01 February 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 25-31

Decision of the Russian Supreme Court concerning appeals filed by defendants sentenced in the case of the attack on Nalchik; start of the investigation into the conflict in South Ossetia at the International Court in The Hague; adoption by PACE of one of two resolutions prepared on the Karabakh conflict, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 25-31, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Russian SC upholds life sentences in case of attack on Nalchik

On January 28, the judicial board on criminal cases of the Russian Supreme Court (SC) pronounced the decision on the appeals against the verdict in the case of the attack on Nalchik, filed by 49 out of 56 convicts. The SC has refused to cancel five life sentences, while having reduced the sentences to the other defendants. Most of the complainants claimed that they were involved in the events by fraud and insisted on reviewing of the sentences.

Advocates of the defendants have noted that as a result of the consideration of the appeals, the maximum reduction in the term of imprisonment was only 1.5 years. According to advocate Rita Gelyaeva, the defendants, sentenced to 12-13 years of imprisonment, "may soon be released on conditional early relief (CER)." Timur Lakunaev, an advocate of Eduard Mironov, believes it is unlikely that the life sentence will be cancelled.

International Court of Justice in The Hague launches investigation into August 2008 conflict in South Ossetia

On January 27, the International Court of Justice in The Hague announced the start of the investigation into the conflict in South Ossetia. It is noted that the investigation shall cover crimes falling under the Court's jurisdiction and committed in South Ossetia and Georgia in the period from July 1 to October 10, 2008. On January 28, Russia handed over to the Court in The Hague its materials on the war in South Ossetia. In this regard, Tskhinvali stated that there was no lack of evidence base. Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has expressed its disappointment with the fact that it was decided to support the position of the Court's prosecutor to start an investigation against residents of South Ossetia and Russian soldiers. Georgia has noted that the start of the investigation is in the interests of the country.

PACE adopts one resolution on Karabakh conflict and announces need for international monitoring of Sarsang Reservoir

On January 25, in Strasbourg, at the winter session, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) considered two resolutions on the Karabakh conflict. However, the PACE has adopted only one resolution on the situation with Sarsang Reservoir. Meanwhile, MEPs did not support the resolution on "Increase of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan". Even prior to the opening of the PACE session, NGOs of Nagorno-Karabakh stated that the reports, which became the base for the PACE draft resolutions, were of biased and pro-Azerbaijani nature. Armenian activists also spoke against the resolutions. On January 29, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev accused the OSCE Minsk Group of disrupting the adoption of the PACE resolution by MEPs. He has also stated that the activities of the intermediaries bring no results in resolution of the conflict.

Law on transport benefits amended after pensioners' protests in Kuban

On January 27, deputies of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnodar Territory approved a draft law on the return of a number of transport benefits. The draft law was initiated by Governor Veniamin Kondratiev after pensioners' protests in Sochi and Krasnodar held in connection with the changes in the regional laws, which deprived pensioners with pensions higher than the subsistence level of benefits for public transport. These changes will take effect from February 1.

Volgograd authorities start paying compensation to tenants of destroyed house

On January 25, Andrei Bocharov, Governor of the Volgograd Region, decided to allocate funds from the reserve fund of the region affected by the explosion of the house in Cosmonauts Street on December 20, 2015. People, who got light bodily harm, would receive 200,000 roubles per person, and people, who got moderate to serious bodily, 400,000 roubles per person. Besides, the people affected by the explosion will be paid financial assistance in connection with the partial loss of their property in the amount of 50,000 roubles per person and 100 roubles per person in connection with the complete loss of their property. On January 29, according to the Volgograd Mayor's Office, the money began to flow into the bank accounts of those people who indicated in their applications that they wanted to get compensation funds to their bank cards. Earlier, on January 13, the authorities reported on readiness of documents for the resettlement of 67 families.

Vyacheslav Derev's powers as a senator from Karachay-Cherkessia terminated

On January 27, members of the Federation Council pronounced the early termination of the powers of Vyacheslav Derev, a senator from Karachay-Cherkessia, in accordance with his request. In last December, Vyacheslav Derev, who represented at the Federation Council the executive power of the Karachay-Cherkessian Republic since April 7, 2011, wrote a letter of resignation. Sources close to Vyacheslav Derev explained his leaving the Federation Council by his wish "to devote himself to business." According to a source from the administration of Karachay-Cherkessia, Vyacheslav Derev may be replaced at his post of senator by Rauf Arashukov, the head of the administration of the Khabez District of Karachay-Cherkessia.

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