04 January 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 28-January 3

New Year celebrations in Northern Caucasus under reinforced security measures; armed attack on people in Derbent; presentation of final charges on Nemtsov's murder, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 28, 2015-January 3, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

New Year celebrations in Northern Caucasus held under reinforced security measures

The celebrations of the 2016 New Year passed in the regions of Northern Caucasus without incidents, but were accompanied by increased security measures. In some cities, townspeople had a chance to welcome the New Year in central squares, particularly in Makhachkala. However, a few hours before the New Year, the central square of this city was blocked by reinforced police units; and the entrance to the square was possible only through metal detectors. Makhachkala residents found the strengthening of security measures on the New Year reasonable. In Grozny, quite a lot of policemen were on duty near the central New Tear Tree, which did not hamper to merely welcome the New Year, locals said. However, in Stavropol, the city New Year celebrations were cancelled for security reasons.

Armed attack on people near Naryn-Kala Fortress in Derbent

At night of December 30, an armed attack was committed on people in the vicinity of Naryn-Kala Fortress in the city of Derbent. Twelve persons were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds; one of them later died. Initially, it was reported that tourists were under fire, but later it became clear that all the victims were local residents. The responsibility for the attack was taken by the "Islamic State". Sources from power agencies suspect a group of local militants, headed by Abutdin Khanmagomedov, a native of the village of Khapil. The head of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipov said that the shelling was organized by the militants, who are still at large, and who wanted to break stability in Derbent, which has just celebrated its 2000th birthday. The experts, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", said that Derbent locals could come under fire occasionally, while the main targets of the attackers were military servicemen.

Four natives of Chechnya and Ingushetia finally charged with Nemtsov's murder

On December 29, four figurants in the murder case of Boris Nemtsov, namely, Zaur Dadaev, Shagid Gubashev, Khamzat Bakhaev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov, were presented the final charges. The indictment states a murder for hire. The advocate of another figurant, Anzor Gubashev, was away on a business trip; therefore, the indictment will be presented to his client later. After the presentation of the final indictment, Zaur Dadaev, who is treated as the direct gunman, refused to plead guilty, his advocate said. The Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) intends to complete the investigation in January 2016, and submit the case files for studying to the suffered party; and in March to send the case to the court.

It is noteworthy that a figurant in the case is also Ruslan Mukhudinov, an officer of the Chechen battalion "Sever" (North), who ha been put on the wanted list and is considered to be the customer of the murder. Another officer of the "Sever" – Ruslan Geremeev – is also a figurant in the case. Vadim Prokhorov, the advocate of the Nemtsov's family, disagrees with the investigators' finding that Mukhudinov was the customer of the murder.

Rescuers find fifth casualty of the explosion of Volgograd house

On December 30, rescuers of the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) completed the search-and-rescue operations under the rubble of a residential building in Volgograd, where an explosion occurred on December 20. When clearing the ruins, the rescuers found the bodies of five persons. Experts found that the house is in the state of emergency and subject to demolition.

The authorities have begun issuing housing certificates to families of the destroyed house. However, some tenants have stated that the resettlement conditions fail to match the situation in the real estate market. On December 29, they sent letters to President of Russia and Volgograd Governor with the proposal not to provide them with temporary housing, but to send the funds to the construction of a new residential building. On December 30, they also adopted the charter on the public organizations created to protect their rights and named "Tragedy in Kosmonavtov 47".

The final reason of the explosion has not yet been specified. On December 28, Igor Oder, Head of the Southern Regional Centre of the MfE, reported the discovery of traces of explosives in the apartment in the seventh level of the house. However, the Investigating Department for the Volgograd Region of the ICRF has stated that there were no experts' conclusions on the explosion case. According to neighbours, tenants of apartment No. 64, where the explosion occurred, stored ammunition, gas cylinders and gasoline.

Kvirikashvili becomes Georgian Premier

On December 30, President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili signed a decree on appointment of Giorgi Kvirikashvili to the post of Prime Minister, which was abandoned on December 23 by resigned Irakli Garibashvili. The day before, at the parliamentary session, Giorgi Kvirikashvili presented his programme "For strong, democratic and united Georgia", and the MPs adopted the programme by a majority vote. Given the financial crisis, the Georgia's new government should ensure economic development and improve people's welfare, said Kvirikashvili.

Pardon announced by Azerbaijani President failed to affected political prisoners

On December 28, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev signed a decree on pardoning 210 convicts. The list is missing the citizens, recognized by rights defenders as political prisoners. On December 24, activists of the country's human rights organizations asked to pardon 22 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, and sent a list thereof to the joint working group on human rights. Civil society activists and experts expressed their disappointment with the fact that the presidential decree failed to cover political prisoners.

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