13 June 2016, 09:05

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 6-12

Visit of members of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC) under the Russian President to the Stavropol Territory and Karachay-Cherkessia; beginning of Ramadan by Muslims of southern Russia; emergencies in Chechnya because of bad weather; "Kinotavr" film festival in Sochi; launch of campaign on the elections of deputies to the Parliament of Georgia; beating of an opposition MP in Nagorno-Karabakh, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of June 6-12, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

HRC members inspect Stavropol Territory and Karachay-Cherkessia

Last week, members of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights under the Russian President, who started their visit to the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) on May 30, visited the Stavropol Territory and Karachay-Cherkessia. On June 7-9, the HRC delegation visited the Stavropol Territory. After their visit to Kislovodsk, the HRC members stated that a Kislovodsk IVS (temporary detention facility) should be closed immediately after the opening of a new detention facility in Yessentuki. The HRC members have noted that at the Kislovodsk IVS, inmates are being kept in cells without windows. Besides, the human rights defenders were dissatisfied with the material and social conditions at the SIZO (pre-trial prison) No. 2 in Pyatigorsk. Meanwhile, the HRC members have expressed their satisfaction with the state of affairs at the institution of social protection arranged for veterans in the village of Inozemtsevo, as well as at the children's rehabilitation centre "Orlyonok" (Eaglet) in the village of Podkumok of the Predgorny District. On June 7, the HRC delegation also visited social institutions in Karachay-Cherkessia. The human rights defenders found out that some of those social institutions were overcrowded and in urgent need of repair. Meanwhile, according to the HRC members, no gross violations were revealed in SIZO and IVS of the Karachay-Cherkessian Republic (KChR); however, two detainees complained about torture. Besides, the HRC members reported on the results of their visit to Kabardino-Balkaria. According to the human rights defenders, residents of the republic complained about unresolved social problems, as well as unlawful methods of investigation and falsification of criminal cases.

Muslims of southern Russia start month of Ramadan

On June 6, all regions of the south of Russia, excluding Dagestan, started the Muslim fast of Ramadan. According to Ismail Berdiev, Chairman of the Coordination Centre of Muslims of Northern Caucasus, Mufti of Karachay-Cherkessia, in each subject of the Russian Federation, officials of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims (SAM) "decided on their own when to start Ramadan." In Dagestan, the beginning of Ramadan was announced one day later than in other Russian regions. Such a decision is explained by the fact that in Dagestan, the crescent of the new moon, which marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, could be seen later than in other regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD). In the Caucasus, a variety of events and activities is dedicated to Ramadan. So, the major mosques of Chechnya organized the evening fast breaking for the fasting Muslims. In Nazran and Magas, the authorities have installed tents for the month of Ramadan, where all people who observe fasting can break the fast. In Dagestan, believers of the Makhachkala mosque "Ikhlas" announced an action to improve the roads adjacent to their mosque.

Bad weather causes emergencies in Chechnya

Last week, Chechnya faced emergencies caused by bad weather. In the evening of June 8, in the Urus-Martan District, the Goitinka River overflew its banks after heavy rains. As a result, 15 houses in the village of Goity were flooded. On the same day, after a sharp rise in water level in the Sunzha River, the small Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) was flooded in the Leninsky District of Grozny. On June 9, a major landslide occurred in the Vedeno District after prolonged rains. According to the updated information, in three villages of the region, including the villages of Tsa-Vedeno, Marzo-Mokhk and Guni, 45 private houses, inhabited by about 300 people, were destroyed or partially damaged by a landslide. In the evening of the same day, in the Shali District, the bridge over the Argun River collapsed as a result of undermining of its supports. At night of June 12, in the village of Gush-Kert of the Shatoi District, a landslide occurred. It damaged 10 houses where 52 people lived. The authorities have promised to help the families affected by the landslide.

Sochi hosts "Kinotavr" film festival

On June 6, Sochi opened the 27th film festival "Kinotavr". It is held annually since 1991. The major contest involves 14 films. Their number includes the short film "Maria" directed by Grigory Kolomiytsev, a Krasnodar resident, and focused on a story of a woman whose son had joined North-Caucasian militants, and the documentary film "Mir Koltsa" (World of Ring), focused on athletes participating in the Sochi Olympic Games. On July 11, the film festival presented the film "Uchenik" (The Apprentice), directed by Kirill Serebrennikov, a native of Rostov-on-Don. Most of the films involved in the festival are shown at a half-empty hall; however, the hall was full during the presentation of the film by Kirill Serebrennikov. According to the critics, "Uchenik" is one of the main favourites of the film festival, the results of which will be announced at the solemn closing ceremony on June 13.

Georgia launches campaign for elections of MPs

On June 8, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, signed a resolution issued by President Giorgi Margvelashvili on appointment of the parliamentary elections for October 8 and the beginning of the election campaign on June 8. Thus, starting from June 8, the parties are allowed to carry on agitation for their candidates. On June 8, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia reported that by the date, 26 parties expressed their desire to take part in the parliamentary elections. Of them, five parties have been already registered. Meanwhile, according to the Georgian CEC, none of the influential parties have yet applied for registration. At the parliament of the next convocation, no party will able to independently form a majority. This opinion was expressed by political analysts, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot".

Opposition MP beaten up in Nagorno-Karabakh

In the morning of June 6, Hayk Khanumyan, an MP of the National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh, the leader of the opposition "National Revival" Party, was beaten up in Stepanakert and hospitalized with multiple fractures. On June 9, he was discharged from the hospital. Hayk Khanumyan himself claims the attack on him was politically motivated. On June 5, in Stepanakert, supporters of the "National Revival" Party held an action with the demand to appoint General Samvel Babayan the head of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Nagorno-Karabakh. Hayk Khanumyan was one of the organizers of the action. According to him, the attackers forced him to write a waiver of the demand voiced at the rally. The MP claimed the document null and void. On fact of the attack on Hayk Khanumyan, law enforcers instituted a criminal case under the articles of infliction of grievous bodily harm and kidnapping. According to the law enforcers, two residents of Stepanakert are detained in the case. The MP himself has stated that he saw the faces of at least seven attackers who were beating him and that he is willing to identify the attackers.

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