18 April 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 11-17

Attack on the ROVD in the Stavropol Territory; special operation in the vicinity of Makhachkala; protest action in Yerevan against Russian arms supplies to Azerbaijan; hunger strike of inmates of Nalchik SIZO; a series of pickets in Cherkessk, which resulted in resumption of the investigation into the case of a fire at the city marketplace; withdrawal of the banking licence of the "Stella-Bank" from Rostov-on-Don, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of April 11-17, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

ROVD attacked in Stavropol Territory

On April 11, three persons attacked the ROVD (District Interior Division) of the Novoselitsk District of the Stavropol Territory. According to investigators, one of the attackers committed a suicide bombing, and two others were killed. The counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was introduced within the territory of the Novoselitsk District. The attackers were identified as Zaur Akaev, Ramazan Khaibulaev, and Isai Abdulatipov, residents of the village of Kitaevskoe, who had earlier criminal records. After the identification of the attackers, law enforcers conducted searched in the houses of the killed men and their relatives and detained a suspected accomplice of the attackers. On April 13, the CTO legal regime was lifted. According to one of the versions, Zaur Akaev decided to take revenge on local policemen, since he believed they were guilty for his criminal record. His bomb was packed with striking elements and its components were similar to the components of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by militants from North-Caucasian armed groupings.

The ROVD could be attacked by residents of the region without combat experience who came under the influence of the propaganda of the "Islamic State" (IS, earlier ISIL), recognized as a terrorist organization and banned in Russia. This opinion was expressed by experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". Anonymous sources also alleged possible involvement in the attack on the ROVD of the imam of one of the neighbouring mosques. The Mufti of the StavropolTerritory has denied the information. Abbas Magomedov, the district Imam, also claimed non-involvement in the attack on the ROVD.

At night of April 16, another armed incident occurred in the Stavropol Territory. As a result, two men were killed in a shootout not far from the Cossack village of Sernovodskaya in the Kursk District. They were identified as Umar Besleneev and Rashid Ustarkhanov. They might have been involved in the attack on the Novoselitsk ROVD. This version is being checked, reports a source from the law enforcement bodies.

Three suspected militants killed during special operation near Makhachkala

On April 13, in Leninkent, the suburban residential settlement of Makhachkala, law enforcers began to check houses to search for militants and their accomplices, and armoured vehicles blocked one of the entrances to the residential settlement. Later, counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was introduced there, and law enforcers blocked the house, where three suspected militants were killed. At place of the special operation, law enforcers found a hiding with a large number of weapons and ammunition. According to the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC), the killed suspects were involved in bombing of a motor convoy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) on March 29, and one of them was identified as Kamil Magomedov, the leader of the local militants. On April 14, the CTO legal regime in Leninkent was lifted.

Yerevan hosts protest action against Russian arms supplies to Azerbaijan

On April 13, inYerevan, activists held a march in protest against the sale of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan. In total, the protest action was attended by about 1000 people. They claimed that during the hostilities in Karabakh on April 2-5, the Azerbaijani side used the multiple launch rocket system "Smerch" with cluster warheads and heavy flamethrower systems TOS 1-A "Sunheat", which Russia has been supplying to Azerbaijan for many years. During the march, the activists stopped in front of the Armenian government building and demanded from the country's leaders to ignore the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) summit. At the Russian Embassy, the marchers broke through the police cordon and throw coins and eggs to the building. The protestors accused the Kremlin of destabilizing Southern Caucasus and claimed that Russia faced a risk of losing Armenia as an ally. It should be noted that on April 8, Dmitry Rogozin, Russian Deputy Prime Minister, told journalists that Russia would continue to supply weapons to Baku and Yerevan in accordance with the contracts.

At Nalchik SIZO, inmates go on hunger strike to protest against beatings

On April 11, relatives of SIZO (pre-trial prison) inmates claimed that illegal actions of Nalchik SIZO staff provoked a mass hunger strike, which went unnoticed. According to the relatives of the inmates, 24 people made an attempt to commit suicide at the SIZO No. 1 in Nalchik, and another man cut his veins at the court hearing. In the evening of April 11, the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service (known as FSIN) denied the information about an attempt of mass suicide and abuse of prisoners' rights. However, on April 12, the FSIN Department admitted the fact of the hunger strike at the Nalchik SIZO. According to the FSIN Department, the SIZO inmates stopped their hunger strike in the evening of April 12. On April 11, members of the Republican Public Monitoring Commission (PMC) met the inmates of the SIZO No. 1 in Nalchik. The PMC members have confirmed that the inmates of the Nalchik SIZO complained about being beaten.

In Cherkessk, protests result in resumption of investigation into case of fire at marketplace

On April 11, about 50 residents of the city of Cherkessk gathered for a picket in front of the Government House. They demanded to resume the investigation into the case of a fire at Turgenev marketplace which occurred on August 7, 2014. On that day, the fire covered the area of 7000 square meters and injured 17 people. On November 28, 2015, the investigation onto the case of fire was suspended because of the fact that investigators had failed to reveal the person guilt for arson. On April 12, about 60 former workers of the market held a picket in Cherkessk, and on April 13, the picket was attended by about 30 people. On April 14, the protest action gathered 40 former workers of the Turgenev marketplace. On the same day, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) for Karachay-Cherkessia made a decision to resume the investigation into the case of the fire at the marketplace, and former market workers announced suspension of their pickets.

Licence of "Stella-Bank" from Rostov-on-Don withdrawn

On April 14, the Bank of Russia withdrew the licence for banking operations from Joint-Stock Commercial Bank (JSCB) "Stella-Bank", registered in Rostov-on-Don. Among the reasons for the withdrawal of the banking licence, officials from the Bank of Russia mentioned high-risk credit policy, failure to comply with the requirements in the field of counteraction to legalization of proceeds from crime and to terrorist financing. The interim administration has been appointed for the "Stella-Bank". According to the financial reports, mentioned by the Bank of Russia, as at April 1, 2016, in terms of assets, the Joint-Stock Company (JSC) JSCB "Stella-Bank" took the 467th place in the Russian banking system. This is the second bank of Rostov-on-Don which banking licence was withdrawn this year: on February 15, the licence for banking operations was withdrawn from the "Kapitalbank".

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