07 November 2016, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 31-November 6

Celebration of the People's Unity Day in Southern Russia; protest rally and arrest of the general director of "Vodokanal" in connection with the mass poisoning in the capital of Dagestan; publication of the RWB's report on the situation of press freedom in the world; crash of recreational helicopter fallen on a private house in Sochi; dismissal of the Kabardino-Balkarian Minister of Property; detention of the tenth suspect in the case of death of a man after his interrogation by the Vladikavkaz police, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of October 31-November 6, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

In Southern Russia, People's Unity Day held in semi-official atmosphere

On November 4, like the whole country, the regions of Southern Russia held events in honour of the People's Unity Day. Especially numerous celebrations were held in Grozny, where, according to the official information, the festivities involved dozens of thousands of people. Meanwhile, participants of the celebrations claimed that they were again forced to come to the event under the threat of their dismissal. Krasnodar appeared to be the second city after Grozny by the number of people involved in the official festive events. According to the City Mayor's Office, the holiday rally and concert in Pushkin   Square were attended by 15,000 people. In Krasnodar and in most other cities, concerts were preceded by speeches of officials, who promised to restore the Russia's greatness to spite the enemies of the country. Many people who attended the festivities and were interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" admitted that they did not know the meaning of the People's Unity Day.

On November 4, on the People's Unity Day, nationalists traditionally hold the "Russian March". This year, in Southern Russia, the authorities did not sanction their actions. However, in some regions, nationalists still held small actions, in particular, in the Astrakhan Region and Krasnodar. In Krasnodar, the event involved seven persons, who marched from the Saint Catherine's Cathedral to the monument to Cossacks, located next to the regional administration. In the Astrakhan Region, in the village of Krasnye Barrikady, two local residents held a picket in solidarity with the "Russian March". The activists told passersby about the case of Igor Stenin, the leader of the nationalist movement "Russians of Astrakhan", sentenced for incitement to extremism.

In Makhachkala, city residents hold action in protest against mass poisoning; court arrests general director of local "Vodokanal"

During the whole past week, in spite of the authorities' statements about localization of a disease outbreak, the situation with the mass poisoning of Makhachkala residents remained tense. As of November 4, 299 people, including 101 adults and 198 children, stayed in hospitals with an acute intestinal infection. According to the Dagestani Ministry for Public Health, on November 2, the total number of victims amounted to 675 people. According to Dagestani leader Ramazan Abdulatipov, the mass poisonings were caused by sewerage breakthrough. Magomed Murtazaliev, the general director of Joint-Stock Company (JSC) "Makhachkalavodokanal", was detained on suspicion of providing services failing to comply with consumer security needs. On November 3, the court pronounced the decision to arrest Magomed Murtazaliev.

On October 31, inMakhachkala, activists held a rally in Lenin Square. Participants of the rally expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation in the city, including the case of mass poisoning of Makhachkala residents with drinking water. The protest action involved about 250 people. The protestors announced the creation of the initiative group to meet officials and solve urban problems. They threatened the authorities to strengthen protests. At the same meeting, the activists voiced the demands to dismiss the City Mayor and to appoint to the post Said Amirov, sentenced to life imprisonment. According to experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", the rally involved desperate city residents, indignant about urban problems, and nobody directed their actions. Local journalists pointed to unclear demands voiced by the protesters. Besides, they believe supporters of Said Amirov have no reasons for protests.

RWB puts Putin and Kadyrov on list of enemies of press freedom and reduces Azerbaijan's indicators in its "World Press Freedom Index"

On November 3, the International Organization to Protect Journalists "Reporters without Borders" (RWB) published its updated "World Press Freedom Index" and a list of enemies of press freedom, in which it included Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. In its "World Press Freedom Index", the RWB has placed Russia on the 148th place out of 180. Meanwhile, the RWB has called Chechnya a "black hole for news." According to the RWB, at present, there is less freedom of expression in the country than at any other time period since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan was placed to the 163rd position in the "World Press Freedom Index", while in the previous year the country occupied the 162nd place. According to the RWB, starting from 2014, Azerbaijan is engaged in relentless struggle against small number of people who still criticize the authorities. Other two South-Caucasian countries Armenia and Georgia have improved their positions in the "World Press Freedom Index". So, Armenia has occupied the 74th place (four positions up), Georgia is placed to 64th place (five positions up).

In Sochi, six persons fell victim to helicopter crash; of them, two died

On November 1, a helicopter of the "Eltsovka" company of Novosibirsk fell on a private house in Sochi. Six persons were on board. Of them, one was killed at the place and five others were brought to hospital. Later, another passenger died in the hospital. While falling, the helicopter damaged two neighbouring houses, household outbuildings and cars belonging to the families living there. According to the preliminary information, the disaster was caused by a technical problem of the helicopter. Anatoly Pakhomov, Mayor of Sochi, has stated that the flight of the recreational helicopter was "illegal." In Sochi, all helicopter tours are suspended for the period of investigation into the crash of the helicopter with tourists. The city authorities have created a special commission to assess the damage inflicted to the city residents and their property as a result of the helicopter crash. The owners of the property damaged by the helicopter crash have claimed the loss of about 5 million roubles.

In Kabardino-Balkaria, Minister of Land and Property Relations dismissed from office

On November 1, the Kabardino-Balkarian leader dismissed Lyana Eristova, the Minister of Land and Property Relations, in connection with the criminal case instituted against her for abuse of power during her work at the position of the acting head of the Territorial Department of the "Rosimuschestvo" (Federal Agency for State Property Management). According to investigators, in 2014 and 2015, Lyana Eristova issued a free voucher for a sanatorium treatment for her mother and another female relative, by drawing up a voucher in another person's name. Lyana Eristova took office as the Minister on January 14, 2016.

In North Ossetia, investigators report on tenth suspect detained in case of death of man after interrogation at police

In the resonance criminal case of the death of Vladimir Tskaev, a resident of Vladikavkaz, who died after his interrogation at the Iriston ROVD (District interior Division), the number of suspects increases up to ten. On November 1, the investigating authorities reported on the detention in the case of a criminal investigator of the department of the Vladikavkaz police. The Police Senior Lieutenant will be charged with abuse of power. On November 3, the court pronounced the decision to place him into custody. The number of the earlier detained suspects also includes criminal investigators and criminal investigation officers, including Soslan Sitokhov, the chief of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Iriston ROVD.

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