22 August 2016, 09:10

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 15-21

Completion of the competition at the Olympic Games in Brazil; attack on policemen in the Moscow Region, the responsibility for which was taken by the "Islamic State" (IS), banned by court in Russia; debates in the Russian society provoked by the human rights report on female circumcision in Dagestan; special operation in Saint Petersburg, which resulted in elimination of militants from Kabardino-Balkaria; decision on the establishment of a gambling zone in Sochi; expansion of territory in the Volgograd Region where outbreak of African swine fever was registered, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 15-21, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

At 2016 Olympic Games, athletes from southern Russia and Southern Caucasus countries win almost fifty medals

On August 21, Rio de Janeiro held the ceremony to close the Summer Olympic Games. Many athletes from the regions of Southern and North-Caucasian Federal Districts, as well as from the Southern Caucasus countries successfully took part in the Olympic competitions. Russian athletes from southern Russia won ten gold, five silver and four bronze medals. Athletes of the Olympic national team of Azerbaijan won seven silver and 10 bronze medals, the Armenian national team won one gold and three silver medals, and athletes from the Georgian national team won two gold, one silver and four bronze medals. Thus, athletes from Northern and Southern Caucasus won 48 Olympic medals.

A lot of gold medallists from the Caucasus traditionally competed in power and combat sports. Their number includes judokas Beslan Mudranov and Khasan Khalmurzaev from Kabardino-Balkaria and Ingushetia, Greco-Roman wrestlers Davit Chakvetadze and Arthur Alexanyan, natives of Georgia and Armenia, wrestlers Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Vladimir Khinchegashvili and Soslan Ramonov from Dagestan, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgian weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze, and Radik Isaev, a taekwondo athlete from Azerbaijan.

Two Chechen residents killed while attacking policemen in Moscow Region

On August 17, two young men, armed with axes, attacked inspectors of the road-and-patrol service (known as DPS) in the Moscow Region. As a result of the attack, two policemen were injured, and the attackers were killed. They were identified as Usman Murdalov and Sulim Israilov, natives of Chechnya. After the incident, the "Islamic State" (IS), banned in Russia by court, claimed that the attackers were its supporters. This was the first statement of the terrorist organization of its involvement in the attacks outside Northern Caucasus. However, officials from the Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) have reported that the motives for the attack are still unclear and voiced the opinion that the IS banned in Russia by court could take responsibility for the incident without being actually associated with it in any way. Usman Murdalov and Sulim Israilov left Chechnya two days before the attack on the policemen. They have assured their family members that they are going to the capital in search of work. The men have never been brought to police stations, reports the Chechen MIA.

Human rights defenders' report on female circumcision in Dagestan provokes discussion in Russian society

On August 15, the organization "Legal Initiative for Russia" published a report on the results of the study of distribution of female circumcision in Dagestan. According to the report, the republic still retains the practice of female genital mutilation procedures, which are committed with the support of official religious figures and treated by the population as a religious duty. The human rights activists have proposed to criminalize female circumcision and to organize a broad public debate about the problem. After the publication of the report, Ismail Berdiev, the chairman of the Muslim Coordinating Centre of Northern Caucasus, has claimed that the practice of female circumcision is "a purely Dagestani custom" and that the procedure allegedly "does not deteriorate health state." However, members of the Human Rights Council (HRC) under the Russian President have promised to deal with the problem of female circumcision in the Caucasus. Anita Soboleva, a member of the HRC and the chair of the Standing Committee on Social Rights, has stood against the practice of female circumcision.

The Russian Ministry of Public Health (MPH) has also criticized the practice of female circumcision, and the General Prosecutor's Office has promised to check the legality of the practice in Northern Caucasus. Dagestani advocates interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" treated the procedure of female circumcision against minor girls as criminally liable offence. According to the advocates, the procedure of female circumcision can be qualified as bodily injury. And on August 19, it became known that a draft law on punishment for female circumcision was introduced to the State Duma. The draft law was initiated by MP Maria Maksakova-Igenbergs.

Four militants from Kabardino-Balkaria killed in special operation in Saint Petersburg

On August 17, law enforcers carried out a special operation in a high-rise building in Saint Petersburg. During the special operation, four militants, who are residents of Kabardino-Balkaria, were killed in the building. This was reported by investigators. According to the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC), the number of the killed suspects included Zalim Shebzukhov, one of the leaders of North-Caucasian militants, and militants Astemir Sheriev and Vyacheslav Nyrov, who were put on the federal wanted list. Another killed suspect was identified as Aslan Kurashinov, which, according to law enforcers, supplied the militants with food and clothing and also organized their secret motion.

Russian government makes decision to establish gambling zone in Sochi

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree on the establishment of a gambling zone "Krasnaya Polyana" in Sochi. This was announced on August 19. Earlier, the Russian government has declared that the gambling zone in the resort city "will provide additional tourist flows" and that its opening is planned for summer 2016. The area of the gambling zone in the territory of Sochi will reach 165,026 square meters within the boundaries of 19 land plots allocated for Olympic facilities of federal significance, financing and construction of which were not carried out at the expense of the state and budget funds.

Outbreak of African swine fever registered in four districts of Volgograd Region

Last week, in the territory of the Volgograd Region, an area with registered centres of infection of African swine fever (ASF) has been significantly expanded. This year, the first centre of infection was discovered at one of the private yards of the working village of Elan on August 5. On August 16, it became known that the ASF outbreak was registered in the territory of the Kamyshin District, in particular, at the private yard of the village Ternovka, hunting yard Dobrinskoe and Scherbakovsky Nature Park. On August 18, the regional authorities reported on repeated outbreaks of ASF infection in the Elan and Rudnyansky Districts, and on August 19, it was reported on an outbreak of pig disease at one of the private yards in the Zakhopyorskoe rural settlement of the Nekhaevsky District. In all the areas at risk, all the pigs will be destroyed, and the quarantine will be introduced in the neighbouring regions, where it will be forbidden to sell pork.

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