29 October 2018, 13:25

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events on October 22-28, 2018

Flooding as a result of heavy rains in Kuban; presidential election in Georgia; Nikol Pashinyan's non-election as Armenian Premier; preparations for the World Congress of the Ingush People; demand to stop "Electrozink" Factory in Vladikavkaz, – see the review on these events in the report on the week of October 22-28, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Flooding as a result of heavy rains in Kuban

On October 24, after downpours, the authorities of the Krasnodar Territory (also known as Kuban by the name of the main river) introduced an emergency regime in the Tuapse District, and the next day – also in Sochi and the Apsheron District. As of October 26, residential houses of 5300 people were flooded in 29 dwelling settlements of these municipalities. As a result, 60 people were injured, six other perished; the fate of two more persons is unknown. By October 27, the water receded. The flooding in the Krasnodar Territory led to cancellation and delay of 75 trains. On October 25, passengers complained that they were not provided with food and hotel rooms. As of October 27, more than 3000 passengers were still waiting for their trains in hotels of Krasnodar and Sochi.

Kuban authorities have already begun paying compensations to victims of flooding. However, local residents complain that the money is not enough to fully restore their damaged houses.

Election of Georgian president

On October 28, Georgia elected its president. A total of 3703 polling stations were opened, including 55 abroad. 25 candidates ran for the presidency; however, the main rivals were though to be Salome Zurabishvili, supported by the ruling "Georgian Dream" Party, and Grigol Vashadze, the nominee of the oppositional United National Movement (UNM). Their campaigns were built on the opposition of two irreconcilable opponents – the businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili and the third president of the country, Mikhail Saakashvili. During the voting, oppositionists and NGO activists reported violations, including voters' bribery and voting without marking. A brawl of supporters of presidential candidates at a polling station and six other incidents led to police inquiries.

Immediately after the closure of polling stations, the "Georgian Dream" announced the victory of Salome Zurabishvili, citing exit poll data. By the morning of October 29, about 90 percent of the votes had been counted; and, according to preliminary data, Zurabishvili won 38.61% of the votes; Grigol Vashadze – 37.69%. The second round of election is not excluded, since in order to win in the first round, a candidate had to win over 50% of all the votes.

In accordance with the amendments to the Constitution of Georgia adopted on September 26, 2017, which assume a transition to a parliamentary model of ruling, this election will be the last one to be held by direct vote. This time, the president is elected for six years. At present, Giorgi Margvelashvili occupies this post, while government is headed by Mamuka Bakhtadze.

On the eve of the voting, presidential candidates complained to European observers about the use of administrative resources and unequal funding. The electoral campaign in Georgia was based not on candidates' promises, but on black promotion technologies, political analysts had stated earlier.

Nikol Pashinyan's non-election as Armenian Premier

On October 24, the Armenian parliament held the first round of electing the prime minister. The "Elk" faction nominated Nikol Pashinyan for the post; he was the only candidate. Not a single MP voted for him; the next round was scheduled for October 31. During the parliament session, Pashinyan's supporters came out to the rally in order to prevent the election of the prime minister; they held posters "Immediate dissolution of parliament and judiciary!" Let us remind you that on October 16, when Pashinyan resigned from the post of the Premier, he announced his plans to bring the velvet revolution to the end and transfer the power to the people. He presented a roadmap, according to which the president immediately accepts his resignation; then the parliament fails to elect a new prime minister within 14 days and is dissolved for holding early parliamentary elections. Commenting on the October 24 voting, Armenian political analysts have stated that the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) had agreed with the inevitability of dissolution of the parliament, and there would be no surprises during the second round of voting.

Preparations for the World Congress of the Ingush People

On October 27, the city of Nazran hosted the extraordinary congress of delegates of Ingush clans (teips), convened by opponents to the agreement on a new Ingush-Chechen border. According to the organizers of the congress, 830 delegates representing 283 teips took part in it. The main topics were the border issue and nomination of delegates to the World Congress of the Ingush People, which is scheduled for October 30 and to which the head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Evkurov, was invited. In parallel to the above congress in Nazran, representatives of Arshtins, who live both in Ingushetia and in Chechnya, gathered their delegates in Alkun. They supported the agreement on the Chechen-Ingush border and appealed to the organizers of the World Congress of the Ingush People not to heat up the situation.

After on October 17, in Magas, the protest against the border agreement was temporarily suspended, gatherings took place in different dwelling settlements of Ingushetia. They were organized by Ingush officials, who tried to convince residents of the legitimacy of the agreement on the new border. Members of the organizing committee of the Magas rally also speak at the gatherings; and their position was supported by residents of Yandare, Kantyshevo and Karabulak, activists have reported. However, gatherings are not without incidents. Thus, in Yandare, armed and masked law enforcers appeared and frightened people; in Kantyshevo, the elder Akhmed Barakhoev was prevented from speaking: they turning off the microphone. Also, because of law enforcers' counteraction, Barakhoev could not speak at the gathering of Malgobek.

Demands to stop "Electrozinc" Factory in Vladikavkaz

After the fire that occurred on October 21 at the metallurgical "Electrozinc" Factory in Vladikavkaz, the city Mayor, Makharbek Khadartsev demanded to move the factory to the Urals, claiming that it ruins the health of townspeople. On October 22, residents of North Ossetia gathered for a spontaneous action in Vladikavkaz, demanding to close the factory. On October 25, the MPs of the republic's parliament unanimously supported the demand to stop "Electrozink". However, the Director General of the Company, Igor Khodyko, said that the closing of "Electrozinc" because of the large fire is out of question. The factory is now in a temporary idling mode. According to its press service, the work is suspended for at least six-eight months. Meanwhile, the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) announced its version of the reason of the fire: according to preliminary data, the fire occurred due to violations of industrial safety regulations.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on October 29, 2018 at 09:06 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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