20 February 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events on February 13-19

Sending militaries from Ingushetia to Syria; mass detention of Azerbaijani migrants in Derbent and visit of Russia's CEC head to Makhachkala; a major fire in Krasnodar multi-storey building; removal of erotic movie "Fifty Shades Darker" from screening in Vladikavkaz; nomination of lists of candidates by political forces in Armenia for the upcoming parliamentary elections, – see a review of major events in the Caucasus on February 13-19, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Sending militaries from Ingushetia to Syria

On February 13, Yunus-Bek Evkurov, the head of Ingushetia, has announced the dispatch of a military police battalion from the republic to Syria. According to Evkurov, the republic’s residents-members of the battalion will ensure in Syria the safety of the Russian air grouping; the battalion will also ensure the protection of the reconciliation centre of warring parties. On February 14, law enforcement sources of the republic reported that the Ingush power agents would replace their Chechen colleagues, who are there since last December. However, two days later it became known that the military police unit from Chechnya could stay in Syria until August.

Mass detention of Azerbaijani migrants in Derbent, and visit of Russia’s CEC head to Makhachkala

On February 13, it became known that after a raid in Derbent employees of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) detained 205 Azerbaijani citizens and kept them for four days in the gym of the local Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). In Derbent, the detained migrants were engaged in building the third phase of houses under the Federal Programme "Dilapidated Housing". On February 13, the detainees were released from the police station. According to the Dagestani MIA, 33 detained Azerbaijani citizens had no work patents and migration cards. The court ruled to extradite them, obliging them to leave the country voluntarily. Other 172 persons had their proper migration documents, but they had no work patents; protocols were drawn up on them under the article of "illegal foreign citizen’s labour" of the Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences. The mass detention of Azerbaijanis in Derbent has no political motives and has to do with some local conflict around the Federal Programme "Dilapidated Housing", Azerbaijani experts told the "Caucasian Knot". The Azerbaijanis released from the police returned to construction sites in Derbent, locals have reported.

On February 16, Ella Pamfilova, the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Russia, paid a visit to Makhachkala. Back in January, Ms Pamfilova, who treats Dagestan as one of the most problematic regions, announced a travel sitting in the republic, having promised to meet those, who have complained about violations at the last September’s elections. However, a group of oppositionists was not admitted to the sitting at the Makhachkala building of the "House of Friendship"; policemen let the participants in strictly according to prior lists and took away their mobile phones. Later, Ella Pamfilova held another meeting, where everyone could get. Oppositionists told her about the revealed violations at the elections – the use of administrative resources, pressure on observers and throw-in of ballot papers into boxes. Ms Pamfilova assured everybody that every complaint and every appeal would be considered; and decisions would be made on them.

Major fire in high-rise building in Krasnodar

A major fire occurred on February 15 in the city of Krasnodar. An attic of the six-storey apartment house in Prokofiev   Street was on fire for four hours. A man perished in the fire; 25 apartments completely burned out; and 212 people were left homeless. The main version of the fire was found in careless handling of fire; and fire victims themselves managed to detain the alleged perpetrator. According to the Prosecutor's Office of the KrasnodarTerritory, the house, where the fire occurred, was built without a due permit; however, the tenants stated that the house was commissioned by the court judgement. The Governor of the Territory Veniamin Kondratiev said that the developer and "the one who had legitimized the house" should respond for the fire.

Removal of "Fifty Shades Darker" from screening

The erotic movie "Fifty Shades Darker", released into screening on February 9 and which became a box-office leader since the early days of screening in Russia and the CIS, has been removed from screening in Vladikavkaz. This became known on February 13; it was done "because of public complaints," an official of the Vladikavkaz movie theatre "Stolichny" has explained. He noted that the film was screened in all regions of Northern Caucasus, even in Mozdok; it was "banned only in Vladikavkaz." The users of social networks, who left their comments in the theatre’s group, criticized the ban, noting that people should have the right to choose. Alan Tskhurbaev, the author of the blog "Ossetia and around: look from inside", run on the "Caucasian Knot", has stated in this connection the "practice of enforced morality." The “Universal” Film Company has demanded to lift the ban on screening the "Fifty Shades Darker" in Vladikavkaz, stating that it suffers losses from the ban. It is noteworthy that the film is still screened in Grozny, Makhachkala, Nalchik and Cherkessk. However, on February 17, the public organization "Congress of Karachay People" criticized the movie and demanded from the authorities of Karachay-Cherkessia to ban the movie in the republic.

Nomination by Armenian political forces of lists of candidates for parliamentary elections

In Armenia, on February 16, the country's Central Election Commission (CEC) completed receiving documents from parties and blocs for taking part in parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2. Four blocks and five parties expressed their intention to run for the parliament. According to the CEC, lists of candidates were submitted by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), the ARF "Dashnaktsutyun" (ARFD) Party, the "Armenian Renaissance", the "Free Democrats" and the Communist Party of Armenia; as well as blocs "Tsarukyan", "Elk", "ANC-NPA" and "Oganyan-Raffi-Oskanyan". The lists contain overall 1539 candidates; and by February 26, the CEC will complete the registration. Earlier, the Armenian political analysts, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", stated the unreadiness of political blocs for the elections. Some political forces will unlikely get to the new parliament because of their low popularity among voters, believe the political analysts Grant Mikaelyan and Ruben Megrabyan. High chances of winning parliamentary seats belong to the RPA and the bloc "Tsarukyan", said the political analyst Armen Badalyan.

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