganai of the Untsukul District of Dagestan, school classes also failed on September 1 and 2, since parents did not let their children go to school. They demanded to organize a meeting with the Dagestani leaders to talk about the situation of non-payment of compensation for flooded land plots.

Georgia gets NATO package of "enhanced cooperation"

On September 5, in the British city of Wales, the NATO summit provided Georgia with a package of "enhanced cooperation" to enable the country to activate the process of preparation for NATO membership. The declaration of the NATO summit held on September 4-5 states that NATO treats as important and appreciates a great contribution made by Georgia to the ISAF operation and the losses suffered by Georgia in Afghanistan. The package provided to Georgia implies enhanced defence capability, conducting training and military exercises, much closer relationship and better opportunities for cooperation with NATO on the way to membership in the organization. The Georgian authorities have reported they are satisfied with the rapprochement with NATO. Georgian political analysts generally welcomed the package of "enhanced cooperation". In particular, Kakha Gogolashvili, an expert of the NGO "Institute for Strategic Studies", has stated that the country achieved everything that could be reached at the current stage.

Russia starts building bridge across Kerch Strait in Crimea

The KrasnodarTerritory has started works on the construction of a bridge across the KerchStrait in the Crimea. This was reported by Maxim Sokolov, the Russian Transport Minister, on September 5. According to the Minister, the bridge with the total length of 19 kilometres and the cost of 228.3 billion roubles will be ready by December 16, 2018. Meanwhile, last week, car lines increased on the KerchStrait ferry crossing because of bad weather. As of September 5, the period of waiting for the ferry loading reached up to 20 hours.

Two aircraft accidents in Krasnodar Territory

During the last week, two aircraft accidents occurred in the KrasnodarTerritory. On September 4, a Mi-8 helicopter, which was carrying out a demonstration flight at the opening of the international "Gidroaviasalon 2014", crashed in the GelendzhikAirport. Two crew members perished at once. Another crew member was hospitalized, but died in hospital on September 6. The GelendzhikAirport stopped flights because of the accident, and more than 300 passengers of three airplanes were taken to the AnapaAirport. The GelendzhikAirport was reopened only on September 5. Investigators consider two versions of the accident: a technical failure and a pilot error. The programme of the "Gidroaviasalon" underwent adjustments because of the tragedy: in particular, the fireworks festival was cancelled. Besides, on September 4, near the town of Armavir, a military aircraft MiG-31 crashed during landing. Both two persons of the flight crew stayed alive: both pilots managed to land safely.

Courts start consideration of claim filed by opponents of construction of maternity hospital in wooded area of Stavropol

In Stavropol, the court began to consider the claim filed by local activists. Earlier, they have repeatedly held actions to protest against cutting down of trees, and now they demand to annul the documents on the allocation of land plot for construction of a perinatal centre in the area of natural reserve the Taman Forest Garden, where the Regional Hospital is located. On September 3, the preliminary court hearing was held, and the court involved in the consideration the Duma of the city of Stavropol, the Stavropol Ministry of Construction, and the Urban Administration Committee of Stavropol. However, the court has dismissed the request to secure the ban on cutting down trees in the disputed area. The next court hearing is scheduled for September 8. Activist Yuliya Shaptala has filed a complaint to the court on behalf of the opponents to the construction of the perinatal centre in a wooded area. Andrei Djatdoev, a city manager of Stavropol, associates the protests with the upcoming election of the Governor of Stavropol, which is to be held on a single day of voting of September 14.

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