30 October 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 23-29

Shelling of fighters in a Chechen unit of the National Guard of Russia; fall of Georgian lari; election of Mayors in Cherkessk and Karachaevsk; attack on policemen in the Stavropol Territory; screening of "Matilda" in Southern Russia, launched with enhanced security measures; resignation of Lev Travnev, who served as Mayor of Pyatigorsk for 11 years, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of October 23-29, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

In Chechnya, a National Guard fighter shells and kills four of his colleagues

On October 23, in the Chechen village of Shelkovskaya, Marat Gadjiev, Senior Lieutenant of the National Guard of Russia ("Rosgvardia"), opened fire in the barracks and fatally wounded four of his colleagues. After that, he was killed. He was a native of Dagestan. Killed Captain Ilya Banykin was a native of the Nizhny Novgorod Region, and Sergeant Ilyas Garachiev was recruited from Ingushetia. Arsen Baigaziev and Bairutdin Agamagomedov, like Marat Gadjiev himself, were natives of Dagestan. On October 25, Victor Zolotov, the head of the National Guard of Russia, reported that the tragedy in a National Guard unit was provoked by the emotional reaction of the fighter whose wife was evicted from the territory of the unit. The colleagues of Marat Gadjiev reported that his actions could be provoked by his complicated relations with the commander. On October 26, sources from the law enforcement agencies reported that the commander of the National Guard unit stationed in the Shelkovskaya village had been detained. However, on the other day, officials from the National Guard of Russia formally announced that the Major had just been suspended at his position and was giving testimony under an official inspection.

Georgian currency exchange rate falls sharply after local elections

Last week, Georgia faced a serious fall of the national currency. So, on October 27, the lari/euro exchange rate updated its historical minimum: the National Bank of Georgia estimated one euro as equal to 3.01 laris. Since the beginning of the week, the fall reached 8 tetris. On October 28, the exchange rate was already 2.97 laris for one euro. On October 27, the National Bank of Georgia set up the exchange rate for US dollar to Georgian lari at 1:2.55. However, at exchange offices, the rate reached 2.90 GEL for 1 USD, and on October 28, in Georgia, one US dollar was already worth 2.56 Georgian laris. MPs from the ruling party accused the National Bank of Georgian of silence. The MPs believe the central bank's inaction can provoke panic among the people. Meanwhile, economists associated the weakening of the Georgian lari with the end of the tourist season, the post-election recession of the economic activities and the trend that forced people to wait for the lari devaluation in autumn.

Cherkessk and Karachaevsk elect City Mayors

In Cherkessk and Karachaevsk, members of the City Dumas elected new City Mayors. On October 27, Ruslan Tambiev, who headed the city of Cherkessk since 2011, was re-elected the Mayor of the capital of Karachay-Cherkessia. His candidacy was unanimously supported by all the City Duma members who attended the meeting. On October 26, Alik Dinaev, the acting head of the city administration, was also unanimously elected the Mayor of Karachaevsk. Earlier, he used to head the Control and Accounts Chamber of the Karachay-Cherkessian Republic (KChR). Ruslan Tekeev, the former head of the Karachaevsk administration, who held the post for the past four years, moved to another job and was elected a member of the City Duma.

Two policemen wounded in Stavropol Territory

On October 25, in Yessentuki, two men shelled policemen who stopped them to check their IDs. One of the attackers was killed by return fire, and the second was later detained and arrested. Two policemen were hospitalized, and physicians estimated their condition as satisfactory. According to the preliminary information from the law enforcement agencies, the attack on policemen has no terrorist background. A pistol was found at the place of the shootout, and at the detainee's place, law enforcers discovered gloves, masks, a pistol, two knives, and a garrote. These things rather prove criminal than terrorist background of the incident, agreed experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot".

Southern Russia starts screening "Matilda" with enhanced security measures

On October 26, Russian cinemas began screening the film "Matilda" directed by Alexei Uchitel. The film describes a story of the relationship between ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya and Nicholas II, the future Russian emperor. Long before the premiere, State Duma member Natalia Poklonskaya initiated a campaign against the film. She reminded the people that Emperor Nicholas II was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. The screening of the film was opposed by the authorities of Dagestan, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and Orthodox activists. Meanwhile, an agent of the "Luxor" cinemas reported that the Russian
cinemas got threats in connection with the upcoming screening of "Matilda".

As a result, on October 26, only some cinemas in the cities of Northern Caucasus, including Makhachkala, Kaspiysk, Nalchik, Cherkessk, Vladikavkaz, Pyatigorsk, and Stavropol, started to screen "Matilda", which got public resonance yet prior to its premiere. In Volgograd, because of the threats, the first screenings of the film were held with enhanced security measures. Residents of Rostov-on-Don did not show great interest in the film, but the first audience praised it. In Krasnodar, less than half of the tickets were sold for the film premiere screenings. However, according to an administrator of the "Luxor" cinema in Sochi, the public interest in the film "Matilda" is high in the city: the film collected three times more spectators than other advertised premieres of the month.

Lev Travnev resigns after 11 years as Pyatigorsk Mayor

On October 24, the Duma of Pyatigorsk accepted the resignation of Lev Travnev, who served as City Mayor since October 2006. He was twice re-elected to the post of Mayor. Members of the City Duma appointed Oleg Bondarenko, who worked as First Deputy Mayor, the acting head of the Pyatigorsk administration. On October 23, Lev Travnev officially announced his resignation. He has noted that "the renewal of the executive power will be of benefit for the city" and that he himself intends to "focus on the forthcoming presidential election," since he heads the city branch of the "Edinya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party in Pyatigorsk.

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