07 August 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 31-August 6

Explosions of shells at an ammunition depot in Abkhazia, to which Russian tourists fell victim; determination of main participants in the election of deputies to the Legislative Assemblies for the Krasnodar Territory and North Ossetia; visit to Georgia by US Vice President Mike Pence; appointment of a man from Ramazan Abdulatipov's team the acting Mayor of the Dagestani city of Buynaksk, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 31-August 6, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

In Abkhazia, Russian tourists fall victim to shell explosions at ammunition depot

In the afternoon on August 2, an explosion occurred at an ammunition depot near the village of Primorskoe in the Gudauta District in Abkhazia. A following fire resulted in detonation of shells, which did not stop until the evening. People evacuated from the emergency zone returned to their houses on August 4. According to the Abkhazian Ministry for Public Health, as a result of the explosions, 64 people were injured, including 35 citizens of the Russian Federation and 29 citizens of the Republic of Abkhazia. Besides, in the course of the incident, a blast wave and fragments of the exploding shells damaged residential houses and cars, some of which belonged to Russian tourists. On August 3, not far from the ammunition depot where the explosion occurred, the bodies of two Russian female tourists were found who died from shrapnel wounds. The authorities of Abkhazia promised to pay to each family of the victims 500,000 roubles of compensation. On August 4, the bodies of the killed tourists were sent from Sukhumi to the Adler airport and then to Saint Petersburg. Five wounded persons were transported to Sochi hospitals, and by August 5, two injured Russian women remained in Abkhazian hospitals. On August 5, Anna Kalyagina, the president of the "Abkhazian Union of Tourism", reported on a "powerful wave of tourists' refusals" from trips to Abkhazia after the explosions at the ammunition depot in the village of Primorskoe.

Main participants determined for elections of deputies to Legislative Assemblies for Krasnodar Territory and North Ossetia

Last week, the election commissions for the Krasnodar Territory and North Ossetia completed the registration of party lists for the elections to the Legislative Assemblies of those regions to be held on a single voting day on September 10.

On August 3, the election commission for the Krasnodar Territory reported that it registered the lists of candidates for deputies to the regional Legislative Assembly from the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party, "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and the "Communists of Russia" Party. Only above five parties will take part in the elections, since the "Yabloko", "Rodina", and "Velikoye Otechestvo" (Great Fatherland) Parties were denied registration because of violations in designing packages of their documents. In total, 70 deputies will be elected at the elections, including 35 in single-mandate constituencies and 35 through party lists.

The election commission of North Ossetia has initially adopted lists from 13 parties for participation in the election of deputies of the republican parliament. To participate in the elections, the "Yabloko", "Party of Growth", "Party of Veterans", "Russian All-National Union" and "Russian Socialist Party" were to collect and transfer by July 26 to the Central Election Commission (CEC) 2614 signatures for the nomination of their candidates. The "Party of veterans" dropped out of the race because of inability to type the required number of signatures. Three other parties, including the "Yabloko" Party, the "Russian All-National Union", and the "Russian Socialist Party" quit the election process in North Ossetia because of violations revealed by the expert group of the republican election commission in signature lists, reported the republic's CEC on August 2. Thus, nine parties, including the "Communist Party of the Russian Federation", "Communists of Russia", the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), "Rodina", "Spravedlivaya Rossiya", "Edinaya Rossiya", "Patriots of Russia", "Party of Growth", and "Alliance of Greens" Parties will take part in the elections.

US Vice President Mike Pence visits Georgia

US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Georgia on July 31. During his visit on July 31-August 1, he met Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Ilia, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, and members of opposition parties. Besides, Mike Pence attended the NATO's multinational military exercise "Decent Partner-2017", which were started in Georgia on July 30. Georgian political analysts associated the visit of Mike Pence, who stated the support for the territorial integrity of Georgia, with the intensification of the confrontation between Russia and the US. Local experts treated the visit of the US Vice President to Georgia as a demonstration of support. It should be noted that during his visit to Georgia, Mike Pence met the leaders of only four opposition parties, including the "United Nation Movement" (UNM), "European Georgia", "Construction of Movement", and "Free Democrats" Parties. The US Vice President assured the party representatives of the US support. In his statements, Mike Pence did not voice anything fundamentally new. However, in general, his visit proves that the relations between the two countries entered a new level. This opinion was expressed by Georgian politicians and political analysts.

Dagestani city of Buynaksk to be headed by man from Ramazan Abdulatipov's team

At the session of the meeting of Buynaksk deputies held on July 31, a contest was announced for the position of the City Mayor, and Islamudin Nurgudaev, a deputy from the People's Assembly for Dagestan, was approved as the acting Mayor. That happened after on July 28, Buynaksk City Mayor Zakariya Amirov resigned, whose appointment as the Mayor of Buynaksk in April 2016 resulted in a split in the local branch of the "Veterans of Russia" Party, which had a majority in the City Assembly. According to journalists interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", Islamudin Nurgudaev is a man from the Ramazan Abdulatipov's team. The journalists have also associated the Zakariya Amirov's resignation from his position of the City Mayor with a long struggle for control over Buynaksk from the side of the republican authorities.

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