16 February 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 9-15

Initiation of criminal case against head of Derbent, and gathering of his supporters; resignation of leader of the Party "Prosperous Armenia" (PPA) from the post of a member of National Security Council, which, according to opposition leaders, worsened political situation; closure of schools and kindergartens under quarantine for influenza in Southern Russia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 9-15, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Dagestan: head of Derbent figures in criminal case; Yaraliev's supporters report pressure on him

A month after election under the new procedure of Imam Yaraliev, who had headed the city of Derbent since 2010, to the post of the city Mayor, on February 13, the Prosecutor's Office of Dagestan, and, later, the investigating authorities of the republic confirmed the information that a criminal case had been opened against Yaraliev on illegal transfer of federal land plots into the municipal ownership. Investigators have also reported that they are considering the materials of the prosecutor's check of violations by the city administration of the land legislation and causing the damage to the state in the amount of over 36 million roubles. Employees of the Mayoralty have associated the claims of the Office with the pressure on Yaraliev.

On February 14, it was announced that Mavsum Ragimov, who was appointed to be the acting head of the administration of Derbent after on January 12 the Mayor of Derbent Imam Yaraliev submitted his resignation application. According to Telman Mukailov, the head of legal division of the Mayoralty, it happened after Ragimov's meeting with officials from the administration of the republic's leader.

On February 11, Yaraliev was supported by the members of the emergency sitting of the Board of Elders of the city. They said that the pressure on the city administration is intended to disrupt the celebration of the 2000th anniversary of Derbent; they also appealed to the President of Russia and the bosses of the country's law enforcement bodies asking them to check the legality and relevancy of the criminal case against Yaraliev.

Resignation of PPA leader from the post of member of the National Security Council

On February 12, the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said that he had dismissed Gagik Tsarukyan, the leader of the "Prosperous Armenia" Party, from the membership in the National Security Council of Armenia, because he "ignored his voters" and failed with his duties; he added that Tsarukyan was suspected of non-payment of "billions of taxes." On February 14, the Prime Minister Ovik Abramyan removed Tsarukyan from the post of the Chairman of the Board of the Armenian State Institute of Physical Culture and ordered to check his tax obligations.

Gagik Tsarukyan himself stated, regarding his removal from the National Security Council, that he had been de facto for six months out of it; and he had not resigned officially only at the president's personal request. In his statement, issued on February 13, the PPA leader also noted that the position of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, supported by the decision of the president, was caused by his refusal to support the country's constitutional reforms. In his statement, Tsarukyan called on the people to consolidate and fight for the change of power in the country. On the same day, Tsarukyan met the leaders of opposition parties "Heritage" and Armenian National Congress (ANC) Raffi Ovannisyan and Levon Ter-Petrosyan, where they discuss the situation in the country. The oppositional leaders condemned the president's statement on Gagik Tsarukyan and noted that it had led to deterioration of the political situation.

In Southern Russia, they began closing schools and kindergartens under flu quarantine

Last week, some regions of Southern Russia registered a large number of cases of influenza in children, which forced the authorities to close schools and kindergartens. Thus, by February 13, quarantine because of flu and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) resulted in partial closure of two schools in Elista and six schools in districts of Kalmykia, six schools in Elista and one in the republic were closed completely; eight urban and two district kindergartens were partially closed; in total, five kindergartens of the republic were completely closed. In North Ossetia, by February 10, classes were stopped in 53 schools. On February 7-15, quarantine was introduced in all schools of Volgograd; and on February 13, the flu quarantine for pupils of forms 1-8 was extended until February 20. On February 10, the city of Volzhskiy of the Volgograd Region had to close, because of the excess of the flu epidemiological threshold, two schools; and 30 schools stopped lessons in 52 classes.

Accident of military aircraft near Volgograd

On February 11, a bomber Su-24 of the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) crashed and exploded in the Volgograd Region, seven kilometres off the airport in the Kalachov District. There were two crew members on board. Nobody of locals was hurt by the crash. On February 12, fragments of pilots' bodies were found. A technical failure is considered as the basic version of the crash of the Su-24. The final conclusion will be made by experts after decoding the "black boxes", which were also found. The aircraft crash occurred during a military exercise on interaction with the units of the separate motorized rifle brigade of the Southern Military District, which began on February 9 in the Prudboy testing range in the Kalachov District of the Volgograd Region.

Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova faces new charges

On February 13, the General Prosecutor's Office (GPO) of Azerbaijan has charged the journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who is kept in custody on charges of incitement to a suicide attempt of her former colleague, with economic crimes. Khadija, an employee of the Azerbaijani Service of Radio Liberty, who is under arrest since December 5, 2014, is now accused of a large-scale embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of office, said her advocate Fariz Namazly. According to his story, these accusations put forward on the basis of a certain act of a tax audit of the activities of the above Azerbaijani Service of January 15, 2015. The advocate has stated the insolvency of the charges and said that Ismayilova has refused to plead guilty and testify.

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili appointed advisor to President of Ukraine

On February 13, the former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who was arrested in absentia by the Tbilisi Court as a figurant of several criminal cases and declared wanted by the Georgian law enforcers, was officially appointed as an off-the-staff advisor to the President of Ukraine. He also became the Chairman of the International Advisory Board on New Reforms under the President of Ukraine. Mikhail Saakashvili himself said that would oversee the supply of weapons from Western countries to Ukraine. After this news, Vasily Tsybenko, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Georgia, was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia, where he was asked to present clarifications on the appointment of Mikhail Saakashvili. It is noteworthy that on December 1, 2014, Saakashvili, who is treating his criminal prosecution as exclusively political, said that the Ukrainian authorities had invited him to take the post of deputy prime minister in the government Yatsenyuk; however, he refused, because in that case he had to give up his Georgian citizenship.

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