24 October 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 17-23

Explosion in Sukhumi, treated by police as terror act attempt; the repeated parliamentary elections in Marneuli and Zugdidi Districts of Georgia; recognition of "Caucasian Knot" correspondent Zhalaudi Geriev a political prisoner, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of October 17-23, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Explosion in Abkhazia, treated by police as a terror act attempt

On October 18, in Sukhumi, in the territory of the Abkhazian State Radio Company, a man, who, according to investigators, tried to trigger a bomb, killed himself. After the explosion, law enforcers were transferred to enhanced mode of service; and schools and kindergartens were guarded. Initially, the casualty was identified as a resident of the Rostov Region, but later the authorities stated that he was a resident of Krasnodar. The explosion was treated by the Abkhazian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) as a terror act attempt. The Republic's Security Council suggested that a local politician could be the target of explosion. The fact that the terrorist had specific targets was confirmed by photos from his camera – not just city objects, but also particular people, said the spokesman of the Security Council. However, the prosecutor's office said that the case is being investigated only under the articles on terrorism and illicit explosive circulation.

Georgia holds repeated parliamentary elections in Marneuli and Zugdidi Districts

On October 22, four polling stations in the Marneuli and Zugdidi Districts of Georgia held a repeated voting, because on October 8 there were three attacks on polling stations and a brawl of supporters of the two parties. As reported by the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia, these districts will hold the second round, as none of the candidates for majoritarian MPs gained more than 50% of the votes.

The elections at three polling stations in the Zugdidi District were lost by Sandra Roelofs, a candidate of the "United National Movement" (UNM) and the wife of the former President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili. She gained 441 votes, while Edisher Toloraya, a candidate of the "Georgian Dream" – 981 votes. Thereafter Ms Roelofs refused to participate in the second round, treating the voting outcomes as falsified.

Zhalaudi Geriev recognized to be political prisoner

On October 17, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" declared Zhalaudi Geriev, a "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, sentenced in Chechnya to three years in prison on charges of possessing marijuana, to be a political prisoner. Geriev was prosecuted for his journalistic work, the HRC has stated. The Centre hopes that Geriev's recognition as apolitical prisoner should help to publicize the circumstances of his case. It has already attracted attention of Russian and British press. In the article of The Guardian the author treats Geriev's case as another example of pressure on the media under Ramzan Kadyrov's regime.

In Dagestan, law enforcers kill four suspected militants and detain suspects of killing pension deliverer

Last week, Dagestan saw several special operations and a daring crime – an attack on the pension deliverer.

On October 18, law enforcers introduced the counterterrorist operation (CTO) regime in the Buynaksk District. On October 21, the CTO regime was introduced in the village of Kvanada of the Tsumadin District. During the CTO, law enforcers killed two persons, who were hiding in one of private houses. They were identified as local militants, who went underground in 2014. Also on October 21, an armed skirmish broke out in the outskirt of the village of Stalsky, Kizilyurt District, which resulted in two casualties. One of them was identified as a former member of the "Khasavyurt" grouping, and the other – as a militants' helper.

The attack on the pension deliverer was committed on October 19 in the Gumbet District. A car was found there with the bodies of a man and a woman. As it turned out, the man was a director of the company-deliverer of pensions; 13 million roubles were stolen from him. On October 22, law enforcers announced detention of three suspects, and then of the fourth one, in the village of Shamilkala of the Untsukul District.

Two new lists of political prisoners drafted in Azerbaijan

On October 17, a working group comprising rights defenders, NGO activists, journalists and lawyers of Azerbaijan released an updated list of country's political prisoners. It lists 139 persons; 94 of them recognized as political prisoners. The cases of other 45 are under monitoring. According to activists, they may also be recognized as political prisoners. According to Rasul Jafarov, one of the coordinators of the working group and the head of the Human Rights Club, the working group relied on the criteria of the concept of "a political prisoner", set up in the respective resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

On October 18, the Institute for Peace and Democracy, the Public Alliance "Azerbaijan Without Political Prisoners" and the Monitoring Centre of Political Prisoners presented their list of 166 political prisoners. Three-quarters of the list are the residents of the country, who are persecuted by the authorities for their religious beliefs.

Law on chipping animals enacted in Krasnodar Territory

On October 23, the Krasnodar Territory enacted the amendments to the Law "On Keeping Domestic Animals", according to which the owners of dogs and cats will have to receive respective animal passports and inject electronic chips into their pets. All the cats and dogs are subject to registration and chipping. The law also obliges owners to clean up excrements left by their pets in public places. It is forbidden to keep dogs and cats on balconies, stairwells, in attics and basements, and in motor vehicles. Animal shall be buried only in special animal burials. The Krasnodar Territory is the first region in Southern Russia to introduce such rules. Local animal rights activists fear that the amendments will lead to an increase in the population of stray dogs and cats, closing of shelters and a wave of refusals from animals. Some users of social networks have seen advantages in the fact that now there is the possibility for owners who had lost their pets to find them.

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