22 December 2014, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 15-21

Continued destruction of houses belonging to militants' relatives in Chechnya; resumption of investigation into the case on the Dubrovka terror act in Moscow; work of the South-Ossetian authorities on finalizing the new agreement on alliance with Russia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 15-21, 2014, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Residents of Southern Russia feel anxious about depreciation of rouble and declare growth of food prices

Sharp fluctuations of the rouble that occurred last week have caused panic in some regions of Southern Russia. On December 17-18, people were standing in lines to ATMs in Grozny. Residents of Chechnya have explained their desire to withdraw cash from their accounts by spreading rumours about the upcoming blocking of bank cards because of the sharp depreciation of the rouble. Because of their fear to lose their savings, residents of Dagestan were in a hurry to spend their money at stores of consumer electronics and at car stores, which sold out the last cars from warehouses. Meanwhile, banks believe the panic is unfounded, and residents of the regions of Southern Russia argue that their fears about the rise in food prices are confirmed. According to residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) interviewed last week by the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, the average rise in prices since this August reached 20-25%.

Continued destruction of houses belonging to militants' relatives in Chechnya and negative assessment made by President Vladimir Putin

At the press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that no one, including the leader of Chechnya, has the right to pre-trial punishment. This statement was made by Vladimir Putin on December 18, when he was responding to the question asked by journalist Xenia Sobchak. She asked the question about the legality of the Chechen authorities' actions against militants' relatives, referring to the Ramzan Kadyrov's statement on the introduction of the principle of collective responsibility for families of members of the armed underground after the terror act committed in Grozny on December 4. The Russian President has noted that the law enforcement agencies investigate the cases in order to identify persons who burned the houses belonging to militants' relatives in Chechnya. After the press conference, it was reported that on December 18, one house was demolished in the village of Koshkeldy of the Gudermes District and that three houses belonging to militants' relatives were destroyed in Gudermes on December 11, 15, and 16.

In Rostov Region, pensioners from Zverevo stop their hunger strike; Rostov bank "Doninvest" declared bankrupt

Last week, it was reported that on December 13, six pensioners from the city of Zverevo of the Rostov Region stopped their hunger strike because of deterioration of their health state. On November 12, they started their indefinite hunger strike demanding to resume suspended benefit for housing and communal services. On December 16, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent was informed of the above by Valery Dyakonov, a representative of the initiative group of the Zverevo residents. Meanwhile, the hunger-strikers have got a message from the Zverevo Prosecutor's Office notifying that someone had paid the debt for general house needs and energy losses of the veterans and people with disabilities on the hunger strike. The protesters have filed a complaint to the City Prosecutor with a request to investigate the situation, since they believe that the person who paid their debt intentionally decided to discredit honest people in eyes of all Zverevo residents.

On December 16, the Arbitration Court of the Rostov Region granted the claim of the Central Bank of Russia on the bankruptcy of the bank "Doninvest", one of the largest credit institutions in the Rostov Region, which license was revoked on October 9. The appointed interim administration has revealed the bank's negative equity in the amount of 1.2 billion roubles. The bank faces bankruptcy proceedings.

Abolition of direct election of heads of districts and mayors of major cities in Krasnodar Territory; announcement of verdict of guilty to Nadezhda Tsapok in case on large-scale fraud

On December 17, members of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnodar Territory introduced changes to the law on local self-government. The law abolishes direct elections of municipal districts and cities in the region and introduces the institute of city managers. Under the new order, heads of urban and municipal districts are to be elected from among the deputies of local representative bodies, and city managers (heads of municipalities) are to be appointed on the basis of competition and under the contract. The changes were initiated by Alexander Tkachov, the Governor of Kuban.

On December 17, the Kuschevskaya District Court of the Krasnodar Territory found Nadezhda Tsapok, the former head and founder of the company "Artex-Agro", guilty of embezzling 770 hectares of land. Her son Sergey Tsapok was the leader of the so called "Tsapok criminal grouping", which members were found guilty of the massacre in the Cossack village of Kuschevskaya. Nadezhda Tsapok was sentenced to 6.5 years of imprisonment in a common security penal colony and the fine in the amount of 500,000 roubles. Ekaterina Stukalo, the former lawyer of the company "Artex-Agro", the second defendant in the criminal case, was sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment in a common security penal colony. Her sentence is to be deferred until her minor child is 14 years old.

Moscow resumes investigation into Dubrovka terror act after detention of Chechen native suspected of aiding and abetting militants

Investigators have resumed the criminal investigation into the terror act committed during the musical "Nord-Ost" in the Dubrovka theatre centre on October 23, 2002. The criminal investigation has been resumed in connection with the arrest of Khasan Zakaev, a 41-year-old native of Chechnya, who is at present being kept at the "Lefortovo" SIZO (pre-trial prison). Khasan Zakaev is suspected of aiding and abetting militants involved in the terror act, and he has been already charged. Suleiman Ibragimov, an advocate of Khasan Zakaev, has declared that his client' arrest is unfounded.

South-Ossetian authorities start working on finalizing new agreement on alliance with Russia

On December 15, the South-Ossetian authorities submitted a working draft of the new agreement on alliance and further integration with Russia, which is to replace the agreement on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance signed in September 2008 in Moscow. According to Leonid Tibilov, the President of South Ossetia, the new agreement with the Russian Federation should take into account the interests of the Ossetian people, especially in the field of security.

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