30 November 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 23-29

Unrest in Nardaran, which killed seven persons; two CTOs in Dagestan; departure of protesting truckers from southern regions of Russia to Moscow; transfer to court of the case about the shooting of the family in Gyumri; hunger strike of Krasnodar ecologist Evgeny Vitishko in the penal colony; withdrawal of the banking licence of the "Maximum" Bank in the Rostov Region, see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 23-29, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Seven persons killed in unrest in Nardaran

On November 26, clashes between believers and the police occurred in the Azerbaijani village of Nardaran, located 25 kilometres from Baku. As a result, two policemen and five local residents were killed. The unrest was caused by the special operation, during which 14 people were detained, including Shiite theologian Talekh Bagirzade. In 2013, he was sentenced on the charge of possession and sale of drugs, and Azerbaijani human rights defenders recognized him as a political prisoner. According to Azerbaijani law enforcers, the detainees created the movement "Muslim Unity" to overthrow the constitutional order in Azerbaijan and to establish a religious state governed by Sharia law, and they planned actions to destabilize the social and political situation and to organize mass riots and terror acts. All of them were arrested by the court. Journalists of two TV Channels were attacked when they were highlighting the events in Nardaran. Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, demanded from the Azerbaijani authorities to investigate the incident.

Residents of Nardaran started to build barricades, and the police arranged reinforced checkpoints at all entrances to the village of Nardaran. After the unrest had occurred, Nardaran was deprived of the electricity supply. The energy company has explained the interruption in the electricity supply by the residents' debts; however, the villagers accuse the authorities of provocation. Stationary phones did not work in the village, and the villagers faced difficulties with the supply of food. Only at the meeting of elders and representatives of the village of Nardaran held on November 29, it was decided to terminate the protests and unblock streets inside the village in order to avoid confrontation with law enforcers.

According to local experts, the events in Nardaran could provoke an ideological vacuum in the country.

Law enforcers carry out two CTOs in Dagestan

In the course of the past week, in Dagestan, law enforcers carried out special operations in three districts. At 6:00 p.m. of November 23, the counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was introduced in the Tabasaran District. At 1:30 p.m. Moscow time of November 26, the CTO legal regime was cancelled, according to an official from the operational headquarters for Dagestan, in connection with the completion of all activities. The law enforcers did not report the results of the CTOs.

At night of November 29, the CTO legal regime was introduced within some areas of the Suleiman-Stalsky and Magaramkent Districts: within the terrain between villages of Ashaga-Stal, Ispik, and Kasumkent. According to law enforcers, three militants were killed in the course of the special operation. The killed men were identified as 30-year-old Robert Melikov, 26-year-old Gasan Mamedyarov, and 36-year-old Makhmud Makhmudov. All of them, according to the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC), swore allegiance to the "Islamic State" (IS), recognized as a terrorist organization. According to law enforcers, Makhmud Makhmudov and Robert Melikov were the leaders of the "Tabasaran" and "Suleiman-Stalsky" militant groupings, respectively. This year, Gasan Mamedyarov returned from Syria, where he took part in the combat actions. Gasan Mamedyarov and Robert Melikov were wanted for the murder of hunters in this September.

Protesting truckers from southern regions of Russia leave for Moscow

In a number of southern regions of Russia, truck drivers continue the strike started on November 15 as a part of the all-Russian protest. They protest against the system "Platon", introduced to collect tolls from trucks for the use of the roads of federal significance.

On November 28, a convoy of 200 trucks left Dagestan for Moscow to continue their protest action in the Russian capital. On the same day, the protestors reported that at a DPS (road-and-patrol service) checkpoint in Kalmykia, policemen stopped convoys of trucks from the village of Manas en route to take part in the protest action in Moscow. On November 29, the protesters reported that in Khasavyurt and Manas, about 90 people were brought to the police station for submission of explanatory notes. However, a source from the Dagestani Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) claimed that no arrests had been carried out.

On November 29, a convoy consisting of 11 heavy trucks and several passenger cars started to Moscow from Volgograd. According to the organizers of the protest action, trucks from Uryupinsk and Frolovo will form convoys directly on the roads, and the main convoy will be added by trucks from Elista.

Starting from November 25, truckers of the Krasnodar Territory have been holding the mass protest action on the road Kropotkin-Temryuk, between the Cossack village of Starokorsunskaya and a farm yard of Lenin. About 70 heavy trucks were accumulated there. And they are also preparing to leave for Moscow on November 30.

On November 29, truck drivers held a protest action in Rostov-on-Don. The protestors have declared that they will go to Moscow, unless the system "Platon" is switched off on December 3. The rally was sanctioned by the City Mayor's Office and organized by the local branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). In the resolution, adopted at the rally, the protesters also demanded the dismissals of Maxim Sokolov, Minister of Transport, and Roman Starovoit, the head of the "Rosavtodor" (Federal Road Agency). The rally held in Rostov-on-Don was attended by truck drivers from the Rostov, Moscow, and Tula Regions, the StavropolTerritory, and from Dagestan, Karachay-Cherkessia, Chechnya, and Saint Petersburg.

Valery Permyakov's case on shooting of family in Gyumri sent to court

On November 24, the General Prosecutor's Office of Armenia approved the indictment in the criminal case on the murder of seven Avetisyan family members committed in Gyumri on January 12. On the same day, the criminal case was sent to court. Valery Permyakov, a regular soldier of the 102nd Russian military base, is involved in the criminal case as a defendant. The court hearings will be held at the court of first instance of the Shirak Region, and the trial will be chaired by Judge Arutyun Movsisyan. According to investigators, Valery Permyakov left his post and walked around Gyumri in search of clothes and money. He entered the house of the Avetisyan family "to steal other people's property", and he stole clothes, three mobile phones, and money. Investigators have revealed that six Avetisyan family members were killed in 28 shots, and the murder of six-month-old Seryozha Avetisyan was committed with extreme cruelty with a bayonet.

Kuban activist Evgeny Vitishko goes on hunger strike in penal colony

On November 24, Evgeny Vitishko, an activist of the "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus" (EcoWatch), declared a hunger strike in the penal colony in the Tambov Region. He is serving his sentence on the charge of infliction of damage to the fence around the territory, well-known as the "summer cottage" of Alexander Tkachov, who was then the Governor of the KrasnodarTerritory. According to the "EcoWatch", Evgeny Vitishko protests "against inappropriate actions of the Tambov Prosecutor's Office, which left him at the penal colony." After on November 10, the court pronounced the decision to replace the unserved Evgeny Vitishko's sentence with a more lenient punishment restriction of liberty, the "EcoWatch" reported that the activist would be released on November 21. However, on November 20, it became known that the Prosecutor's Office challenged the decision of commutation of the sentence for Evgeny Vitishko and stated that the court's decision contained no resolution concerning where, in which territorial body, Evgeny Vitishko would be registered. This is already the second hunger strike, declared by Evgeny Vitishko at the penal colony: for the first time, he went on hunger strike for the period from September 29 to October 10 in protest against the courts' decisions to refuse him in conditional early relief (CER) and commutation of his sentence.

"Maximum" Bank's licence withdrawn

On November 23, the Bank of Russia made a decision to withdraw the licence for banking operations from the Volgodonsk "Maximum" Bank. The high-risk credit policy followed by the "Maximum" Bank was mentioned as the reason for the withdrawal of its banking licence. According to the Bank of Russia, the "Maximum" Bank failed to create reserves for possible loan losses, adequate to the risk taken, and its activities were focused for the aggressive attraction of funds from people. The "Maximum" Bank is the second bank in the territory of the Southern Federal District (SFD), deprived of a banking licence in November. On November 2, the same fate befell the "Agroinkombank", located in Astrakhan.

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