30 May 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 23-29

Pardoning of Nadezhda Savchenko and her returning to Ukraine; release of journalist Khadija Ismayilova from prison in Azerbaijan; sentencing in the criminal case of mass fight in the hospital of Mineralnye Vody; special operation in Ingushetia, which resulted in killing of five suspected militants; court decision in the criminal case against Ukrainian citizens Klykh and Karpyuk accused of killing soldiers in Chechnya; incident during the Championship of Russia in freestyle wrestling in Yakutsk, resulting in refusal of Dagestani athletes to take part in the tournament, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of May 23-29, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Nadezhda Savchenko, sentenced by Rostov Court and pardoned, returns to Ukraine

Ukrainian aviator Nadezhda Savchenko, who on March 22 was sentenced by the Donetsk City Court of the Rostov Region to 22 years of imprisonment in a penal colony on the charges of involvement in the killing of Russian journalists in Donbas and illegal border crossing, was brought to Kiev by a Ukrainian plane, which arrived in Rostov-on-Don to pick her. That happened after Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree to pardon Nadezhda Savchenko. The request to pardon Nadezhda Savchenko was filed by relatives of the killed Russian journalists, of whose deaths the Ukrainian citizen was accused. On the same day, a Russian plane brought to Moscow Russian citizens Evgeny Erofeev and Alexander Alexandrov, who were sentenced in Ukraine and who were kept in Kiev. They were pardoned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

It should be noted that the Nadezhda Savchenko's return to Ukraine was preparing in a secret even from her advocates. This is clear from the events associated with the transfer of the Ukrainian aviator to Kiev. Yet on May 18, the advocates of Nadezhda Savchenko stated that they expected Nadezhda Savchenko would return home only in six months. On May 25, it became known that the challenge of release of Nadezhda Savchenko and Alexandrov and Erofeev had been resolved in the course of the phone conversation of the leaders of the "Norman Quartet" states on May 23.

In Azerbaijan, journalist Khadija Ismayilova released from prison

On May 25, the Supreme Court (SC) of Azerbaijan replaced the Khadija Ismayilova's sentence to imprisonment with 3.5 years of conditional sentence with a probation period of five years. In the evening of the same day, the journalist was released. Khadija Ismayilova was detained in 2014. She was charged with economic crimes and bringing her colleague Tural Mustafaev to suicide attempt. Khadija Ismayilova pleaded not guilty; however, on September 1, 2015, the Baku Court sentenced her to 7.5 years of imprisonment. After her release from prison, Khadija Ismayilova has declared her intention to continue working as a journalist and struggling for the liberation of her colleagues and other activists. Meanwhile, the journalist has claimed she does not agree with the court verdict and intends to challenge it at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

In Stavropol, court pronounces verdict in case of mass fight in hospital of Mineralnye Vody

In Stavropol, the Court has completed the trial in the criminal case of a fight, which occurred in a hospital in the city of Mineralnye   Vody in September 2014, as a result of which Anatoly Larionov, a local resident, was killed. On May 26, The Regional Court pronounced the verdict of guilty against all 27 defendants. One of them, who committed the crime when he was a minor, was sentenced to conditional imprisonment, and another defendant fell under the amnesty pronounced in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Victory in World War II. Four participants of the fight were directly accused of the infliction of grievous bodily harm to Anatoly Larionov, resulting in his death. Andranik Tsakanyan, who took an active part in the fight, was sentenced to 15 years in a high-security penal colony for the intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm and hooliganism. It took two days from the Court to pronounce the verdict. The very fight in the hospital caused a great public resonance. After the records from surveillance cameras appeared on the Internet, people held a number of protests in the city, followed by a series of resonant dismissals. The trial was held from April 29, 2015, and on November 19, the trial was transferred to the behind closed doors mode.

In Ingushetia, five suspected militants killed in special operation

On May 26, the counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was introduced in Nazran and the Nazran District of Ingushetia. According to sources from the law enforcement bodies, in the course of special operation in Malgobek and Nazran, five militants were killed, and three others were detained. In the evening of May 26, the CTO legal regime in Nazran was cancelled. In the course of the special operation carried out in the town of Malgobek, Khizyr Galaev, who was on the federal wanted list, rendered armed resistance and was killed; and Usman and Zurab Tsoloev were killed during the armed clash in Nazran, reported a source from the law enforcement bodies on May 27.

Chechen SC sentences Ukrainian citizens Klykh and Karpyuk accused of killing Russian soldiers

On May 26, on the basis of the guilty verdict rendered by the jury, the Supreme Court (SC) of the ChechenRepublicannounced the verdict to Ukrainian citizens Stanislav Klykh and Nikolai Karpyuk, who were accused of involvement in the battles for Grozny on December 31, 1994, and of the killing of at least 30 Russian soldiers. Nikolai Karpyuk was sentenced to 22 years and 6 months of imprisonment, and Stanislav Klykh to 20 years of imprisonment. They deny their involvement in the conflict in Chechnya and claimed being tortured during the investigation. After the verdict had been pronounced, their advocates reported on the intention to challenge the verdict. Russian and Ukrainian human rights defenders believe that Stanislav Klykh and Nikolai Karpyuk should be extradited from Russia to Ukraine following Nadezhda Savchenko.

Dagestani athletes refuse to take part in Championship of Russia in freestyle wrestling after incident at ring

On May 27, inYakutsk, a scandal involving athletes from Dagestan occurred at the Championship of Russia in freestyle wrestling. The duel of Dagestani athlete Ismail Musukaev and Victor Lebedev, a representative of the Yakutia team, has finished in a conflict. Ismail Musukaev treated the referees' decision of his defeat as unfair and pushed off his rival. Only coaches and OMON (riot police) fighters managed to calm down the athlete. Omar Murtuzaliev, First Vice-President of the Russian Wrestling Federation, has stated that none of the Dagestani athletes will take part in the competitions until the organizers resolve the situation. Meanwhile, after the match, the Russian Championships wrestling commission claimed mistakes of the referee and awarded the victory to Ismail Musukaev. However, he was not allowed to continue taking part in the tournament. In protest, all members of the Dagestani team left the tournament, despite the request to continue competing voiced by the leader of the republic. On May 28, it became known that Ismail Musukaev will not be brought to disciplinary liability. According to Mikhail Mamiashvili, President of the Russian Wrestling Federation, Ismail Musukaev is punished sufficiently by the fact that he could not continue competing. The athlete himself believes that the incident happened during the competition cannot be regarded as a fight in general. According to the athlete, when he pushed off his rival, he was motivated by resentment; however, it does not actually result in any physical abuse.

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