15 May 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 8-14

Celebrations of the Victory Day in the regions of Northern and Southern Caucasus; elections to the Council of Elders in Yerevan; pronouncement of the verdict against warders of the penal colony in Belorechensk in the case on beating of prisoners; opening of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku; story of the kidnapping of a child by foster parents of a deceased boy from the Volgograd Region; militant attack on a DPS checkpoint in Ingushetia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of May 8-14, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Residents of Southern and Northern Caucasus regions celebrate Victory Day

On May 9, the regions of southern Russia held festive events in honour of the Victory Day. On that day, armoured personnel carriers, anti-aircraft mounts and multiple rocket launchers were brought to the central streets of Grozny. Military vehicles were also shown at parades held in Magas, Vladikavkaz, Cherkessk, and Stavropol. The authorities of Makhachkala held only an auto rally and a festive rally. The most massive events were held within the action "Immortal Regiment". In Grozny, the action "Immortal Regiment" gathered more than 10,000 people. In Vladikavkaz, the number of participants of the action exceeded 40,000 and in Nalchik 35,000 people. More than 47,000 people took part in the action "Immortal Regiment" in Karachay-Cherkessia. The festive events in honour of the Victory Day have also involved veterans of World War II, the number of which decreases every year.

The regions of Southern Caucasus also celebrated the Victory Day. In Azerbaijan, the performances of military orchestras, photo exhibitions and meetings of war veterans were organized. In Tbilisi, representatives of the authorities, officials of the diplomatic corps, members of the opposition parties and war veterans laid flowers to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Georgian and Armenian capitals also hosted marches of the action "Immortal Regiment". This year, the action "Immortal Regiment" was also held for the first time in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Yerevan residents vote for candidates to Council of City Elders

On May 14, the voting at the elections to the Council of Elders of Yerevan was held in the Armenian capital. At 8:00 a.m. Yerevan time, 474 polling stations were opened in Yerevan. The elections to the Council of Elders of Yerevan involved three political forces, including the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), the "Apricot Country" Party and the "Elk" bloc, from which 308 candidates were registered. Five parties and blocs announced a boycott of the elections. 5138 observers from 17 local public organizations were accredited for the elections. The proportional system was applied for the elections to the Council of Elders of Yerevan, consisting of 65 deputies. The Council of Elders is elected for a term of four years, and its members will elect the Mayor of Yerevan.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) has reported on the turnout of voters reaching 40.99%. According to the preliminary results of the voting, the elections were won by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), which gained 71.25% of the votes. The second place went to the "Elk" bloc with 21% of the votes, followed by the "Apricot Country" with 7.75%. During the elections, the leader of the "Apricot Country" Party claimed that voters were bribed by the RPA. Daniel Ionnisyan, the coordinator of the programmes of the "Union of Informed Citizens", reported about a new kind of violation: supporters of the RPA came to the polling stations as observers, although they were not registered.

Court pronounces guilty verdict against warders of Belorechensk colony in case on beating of prisoners

On May 12, in Belorechensk, the District Court found 10 warders of the correctional colony in Belorechensk guilty of the prisoner's death and sentenced them to 2.5-11 years of imprisonment. Public prosecutors requested the Court to sentence nine warders of the penal colony to 4-13 years of imprisonment and sentence another warder to four years of imprisonment conditionally. According to investigators, on November 25, 2015, the warders of the penal colony beat the newly arrived prisoners. As a result, six persons were injured and one died. Among other defendants, the prisoners' dock also contains Vladislav Ivanov, the acting chief of the penal colony, and his assistant Sergey Andriyaschenko. The Prosecutor's Office and representatives of the victims found the punishment too soft and announced their intention to appeal against the verdict. The sentenced warders have called the verdict unnecessarily harsh and also announced their desire to challenge it.

Baku hosts 4th Islamic Solidarity Games

On May 8, in Baku, the competitions of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games were started. The official opening ceremony of the Games was held later, on May 12, and it was watched by more than 65,000 people. The programme of the Islamic Solidarity Games lists 20 sports, including competitions in track and field athletics, swimming, water polo, jumping, rhythmic and athletic gymnastics, table tennis, wushu, judo, and football. About 3000 athletes from 57 countries take part in the competitions. Azerbaijan is represented by 322 athletes who compete in all sports competitions. The programme of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games also lists competitions in two sports among paralympic athletes, including parajudo and track and field athletics among amputee athletes. The organizers of the Games announced no religious bans for the on the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku. According to Azad Ragimov, Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs of Azerbaijan, the budget of the Games is pre-set at the amount of 100 million USD. Sports commentators believe that Azerbaijan assigns high priority to participation of its athletes in the Islamic Solidarity Games and expects to take the first place in the unofficial medal count. Meanwhile, according to political analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", the Baku authorities will not be able to use the Islamic Solidarity Games to strengthen the country's position in the Islamic world.

Foster parents from Volgograd Region arrested on suspicion of kidnapping one child and killing another

On May 7, a three-year-old boy was kidnapped in the town of Morozovsk in the Rostov Region. On May 8, he was found at the farm yard of Yarsky in the Volgograd Region. 48-year-old spouses, who cared of five minor children, including four adopted ones, were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a child. The spouses confessed that they decided to kidnap a boy to hide the disappearance of one of their adopted children. As it turned out later, a four-year-old boy died after receiving burns, and his foster mother buried his body near the house secretly from the family members. The spouses are arrested, and apart from kidnapping, they are also suspected of killing a boy. After the incident occurred in the family with adopted children at the farm yard of Yarsky, the chief and the consultant of the department for education, tutorship and curatorship of the administration for the Chernyshkovsky District were dismissed from their positions. Investigators have found out that the consultant of the education department visited the family with adopted children only once in two years, and she was suspected of negligence.

In Ingushetia, militants attack DPS checkpoint

At night of May 12, in Malgobek, a checkpoint of the road-and-patrol service (known as DPS) was attacked. As a result, a policeman was wounded. Two attackers were killed by return fire. One of them was identified as Magomed Bekbuzarov, who was wanted for involvement in an attack on a police patrol car committed in Malgobek on April 8. The responsibility for the incident of May 12 in Malgobek was claimed by the terrorist organization "Islamic State" (IS) banned in Russia. The incident became the third attack for six months on stationary law enforcers' checkpoints in the regions of Northern Caucasus and at least the 16th attack on law enforcers in the regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) for the past six months.

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