31 August 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 24-30

Court's decision on life imprisonment for former Makhachkala Mayor Said Amirov; opening of NATO training centre in Georgia; verdict of Rostov court to Ukrainian citizen Sentsov, which raised condemnation of human rights defenders and Western politicians, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 24-30, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Court's decision on life imprisonment for former Makhachkala Mayor Said Amirov

On August 27, in Rostov-on-Don, the North-Caucasian District Military Court completed the trial in the case against Said Amirov, the former Mayor of Makhachkala. Said Amir was sentenced to life imprisonment. Seven other defendants in the case Yusup Djaparov, Murad Aliev, three Akhmedov brothers, Magomed Kadiev, and Zubair Mutaev were sentenced to 10-22 years of imprisonment. The defendants were charged with a number of serious crimes, including the murder of Arsen Gadjibekov, the head of the Investigating Division of the Investigating Department for the Soviet District of Makhachkala, and the terror act near the Caspian shopping and entertainment centre "Moscow" committed in 2011. The advocates have announced their intention to appeal against the court's decision.

Earlier, Said Amirov, who claimed that the charges against him had been fabricated, had been sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment on charges of plotting a terror act to assassinate Sagid Murtazaliev, the head of the Department of the Pension Fund for Dagestan. The experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" believe that the assets and business of the former Mayor of Makhachkala remain under the control of his supporters. According to the experts, the prosecution and the life sentence certainly became a blow to the Amirov's empire; however, they did not destroy it completely.

NATO opens training centre in Georgia

On August 27, in a suburb of Tbilisi, the National Training Centre in Krtsanisi opened a joint training and assessment centre of NATO in Georgia. The initiative to establish the training centre became a part of the package of enhanced cooperation between the parties in the military sphere adopted in September 2014. Participants of the opening ceremony have announced that the centre is aimed at strengthening the country's defence capacity. Starting from 2016, the centre will train Georgian soldiers and representatives of NATO member states and partner countries.

The spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has called the situation with the opening of the NATO centre in Georgia "a continuation of the provocative policy of NATO." Georgian political analysts treated the event as one more step on the way to Georgia's membership in NATO. They also claimed the growth of tension with Russia in connection with the opening of NATO training centre.

Human rights defenders and Western politicians condemn verdict to Oleg Sentsov

On August 25, in Rostov-on-Don, the North-Caucasian District Military Court found Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and ecologist Alexander Kolchenko guilty of terrorism. Alexander Kolchenko was sentenced to 10 years, and Oleg Sentsov to 20 years of imprisonment in a high-security penal colony. They did not recognize their guilt, and their advocates announced the intention to appeal against the verdict. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has called the verdict "an unlawful decision based on fabricated materials of investigation obtained also through the use of psychological pressure and torture against the Ukrainian citizens." Western politicians also expressed their condemnation of the court's decision. The international human rights organization "Amnesty International" (AI) has also announced a negative assessment of the trial.

Azerbaijani President appoints date of elections to National Assembly

On August 28, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev signed a decree to schedule the next elections to the National Assembly for November 1. The elections will be held by the majority system, and 125 MPs will be elected to the National Assembly from single-mandate electoral districts. On August 29, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Azerbaijan approved the action plan for the elections. According to the plan, the day of August 29 started the process of nomination of candidates to positions of MPs. All the necessary documents for the approval of the candidate should be submitted to the district election commissions till the evening of October 2. The election campaign will begin on October 9 and will end on October 30.

On August 18, Azerbaijani oppositionists gathered in Baku for a "roundtable". They have disagreed about whether their parties should take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections and referred to the fact that the laws of Azerbaijan provide full control of the authorities over the election results.

Volgograd court decides to arrest State Duma MP Nikolai Parshin

On August 26, investigators put on the federal and international wanted lists Russian State Duma deputy Nikolai Parshin, deprived of inviolability. Nikolai Parshin is involved in case of fraud with land plots and the building of schools in the Sredneakhtubinsky District of the Volgograd Region. The Volgograd court pronounced the decision to take the MP into custody. The defence of Nikolai Parshin challenged the court's decision. Among their arguments, the advocates mentioned violation of right to defence and disregard of evidence supporting admissible excuses for the Nikolai Parshin's failure to surrender to the investigators. Nikolai Parshin himself is confident of political nature of the criminal case against him. He states that he is not hiding from the investigators. Political analysts believe that the criminal proceedings against Nikolai Parshin may be of interest to many influential politicians of the Volgograd Region, including his party colleagues.

Russian President defines candidates for position of head of North Ossetia

On August 24, the President of Russia introduced to the North-Ossetian Parliament a list of three candidates for the post of the head of the republic, including Tamerlan Aguzarov, the acting head of the region, Elbrus Bokoev, the secretary of the regional Public Chamber, and regional deputy Elena Knyazeva. The new head of North Ossetia will take office on September 13, immediately after the secret electronic voting of deputies. This was announced by an official from the regional government. Let us note that Tamerlan Aguzarov was nominated as a candidate by all parties, except for the "Patriots of Russia" Party. Earlier, local political analysts have stated that the issue of electing the head of North Ossetia does not carry any intrigue, since Tamerlan Aguzarov has no real competitors.

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