10 April 2017, 09:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 3-9
Voting at the presidential election in South Ossetia; terror act in Saint Petersburg, associated by experts with the Caucasian underground; two attacks on law enforcers in Astrakhan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of April 3-9, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
South Ossetia holds presidential election
On April 9, South Ossetia held the presidential election and the referendum on renaming the republic to Alania. Apart from 72 polling stations in the republic, voting took place at three polling stations in North Ossetia, and Moscow and Sukhumi also arranged a polling station. By 2:00 p.m., the elections were recognized as valid, since 52% of voters came to the voting. By the morning of April 10, the preliminary data on the processing of ballots from 27 out of 77 polling stations were known. According to the preliminary data, the leader is Anatoly Bibilov, Speaker of the Parliament, who gained 48.7% of the votes. Leonid Tibilov, the current President, is on the second place with 26.5% of the votes. Anatoly Bibilov has already announced his victory and stated that no second round will be held.
On the polling day, a large number of voters from North Ossetia addressed polling stations in Tskhinvali and South Ossetia; however, many of them were not allowed to vote. In total, 6000 ballots were allotted to North Ossetia, but their number was not enough. This was confirmed by Bella Plieva, Chair of the Central Election Commission (CEC). Observers registered violations at some polling stations; however, General Prosecutor of Southern Ossetia stated there were no serious violations.
Experts associate terror act in Saint Petersburg with Caucasian underground
On April 3, in Saint Petersburg, the explosion occurred between the metro stations "Sennaya Square" and "Technological Institute". It was classified as a terror act. As a result, 14 people were killed, including a suicide bomber, and 49 other were hospitalized. On the same day, another bomb was found at the metro station "Vosstaniya Square", and on April 6, an explosive device was discovered and neutralized in one of the multi-storey residential buildings of the city. The number of victims of the terror act included a woman from Azerbaijan. A Russian citizen, born in Kyrgyzstan, is suspected of organization of the terror act. Experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" admitted the presence of a Caucasian sign in the terror act, and then they said that the explosion at the metro might be plotted by Zalim Shebzukhov, one of the leaders of North-Caucasian militants, killed in 2016, or his supporters.
On April 8, after the terror act, antiterrorist rallies were held in Russian cities, including in the south of the country. Participants of the rallies have expressed their support to the victims. Meanwhile, in some regions, in particular, in Chechnya, Dagestan, and the Volgograd Region, the people came to the rally reported that they were obliged to take part in the event.
In Astrakhan, two severe attacks on law enforcers take place; responsibility claimed by militants
At night of April 4, two inspectors of the road-and patrol service (known as DPS) were shot dead in Astrakhan. The attackers, who intentionally arranged a road accident and forced the second participant of the car accident to call the police, took possession of the law enforcers' weapons and fled in a Gazel car with Dagestani state registration numbers. At night of April 6, in Astrakhan, another attack on law enforcers occurred. Fighters of the National Guard of Russia stopped a Renault car, and a shootout occurred during the verification of documents. As a result, three law enforcers were wounded. One of the attackers was killed at the place, and three others were killed during the special operation. Investigators did not exclude the involvement of those attackers in the shooting of policemen on April 4. The killed attackers were natives of the Astrakhan Region, Chechnya, and Dagestan. Responsibility for both attacks was claimed by the organization "Islamic State" (IS) banned in Russia.
After Saint Petersburg terror act, explosion in Rostov-on-Don provokes wave of appeals to law enforcers
On April 6, an explosion occurred in the centre of Rostov-on-Don. As a result, a man was injured. It turned out that the explosion occurred when the man pressed a button of flashlight which he found in the street. The injured person got fingers of his hand torn off. A school is located nearby, and classes in it were cancelled. On April 7, the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) reported on the detention of a man suspected of organizing the explosion. The suspect turned out to be a local resident who, according to investigators, confessed to the crime and claimed that he had hostile relations with the victim based on jealousy. Despite the fact that the explosion had a household cause, the incident caused a big resonance in the city. The explosion provoked a wave of reports to the law enforcement bodies about suspicious objects.
Armenian CEC announces outcomes of parliamentary elections
On April 9, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Armenia summed up the results of the parliamentary elections, the voting on which was held on April 2. According to the CEC, four political forces gained seats at the parliament. In the new convocation of the National Assembly, the Republican Party of Armenia will have 58 mandates, the "Tsarukyan" bloc 31, the "Elk" bloc nine, and the ARF "Dashnaktsutyun" seven mandates. Besides, the Armenian CEC has rejected the demand of the opposition bloc "Armenian National Congress-People's Party of Armenia" to declare the elections invalid because of "mass violations." On April 8, the CEC rejected the complaint filed by the Vanadzor Office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly against Surik Khachatryan, the former Governor of the Syunik Region, who was accused of illegal campaigning during the pre-election period. Meanwhile, the CEC has also stated technical infeasibility to meet the demand to verify voters' fingerprints filed by another opposition bloc "Oganyan-Raffi-Oskanyan".
Presidium of Chechen SC changes verdict to Zhalaudi Geriev
On April 5, the Presidium of the Supreme Court (SC) of Chechnya considered the appeal filed against the verdicts of the courts in the case against Zhalaudi Geriev, a "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, whom Russian human rights defenders recognized as a political prisoner. The SC has upheld the verdict and excluded the sentence of the journalist on the charge of illegal acquisition of drugs on a particularly large scale and a reference to the investigation of the results of the verification carried out on the Zhalaudi Geriev's complaint about kidnappings and torture. The defence of Zhalaudi Geriev called the verdict of guilty ridiculous and promised to challenge it.