29 January 2018, 09:10
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 22-28
Action "Voters' Strike" in Southern Russia; charges against the Mayor of Makhachkala; threats to rights defenders in Dagestan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 22-28, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Alexei Navalny's supporters hold actions in Southern Russia
On January 28, Russian cities, including in the south of the country, hosted actions in support of the "Voters' Strike" initiated by supporters of oppositionist Alexei Navalny. The protesters called on people to boycott the presidential election. In Krasnodar, about 100 people came to the action. In Stavropol, the action gathered 200 people; however, according to organizers, some people who wanted to take part in protest did not come from fear of losing their jobs. In Rostov-on-Don, organizers counted 500 participants of the action. In Makhachkala, more than 50 people came to an unsanctioned action. And in Volgograd, activists reported detention during an unsanctioned march. According to them, about 50 people were detained, and some of them were fined. In total, about 300 people took part in the action.
Makhachkala Mayor charged
On January 26, Musa Musaev, Mayor of Makhachkala, was charged with abuse of power. His arrest is extended from 10 days to two months. Musa Musaev treats the criminal proceedings against him as ungrounded, and his defence found the arrest to be too severe preventive measure and appealed against it. On January 22, Alexander Bastrykin, the chief of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF), instructed investigators to check the Musa Musaev's activities for other episodes of criminal acts. Vladimir Vasiliev, acting leader of Dagestan, called the case against Musa Musaev "a step towards measures to restore order" in Makhachkala.
In Makhachkala, HRC "Memorial" reports car arson and threats
On January 22, in Makhachkala, a car of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" office was set on fire. A HRC's advocate used the car to travel to Chechnya concerning the case against Oyub Titiev, the head of the HRC "Memorial" office in Grozny, who was arrested on the charge of marijuana possession. On January 23, staff members of the HRC "Memorial" office in Dagestan got SMS-messages with threats. Despite that, the HRC "Memorial" office works as a usual, the rights defenders report.
Opposition activist sentenced in Azerbaijan
On January 23, the court sentenced Gezyal Bairamly, the deputy chair for the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), to three years of imprisonment on the charge of smuggling. Her party colleague Nureddin Mamedli and rights defender Samir Kazymly pointed to the political motives of the prosecution. Gezyal Bairamly herself called her arrest a revenge of the authorities. The name of Gezyal Bairamly is mentioned in the report prepared by the international human rights organization "Human Rights Watch" (HRW). The activist is recognized as a political prisoner in the homeland.
Chechnya opens mountain ski resort
On January 26, the ski resort "Veduchi" was solemnly opened in the Itum-Kali District of Chechnya. The first facilities were opened, including a one-kilometre ski route and an 800-meter cable car lift. In total, the resort, which construction is expected to be completed by 2025, will provide 19 ski routes with a total length of 46 kilometres and a capacity of 12,000 skiers per hour. Because of the insufficient height of the snow cover, the authorities of Chechnya arranged a large-scale delivery of snow. The opening of the resort was held with enhanced security measures: law enforcers blocked the roads in the area and carefully inspected cars, local residents reported. Besides, for public employees, the opening of the resort meant involvement in "volunteer" activities on Saturday.
In Abkhazia, opposition unites to seek resignation of President
On January 23, the major opposition forces of Abkhazia announced a merger with the aim of securing the resignation of President Raul Khadjimba. The politician is accused of the fact that he made an individual decision to pardon Giorgi Lukava, failed to fulfil his election promises and did not take any measures to resolve the problems of the republic. The merger of the opposition forces combined the "Amtsakhara" and "United Abkhazia" Parties, the "Apra" Social, Economic and Political Research Foundation, the NGOs "Kyarazaa", "Abzankhara", "Our Home Abkhazia", and the "Union of Veterans and Youth of Apsny". On January 25, Abkhazian Vice-Premier Beslan Eshba submitted a letter of resignation. Against the backdrop of the political crisis and economic problems in the republic, there are no obvious reasons for his resignation, but it can be caused by the desire to maintain his reputation as a competent manager. This opinion was expressed by political analysts and journalists interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot".