24 September 2018, 18:51

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 17-23, 2018

Interethnic conflict in Kabardino-Balkaria; actions in Southern Russia against pension reform, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 17-23, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Interethnic conflict in Kabardino-Balkaria

On September 18, residents of the Balkar village of Kendelen did not let participants of the equestrian march organized in memory of the 310th anniversary of the Kanjali Battle to pass through the village. The refusal provoked clashes. On September 19, clashes between activists and law enforcers took place in the village of Zayukovo and in the town of Baksan. On the same day, in Nalchik, activists with Adyg flags approached the building of the government of Kabardino-Balkaria and demanded to resolve the conflict, but after the meeting with the Minister for Nationalities, the activists left the place. There were also detentions, but all detainees were released without charges. According to Valery Khatazhukov, the head of the Human Rights Centre of Kabardino-Balkaria, about 40 people were detained after the clashes.

Historians interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" explained the interethnic conflict in Kabardino-Balkaria by land dispute. The clashes in Kendelen cannot be explained solely by disputes over mountain pastures, notes Denis Sokolov, Senior Adviser from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). According to him, two nations could celebrate victories and mark mourning dates together, but the authorities of the republic fenced themselves off from people by law enforcers and aggravated the conflict. Denis Sokolov believes it was the officials' actions that led to confrontation.

Actions in Southern Russia against pension reform

On September 22 and 23, residents of a number of cities in Southern Russia took part in an action to protest against a raise in the retirement age. The protestors also spoke about violations committed during the elections and local problems.

In Volgograd, according to the organizers, the rally organized by Communists on September 22, was attended by 300 people. In Astrakhan, about 600 people came to the action against the pension reform. In Rostov-on-Don, according to organizers, the rally against the pension reform gathered 300 people. The protesters called on the President and the Prime Minister to resign. The activists also demanded to bring members of the election commissions to justice for violations at the elections. In Elista, Communists went to pickets with the demand to retract the pension reform. An auto rally took place in Maikop. In Cherkessk, Communists held a rally, which, according to their information, was attended by about 300 people. The protestors also adopted a resolution in support of Rostov Communist Vladimir Bessonov, sentenced in the case on the use of violence against policemen.

In Sochi, two rallies took place. Apart from the criticism of the pension reform, protestors raised the issues of environment and unsanctioned construction. In Krasnodar and Stavropol, rallies were held on September 23. Participants demanded the abolition of the pension reform and the resignation of the Russian government headed by Medvedev, report the websites for the regional branches of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). In Makhachkala, a rally against the pension reform was also organized by Communists, and they gathered about 340 people.

Elections of Council of Elders in Yerevan

On September 23, the capital of Armenia held the voting in the elections to the Council of Elders of Yerevan. Eight parties and four blocs were registered to take part in the elections. On the voting day, observers announced violations, including an attempt to agitate and influence voters. The observers were also concerned over the distribution of pizza by members of the "My Step" bloc led by Nikol Pashinyan at polling stations in Yerevan. The extraordinary elections were appointed after on August 16, the authorities dissolved the Council of Elders of Yerevan for its failure to elect a new Mayor of the capital.

According to the preliminary information, the turnout at the elections to the Council of Elders of Yerevan was 43.65%. The "My Step" bloc led by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is gaining more than 80% of the votes. Earlier, Armenian political analysts have noted that the "My Step" bloc, the "Prosperous Armenia" Party, and the "Luys" bloc have high chances to win the elections.

Trial in Oyub Titiev's case in Chechnya to be held behind closed doors

On September 20, the Shali City Court pronounced the decision not to let journalists to attend the trial in the case against Oyub Titiev, the head of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" office in Grozny, accused of marijuana possession. Thus, the Court has granted the motion filed by the public prosecutor, who stated that law enforcers will be questioned at the trial. The Court's decision to hold the trial behind closed doors violates the Oyub Titiev's right to a fair trial, advocates state.

The Court's decision to hold the trial behind closed doors reminded activists of the statement voiced by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov about the ban for rights defenders to visit the republic after the trial against Oyub Titiev. According to the rights defenders, the persons who fabricated the case against Oyub Titiev will benefit from the trial held behind closed doors.

Election of Mayor of Volgograd

On September 19, members of the Volgograd Duma, elected on September 9, voted to appoint Vitaly Likhachov, the current head of the city administration (city manager), to the position of the Volgograd Mayor. The head of the city will now have the powers of the head of the city administration. The election of Vitaly Likhachov to become the head of Volgograd did not provoke any excitement in the City Duma or among residents of the city. The combination of the Vitaly Likhachov's powers as the head of the city and the head of the city administration indicates the local elite is not ready for fundamental changes, note the political analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". It should be noted that Vitaly Likhachov occupied the penultimate 87th place in the "National Rating of Mayors", published by the Information Communications Centre "Rating" on July 31, 2017.

Transfer of "Chechenneftekhimprom" Company to authorities of Chechnya

On September 18, the Russian President signed a decree to transfer shares of the "Chechenneftekhimprom" Company, owned by the state, to the authorities of Chechnya. Yet on December 3, 2015, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov asked the Russian President to hand over to the Chechen authorities the "Chechenneftekhimprom" Company, owned by the "Rosimuschestvo" (Federal Agency for State Property Management) and managed by the "Rosneft" Company. The transfer of the "Chechenneftekhimprom" Company to the authorities of Chechnya can be explained primarily by political interests, emphasized the economists interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". The "Chechenneftekhimprom" was not the main asset of the "Rosneft" Company in Chechnya, the experts noted.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 24, 2018 at 09:05 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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