14 September 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 7-13

United voting day in Southern Russia; election of Tamerlan Aguzarov the head of North Ossetia; arrest in absentia of Sagid Murtazaliev, the head of the Dagestani branch of the Russian Pension Fund, – see these and other events in the Caucasus during September 7-13, 2015, in the review prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Elections in Southern Russia passed with violations

Elections of various levels took place on September 13, the united voting day, in a number of regions of Southern Russia. The most important campaigns included election of governors of the Rostov Region and Krasnodar Territory. These regions, as well as in Dagestan, Chechnya, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kalmykia, Adygea, Ingushetia, Astrakhan and Volgograd Regions and Stavropol Territory regions also held local elections. By the morning of September 14, preliminary outcomes of certain elections became known. Thus, according to the Krasnodar Territorial Election Commission, as of 4:30 a.m. Moscow time, at the election of the governor of the Territory, Veniamin Kondratiev, the Acting Head of the Administration, gained 83.94% of votes. At the election of the governor of the Rostov Region, after processing of 82% of the ballots, Vasily Golubev, the incumbent acting head of the region was in the lead with 79.94% of votes.

In the course of the elections, incidents were registered. Information arrived from Dagestani Buynaksk about a mass brawl between the supporters of the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party and "Party of Veterans", problems with voters' lists at polling stations and attempts of throw-in of ballots. In the Volgograd Region, candidates and observers stated delivery of residents to vote, holding agitation, ban on filming, removing of a trustee from the polling station. Information about throw-in of ballots also came from the Krasnodar Territory. Cases of ballot throw-in, repeated voting and "carousels" were recorded in some precincts of the Rostov Region.

Tamerlan Aguzarov elected head of North Ossetia

On September 13, the session of Parliament of North Ossetia elected Tamerlan Aguzarov the head of the republic for five years; he was acting head since June 5, 2015. A total of 67 local MPs took part in the voting, and 66 of them supported the candidacy of Aguzarov. According to the chairman of the counting commission Kazbek Mrykov, two other candidates – Elbrus Bokoev, the secretary of the regional secretary of the Public Chamber, and regional deputy Elena Knyazeva – did not win a single vote. On the same day Aguzarov took over as head of North Ossetia.

Sagid Murtazaliev arrested in absentia by Basmanny Court of Moscow

On September 9, Sagid Murtazaliev, the head of the Dagestan branch of the Russian Pension Fund, was arrested in absentia for two months by the Basmanny Court of Moscow. The Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) said that Murtazaliev was put on the international wanted list as a suspect, together with Andrei Vinogradov, the head of the Kizlyar District of Dagestan, detained on July 27, of committing several crimes, including financing terrorism and organization of an attempted murder. Murtazaliev's advocates unsuccessfully asked the court to leave him at large on bail of 5 million roubles, and then announced their intention to appeal against the arrest.

Protest action against increase of electricity tariff dispersed in Yerevan

On September 11, members of the group "No to robbery!" organized a rally at Freedom Square in Yerevan against the growth of electricity tariff, after which they marched to Bagramyan Avenue, where they broke through the police cordon. Demonstrators blocked the roadway and refused to obey the police and clear the roadway. Policemen ousted protesters from the roadway of the avenue; they did not use any special means, but broke through the line of activists and took them from the roadway onto the sidewalk. According to demonstrators, the police used excessive force to disperse the action – many activists got bruises from being hit by police when the latter broke the line of protesters; at least four activists sought medical help. 48 of them were taken to the police; they were subsequently released, but attracted to administrative responsibility of disobeying the lawful demands of the police.

Resolution of European Parliament on human rights situation in Azerbaijan caused strong negative reaction in Baku

On September 10, The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, in which it called on the authorities to release journalists and human rights defenders from prison. The European Commission was recommended to introduce personal sanctions against Azerbaijani politicians and judges involved in human rights violations, as well as not to send observers to parliamentary elections. The European Parliament adopted an unprecedentedly tough resolution on Azerbaijan, said Fuad Gakhramanly, a deputy chairman of the Popular Front Party, noting that the issue of targeted sanctions against Azerbaijani officials was raised for the first time. The official Baku has treated the resolution of the European Parliament as pressure on the country, and on September 11, stated a possibility of revision of relations with the European Union; while the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) cancelled the visit of the delegation of the European Commission to the country.

Volgograd Court cancels decision to arrest State Duma MP Nikolai Parshin

On September 10, the Volgograd Regional Court upheld the appeal complaint lodged by advocates of figurant of the case of frauds with a land plot and a school building in the Volgograd Region, Russian State Duma MP Nikolai Parshin against the August 26 decision of the Tsentralny District Court about placing him in custody. As reported by his press secretary, at times when Parshin was summoned by investigators, his case was suspended – in the words of the defence, it is a violation of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure. Also, the advocates draw attention to the incomplete information provided to the operative officer, who announced Parshin as internationally wanted. The Communist-MP himself, who claims the political nature of his case, appealed to the General Prosecutor's Office and the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) with a complain about the bias of Volgograd investigators and request to transfer the investigation to Moscow.

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