28 March 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 21-27

Appointment of Ramzan Kadyrov as acting head of Chechen Republic; conviction of Nadezhda Savchenko, imposed by court in Rostov Region; decision of Supreme Court of Russia upholds verdict to Said Amirov, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of March 21-27, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Ramzan Kadyrov appointed acting head of Chechnya

On March 25, Vladimir Putin appointed Ramzan Kadyrov, whose term in office ends on April 5, to be the acting head of Chechnya. Thus, Mr Putin gave him a carte blanche for re-election to his present post, despite the fact that his tenure has recently been accompanied by scandals, including the persecution of rights defenders in the republic and attacks on the non-systemic opposition. Activists of leading Russian human rights organizations have not seen hint on the possibility of changing the head of Chechnya in the meeting in the Kremlin. The decision to appoint Kadyrov the acting head of the republic means only further stagnation and strengthening of the regime, believe Oleg Orlov, Svetlana Gannushkina and Valery Borschev, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". The quote from the Putin's working meeting with Kadyrov about the need to respect the laws "in all spheres of our life" indicates the Kremlin's special attention to the actions of the head of Chechnya, and, possibly, a search of his successor, said the political analysts Alexei Makarkin and Mikhail Vinogradov.

Court in Rostov Region convicts Nadezhda Savchenko

On March 22, the Donetsk City Court of the Rostov Region finalized the consideration of the case of the Ukrainian servicewoman Nadezhda Savchenko and sentenced her to 22 years in a general security colony and a fine of 30,000 roubles. Nadezhda was found guilty of involvement in the murder of Russian journalists near Lugansk and illegal crossing of Russian border. Her defence said in advance that they would not appeal against the verdict in order to speed up her deportation to Ukraine. According to her advocates, the case has a political context. According to John Kirby, the spokesman of the US State Department, the verdict to Savchenko, who is among those, who were recognized to be political prisoners, by the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", is unfair and contrary to the Minsk agreements.

Sentence to Said Amirov upheld

On March 24, the Russia's Supreme Court (SC) completed the review of the appeals lodged by the convicts in the case of the former Mayor of Makhachkala Said Amirov, convicted for organizing custom killings. The court reduced the sentence to Yusup Djaparov from 18 years to 17 years and 10 months, leaving unchanged the rest of verdict passed in August 2015, under which Amirov was sentenced to life imprisonment. The defence will submit complaints against the verdict to the Presidium of the Russia's SC and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), said Vladimir Postanyuk, the head of the group of advocates.

"Nairit" workers resume protests demanding to restart the factory

Workers of the Armenian "Nairit" factory were included into the working group to study the state of the enterprise, which was set up on March 12, by the order of Levon Eolyan, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. This was announced on March 22, after the protest action of the workers of the idling rubber factory. The group includes Karen Israelyan, the former "Nairit" director, and four factory ex-workers; they are to draft proposals and the programme for restarting the factory. On March 24, about 60 workers again came to the building of the Armenian Government to demand the factory restart. Protesters said they would continue fighting for the enterprise.

Adygea cancels direct election of republic's head

The head of Adygea will be elected not by general popular vote, but by republic's legislature. On March 23, the new procedure was supported by 44 MPs of the State Council-Khase of the republic; only four voted against. Thus, in 2017, the head of Adygea will be elected by local MPs. Under the new law, candidates for the post of head of the republic will be nominated by political parties. Then, the President Russia will define three candidates, of whom the MPs will elect the republic's leader by secret ballot. To win, one should gather a simple majority of votes. Currently Aslan Tkhakushinov is the head of Adygea; his tenure expires in 2017.

Dagestan: criminal case opened on complaints of ill-treatment at "Zabota" boarding school

On March 23, the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) reported that a criminal case had been opened on non-performance of duties on education of minors at the Makhachkala boarding house for mentally retarded children "Zabota" (Care), noting that so far there are no suspects in the case. This was preceded by a check of the boarding school held by the Prosecutor's Office of Dagestan on the same subject. The check was triggered an appeal of Rizvan Kurbanov, a State Duma MP, who referred to the statement in social network that in the above boarding school "for a long time, educators have been committing illegal actions" against children. The statement was posted by the group "Volunteers of Makhachkala" on website "change.org". It was signed by more than 130,000 people. On March 22, the head of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipov held a sitting of the Security Council, which addressed the situation in the boarding school. Officials said that the checks revealed no serious violations in the boarding school and proposed to equip it with surveillance cameras.

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