02 January 2017, 08:35

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 26, 2016-January 1, 2017

Search works at sea near Sochi after the crash of the aircraft of the Russian MoD; Chechen SC's decision on appeal complaint of journalist Zhalaudi Geriev; rally of Grozny residents gathering on the blood feud after attacks on policemen, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December26, 2016, to January 1, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Recorders of crashed MoD's aircraft found at sea near Sochi

Throughout the past week rescuers continued searching for the bodies of deceased passengers and fragments of the aircraft of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that crashed on December 25 in the sea near Sochi. By December 29, 19 bodies were found. Also, they found flight recorders; and after decoding them, conclusions about the causes of the crash will be made, but we can already speak about no-standard operation and behaviour of the aircraft before the crash, said the head of the Ministry of Transports. There was no explosion on board, but the version of a terror acts is not ruled out, the MoD has added.

Earlier, sources claimed the absence of traces of explosives on the fragments of the Tu-154. Another source said that after studying one of the recorders, the version of piloting error became a priority. According to the experts, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", the accident could be caused by low-quality fuel, since the fuel pipeline of the Sochi Airport needed replacement for a long time. Earlier, the Russian Ministry of Transports had voiced a piloting error and a technical malfunction as major versions of the crash. The FSB has also suggested that foreign objects could get into one of the engines. The version of aircraft overloading is not ruled out.

Verdict to Zhalaudi Geriev upheld in Chechnya

On December 28, the Supreme Court (SC) of Chechnya upheld the verdict to Zhalaudi Geriev, a "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, whom on September 5 the Shali District Court sentenced to three years in colony on charges of storing marijuana. The defence treated the first-instance court's verdict as illegal. Geriev completely denied the investigators' version, stating that he had given his confessions under pressure. The initiation of a case on the journalist's kidnapping and use of violence against him was rejected. The rights defenders Oleg Orlov, Tatiana Lokshina and Lyudmila Alexeyeva have stated that the SC's decision had once again demonstrated the political nature of the criminal case. This decision should be cancelled, because of its fabrication, the international organization "Reporters without Borders" (RWB) has stated.

Grozny residents consider blood feud after attacks on policemen

On December 30, Grozny hosted a rally near the mosque "Heart of Chechnya", where the issue was raised about announcing the blood feud (vendetta) to relatives of the militants, killed in a special operation, conducted in Grozny on December 17-18. Adam Shakhidov, an advisor to the head of the republic, urged relatives of the perished policemen to refuse from the blood feud. However, the participants of the rally refused to forgive their counterparts; and the elders offered to attract Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, to the settlement of the situation. After the rally, the detained relatives of those, killed in the special operation, were released, but the police have obliged them not to leave their residences, as they may be summoned there again.

It is noteworthy that on the eve of the rally, a police source explained the mass detentions of males from militants' families by the desire to prevent possible reprisals against them by local residents. He added that the involvement of the militants, killed after their December attacks on policemen, in the "Islamic State" (IS), a terrorist organization, banned in Russia, causes no doubt after on December 28, the IS released a video showing 11 persons swearing to the IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and containing calls to commit terror acts in Russia.

Armed clashes in Armenian-Azerbaijani border

On December 29, Armenia and Azerbaijan came out with mutual accusations of a subversive action that led to an armed clash and losses on both sides. The Armenian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported the death of its three soldiers; and Azerbaijan recognized that its one military had gone missing. On the following day, the MoD of Armenia reported a night punitive operation, in which four militaries of the Azerbaijani Army were killed. The MoD of Azerbaijan has treated this report as disinformation.

The experts from Baku, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", said that in the coming months similar aggravations of the situation may happen again, since the necessary reconciliation potential needed to settle the conflict is not used. In their turn, Armenian experts believe that the Azerbaijan's actions on the border with Armenia are partly caused by the lack of confidence in the support of Armenia by the member-states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (known as the ODKB).

Date of parliamentary elections in Armenia defined

On December 29, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan signed a decree on holding, on April 2, 2017, the elections to the country's National Assembly (Parliament). Armenian political parties have already begun getting ready for these elections. In particular, the list of the oppositional Armenian National Congress (ANC) will be headed by the former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan; while the incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan will head the list of the Republican Party of Armenia. Besides, on December 12, the oppositional parties "Respublika", "Enlightened Armenia" and "Civil Accord" signed a memorandum on creating an electoral bloc.

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