07 December 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 30 to December 6

Referendum on draft constitutional reforms in Armenia; protest of truckers from Volgograd Region in Moscow suburb; murder of Chief Physician of Republic's Hospital in Kabardino-Balkaria, –see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 30-December 6, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Referendum on draft constitutional reforms held in Armenia

On December 6, Armenia held a referendum on the draft constitutional reforms. The draft assumes a switchover to the parliamentary system of governing, according to which the president will be elected by the parliament for seven years; and he will be deprived of the right to re-election. The offered reforms were supported by 63.35% of voters – this figure was announced by the Central Election Commission (CEC) after processing all the ballots.

The Police of Armenia received 182 reports about violations during the referendum. The head of the country's CEC said that the violations did not affect the outcomes of the voting.

The preparation for the referendum took place against the background of protests. On December 6, the oppositional front "No!" held a rally in central Yerevan demanding to recognize the outcomes of the referendum invalid, and claiming falsifications. The participants of the march demanded a meeting with the Chair of the CEC; however, did not achieve this.

Fire of Azerbaijani oil platform in Caspian Sea resulted in casualties

On December 4, a fire broke out at the Azerbaijani oil field "Guneshli" in the Caspian Sea. Mirvari Gakhramanly, the Head of the Committee for Protection of Oilers' Rights, has stated that the fire killed 32 people; but the government has officially confirmed the death of only one worker. In total, 32 persons were evacuated from the platform; 31 of them turned to doctors.

As of the evening on December 5, 29 people were regarded as missing. By the evening of December 6, none of them was found. On that day the mourning was announced in the country.

The Azerbaijani society suggested a terror act, but the State Oil Company declared that the reason of the accident was technological, said the blogger of the "Caucasian Knot" named "Wind from Apsheron".

Truckers from Southern Russia hold protest near Moscow

Truck drivers from several regions of Russia, who oppose the introduction of the "Platon" system, providing for collection of tolls from trucks for using federal highways, headed to Moscow for holding a protest there. Thus, on November 29, a column of heavy-duty vehicles left Volgograd. Truckers reported that their column was stopped several times by the police. On December 3, Volgograd truckers reported an attempt of provocation.

In total, the participants of the action are 90 truckers from the Volgograd Region. Some of them are returning home, claiming that they had run out of money. About 200 truckers continue their strike near Khasavyurt in Dagestan. Also, truckers from Stavropol Territory and Astrakhan Region are near Moscow.

Let us note here that on December 4 the State Duma reduced the fines for evasion of paying taxes under the "Platon" system.

Saakashvili deprived of Georgian citizenship and removed from UNM chairmanship

On November 4, Giorgi Margvelashvili signed a decree on deprivation of former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is now the Governor of the Odessa Region of Ukraine of Georgian citizenship. On November 5, the "United National Movement" (UNM) Party, which is in opposition to the ruling "Georgian Dream" Party, removed Saakashvili from the post of the chairman. David Bakradze, one of the leaders of the UNM, said that after Saakashvili was deprived of his Georgian citizenship, he will not be able to conduct any political activities in Georgia. Saakashvili himself said that the authorities had decided to deprive him of his Georgian citizenship, in order to prevent him from taking part in the next elections. Despite the lack of citizenship and prohibition for foreigners to participate in political life of the country, Saakashvili will still have some influence on the internal politics of Georgia, experts say.

Chief Physician of Republic's Hospital shot dead in Kabardino-Balkaria

Khadis Bottaev, the Chief Physician of the Republic's Clinical Hospital in Nalchik, was shot dead in his head on December 5 in his house in the village of Khasanya. According to investigators, he was assassinated in his sleep; and several culprits were involved in the crime. They consider several versions of the murder, including Bottaev's professional activities; however, so far, they have no suspects. Bottaev was appointed to his post in March this year.

Trial of Savchenko's case completes hearing prosecution's evidence

On November 3, at the trial at the Donetsk City Court of the Rostov Region in the case of the Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, the prosecution completed presenting its evidence. At the same session, the court rejected the petition to disqualify the panel of judges. The day before, the court questioned Alexander Dragovalovsky, an officer of the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD). On November 30, they finished questioning Roman Spirin, an expert-gunner, and read out testimonies of two other experts. Savchenko's advocates have critically evaluated the evidence presented by the prosecution and the results of examinations, saying that most of them were obtained in violation of the procedural legislation.

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