10 December 2018, 15:02

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 3-9, 2018

Early parliamentary elections in Armenia; decision of the Constitutional Court of Russia on the border agreement between Chechnya and Ingushetia; approval of the sentence to Vladimir Bessonov by the Rostov Regional Court; failed court hearing in the Vladimir Tskaev's case in Vladikavkaz; publication of report on honour killings in Northern Caucasus, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 3-9, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Early parliamentary elections in Armenia

On December 9, residents of Armenia elected delegates to the parliament by proportional (party lists) and rating (majority) systems. Nine parties and two blocs took part in the early parliamentary elections. Observers reported dozens of violations during the voting, including election campaigning, attempts to prevent the work of observers, and in some cases, failure to secure the secrecy of the voting. Registered violations are not of a mass nature and cannot affect the outcome of the voting, believes political analyst Grant Mikaelyan, a researcher from the Caucasus Institute. According to him, the most flagrant registered violations is a case of organized voting of soldiers in Kotaik Region, where after receiving the ballots, the soldiers still stood in a line and separated the ballots of one of the political forces.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Armenia has reported that after votes from 80% of polling stations have been counted, the "My Step" bloc led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gains 70.45% of the votes. According to the preliminary information, a 5% barrier was also overcome by the "Prosperous Armenia" and "Enlightened Armenia" Parties. The opposition Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) (with 4.54%) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation "Dashnaktsutyun" (with 4.01%) fail to overcome the 5% barrier so far. The voter turnout was 48.63%.

Decision of Russian CC on Chechen-Ingush border agreement

On December 6, in contradiction to the verdict pronounced earlier by the Constitutional Court (CC) of Ingushetia, the Russian CC recognized the legality of the agreement on the Chechen-Ingush administrative border signed by the leaders of the two republics. A referendum in Ingushetia was not necessary when establishing a border with a neighbouring republic, said court chair Valery Zorkin. After the pronouncement of the Court's decision on December 6, opponents of the border agreement declared that it had been signed "for the sake of officials" and threatened the authorities with new protests and appeals to international institutions. Besides, on December 6, initiators of a referendum on the border with Chechnya got a refusal from the election commission of Ingushetia. On December 7, the Council of Teips of the Ingush people proposed the Chechen authorities to determine the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya with the help of the Sharia Court. According to members of the Council, the relations between the two peoples depend on the border. Meanwhile, residents of Chechnya believe that the decision pronounced by the Russia CC will reduce tensions with the Ingush people. And many social networks users from Chechnya believe that it is Chechnya, and not Ingushetia, that has lost part of its ancestral territories.

Approval of sentence to Vladimir Bessonov by Rostov Regional Court

On December 5, the Rostov Regional Court refused to acquit Vladimir Bessonov, a former State Duma member from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), sentenced in absentia for three years of imprisonment in a common-security penal colony for beating policemen in Rostov-on-Don. The Court upheld the sentence. Vladimir Bessonov was accused of hitting law enforcers during a rally held in Rostov-on-Don on December 2, 2011, and damaging their uniform. The former State Duma member pleaded not guilty, but did not appear in court and was declared wanted. Vladimir Bessonov has been persecuted for seven years because of his opposition activities, believe his advocates. They announced the intention to file a cassation appeal after examination of a motivation part of the sentence pronounced by the Rostov Regional Court and then to prepare an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Failed court hearing in Vladimir Tskaev's case in Vladikavkaz

On December 4, the Leninsky District Court of Vladikavkaz was to hold a preliminary hearing in the case on the death of Vladimir Tskaev after his questioning at a police station. All persons involved in the case appeared in court, but the hearing was postponed to December 17 because of the illness of an advocate of a defendant. A representative of the victims treated the above fact as an attempt to delay the trial. She also criticized the fact that the preliminary hearings were to be held behind closed doors, as well as the pronouncement of the indictment, in which only three defendants were charged with harm that resulted in the death of the victim through negligence. Meanwhile, Vladimir Tskaev's relatives demanded the charge to be reclassified to "murder." At night on November 1, 2015, Vladimir Tskaev died after being interrogated at the police station. According to his relatives, the man was tortured.

Publication of report on honour killings in Northern Caucasus

On December 6, the "Legal Initiative" published the report "Killed by Gossip. Honour Killings of Women in Northern Caucasus". The report describes the fate of women, the reasons for such killings, and the factors cherishing such a custom. According to the rights defenders, in the period from 2008 to 2017, there were 33 such cases, as a result of which 39 people were killed, including 36 women (92.3%) and three men. According to the survey, "the largest number of murders that became known to the media and rights defenders and reached courts was committed in Dagestan. That is related to a great extent to the condemnation of such cases. A smaller number of such cases reached the media and courts in Ingushetia and Chechnya. The full version of the report was published on the Russian page of the "Caucasian Knot". The rights defenders also launched the information campaign on social networks to report about the fate of victims in Chechnya and Dagestan. The authorities of Chechnya and Ingushetia expressed their indignation after the publication of the report, and an official from the administration of the Dagestani leader promised to check the data reported by the rights defenders.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on December 10, 2018 at 09:15 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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