06 April 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 30-April 5

Series of accidents on power lines and other emergencies in Southern Russia caused by hurricane; decision of Moscow City Court on complaints against arrest of figurants in Nemtsov's murder case; verdict of jurors in BORN case in Moscow; Ukraine's refusal to give Mikhail Saakashvili out to Georgia; sentence in murder case of Dagestani journalist Akhmedilov; protest action demanding to compensate inflation losses in Baku, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of March 30-April 5, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Hurricane wind brings series of accidents on power lines and other emergencies in Southern Russia

The start of the week in the regions of Southern Russia was marked by a number of emergencies caused by a hurricane. In Dagestan, in the afternoon on March 30, because of wind gusts, residents of several settlements in seven districts of Dagestan, as well as residents of northern districts of Makhachkala, remained without electricity. On the same day, they temporarily closed traffic over the BuinakskPass, after a strong wind pushed several cars off the road; collapsed a balcony of an apartment building in Makhachkala; rolled over a bus stop in Kizilyurt; and flooded, by tidal waves, 50 hectares of pasture land in the Tarumov District. On March 31, inMakhachkala, a gust of wind blew a light multipurpose aircraft AN-2 off its parking lot and turned it over.

Kalmykia also faced electric power outages and increase, because of tidal waves, of the level of the Lagan shipping canal up to dangerous watermarks. A large number of accidents on power lines were reported in the Volgograd Region, where the hurricane broke out on March 28. Citizens reported about falls of advertising structures and broken tree branches. Residents of Astrakhan remained without heat and water due to power outages; reports arrived from the region about fallen trees and damaged roofs of summer cottages. The wind also caused power outages in 26 settlements of the Rostov Region, where also some busses turned over on icy roads.

MCC sends issue of freedom restriction of three figurants in Nemtsov's murder case to reconsideration

On April 1, the Moscow City Court (MCC) considered the appeal complaints lodged by all five figurants, natives of Chechnya, in Boris Nemtsov's murder case. The court left Zaur Dadaev, a former serviceman of the battalion "Sever" (North) of the Interior Troops of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in Chechnya, in custody until April 28; upheld the arrest of Anzor Gubashev; and sent the issue of freedom restriction measure of Khamzat Bakhaev, Shagit Gubashev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov for reconsideration. The reconsideration decision was motivated by the procedural violation of the Basmanny District Court – the March 8 judgement to arrest the above three suspects at the same time.

In the course of considering the above complaints, lodged by the defendants and their advocates, statements were made about their non-participation in the crime. Dadaev refused his initial confessions, saying that he had given them under pressure and treated his detention in Ingushetia as kidnapping. In the course of the sessions on complaints of other defendants in the case, the investigator said that Dadaev was cooperating with the investigation; however, his advocate Ivan Gerasimov, according to the "Interfax", refuted this information; and, according to the "Kommersant", prepared an official statement about the use of illegal methods of investigation.

Jurors render verdict in BORN case in Moscow

Late in the evening on March 31, after a two-day discussion of the question list of 69 points about the proofs of the crimes, the defendants' guilt and mercy for them, at the Moscow Regional Court, the jury rendered its decision in the case of the "Combat Organization of Russian Nationalists" (known as BORN). The result was a guilty verdict and the proof of the fact that the defendants – Maxim Baklagin, Vyacheslav Isaev, Mikhail Volkov and Yuri Tikhomirov – accused of killing anti-fascists, the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, Judge Eduard Chuvashov and world champion in Thai boxing Muslim Abdullaev and others – committed their crimes as members of the BORN, not by their own, and motives for the crimes were in ideological considerations. The jurors concluded that by a number of episodes the defendants deserve leniency. The court appointed the discussion of the jury's conclusion for April 8. The defendants' advocates said they were generally satisfied with the verdict.

Ukraine rejects Georgia's request to extradite Mikhail Saakashvili

On April 1, the General Prosecutor's Office (GPO) of Ukraine announced its decision to reject the extradition of the former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to his homeland. The GPO motivated its refusal by the fact that the extradition request was politically motivated. In Georgia, the former president is accused of having embezzled budget funds, abuse of power and involvement in a number of high-profile crimes. Saakashvili was arrested in absentia by the Georgian court; however, he believes that his prosecution is political.

Makhachkala court delivers verdict in journalist Akhmedilov's murder case

On March 30, the Leninsky District Court of Makhachkala made its decision in the case of the murder in August 2009 of Abdulmalik Akhmedilov, the editor-in-chief of the "Sogratl" newspaper and the executive secretary of the newspaper "Istina" (Truth). The court sentenced Murad Shuaibov, who, according to investigators, shot the journalist dead, to 10.5 years in prison. Isa Abdurakhmanov, who, according to the prosecution, was at the car steering wheel at the moment of the murder, received 8 years in prison. Both of them refused to plead guilty; and their defence announced its intention to appeal against the verdict. The Shuaibov's confessions were video recorded; however, advocates argued in court that the confessions were given under torture. Colleagues of the murdered journalist believe that the investigation was conducted with violations, and law enforcers failed to use the opportunities at their disposal to establish all the circumstances of what happened; and now the main issue is to establish the customers of the crime.

In Baku, opposition holds protest demanding compensation of losses from inflation

A rally demanding to indemnify against inflation and initiate reforms was held by activists of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) at the stadium of the sports complex of the Yasamal District of Baku. The action with a demand to compensate losses from the devaluation of the national currency to the population, which was undertaken by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan on February 21, after which the prices on imported goods went up by 20-30%. The rally was held under the motto "No to robbery and deceits!" According to the police, the event was attended by 500 people; however, the organizers assert that the number of participants was not less than 8000.

When opening the rally, Ali Kerimli, the leader of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), stated that "the authorities are ignoring citizens' legitimate interests" and predicted the country's economic collapse and social explosion if the situation does not change. The fall of oil prices "exposed the absence of real economy in Azerbaijan," said Gyultekin Gadjibeili, a former MP and a member of the NCDF. The filmmaker Eldaniz Guliev said about "a moral terror against intellectuals, artists and journalists," and Oktay Gyulalyev, the head of the public alliance "Azerbaijan without Political Prisoners", called for the release of the arrested activists, bloggers and journalists.

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