06 October 2014, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 29 to October 5

Suicide bombing in Grozny; death of Minvody resident, beaten up in hospital, and public resonance in Stavropol Territory in this regard; meeting of "Caspian Five" leaders in Astrakhan; delivery of Vaclav Havel Award rights defender who was convicted in Azerbaijan Anar Mamedli; start of autumn recruitment into the Russian Army, where they plan to draw over 4000 conscripts from the republics of Northern Caucasus; election of a new Speaker of the City Assembly of Vladikavkaz - the head of the city, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 29-October 5, 2014, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Suicide explosion in Grozny

On October 5, an explosion was triggered in central Grozny near the railway station, killing five policemen and injuring 12 other people. The explosion was committed by a suicide bomber, who triggered his bomb, when he was stopped by policemen at a framework of metal detectors, installed near the concert hall, where a concert dedicated to the Day of the City was to take place. According to investigators, the suicide bomber was Opti Mudarov, a 19-year-old resident of Grozny, whose relatives lost contact with him about two months ago. So far, investigators have opened a criminal case not under a terror act (Article 205 of the Russian Criminal Code), but qualified the explosion as an attack on law enforcers (Article 317 of the Criminal Code) and illegal arms trafficking (Article 222 of the Criminal Code).

Death of local beaten up in Minvody hospital

At night on September 29, in a Pyatigorsk hospital, the 31-year-old Alexei Larionov, who was beaten up at night on September 21 by a crowd of at least 30 people in the central district hospital of the city of Mineralnye Vody (Minvody). The incident was a continuation of the conflict in a local cafe, from where one of the participants was hospitalized; and Larionov accompanied the victim. The incident received a broad resonance after its video was posted on the Internet. On September 28, a rally was held at the local police department of Minvody demanding a fair investigation of the incident. Investigators managed to identify 12 suspects; six of them were detained; others are wanted. At the demand of the Governor Vladimir Vladimirov the chief physician of the hospital director and the Acting Chairman of the Territorial Committee for Nationalities were fired. Also, after a mass brawl in the hospital, the bosses of the Minvody Interior Division were sacked. On October 3, Ivan Ostapenko, the head of the administration of Minvody resigned. The Investigating Committee has refuted the information about its trainee's involvement in the fight in Minvody, which was reported by commentators of the video. On October 5, the city also hosted an uncoordinated protest action, accompanied by detentions. The scheduled Day of the City was cancelled.

Leaders of "Caspian Five" sign agreements at summit in Astrakhan

On September 29, the city of Astrakhan hosted the 4th Caspian Summit, which was attended by Presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The leaders agreed and adopted a political statement, which has fixed for the first time the status of the Caspian Sea. The "Caspian Five" also reconfirmed the previously agreed principles "of non-presence in the Caspian Sea of any armed forces, not belonging to the parties", and signed a statement, according to which most of the water resources of the Caspian Sea remain in common use of the five states. The summit also signed agreements on cooperation in the field of hydrometeorology of the Caspian Sea, in the area of prevention and liquidation of emergency situations in the Caspian Sea, and an agreement on conservation and sustainable use of the marine biological resources of the Caspian Sea. Russian experts have seen no breakthroughs in the results of discussed topics; however, pointed to the progress in terms of the process of negotiation as such.

Azerbaijani rights defender Anar Mamedli receives Vaclav Havel Award

Anar Mamedli, an Azerbaijani rights defender and the head of the Centre for Monitoring Elections and Democracy Training (CMEDT) became a 2014 laureate of the human rights award named after Vaclav Havel. This was announced on September 29 at a ceremony dated to the opening of the autumn session of the PACE. The award was delivered to the laureate's father, since Anar himself is in prison on charges, which he treats as politically motivated. Also last week it was announced that two more Azerbaijani rights defenders, also arrested by their homeland, were nominated for various awards. Leyla Yunus, the head of the non-profit organization "Institute of Peace and Democracy" (IPD), was nominated for the award of the European Parliament "For Freedom of Thought" named after Andrei Sakharov, while Rasul Djafarov, the coordinator of the campaign "The Art of Democracy" – for the international human rights award named "Human Rights Tulip". It is noteworthy that on October 1 the PACE's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights adopted a statement calling on the Azerbaijani authorities to release the civil society activists arrested and convicted in recent months, whose number, according to local rights defenders, is more than one hundred.

Russian Army starts its autumn recruitment, planning to call up over 4000 conscripts from Northern Caucasus

In Russia, October 1 started the autumn recruitment to mandatory military service; the Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to call more than 150,000 recruits. This year's campaign is notable for more recruits from Dagestan as compared with the spring call up and recruitment in Chechnya, initiated after a 20-year break. Dagestan will recruit about 2000, and Chechnya – 500 conscripts. This autumn, a total of five republics of Northern Caucasus – Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia – plan to call up 4100 young men.

Makharbek Khadartsev elected Speaker of Vladikavkaz City Assembly

On September 29, the Deputies of Representatives of Vladikavkaz of the 6th convocation, who were themselves elected on September 14, elected by open vote Makharbek Khadartsev to be the Speaker. The 50-year-old Khadartsev is a double Olympic Champion in freestyle wrestling; he was an MP of the Russian State Duma of the 6th convocation from the faction of the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party. Now, under the Charter of Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, he is also the head of the city. The Deputies, who represent four parties, voted for Khadartsev at the first session of the City Assembly unanimously.

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