04 May 2015, 08:45

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 27-May 3

May Day rallies and demonstrations in the southern regions of Russia and the countries of South Caucasus; voting at the elections to the Parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh; resignations of two Ministers in Georgiathat was followed by consideration of the Government's composition in the Parliament; fire at a military training ground in the Rostov Region; amnesty in South Ossetia; start of consideration of the substantive case against Said Amirov in court, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of April 27-May 3, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Residents of southern regions of Russia and countries of South Caucasus celebrate May Day with rallies and marches

On May 1, all the southern regions of Russia held celebrations in honour of the Labour Day, earlier known as the International Workers' Solidarity Day. Participants of actions raised the problems of decent wages and lack of jobs.

Thus, participants of three rallies held in Vladikavkaz in honour of the May Day voiced the problems of low wages, employment difficulties for young people, and high level of bureaucracy. In Stavropol, participants of the action in Fortress Hill called on to double wages in response to widespread price growth. At the May Day rally in Cherkessk, speakers also talked about the need to enhance and expand the social and labour rights of citizens. Participants of the May Day rally in Sochi demanded from the authorities to solve the problem with the lack of jobs and increase public sector salaries. In Volgograd, the rally organized by trade unions was held under the slogan reading: "Double wages in response to price growth!" At the rally organized by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), participants were holding in their hands posters with the slogans reading: "Give us progressive scale of taxation!" and "No communal robbery!"

On May 1, capitals of the countries of South Caucasus also hosted rallies. So, at the May Day rally in Tbilisi, the Georgian trade unions claimed non-compliance with the provisions of the Labour Code. In Baku, an action was held by activists of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, who urged the government to declare the day of May 1 a holiday and a day off. They unfolded posters with the slogans reading: "Workers of the world, unite!" and "Long live socialism, down with capitalism and fascism!" and raised the flags of the USSR. In Yerevan, activists of the "Gnchak" Social Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Armenia held a demonstration. They criticized the policy of the Armenian authorities and demanded to respect the rights of workers.

Nagorno-Karabakh holds voting at parliamentary elections

On May 3, Nagorno-Karabakh held a voting at the parliamentary elections. 278 voting precincts were opened at the elections, including one in Yerevan. The elections involved three political forces represented at the National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the "Free Homeland", the "Dashnaktsutyun", and the "Democratic Party of Artsakh", and four opposition parties, including the "Peace and Development", the Communist Party, the "National Revival", and the "Movement-88". Leaders of the "National Revival" and the "Movement-88" Parties reported no gross violations during the voting. The turnout reached 70.6% of the total number of voters. International observers characterized the elections in Nagorno-Karabakh as democratic.

Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and the United States announced their non-recognition of the election results. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has warned foreign observers about possible criminal prosecution in the case of their arrival in Nagorno-Karabakh to monitor the elections.

Resignations of two Ministers in Georgia result in need for consideration of Government's composition by Parliament

On April 28 and 29, in Georgia, Elgudja Khokrishvili, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, and Levan Kipiani, the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, surrendered the office. This event has resulted in the need for consideration of the Government's composition by the Parliament, since Levan Kipiani has become the seventh minister quitting the current Government, and, according to the Constitution of Georgia, after the change of one-third of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Government should be re-approved by the Parliament (in total, the Georgian Cabinet of Ministers includes 19 ministers and the Prime Minister).

On May 1, Irakli Garibashvili, the Prime Minister of Georgia, announced the names of the candidates for the positions in the Government. On the same day, Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili postponed for a week the signing of a resolution on the new composition of the Government. The Georgian President has drawn attention to the fact that the updated Cabinet of Ministers is supposed to include a new Minister of Defence. The "Free Democrats" Party has already announced that its members will not vote for the new composition of the Georgian Government and claimed its distrust of the proposed candidates.

Civilians evacuated because of fire at military training ground in Rostov Region

In the morning of April 28, a self-propelled gun (SPG) blew up at the Kuzminsky military training ground in the Rostov Region. As a result, a fire occurred. Ten soldiers were injured. In total, about 800 residents of the villages of the Neklinovsky and Myasnikovsky Districts in the potential fragment injury zone were immediately evacuated. An emergency regime was introduced at the Soviet rural settlement. The explosion most affected villages and farm yards of the Neklinovsky District. So, at the farm yard of Golovinka, windows were shattered in several houses, a gas pipeline was damaged in the village of Sovetka, and in the farm yard of Vodino, a missile reached a private house. By 1:00 p.m. Moscow time of the same day, the fire at the military training ground was extinguished, and residents of the nearby villages returned to their houses. When commenting on the incident, the experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" have voiced the opinion that the Kuzminsky military training ground is to be distanced from residential areas or subjected to serious modernization.

Parliament of South Ossetia announces amnesty

On April 29, the Parliament of South Ossetia approved the resolution of amnesty, which was the first one since June 2012 and which was initiated on April 10 by Leonid Tibilov, the President of South Ossetia. The amnesty was declared in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II. The amnesty will pardon and release 10 earlier sentenced citizens of the republic. At present, in total, 45 persons are serving their sentences at the Tskhinvali penal colony-1.

Court launches consideration of substantive case against Said Amirov

In Rostov-on-Don, the North-Caucasian District Military Court has started the consideration of the substantive criminal case against Said Amirov, the former Mayor of Makhachkala. Together with other defendants in the case, Said Amirov is accused of organizing the murder of the investigator, involvement in an illegal armed formation (IAF), banditry, terrorism, and arms trafficking. On April 29, a number of organizational issues were arranged at the preliminary court hearing, which was held behind closed doors. In particular, the Court has allowed Dalgat Saidovich Amirov, a son of Said Amirov, to take part in the trial as a defender. The court hearing on the merits is scheduled for May 12, and on the same day, the Court is to listen to the indictment.

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