02 February 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 26 to February 1

Mass protests of entrepreneurs in Yerevan, demanding to repeal amendments to Law "On Turnover Tax"; appointment of a new MIA boss in Georgia; second within a month visit of Presidential Envoy Melikov to Derbent, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 26 to February 1, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Yerevan entrepreneurs hold mass protests demanding to repeal amendments to the Law "On Turnover Tax"

On February 1, Armenia was to enforce the amendments to the Law "On Turnover Tax", according to which entrepreneurs were supposed to present their reports and invoices for each goods item to the Ministry of Finance of Armenia, otherwise they would be fined by the Taxation Service. These amendments triggered protests from entrepreneurs, who held a series of protests last week. They were caused by the fact that big businesses often fail to issue documents on goods to their small and medium partners. On January 26, several hundreds of entrepreneurs, who rallied near the building of the Armenian Government, said that the amendments "would destroy small and medium businesses." On January 29, already more than two thousand small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs blocked the street in front of the residence of the President of Armenia. On January 30, protesters threatened the authorities with a sit-in strike.

The protests were eventually heard – on January 31, after a meeting with the Prime Minister Ovik Abramyan with the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, the Armenian Government announced a postponement of the entry into force of the amendments to the Law "On Turnover Tax". Besides, Premier Abramyan instructed his subordinates to draft, before July 1, such legislation provisions, which will create more favourable conditions for small businesses.

Over 800 employees fired from Volgograd "Khimprom" factory

The procedure of mass dismissal of the workers of the Volgograd "Khimprom" factory was launched on January 26, when 814 employees were fired. In November 2012, the factory was declared bankrupt and stopped operation last September. Starting January 27, the laid-off "Khimprom" workers went to get registered at employment centres. The second wave of layoffs at will start on February 10. "Khimprom" workers demanded to prevent mass staff reduction; and on January 13, the regional authorities announced their plans to launch at least four profitable production lines at the factory and save up to half jobs at the enterprise.

Georgia appoints new MIA head

In Georgia, on January 26, Vakhtang Gomelauri, a former Deputy Interior Minister, was appointed to the post of the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). It happened after on January 24 the Prime Minister of Georgia accepted the resignation of the Interior Minister Alexander Chikaidze. The latter motivated his decision to resign by the accusations, addressed to him in recent days that he had sheltered the figurants of the murder of Zurab Vazagashvili. Earlier, some political analysts said that the minister had to resign against his will. The new appointment is weakening the position of Irakli Garibashvili, the head of the Cabinet of Ministers, experts assert.

Presidential Envoy to NCFD Sergey Melikov visits Derbent for the second time within a month

On January 27, Sergey Melikov, the Russian Presidential Envoy to the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), visited Derbent during his visit to Dagestan. On January 13, Melikov, together with heads of Dagestan and other regions of the NCFD, also visited the city, which on September 15 this year will celebrate the 2000th anniversary. The Envoy attended a sitting of the working group set up for preparing the celebration of the city foundation jubilee. There, he made critical remarks, among them, the absence of the scenario of the celebration, and the presence in the city of a number of socio-economic problems. He also said about complaints that the undertaken works may cause damage to historic monuments. Melikov offered to start city subbotniks in Derbent from March on, and said that in early February a sitting of the Federal Organizing Committee for the jubilee with ne held, to be chaired by Alexander Khloponin, a Deputy Prime Minister of Russia; this is all reported on the website of the administration of Derbent.

Russian State Duma gives consent to transfer case of MP Bessonov to court

On January 28, in the course of an open voting, the Russian State Duma agreed, by majority vote, to transfer the case against Vladimir Bessonov, an MP from the Rostov Region, to the court. He is charged with using violence against the police on December 2, 2011, in Rostov-on-Don, during an unsanctioned rally. The decision was supported by 233 MOs, while 157 voted against; three MPs abstained. Bessonov himself, who is a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), has refused to plead guilty, while his party comrades announced their intention to hold an all-Russian campaign in his support.

"Stroygazmontazh" awarded contract to build bridge across Kerch Strait

The company "Stroygazmontazh" (SGM), which is owned by Arkady Rotenberg, has been defined as the contractor entitled to design and build a bridge across the Kerch Strait connecting the Krasnodar Territory and the Crimea. As it became known on January 30, the project should be implemented no later than December 2018, said the governmental order. Earlier, it was reported that the cost of the construction will make 228.3 billion roubles; and the bridge will become an alternative to currently operating Kerch Strait ferry, which is today, after the annexation of the Crimea to Russia, no longer able to cope with the flow of goods and people.

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