10 November 2014, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 3-9

Split in the ruling coalition of Georgia after resignation of Defence Minister Irakli Alasaniya; festivities in Russia on National Unity Day; open festival "Kunaki" of documentaries and author's TV programmes of Northern Caucasus in Sukhumi, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 3-9, 2014, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Split within ruling coalition of Georgia after resignation of Defence Minister Irakli Alasaniya

On November 4, the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili dismissed the Defence Minister Irakli Alasaniya, accusing him of trying to politicize the inquiry into corruption in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and of violations admitted in the sphere of procurement. Alasaniya himself stated that the government should oppose its pro-Russian forces, who try to change the country's chosen course towards European integration; and on the following day he announced secession of his party – the "Free Democrats" – out of the ruling coalition. These developments were followed by a number of voluntary resignations of senior officials, as well as the departure of eight MPs of the "Georgian Dream" into the opposition, after which it lost the absolute majority in the parliament. On November 8 Alasaniya was elected the chairman of "Free Democrats" and announced that he will participate in the 2016 parliamentary elections.

Eleven Georgian NGOs called on the Georgian authorities to clarify the situation with the resignation of ministers and high-ranking officials. The US State Department expressed its concern about the political instability in Georgia; and the Kremlin stated that they are closely monitoring what is happening there. Georgian political analysts have treated Alasaniya's resignation and his announcement about the secession of his "Free Democrats" Party out of the ruling coalition as a result of the attempts to correct the country's pro-Western course.

Festivities and celebrations in Russia on National Unity Day

On November 4, residents of Russia marked the National Unity Day; the Regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) held rallies, concerts and festivities; thousands of young people gathered in republics' capitals to perform the anthem of the Russian Federation. Besides, nationalists held their marches in Volgograd and Astrakhan; these actions passed without detentions.

On that day, the central Moscow hosted a march of activists of Caucasian public and youth organizations, natives from Northern Caucasus. The majority of users of social networks questioned by the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent have treated this "Caucasian march" as "unnatural" and the participation therein as humiliating for natives of the Caucasus; however, some of the respondents believe that against the background of the strained ethnic relations in Russia the action was a good decision.

Conviction to dismissed Mayor of Astrakhan Mikhail Stolyarov charged with bribery

On November 5, the Kirov District Court of Astrakhan found the Dismissed Mayor Mikhail Stolyarov guilty of a large-scale bribery and sentenced him to 10 years in a high-security colony and a fine of 500 million roubles. The Court concluded that there was enough evidence of his crime and that he took the bribe for personal gain. Stolyarov refused to plead guilty, stating in his last plea that the offer of money to him was a provocation.

Inactivation of power units of NPP near Volgodonsk in Rostov Region

On November 4, both power units of the Rostov Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), located 13.5 km off the city of Volgodonsk, were disconnected from the grid. Power engineers reported that the protection system tripped during the works conducted on the "Yuzhnaya" (Southern) line. As a result, power supply was stopped to two million consumers in Southern of Russia. NPP officials stated that there were no excess beyond the limits and no other violations of safe operation conditions at the plant. One of the units was connected to the grid on the same day; and the second one was connected and reached the prescribed power level on November 6. Local environmentalists have confirmed that the accident had no effect on the radiation background of Volgodonsk.

Sukhumi hosts "Kunaki" – the 8th open festival of documentary films and author's TV programmes of Northern Caucasus

On November 2-7, the city of Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, was the venue of the 8th open festival of documentary films and author's TV programmes of Northern Caucasus, named "Kunaki" (Friends), dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First World War and participation of Caucasian nations in the defence of the Russian Empire. The jury failed to define the Grand Prix winner, but announced winners in five categories, among them: the "Eduard Gazaryan: a magician" by the Armenian film maker Ayk Ordyan; and the "Aber", a film by Amra Nachkebiya, a young film director from Abkhazia. On November 4, the festival held a roundtable" with participation of scientists and experts from Russia and Abkhazia: "Caucasians in World War One. Wild Division' as a unique historical experience".

Commissioning of the Roki Tunnel connecting Russia with South Ossetia

On November 5, North Ossetia completed the reconstruction of the Roki Tunnel connecting Russia with South Ossetia and located on the Transcaucasian Highway. The reconstruction of the almost four kilometre long tunnel was carried out since September 2009 and was funded under the Federal Programme "Development of Russia's Transportation System in 2010-2015". After the reconstruction, the tunnel now meets all the standards and is able to pass heavy and long vehicles. Drivers note its increased safety.

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