09 July 2018, 13:09
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 2-8, 2018
Bad weather in Georgia and several regions of Northern Caucasus, which led to emergency situations; accident at TPP which de-energized Azerbaijan and court's decision in the case against Azerbaijani oppositionist Ilgar Mamedov; detention of Dagestani Vice Prime Minister Ramazan Aliev; quarterfinal match between the national football teams of Russia and Croatia in Sochi, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 2-8, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Several Caucasian regions affected by bad weather
Last week, several regions of Northern Caucasus and part of Georgia found themselves in a zone of unfavourable weather conditions. On July 5, the heavy rainfall provoked the rise of the water level in the Baksan River, and sections of the Prokhladny-Baksan-Azau road were flooded at the 61st kilometre and beyond the town of Tyrnyauz in Kabardino-Balkaria. As a result, three villages with about 1500 people and more than 4000 tourists in the Elbrus Region were temporarily cordoned off by the flooding. Later, the road was reversed. The regime of emergencies has been introduced throughout the republic due to the threat of new flooding. Besides, on July 5, as a result of bad weather in Karachay-Cherkessia, the passage to the Uzun-Kol camp with 40 tourists was cordoned off by water. The road to the tourist camp appeared to be in the flooding zone. On July 5, in the Gunib District of Dagestan, a mudflow swept away a car from the road to a gorge. A family of three persons was travelling in the car, including a two-year-old child. All of them died. On July 6, in Stavropol, after heavy rain, some roads were flooded. Traffic jams were formed in the city, and many local residents were late for work. On July 5, the flooding swept away bridges and destroyed the roads leading to the village of Chuberi in the Georgian District of Svaneti, and some houses were flooded. As a result of the disaster, 10 families were evacuated, whose houses were located near the river. Members of those families found temporary shelters at the places of their relatives and friends. Soldiers are involved in the restoration of the bridge and the road in the Chuberi village.
TPP accident de-energizes Azerbaijan, and a court's judgement on Ilgar Mamedov's case
At night on July 3, an accident occurred at a power plant in the Azerbaijani city of Mingachevir, after which the whole territory of Azerbaijan was left without electricity for several hours. The "Azerenergy" Company stated that the equipment went out of operation because of extremely hot weather. In the evening on July 3, a new accident at the thermal power plant (TPP) provoked another mass blackout in Baku and a number of regions of the country. Interruptions in the power supply led to problems with water supply. In the evening on July 3, in Baku, metro trains stopped because of the interruption in the electricity supply. Passengers were evacuated from the trains which stuck in the tunnels. The evacuation of the people was carried out in conditions of extremely hot weather. 19 people complained of poor health, and six of them were hospitalized. By July 6, all the victims had been discharged from the hospital.
On July 2, advocates of Ilgar Mamedov, the leader of the Azerbaijani movement "ReAl", kept in custody, reported receiving a decision of the Plenum of the Azerbaijani Supreme Court (SC), which returned the case to the appeal court. In March 2014, Ilgar Mamedov was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment on the charge of organizing protests of Ismayilli residents in January 2013. On November 16, 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that Ilgar Mamedov's right to a fair trial was violated and ordered to pay him the compensation in the amount of 10,000 euros; the ECtHR's decision has already took effect. Azerbaijani rights defenders criticized the decision pronounced by the Plenum of the Azerbaijani Supreme Court. They treat it as an attempt of the authorities to take a break and not let the oppositionist out of prison in contradiction to the decision of the ECtHR.
Detention of Dagestani Vice-Premier Ramazan Aliev
In Dagestan, the law enforcement bodies continue to detain top-ranking officials. On July 4, Vladimir Vasiliev, the acting leader of the republic, signed a decree to dismiss Ramazan Aliev from the post of the Vice Prime Minister of Dagestan. On the same day, a house of Ramazan Aliev's was repeatedly searched, and the official was detained. On July 6, the Soviet District Court of Makhachkala took Ramazan Aliev in custody pending the charge. The official was arrested on suspicion of exceeding his official authority and causing damage to the budget of Dagestan in the amount of 14,157,000 roubles, a source reports with reference to the case materials. Earlier, sources reported that the investigation into the case against Ramazan Aliev was provoked by his order to service a private car at the government garage. Together with Ramazan Aliev, law enforcers arrested Askhabali Abdulatipov, the chief of the public institution "Avtokhozyaistvo", who was called to be a nephew of Ramazan Abdulatipov, the former leader of Dagestan. In fact, Ramazan Abdulatipov himself stated that the detainee was his namesake. On July 7, a source from the Dagestani law enforcement bodies reported on the detention of Tanka Ibragimov, the former Minister for Public Health, who resigned in April 2018. According to the source, the former official is suspected of embezzling funds from the budget.
Russia-Croatia FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match held in Sochi
On July 7, a quarterfinal match of the FIFA World Cup between the national teams of Russia and Croatia took place at the "Fisht" Stadium in Sochi. The outcome of the match was solved by a series of penalties, as a result of which Russian football players completed their participation in the tournament. On the day of the match, the number of people who wanted to come to the resort city from different regions of the country has grown. Airlines responded to the growth in demand by a significant increase in ticket prices, and the cost of air tickets grew by 10-20 times. On July 7, the Sochi airport welcomed about 35,000 passengers and thus beat the record set up at the ceremonies for opening and closing the Winter Olympic Games in 2014, the Governor of Kuban reported. On July 6, one day before the match, the streets of Sochi were flooded after a heavy rainfall. City residents voiced their dissatisfaction with the absence of normal storm water ditches and declared no interest in the FIFA World Cup. Users of social networks expressed concern that the wet stadium pitch can interfere with the normal game of the football teams.