Sochi, "Fisht" Stadium. Photo by Svetlana Kravchenko for the Caucasian Knot

11 June 2018, 09:05

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 4-10, 2018

Arrival of participants of the FIFA World Cup in the cities of Southern Russia; special operation carried out in Nazran; two-day strike of metro drivers in Tbilisi; detention of a top-ranking police officer from Dagestan; strong earthquake in Azerbaijan; approval of Taimuraz Akhokhov as Mayor of Nalchik, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of June 4-10, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Southern Russia greets participants and guests of FIFA World Cup

Last week, the cities of Southern Russia began greeting guests and participants of the FIFA World Cup to be held in the period from June 14 to July 15. Football matches will be held in three southern Russian cities, including Rostov-on-Don, Sochi, and Volgograd, as well as in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, and Yekaterinburg. In Sochi, matches of the FIFA World Cup will be held at the "Fisht" Stadium, while in Volgograd and Rostov-on-Don they will take place at the "Volgograd-Arena" and "Rostov Arena" Stadiums, respectively, specially built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In Sochi, on the eve of the FIFA World Cup, the authorities report that the city expects to receive a million guests of the football event and that 2000 hotels are waiting to accommodate them. Meanwhile, residents of Sochi complained about transport problems provoked by the FIFA World Cup. The authorities of Volgograd reported about large-scale works in the central streets, while local residents complained of noise at nights and called the repair itself an emergency measure.

Several other cities of Southern Russia will host athletes from eight football teams participating in the FIFA World Cup. On June 10, athletes from Egypt arrived in Grozny. They will train at the "Akhmat Arena" Stadium and stay at "The Local" Hotel specially built to accommodate them. According to local residents, on the occasion of the Egyptian team's arrival, the city began to look better, and people also noted the enhancement of security measures in the area of "The Local" Hotel and the "Akhmat Arena" Stadium. On June 9, the Icelandic national team arrived in Gelendzhik, and the city will also host football players from Sweden. Local residents have already complained that they cannot get to open training because of the unfair distribution of invitations. Moreover, the arrivals in Gelendzhik of the Icelandic and Swedish national teams have already had a negative impact on the spa business: for the period of the foreign football players' training, the city introduced a special regime to require all tourists to get a temporary registration within three days after their arrival and that forced a lot of people to postpone their coming to the resort. Besides, the national teams participating in the FIFA World Cup will be also hosted by other cities of Southern Russia, including Krasnodar, Anapa, Essentuki, and Sochi.

In Nazran, three local residents killed in CTO

In the morning on June 8, in Nazran, law enforcers cordoned off a house, where, according to their information, militants were hiding. Later, the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) reported that the counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime is valid in Nazran and that two militants were killed there. There was a woman among the killed suspects, and one of the persons, who were hiding in the cordoned-off house, surrendered, sources from the law enforcement bodies reported. According to local residents, two young men and their mother were killed, while the father of the killed guys was detained. The killed suspects were plotting terror acts to be committed on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, reported Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Evkurov. According to him, the people who were hiding in the house were offered to surrender, but they refused, opened fire on the law enforcers, and were killed. Local residents also mentioned a law enforcer killed during the special operation, but the information was not confirmed. The neighbours of the killed people called the special operation a staged action. According to the local residents, all killed suspects were members of a retired colonel's family, and none of them had any connections with militants and none of them opened fire on law enforcers. The law enforcement bodies claim that the killed suspects swore allegiance to the terrorist organization "Islamic State" (IS) banned in Russia, but there was no other confirmation of the information.

In Tbilisi, strike of metro drivers results in transport collapse

On June 4, in Tbilisi, metro drivers declared a strike with a demand to raise their salaries, and all the metro stations were closed in the city. The closure of the metro resulted in a traffic collapse in Tbilisi. During peak hours, all buses and minibuses were crowded with passengers, reported residents of Tbilisi interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". By the decision of the City Mayoralty, buses served passengers free of charge because of the strike of the metro drivers. Two rounds of the talks, which Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze held with the strikers at night on June 5, failed. At night on June 6, Kakha Kaladze managed to negotiate with the metro drivers about the termination of their strike, and in the afternoon on June 6, the metro started working. According to the strikers, the Mayor of Tbilisi has promised them to increase their salaries, but it is not yet known when the appropriated decision will be made. According to the Mayoralty, during every strike day, Tbilisi was losing 40-45,000 laris (16-18,000 US dollars). The metro drivers demanded an increase in wages from 7 laris (about 2.8 US dollars) to 10 laris (about 4 US dollars) per hour.

A top-ranking Dagestani police officer detained on suspicion of bribery

On June 5, Colonel Magomed Khizriev, the head for the Internal Security Department at the Dagestani Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), was detained in Moscow. He is accused of giving a bribe to be appointed to a top-ranking post. Initially, sources from the law enforcement bodies reported that Magomed Khizriev was suspected of giving a bribe of 2 million US dollars to the heads of the Chief Directorate of Internal Security at the Russian MIA. According to investigators, the total amount of the bribe was supposed to be 6 million US dollars. On June 6, the investigators reported the detention of five civilians, suspected accomplices of Magomed Khizriev. On June 7, in Moscow, the court pronounced the decision to arrest Magomed Khizriev and his three suspected accomplices for two months. At trial, the Colonel pleaded not guilty and said that he was looking for a job in the oil industry.

In Azerbaijan, houses of local residents get cracks as a result of earthquake

In the evening of June 5, an earthquake was registered in the territory of the Zaqatala District of Azerbaijan. According to the Seismic Survey Centre of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, the epicentre of 6-magnitude tremors was registered at a depth of 12 kilometres, 24 kilometres south of the Zaqatala city. After the earthquake, an elderly man died from the stress he had suffered, and another person was hospitalized. It was a 13-year-old girl, who tried to escape at the time of the earthquake, stumbled, and broke her leg. After the earthquake, local residents reported on cracks appearing in their houses, and the authorities began to calculate the inflicted damage. Residents of Armenia, Chechnya, and Dagestan experienced the earthquake registered in Azerbaijan. 4-5-magnitude tremors were registered in the Tavush Region, the Armenian Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) reports. In Dagestan, 3-4-magnitude tremors were registered. Last night, short underground tremors were registered in Chechnya.

Taimuraz Akhokhov approved as Mayor of Nalchik

On June 7, Nalchik held the election of the head for the city district administration. During the session, delegates of the Council of Local City Self-Administration approved Taimuraz Akhokhov for the post. Starting from April 2, he worked as the acting head for the Nalchik administration after his predecessor Arsen Alakaev moved to the government of Kabardino-Balkaria. Seven candidates run for the post of the head of the Nalchik administration. The result of the election was predictable, members of the public organization "People's Control of Kabardino-Balkaria" believe.

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