16 November 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 9-15

Bad weather conditions, which resulted in emergencies in the southern part of Russia and Southern Caucasus; release from prison of Azerbaijani political analyst Arif Yunus; elections of the City Mayors in Pyatigorsk and Yessentuki; Congress of the Karachay people in Cherkessk; special operation in Nalchik, resulted in the killing of the leader of the local IS unit; court's decision to replace the unserved part of the sentence to Krasnodar ecologist Evgeny Vitishko with restriction of liberty, see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 9-15, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Rainfalls and winds cause emergencies in southern part of Russia and Southern Caucasus

Last week, bad weather conditions resulted in emergencies in many parts of southern Russia and Southern Caucasus.

On November 11, rainfalls hit the Krasnodar Territory. The city of Sochi also suffered: traffic in the city centre was disrupted because of heavy flooding. In the section of Dagomys-Sochi, mudflow blocked one of the rail tracks. In the evening of November 12, several streets and districts of Sochi were deprived of water supply because of a landslide. By the morning of November 13, the damaged section of the water pipeline was fixed. A state of emergency was introduced in the city. On November 12 and 13, residents of Chechnya reported on interruptions of electricity supply. According to energy specialists, interruptions with power supply have occurred as a result of strong gusts of wind. On November 12, in Kabardino-Balkaria, residents of the village of Atazhukino were deprived of electricity supply because of strong wind. Besides, the roofs of the cadet school and the secondary school No. 1 were damaged in the village. The hurricane ripped the roof from the building of the school in the city of Kislovodsk in the Stavropol Territory.

At night on November 12, heavy rains with winds hit the western part of Georgia. The bad weather conditions resulted in flooding of houses in Batumi, Samtredia, Kutaisi, Chokhatauri, and traffic on the roads was restricted. On November 14, as a result of rainfalls and river flooding, villages of the Khashuri municipality were flooded, and the system of landing at the Batumi airport was disabled. On November 12, strong wind and snow storm lasted during several hours and deprived of electricity residents of the Tavush, Lori, and Aragatsotn Regions of Armenia. Azerbaijan was also affected by the bad weather conditions. After heavy rainfalls occurred in the southern part of the country, the Geological Survey Service of the Ministry of Ecology of Azerbaijan announced the formation of a number of new local landslides.

In Azerbaijan, Arif Yunus released from prison on recognizance not to leave

On November 12, the Baku Court of Appeal (BCA) released Azerbaijani political analyst Arif Yunus, the husband of Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), from custody on recognizance not to leave in connection with the deterioration of his health state. Arif Yunus was sentenced to 7 years in prison on charges of economic crimes and treason, and Leyla Yunus was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment. The spouses pleaded not guilty and claimed the political nature of the criminal case against them, and their advocates appealed against the verdict. According to the advocate of Arif Yunus, his client has been released prior to the outcome of the consideration of the appeal, and in case if the appeal is dismissed, the political analyst will again be taken into custody. Arif Yunus himself demanded to release his wife. The release from custody of political analyst Arif Yunus in Azerbaijan was applauded by officials of the USA, the EU, and the OSCE. They have announced that they are expecting a similar step with regard to Leyla Yunus, the wife of Arif Yunus, and other imprisoned activists.

In Pyatigorsk and Yessentuki, deputies elect City Mayors

On November 12, deputies of the Pyatigorsk City Duma unanimously voted for the appointment of Lev Travnev the City Mayor. He has been heading the city since October 2006. Now, he takes the office for five years. The list of candidates for the position of the City Mayor included three persons: Lev Travnev, Dmitry Voroshilov, deputy head of the city administration, and Yury Khodjaev, the head of the "International Financial Club" bank branch. However, the State Duma deputies made their choice from two candidates, since on November 12, Yury Khodjaev, who used to hold the position of the head of the department of economic development of the Pyatigorsk city administration at the period of time, when Lev Travnev was the City Mayor, withdrew his candidacy from the election. Local experts pointed to the lack of any intrigue in the course of the election, since Lev Travnev was running for the position of the Pyatigorsk City Mayor against his former subordinates. After the deputies have held the voting, Stavropol political analyst Anton Chablin claimed no prerequisites for solving the problems of Pyatigorsk. He has also noted that the city is still to be governed by the same team.

On November 13, in Yessentuki, deputies of the City Council also made their choice and voted to appoint Alexander Nekristov the City Mayor. He used to be Acting City Mayor after Larisa Pisarenko left the office. In Yessentuki, the election was a competition, since Alexander Nekristov, a member of the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia), was opposed, among other candidates, by Alexander Sysoev, a member of the Yessentuki City Council and a member of the faction of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). However, out of 26 deputies, who attended the session, 24 voted for Alexander Nekristov.

In Cherkessk, Karachay people hold Congress and criticize authorities of Karachay-Cherkessia

On November 13, in Cherkessk, the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development in the Karachay-Cherkessian Republic (KChR) hosted the Congress of the Karachay people. It was attended by about 200 delegates and guests from Cherkessk, Karachaevsk, and the Zelenchuk, Malokarachay, Karachay, and Prikuban Districts. Participants of the Congress demanded from the authorities to solve problems of cronyism and corruption. The Congress was initiated by the public organization "Union of Karachay Youth". The organizers of the Congress reported on an attempt of the authorities to disrupt the event.

Supporters of the authorities claimed the illegitimacy of the Congress of the Karachay people. Besides, on November 13, Cherkessk hosted a meeting of members of public organizations, heads and deputies of municipalities of all levels of places of compact residence of the Karachay people. The participants of the meeting criticized the organizers of the Congress of the Karachay people and claimed that they were trying to destabilize the situation in the region.

In Nalchik, Robert Zankishiev, leader of local IS unit, killed in special operation

On November 10, a special operation was held in Nalchik, in the course of which, according to law enforcers, Robert Zankishiev, the leader of the local unit of the "Islamic State" (IS), recognized as a terrorist organization in Russia and a number of countries throughout the world, was killed. The special operation was carried out in a residential area, and a 14-storey building was blocked. Muslim wife of Robert Zankishiev and an OMON (riot police) fighter were wounded. During the special operation carried out in the multi-storey building, one apartment was seriously damaged, its owner claimed. Besides, the building communications were damaged; however, they were fixed during the day.

It should be noted that Robert Zankishiev swore allegiance to the "Islamic State" (IS) and declared himself the emir of militants in Kabardino-Balkaria, while the local armed underground was already led by Zalim Shebzukhov. In June, it was reported that militants of the "Imarat Kavkaz", recognized as a terrorist organization, swore allegiance to the leader of the IS; however, Zalim Shebzukhov did not support the above swear. Militants of the "Imarat Kavkaz" in Kabardino-Balkaria treat members of the "Islamic State" as their rivals; however, the death of Robert Zankishiev did not strengthen the positions of the "Imarat Kavkaz". This opinion was expressed by political analysts, while they commented on the results of the special operation carried out in Nalchik on November 10.

Court replaces unserved part of Evgeny Vitishko's sentence with restriction of liberty

On November 10, the Kirsanov District Court of the Tambov Region pronounced the decision to replace the unserved part of the sentence to Krasnodar ecologist Evgeny Vitishko with the restriction of liberty. The Krasnodar ecologist was serving his sentence at the Tambov penal colony in accordance with the verdict in the case of damage inflicted to the fence around the territory, well-known as the "summer cottage" of Alexander Tkachov, then Governor of the Krasnodar Territory. Meanwhile, on November 9, the Kirsanov District Court found no grounds to release Evgeny Vitishko under the amnesty in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Victory. On November 10, Sergey Loktev, the advocate of the Krasnodar ecologist, reported that his client would be released on November 23. On November 13, Evgeny Vitishko told on the phone his supporters from the "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus" (EcoWatch) that he had received a notice from the penal colony administration that he would be released on November 21.

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