11 April 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 4-10

Armistice in the Karabakh conflict zone and meetings of the parties with mediators; entry into force of the verdict to Nadezhda Savchenko and her announcement of hunger strike; appointment of the date of the parliamentary elections in Georgia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of April 4-10, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Parties in Karabakh conflict sides declared armistice and meet mediators

At the start of the week, information about the warfare, commenced at night on April 2, continued arriving from the Karabakh conflict zone. Thus, at night on April 4, according to both parties, shelling went on in Nagorno-Karabakh, and in the morning armed clashes broke out. Artsrun Ovannisyan, the press-secretary of the Armenian Ministry of Defence (MoD), said that there were fights throughout the whole contact line of troops; and that the enemy suffered a considerable damage. In its turn, the MoD of Azerbaijan announced the liquidation of Armenian command headquarter post in Nagorno-Karabakh. On April 5, the parties declared an armistice; however, and after that periodic reports appeared about violations of the agreement.

On April 8, the conflict zone was under the ceasefire regime intended to look for and transport the bodies of slain servicemen. On April 10, under the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the OSCE, an exchange of bodies took place: Nagorno-Karabakh received 18 bodies, Azerbaijan – 7 ones. As of April 8, the losses of the Defence Army of Nagorno-Karabakh made 44 servicemen; the count of missing persons is 2; 121 servicemen were wounded. On April 7, Azerbaijan announced the death of 31 servicemen and 9 wounded persons.

Region visited by co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group and Russian Premier Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev visited Baku on April 8; and on April 7, he held meetings in Yerevan. This was preceded by a meeting in Baku on April 6 of Azerbaijani President with Sergey Lavrov, the head of the Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

On April 6, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev said about his meeting in Baku with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. On April 7, the mediators held a meeting in Stepanakert, during which Bako Saakyan, the president of Nagorno-Karabakh, demanded the participation of the Karabakh party in the negotiations. Then, the mediators went to Yerevan. On April 9, they stated three principles of conflict settlement, namely: non-use of force; the nations' right to self-determination; and territorial integrity. They stressed that the mandate of the Minsk Group does not assume any investigation into the circumstances of the resumption of warfare in the conflict zone.

Savchenko goes on hunger strike after enactment of verdict

On April 4, the Ukrainian aviator Nadezhda Savchenko, convicted in the case of the murder of Russian journalists near Lugansk and illegally crossing the Russian border, said about her final refusal to lodge a complaint on her sentence imposed on March 22 by the Donetsk City Court of the Rostov Region, under which she was sentenced to 22 years of general-security colony. On April 5, the sentence came into force. On April 6, Savchenko's advocate Mark Feigin said that his client had started a dry hunger strike. The members of the Public Oversight Commission (POC) of the Rostov Region, who visited Savchenko, stated that she feels well; she has no complaints about the custody conditions, but she refused from being examined by Russian. She demands to be examined only by foreign doctors: from Ukraine or from Germany, and demands to be send to Ukraine.

President of Georgia announces date of parliamentary elections

On April 5, the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili stated that the parliamentary elections in the country will be held on October 8. On April 6, the document of the appointment of the parliamentary elections was sent to the Prime Minister, who should sign it. The law gives him ten days to discuss the President's act with his ministers. However, on April 7, the NGO "Young Lawyers' Association" urged the Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to return the document to the President. It contains the risk of an artificial change of the starting date of the electoral campaign, the NGO believes, as, under the law, the document should be published and enter its force two months prior the voting date, that is, on August 8. The President associated the early announcement of the date of elections with the need for the parties to duly plan their campaigns. On April 9, Mr Kvirikashvili said that the holding of elections on October 8 is a political decision; but the issue on when the resolution on the appointment of the vote is not yet resolved, the "Georgia Online" reports.

Volgograd: power agent detain top-managers of "Krasny Oktiabr" Factory

On April 5, agents of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) held searches in the territory of the Volgograd "Krasny Oktiabr" (Red October) Factory, after which they detained several persons from among the leadership of the Volgograd Metallurgy Combine (VMC) and the Volgograd Steel Works (VSW) "Krasny Oktiabr", which operate at a single production site in Volgograd under one trademark.

The workers of the VMC sent an appeal to the General Prosecutor's Office and the administration of President of Russia, in which they expressed their concern over the future of the enterprise in connection with the detentions. They stressed the non-involvement of the detainees to the case of employees of the Closed Joint-Stock Company (OJSC) "Russpetsstal" about embezzlement of 65 million US dollars, adding that the detainees were working at the enterprise already is, being managed by the "Russpetsstal", was declared bankrupt. Investigators have released all the detainees, except one, Dmitri Gerasimenko, the controlling shareholder of "Krasny Oktiabr", told the portal "V1.ru". On April 7, Andrei Bocharov, the Governor of the Volgograd Region, visited the enterprise and met Valery Yavetskiy, the Director General of the VMC, says the website of the Governor and Administration of the Volgograd Region.

Deputies of City Assembly of Buynaksk elect city head

On April 4, the sitting of the City Assembly of Buynaksk elected Zakarya Amirov to the post of the head of the city administration. Prior to that, Amirov was, since December 30, 2015, the acting Mayor. Gusein Gamzatov, the former Mayor, who believes that he had been dismissed with violations, decided to challenge his dismissal at court. According to his story, the Deputies were under strong pressure from the authorities of Dagestan.

Tibilov announces referendum in South Ossetia on joining Russian

Leonid Tibilov, the head of South Ossetia, said, at a press conference on April 4, that a referendum on the republic's accession to the Russian Federation will be held in the near future – sooner than six months. He noted that this issue was discussed at his meeting with President of Russia on March 31 among the issues related to recovery of South Ossetia and enforcement of the provisions of the alliance agreement (its signing on July 30, 2015, was condemned by Georgia, which treats South Ossetia as the territory of Georgia, occupied by Russia). Mr Tibilov also stressed that holding the referendum is an internal issue, which requires legal apprehension in terms of amending the Constitution of South Ossetia.

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