27 February 2017, 07:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events on February 20-26
Voting at constitutional referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh; appointment of Azerbaijani president’s wife as his first deputy; civil forum in Moscow, which demanded direct election of head of Dagestan, – see a review of major events in the Caucasus on February 20-26, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
NKR residents support new draft Constitution
On February 20, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) held a referendum on the new draft Constitution, which assumes a transition to the presidential form of governing. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the voter turnout was 76.44%; and the Constitution draft was supported by 87.6% of the participating voters. The members of 15 foreign delegations, which monitored the referendum, reported no violations. In its turn, Azerbaijan called the referendum illegitimate and threatened to put the foreigners, who arrived in Stepanakert to monitor the voting, on the list of undesirable persons. Some of them have already been put by Baku on the international wanted list.
Wife of Azerbaijani President appointed his first deputy
The resolution of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev of February 21 appointed his wife, Mekhriban Alieva, to the post of First Vice-President. The opposition has treated the new appointment as usurpation of power. In just a few days, the country saw massive arrests of political activists. The opposition believes that the arrests had the aim to reduce the protest moods in the society after Alieva’s appointment.
Dagestani Forum in Moscow demands direct election of head of Dagestan
On February 22, Moscow hosted a sitting of the Dagestani Civil Forum "Let’s Bring Russian Constitution Back to Dagestan!” It began with a call of the journalist Maxim Shevchenko to dismiss Ramazan Abdulatipov of the post of the head of Dagestan. The sitting was attended by Dagestani public, opposition-minded to the head of the republic. Dagestan is immersed in a deep crisis, indicated by non-executable laws, corruption and arbitrariness of law enforcers, says the appeal to Dagestani people adopted by the sitting. It adopted the concluding resolution, which offered the Russian authorities to dismiss Ramazan Abdulatipov and hold direct election of the head of Dagestan.
Residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia mark February 23 as Day of Grief
February 23 marked the 73rd anniversary of the Stalin's deportation of Chechens and Ingushes. For several years already, Chechnya holds no official commemoration events on this day. However, as stated by locals, they refuse to take February 23 only as a holiday. On February 23, Ingushetia holds annual mourning ceremonies. This year, on the eve of the 73rd anniversary of deportation, the People's Assembly of Ingushetia (Parliament) adopted a draft law intended to ban any perpetuation of Stalin’s memory in the region. Zelimkhan Evloev, the Speaker, suggested applying to the federal centre to declare October 30 the All-Russian Remembrance of Victims of Stalin’s Repressions.
An action in memory of victims of 1944 deportation was held at the State History Museum of the GULAG. The participants of the meeting said that Chechnya and Ingushetia treat February 23 as the day of grief; and families of deportees are still experiencing problems upon the return. Commemoration actions of Chechens’ and Ingushes’ deportation victims were held in European cities, including Paris, Strasbourg, Berlin and Vienna.
Winter World Military Games begin in Sochi
The opening ceremony of the Third Winter World Military Games took place on February 24 in Sochi. The competitions began on February 22 and will last until February 28 in seven sports, with the participation of athletes from 26 countries – apart from the Russian Federation, from four states of near abroad, and 14 European and seven Asian countries.
The competitions are held in the arenas built for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The active advertising campaign of the Winter World Military Games was launched in Sochi since mid-February, causing some surprise among townspeople, who had never heard before about such competitions.