19 September 2016, 08:31

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 12-18

Single voting day at elections in southern regions of Russia; election of leaders of North Ossetia and Karachay-Cherkessia; celebrations of Eid al-Adha; detention of Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Kabardino-Balkaria on suspicion of bribe-giving; appointment of a new prime minister in Armenia; jurors' verdict in Sergey Zirinov's case; death in Chechnya of Yuri Torshin, a former commander of the special group "Alpha", – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 12-18, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Violations not avoided during elections in Southern Russia

On September 18, on the single voting day, the south of Russia held the voting at the elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Besides, a number of regions also held the voting at the elections to legislative assemblies and local authorities. In Chechnya, in addition to the elections to the State Duma, local residents voted to elect a leader of the republic.

In the past week before the voting, various regions of Southern Russia reported the information about some sorts of abuses, pressure and withdrawal of independent and opposition candidates from the elections because of the above cases of pressure. So, on September 16, in Volgograd, the election commission reported about eight revealed violations of the electoral legislation related to the campaign materials. On September 12, in the Stavropol Territory, Alexei Gryschenko, a member of the "Yabloko" Party, announced the decision to withdraw his candidacy from the elections to the regional State Duma. He explained his decision by the impossibility to conduct the pre-election campaign because of the administrative pressure in the town of Zheleznovodsk. On September 14, in Dagestan, Sazhid Sazhidov, a self-nominated candidate, announced his refusal to participate in the elections. Local journalists associated the decision of Sazhid Sazhidov with the pressure on him.

In the course of voting, some violations were registered. So, the headquarters of Vladimir Bessonov, a candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), reported on cases of throwing of ballots at two polling stations in Rostov-on-Don. In Karachay-Cherkessia, the "Communists of Russia" Party claimed that members of precinct election commissions (PECs) put pressure on candidates and observers from the Party. In the Krasnodar Territory, members of the "PARNAS" Party stated that at one of the polling stations, a line with the name of their candidate in the ballots was covered by opaque paper.

According to the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC), at 8:01 a.m. Moscow time (when 88.87% of protocols of PECs were processed), the State Duma elections was won by the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party, which gained 54.27%. Besides, according to the above data, seats in the parliament are also won by the CPRF with 13.52%, the LDPR (Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia) with 13.28%, and the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party with 6.17%. Members of the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party also won in single-seat electoral districts. Only in two single-seat electoral districts in the south of Russia, the elections were won by candidates who were not members of the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party: in Adygea, self-nominee V. M. Reznik won at the electoral district No. 1 with 55.13%, and in the Rostov Region, N. M. Kharitonov, a member of the CPRF, won at the electoral district No. 52 with 35.27%.

At the election of the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov is on the leading position. According to the preliminary information, he gained 97.05% of the votes.

Parliaments of North Ossetia and Karachay-Cherkessia elect republic's leaders

On September 18, in North Ossetia and Karachay-Cherkessia, two republics of Northern Caucasus, deputies of the regional parliaments elected the leaders of their republics. In North Ossetia, MPs voted to elect Vyacheslav Bitarov the leader of the republic. In this February, after the death of Tamerlan Aguzarov, Vyacheslav Bitarov became the acting head of the republic. As a result of the secret voting, Vyacheslav Bitarov gained 56 votes, while three other MPs voted in favour of Gariy Kuchiev, the deputy chairman of the parliament of the republic. Rashid Temrezov was re-elected the leader of Karachay-Cherkessia for a new term. He gained the votes of all 49 MPs who attended the session of the National Assembly of Karachay-Cherkessia.

Muslims of Northern Caucasus celebrate Eid al-Adha

Last week, Muslims of Northern Caucasus celebrated Eid al-Adha, one of the main Muslim holidays, which marked the end of Hajj, pilgrimage of believers to Mecca. This year, the first day of Eid al-Adha fell on September 12, and the day was announced a day off in Adygea, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachay-Cherkessia. In Chechnya, the authorities announced three days off on occasion of the Muslim holiday. On the eve of Eid al-Adha, in Ingushetia and Dagestan, the authorities organized special fairs in order to prevent a sharp rise in prices for food and sacrificial animals. In Chechnya, the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation purchased more than 60,000 sheep, 100 camels, and a large number of cows for poor families. Meanwhile, in the republic, not all people in need were able to get sacrificial animals because of the queues. Sacrificial animals and gifts for the holiday were also granted to residents of other republics. In particular, in Ingushetia, the lists of families in need were approved in advance by imams of mosques. In Kabardino-Balkaria, the number of people who got cash assistance also included repatriates from Syria.

In KBR, Deputy Minister of Agriculture involvedin bribery case as defendant

On September 14, in the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR), the Deputy Minister of Agriculture was detained on suspicion of acting as an intermediary in bribing the chief of the police anti-corruption department in Nalchik in the amount of one million roubles. According to investigators, the money was handed over to the police officer for his promise to stop operational and search activities in connection with the information on the illegal actions committed by a chief of one of the departments of the KBR's Ministry of Agriculture. On the same day, the police officer was detained while taking a bribe. He is suspected of attempted bribery on a large scale. On September 15, it became known that the Deputy Minister of Agriculture involved as a defendant in the criminal case on bribery was removed from office. A service check is to be carried out against the chief of the police anti-corruption department in Nalchik.

Armenia appoints new Prime Minister

On September 13, the President of Armenia signed a decree to appoint Karen Karapetyan the Prime Minister of Armenia. Earlier, Karen Karapetyan worked as the Mayor of Yerevan and the director of the "ArmRosgazprom". At the post of the Prime Minister, he replaced Ovik Abramyan, who resigned on September 8. On September 14, while answering the questions of the Armenian MPs, Karen Karapetyan promised to introduce systemic changes, which, according to him, would reduce economic tensions in the country. On September 15, at the first meeting of the Armenian government after his appointment, Karen Karapetyan instructed the commission on regulation of public services and the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Labour to develop a programme for maximum reduction of tariffs for gas and electricity for the population at the expense of other consumers.

Jury pronounces verdict in Sergey Zirinov's case

On September 13, in Rostov-on-Don, at the North-Caucasus District Military Court, the jurors voiced their verdict in the case against Sergey Zirinov, a former deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Kuban. The case was at trial since August 2015. The jurors answered to 59 questions of the prosecutors, and Sergey Zirinov was found guilty. The decision was made with nine votes "for" and three "against". Evgeny Aleksandrovich, one of the defendants, was acquitted. In particular, the jury found proven the existence of the criminal grouping, which members illegally purchased weapons, planned and committed murders, including the murder of Vitaly Sadovnichy, director of a sanatorium, and his wife, and businessman Salman Nabiev. According to the jury, those murders were committed by the orders of Sergey Zirinov, who also gave his accomplices the instructions to kill Cossack Ataman Nesterenko (Nesterenko was eventually wounded, and his driver Viktor Zhuk was killed) and who organized, financed, and provided the criminal grouping with the necessary equipment.

Yuri Torshin, former commander of special group "Alpha", killed in road accident in Chechnya

On September 12, it became known about the road traffic accident which killed Yuri Torshin, the adviser to the leader of Chechnya and the former commander of the special group "Alpha". The road traffic accident occurred in the Naur District of Chechnya on September 11. According to the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE), a motorcycle ahead of the Yuri Torshin's motorcycle overturned, and Yuri Torshin himself, while driving a three-wheeled motorcycle, lost control and was killed in the rollover accident. The road traffic accident also seriously injured Abuzayd Vismuradov, well-known by call sign "Patriot", the chief of the bodyguard service for the leader of Chechnya, and athlete Magomed Bibulatov. On September 13, Yuri Torshin was buried in Moscow. On the same day, the newspaper "Gazeta.Ru" reported with reference to a person who witnessed the fatal road traffic accident that after falling down from his motorcycle, Yuri Torshin, the victim of the road traffic accident, was hit by the motorcycle of Abuzayd Vismuradov.

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