17 September 2018, 13:41

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 10-16, 2018

Summing up the results of the elections held in Southern Russia on September 9; special operation in Dagestan; announcement of a resonant sentence to 14 residents of Chechnya; verdict of guilty to Vladimir Bessonov, a former member of the State Duma; resumption of the action "Do not kill" in Tbilisi, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 10-16, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Summing up results of elections held in Southern Russia on September 9

Last week, the results of the elections held in Southern Russia on September 9 were announced. Following the elections to the Legislative Assembly of the Rostov Region, the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party lost six mandates, and the number of parties in the parliament increased from three to six. In the Legislative Assembly of the Rostov Region of the VI convocation, the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party got 46 seats, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) eight, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) got two seats, like the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party, while the "Communists of Russia" got one mandate, like the "Party of Growth". The seats in the People's Khural of Kalmykia were distributed as follows: the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party gained 21 seats, the CPRF four, and the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party two mandates. Members of the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party, the CPRF, and the LDPR did not agree with the election outcome and claimed violations, including ballot stuffing.

According to the preliminary results of the elections in Volgograd, members of four parties were elected to the City Duma. The "Edinaya Rossiya" Party gained 52.64% of the votes, the CPRF 14.65% of the votes, the LDPR and the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party got 13.12% and 7.70% of the votes, respectively. On September 12, in Volgograd, about 20 participants of the CPRF picket voiced a call to cancel the election results in a number of polling stations where violations had been registered. Members of the CPRF filed more than 70 complaints about violations.

Special operation in Dagestan

In the morning on September 15, the law enforcement bodies reported the introduction of the counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime in the Buynaksk and Karabudakhkent Districts of Dagestan starting from 5:00 a.m. Moscow time. During a shootout in the village of Talgi, three militants were killed, the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) reported. The CTO legal regime was lifted already at 1:00 p.m. Moscow time on the same day. The names of the killed suspects were not reported. Meanwhile, the law enforcement bodies announced that, according to the operative information, the killed suspects planned to commit terror acts in the near future. The CTO legal regime was introduced in the territory of the Buynaksk and Karabudakhkent Districts of Dagestan for the first time in 2018. In the republic, the special operation became the eighth one since early 2018.

Two days before the CTO, a man was killed in a shootout with law enforcers in the Khasavyurt District. According to the NAC, the incident occurred late at night on the federal highway between the villages of Kostek and Chontaul. Law enforcers tried to stop a Lada car for inspection. However, the man in the car opened fire, tried to escape, and was killed, the law enforcement bodies reported.

Pronouncement of a resonant sentence to 14 residents of Chechnya

On September 12, residents of Chechnya reported severe sentences to 14 young people for terrorism. According to sources, young people detained in the Kurchaloi District of Chechnya in January 2017 were sentenced to 9.5-10.5 years of imprisonment. A message reporting about the sentences came to the "Caucasian Knot" SMS-service. Video records disseminated in WhatsApp show how relatives and friends of the sentenced young people who gathered outside the courtroom express their indignation about the sentences: women are crying, and men are running after a prison truck which leaves the courtyard and are knocking on its body. The family members and friends of the sentenced young people believed the promises of the law enforcement bodies and did not make the case public in the hope of soft sentences, their relatives explained to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. In the evening on September 13, family members of three sentenced young men said on the air of the "Grozny" TV Channel that they considered the verdicts justified.

On the same day, the "Grozny" TV Channel showed an interview with Taus Getaev, the chairman of the Shali City Court, who stated that 14 residents of the Kurchaloi District were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for involvement in the armed underground. The statements voiced on the air by the relatives of the sentenced young people about their guilt looked forced, believe residents of the republic questioned by the "Caucasian Knot". The very message about the sentences to 14 residents of the Kurchaloi District caused a resonance in the republic. Users of social networks disseminated a call to hold a rally on September 16 to protest against those sentences. The residents of Chechnya interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" did not rule out that the call may be a provocation initiated by the authorities to identify dissenters. No rally took place in Grozny, and local residents reported about the enhanced security measures in the city.

Verdict of guilty to Vladimir Bessonov, a former member of State Duma

On September 12, the Kirov District Court of Rostov-on-Don recognized Vladimir Bessonov, a former State Duma member from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), as guilty of using violence against a public official with causing slight damage to his health. The former State Duma member was sentenced in absentia to three years of imprisonment in a common-security penal colony. The Court instructed the law enforcement bodies to put the defendant on the wanted list. According to the charge, on December 2, 2011, during a rally in Rostov-on-Don, Vladimir Bessonov struck law enforces and damaged their uniforms. The State Duma member himself pleaded not guilty, but did not attend the trial. After the pronouncement of the Court's decision, an advocate of Vladimir Bessonov called the verdict controversial and voiced his intention to discuss with relatives of the sentenced man the challenge of the verdict.

Resumption of action "Do not kill" in Tbilisi

On September 10, Zaza Saralidze, a father of a schoolboy, who was killed in Tbilisi on December 1, 2017, declared a hunger strike near the Georgian Parliament building. The man was not satisfied with the findings of the temporary parliamentary investigating commission in the case on the murder of his son and another schoolboy. Together with other participants of the action "Do not kill: let's defend justice together", Zaza Saralidze demands the resignation of the government, which failed to provide an objective investigation into the murder. The protest action also involves Malkhaz Machalikashvili, whose son was seriously wounded to his head at his house during a special operation on December 26, 2017, and died in the hospital. On September 13, nun Tamar joined the hunger strike initiated by Zaza Saralidze. During the protest action, Zaza Saralidze got sick already twice, but every time he returned from the hospital to the protest place. Let us remind you that actions of protests related to the murder of two schoolchildren, including a son of Zaza Saralidze, began in Tbilisi on May 31. The protests provoked the resignation of Irakli Shotadze, Chief Prosecutor of Georgia.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 17, 2018 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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