17 December 2018, 12:53

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

Summing up parliamentary elections in Armenia; inauguration of new president of Georgia against opposition's protests; session of Sharia Court in Ingushetia on border with Chechnya – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 10-16, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Summing up parliamentary elections in Armenia

On December 16, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Armenia announced the final totals of the parliamentary elections held on December 9. Nikol Pashinyan's "My Step" bloc won 70.42% of all the votes, the "Prosperous Armenia" Party was the runner-up with 8.26% of votes, and the "Enlightened Armenia" won 6.37%. Other political forces failed to overcome the barrier. The new parliament will consist of 132 MPs: the "My Step" bloc received 88 mandates, while the "Prosperous Armenia" and the "Enlightened Armenia" Parties received 26 and 18 seats, respectively, the CEC has reported.

The losing parties recognized the election outcomes; however, the "We" bloc and the "Christian-Democratic Revival" Party, which failed to get into the new parliament, expressed concern about the absence of the opposition there. The elections were democratic, but in the atmosphere of intolerance for dissent, the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) has stated. Observers noted that there were violations, but they were not widespread. The outcomes are logical, said the political analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". Boris Navasardyan, the head of the Yerevan Press Club, said Pashinyan received full power and convenient partners in the parliament. "Velvet revolution" in Armenia is over, said Armen Badalyan, a political technologist.

Inauguration of new Georgia president against opposition's protests

On December 16, Salome Zurabishvili, who had won the second round of presidential election with the support of the ruling "Georgian Dream" Party, took office. The fifth president of Georgia told about the goals of her foreign and domestic policy and prospects for the resumption of relations with Russia.

Oppositionists, who refused to recognize the election outcomes, had planned to hold a protest action in Telavi on the inauguration day. They left Tbilisi, but the police stopped their motorcade on the road. There were clashes of oppositionists with law enforcers; some activists continued their way to Telavi on foot. As a result, only a very small number of oppositionists and their supporters could reach Telavi. The police explained the road blockage by security measures for the distinguished guests of the inauguration. Then, Zurabishvili opponents set up tents outside the parliament building in Tbilisi and demanded to hold extraordinary parliamentary elections and dismiss the government.

Sharia Court in Ingushetia on border with Chechnya

On December 15, a session of the Sharia Court was held in Ingushetia, to which the Council of Teips (family clans) of Ingushetia had summoned the MPs. The Court wanted to make a verdict based on MPs' testimonies on the voting in the parliament on the agreement on Chechen-Ingush border. However, only 10 out of 30 MPs came to Court. They all stated that they voted against the law. According to Zakri Mamilov, an MP, the decision of many of his colleagues not to participate in the trial was affected the appeal of the Council of Alims to ignore the Sharia Court, pointing to its incompetence in solving state problems. The orientalists interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" stated that even if the Sharia Court found the decision of the Ingush parliament as incompatible with the Islam, it would not be able to enforce its verdict.

Armed incident in Nazran shopping centre

On December 12, near the "Kovcheg" (Ark) Shopping Centre in Nazran, Ingushetia, an explosion occurred. According to sources, alleged militants threw a grenade at policemen and wounded two of them. During a detention attempt, two attackers were killed. According to eyewitnesses, Muslim Khashagulgov, a civil activist, who worked for security of the shopping centre, and a seller were killed. Investigators did not report about any links of the casualties with militants.

The Council of Teips of Ingushetia demanded from the prosecutor's office to objectively investigate the incident, and declared the mourning for the casualties. On December 14, in Magas, the capital of Ingushetia, activists held a namaz (prayer) with the participation of several hundred people. In his sermon, Imam Merzhoev recalled the times when murders and extrajudicial executions were common in Ingushetia, stressing that a return to them is unacceptable. Those who knew Khashagulgov did not believe the law enforcers' version; they are sure that the activist who provided legal assistance to people was unable to do anything illegal.

News about termination of "Electrozink" Factory in Vladikavkaz

On December 14, Vyacheslav Bitarov, the head of North Ossetia, announced about the stopping of the "Electrozink" Factory plant in Vladikavkaz; local activists had sought to stop it for many years. According to Mr Bitarov, the possibility of re-profiling the factory is being considered. Opponents of the "Electrozink" Factory perceived the news with enthusiasm. The stopping of the zinc production facility is only the first step towards improving the republic's ecology; serious work should follow, activists believe. Let us remind you that at night on October 21, a fire broke out at the "Electrozink" Factory, at extinguishing of which an employee of the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) perished, and two others were injured. The fire strongly frightened local residents. The work of the factory was suspended; and the MPs unanimously supported the demand to stop the factory.

Detention of group of suspected financiers of North-Caucasian militants

On December 13, the Russian FSB (Federal Security Bureau) reported the detention of seven suspects, who had allegedly raised more than 38 million roubles for militants of the "Islamic State" and "Jabhat-an-Nusra", terrorist organizations, banned in Russia by the court. Natives from Northern Caucasus raised funds for militants under the pretext of charity. At the trial, the coordinator of the group was named as Islam Musaev, who, according to investigators, had links with Beslan Makhauri (killed in Nazran in October 2015), one of the leaders of the "Imarat Kavkaz", a terrorist organization, also banned in Russia by the court.

This article was originally published on the Russian pageof 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’on December 16, 2018 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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