13 July 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 6-12

Appointment of second life sentence to Ali Taziev; dispersal of protest in Bagramyan Avenue in Yerevan; administrative arrest in Sochi of journalist Anna Gritsevich; resignation of Acting Mayor of Makhachkala Magomed Suleimanov; explosion at military factory in Azerbaijan with fatalities; statements at trial of Amirov about torture during investigation, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 6-12, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Ali Taziev receives second life imprisonment

On July 9, the North-Caucasian District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don already sentenced Ali Taziev from Ingushetia, known as Magas, earlier convicted for life imprisonment for a number of resonant crimes, to the second life term on charges of involvement in the attack of militants on governmental structures in Ingushetia in June 2004. Taziev refuses to plead guilty. The court refused to consider the civil claims lodged by the victims on collection of compensations from the convict; however, the latter preserve the right to put forwards their claims in the order of civil proceedings.

Police disperse protest in Bagramyan Avenue in Yerevan

On July 6, the Police of Yerevan dispersed the protesters, who had been holding their action against the increase of the electricity tariff in Bagramyan Avenue since June 19. Law enforcers dragged protesters by legs and put into a bus. 46 people were taken to the police, but on the same day all of them were released. A new rally was announced in Freedom Square; while policemen did not allow protesters to march through the city centre.

In the evening on July 6, David Sanasaryan, one of the coordinators of the protest, went on an endless hunger strike with a demand to cancel the decision to increase the electricity tariff; and on July 7 five other activists joined him. On July 8, Sanasaryan needed medical help; and in the evening on July 9 he stopped his hunger strike at the request of his colleagues. In the evening on July 8, three hunger-strikers stopped their action; and on July 9 – the remaining two. Protesters continue their action; and on July 9, appeals were voiced at the rally addressed to political forces, intellectuals and clergy inviting them to join the protest movement and lead it. Among the speakers there were those who openly called to overthrow the country’s ruling power.

Journalist Gritsevich back at large after her administrative arrest in Sochi

On July 6, the Adler District Court of Sochi awarded Anna Gritsevich, a "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, with a three-day of administrative arrest on charges of disobeying police, when she covered a protest action organized by residents of the village of Chereshnya against the appearance of a dump in the centre of the village, where the garbage collected in Sochi after the June 25 flooding was brought. The same punishment was appointed to ecologist Vladimir Kimaev, who was also present at the site of the action on June 29. On July 9, Anna Gritsevich came out of the detention facility; she had no claims about the custody conditions, but stated her intention to appeal against the decision of the court on her punishment. Kimaev was released on the following day.

The defence of the rights of Anna Gritsevich was proclaimed by the Union of Journalists of Russia (UJR) and the Council for Human Rights and Development of Civil Society Institutions under the President of the Russian Federation (known as HRC). On July 7, the UJR addressed the investigating authorities demanding to open a criminal investigation into the obstruction of Anna’s professional journalistic activities by Sochi policemen. The HRC addressed a similar demand to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Krasnodar Territory.

New Acting Mayor appointed in Makhachkala

On July 9, Magomed Suleimanov, the Acting Mayor of Makhachkala, voluntarily resigned and was appointed Director of the Dagestani Territorial Fund of Mandatory Health Insurance. His resignation followed the statement made by Ramazan Abdulatipov, the head of the republic, on June 25 that Suleimanov should leave his post because he had lost the confidence of the leadership of Dagestan. On July 9, Abusupyan Gasanov, the first deputy head of the city administration, was appointed the Acting Mayor of Makhachkala. Just a day later, on July 10, Musa Musaev, who earlier held the post of the Minister of Construction, Architecture and Housing and Municipal Services, was presented as the Acting Mayor of Makhachkala. The conflict of Abdulatipov and Suleimanov has brought no serious losses to the parties, said the local experts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”. They also saw here the authorities' intention to see an official without ambitions as the Mayor.

Explosion at military factory in Azerbaijan kills two persons

An explosion occurred at the factory "Telemekhanika" in the city of Shirvan, belonging to the Ministry of Defence Industry of Azerbaijan. One person was killed; and 19 other employees were injured. Six people were hospitalized; three of them were taken to the National Burn Centre in Baku. At night on July 10, the death toll increased – a 44-year-old woman died in hospital from her wounds. A short circuit is thought to be the cause of the explosion. A criminal case has been opened on the fact of the factory explosion under Article 223.2 (violation of safety rules on explosive-prone objects, resulting in human death or other serious consequences) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.

Statements on use of torture during investigation announced at Amirov’s trial

Last week, at the trial held at the North-Caucasian District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don and considering the case of the former Mayor of Makhachkala Said Amirov, statements were made about the use of violence against defendants in the course of the investigation conducted in Dagestan. On July 8, Murad Aliev, whose testimonies were announced in court, said that he had been beaten and tortured with electric current; and threats were addressed to his family – all with the aim to force him to slander the former Mayor. Also, the beatings of their clients were announced by advocates Rinat Gamidov (who is defending Abdulmazhid Akhmedov) and Madina Alieva (who is defending Shamsutdin Akhmedov). On July 9, the defence of Shamsutdin Akhmedov presented to the court an expert’s conclusion about the detected bodily injuries; while Abdulmazhid Akhmedov said during interrogation that he had been tortured after his detention. The court added the Akhmedov’s written evidence to the case files. In his comment on his client’s statements, Rinat Gamidov said that already after he had visited his client at the SIZO (pre-trial prison) where Akhmedov was kept, he petitioned about making a check of his bodily harm. Gamidov received an answer that pre-inquiry checks had been made, but it was decided not to open a criminal case.

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