21 March 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 14-20

Passenger jet crashin Rostov-on-Don; pardoning in Azerbaijan of 14 political prisoners; Said Amirov pronounces his last plea at trial at Supreme Court of Russia; start of building a new house in place of destroyed apartment building in Volgograd; recall of license from Vladikavkaz "1Bank"; explosion at filling station in Kizlyar, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of March 14-20, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

62 casualties in aircraft crash in Rostov-on-Don

At night on March 19, in Rostov-on-Don, an aircraft Boeing-737 of the airline "FlyDubai" flying from Dubaicrushed down. All 55 passengers and seven crew members perished. The main versions of the disaster include a crew error and bad weather conditions; besides, they consider a possible technical failure. The casualties' bodies were removed from the venue of the accident site and sent for examination. It is already known that the casualties included two residents of the Volgograd Region; Igor Pakus, a Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Rostov Region with his wife; as well as relatives of the head of the Azov District of the Rostov Region. More than a dozen representatives of the Interstate Aviation Committee arrived in the Rostov-on-DonAirport to investigate the aircraft crash; investigators have confiscated the flight documentation and interviewed over 40 persons. The airport was closed after the accident.

On March 19, the regional authorities announced allocation of compensations in the amount of one million roubles to families of the residents of the Rostov Region, who died in the aircraft crash; and on March 20, the payments began. The authorities of Rostov-on-Don have allocated additional 200,000 roubles to relatives of each of 28 perished residents of the city.

14 political prisoners pardoned in Azerbaijan

On March 17, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev signed a decree to pardon 148 people. Among them, there are 14 known political prisoners, including Rasul Jafarov, Anar Mamedli, Talekh Khasmamedov and Gilal Mamedov. On the same day, the Court of Appeal ruled to release one more political prisoner – the journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov, convicted on charges of treason: his real term in prison was replaced by a conditional punishment with a probation term of 5 years. Representatives of the USA, the European Union and international organizations have positively estimated the above decree of the President of Azerbaijan, which has pardoned and released a group of political prisoners. However, they expressed the need to liberate other political prisoners, including the journalist Khadija Ismayilova, the human rights defender Intigam Aliev and an opposition politician Ilgar Mamedov.

Said Amirov makes his last plea

On March 17, Said Amirov, a former Mayor of Makhachkala, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the case of organizing customized murders, made his last plea at the trial in the Supreme Court of Russia, which considered the convicts' appeals. Amirov said that the state prosecutor had really failed to get into his case, but simply fulfilled the political order of his opponents. Amirov also drew the court's attention to the grave condition of his health, and recalled his participation in the fight against militants. Also the court was addressed with their last pleas by the convicts Yusup Djaparov, Abdulmazhid Akhmedov and Zubair Mutaev. They reported about torture during the investigation, and that the first-instance court failed to consider the arguments of the defence, and urged the court to issue a verdict of acquittal. The rest of the convicts refused to speak; and the trial was adjourned until March 24.

Volgograd: construction of new house launched instead of destroyed one

The construction of a 10-storey residential building has begun in Volgograd at the site of the apartment block, destroyed by the explosion on December 20, 2015. As reported on March 15 by the Volgograd Regional Administration, the land plot was provided to the Limited Liability Company (LLC) "Peresvet-Yug" for lease without holding a tender; a permit to build the house was issued. The house should be commissioned before the end of 2016; the apartments will be made available for tenants in 1Q of 2017. The builders have already made a foundation pit. They expect in late April-early May to start assembling the building. 69 families from the destroyed house have already applied for certificates for new apartments in the new house under construction.

License revoked from Vladikavkaz-based "1Bank"

On March 17, the Central Bank of Russia revoked the license for banking operations from the "1Bank" in North Ossetia. The reasons for that decision are reported as the inadequate assessment of taken risks under the unsatisfactory quality of assets; a failure to observe federal laws regulating the banking activities; and the presence of real threats to the interests of creditors and depositors. The bank is under the interim administration.

Explosion at filling station in Kizlyar wounds over 30 persons and de-energize neighbourhood

In the evening on March 18, in the Dagestani city of Kizlyar, an explosion occurred at a filling station. A fire and an explosion broke out at pumping gas from a tanker into an underground storage tank. About 40 persons were affected. Six of them were hospitalized, said a source from the emergency services of the region. In the close vicinity to the filling station, there is an electric substation; and a result of the explosion, an outage of power supply occurred in the neighbourhood – about 1500 customers were left without electricity. The power supply was restored on March 19.

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