26 March 2018, 09:15
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 19-25
Vote tabulation at presidential election in Russia and reported violations; three special operations and six suspected militants killed in Chechnya and Dagestan; funeral in Georgia of Archil Tatunashvili, who died in Tskhinvali, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of March 19-25, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Outcomes of voting at Russian presidential election summed up against reports on violations
Last week, the results of the election of the Russian president held on March 18 were summed up. Vladimir Putin won in all regions of Southern Russia. Kabardino-Balkaria showed the largest number of votes in Russia for Vladimir Putin - 93.38%. Chechnya lost its traditional leadership in the number of votes for Vladimir Putin and occupied the second place with 91.44% of the votes.
Almost all regions reported violations. In Dagestan, the results of the election were cancelled in three polling stations, and at two of them cases of ballot stuffing were registered. Observers also registered ballot stuffing in the Kuban, in Karachay-Cherkessia, and Volgograd. Economist Andrei Illarionov considers the political culture in Kabardino-Balkaria and Chechnya to be totally falsified. Besides, in many regions of Southern Russia, coercion to voting and falsifications were reported.
In Chechnya and Dagestan, law enforcers report on three special operations and six killed militants
On March 20, in the Staropromyslovsky District of Grozny, a man shelled a policeman near a police station and was killed by return fire. The policeman was wounded to his leg. According to investigators, the man opened fire after the policeman had requested him to show an ID for verification. The responsibility for the incident was claimed by the terrorist organization "Islamic State" (IS) banned in Russia. Besides, on March 20, in the Achkhoi-Martan District of Chechnya, in a forest near the Bamut village located not far from the border with Ingushetia, four persons were killed in a shootout with law enforcers. The killed suspects were natives of Ingushetia and Dagestan, reported the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). It is very difficult to verify whether the killed men were militants, since the earlier cases of misinformation allow questioning that, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" reports.
On March 20, in neighbouring Dagestan, the law enforcement bodies introduced a counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime in the Khasavyurt and Kizilyurt Districts. In those areas, the CTO legal regime, announced on March 19, 2017, was not lifted until March 14. Another special operation was carried out in the Andi village in the Botlikh District. A member of the IS was killed there.
Archil Tatunashvili, who died in Tskhinvali, buried in Georgia
On March 20, South Ossetia with the mediation of the Red Cross mission gave out to Georgia the body of Archil Tatunashvili, who died in the hospital in Tskhinvali on February 23, the day after his arrest in South Ossetia on suspicion of plotting an act of sabotage. Residents of the Akhalgori District reported that Archil Tatunashvili was engaged in selling vegetables and he was detained after he had refused to pay "tribute" for the right to act as a seller. In Georgia, experts registered signs of torture on the body of the deceased man, reported Sozar Subari, Georgian Minister of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees. On March 24, Archil Tatunashvili was buried with military honour in Tbilisi. On March 21, the Georgian Parliament requested the government to impose sanctions against the persons accused and sentenced for crimes against Georgian citizens in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Armenian oppositionist sent to prison by court judgement
On March 20, the court in Armenia sentenced Zhirair Sefilyan, the leader of the movement "100 years without regime", to ten years and six months of imprisonment on the charge of organizing illegal arms trafficking, plotting riots and preparing to seize a police building in Yerevan. Six other defendants of the case were sentenced to 2-4 years of imprisonment. Advocates and supporters of the defendants believe the verdict is a demonstration of power by the authorities. Zhirair Sefilyan himself said the case against him was of political nature. Rights defenders also condemned the verdict. They associated it with the President Serzh Sargsyan's fears to lose his power.
11 people fell victim to a road accident involving a bus on route from Yerevan to Moscow
On March 20, a 50-passenger bus on route from Yerevan to Moscow collided with a truck on the M4 Don road in the Voronezh Region. A bus driver and a truck driver were killed. Nine persons, including eight citizens of Armenia, were injured. It should be noted that on June 13, 2017, a shuttle bus on route from Moscow to the Armenian capital moved into a roadside ditch also in the Voronezh Region. Then three persons were injured.
Chief of Dagestani FAS Department arrested in Moscow
On March 22, Kubasai Kubasaev, the chief of the Dagestani Department of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (known as FAS), was detained. He is suspected of receiving bribes for not hindering tenders on state procurement contracts. According to investigators, in the period from 2013 to 2015, Kubasai Kubasaev got bribes in the form of cash, Swiss watches and a hunting rifle for the total amount of more than 3 million roubles. The Moscow Basmanny Court arrested Kubasai Kubasaev until May 22.