04 February 2019, 17:31

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 28-February 3, 2019

Arrest of Karachay-Cherkessian Senator Arashukov and his father; election of Mayor in Makhachkala; report on an attack on a law enforcers' checkpoint in Chechnya; mass evacuation in Southern Russia caused by reports of mine planting; ECtHR's decision on the complaint about deportation of Georgian citizens from Russia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 28-February 3, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Arrest of Karachay-Cherkessian Senator Arashukov and his father

On January 30, Rauf Arashukov, a Senator from Karachay-Cherkessia, was detained at a meeting of the Federation Council. On the same day, he was arrested for two months. According to investigators, Rauf Arashukov was involved in the assassinations in 2010 of Aslan Zhukov, the deputy chairman of the movement "Adyge Khase" in Karachay-Cherkessia, and Fral Shebzukhov, the adviser to the leader of the republic, as well as in an attack in October 2018 on Ruslan Kardanov, a member of the State Duma in the Cherkessk Region.

On January 31, Senator's father Raul Arashukov, the adviser to the general director of the Joint-Stock Company (JSC) "Gazprom Mezhregiongaz", who earlier headed the "Gazprom Mezhregiongaz Stavropol", was arrested on suspicion of stealing natural gas and creating a criminal community. Together with the Arashukov son and father, law enforcers also arrested several heads of the "Gazprom" units in the regions of Southern Russia. According to investigators, the accomplices provided for the conclusion of contracts for the supply of large volumes of gas to the gas industry enterprises beyond the need and after that the gas was stolen and sold to companies and individuals for cash. Out of the 31.7 billion roubles lost by the "Gazprom" because of embezzlement, of which Raul Arashukov and other four heads of state-owned companies are suspected, at least 27.4 billion roubles were embezzled through gas supplies to Dagestan. According to investigators, gas was also stolen in the Stavropol Territory and Karachay-Cherkessia.

The arrest of Rauf Arashukov undermined the position of Rashid Temrezov, the leader of Karachay-Cherkessia, and it could provoke large-scale personnel "cleansing" in the republic, although the experience of the "cleansing" in Dagestan did not produce any impressive results, state political analyst Evgeny Minchenko and economist Natalia Zubarevich, Professor at the Moscow State University (MSU). Concerning the arrest of Raul Arashukov, Natalia Zubarevich noted it could be a demonstrative fight against theft of gas amid the problem of writing off debts in Chechnya.

Election of Mayor in Makhachkala

On January 31, in Makhachkala, most members of the city assembly voted to appoint Salman Dadaev, former head of the administration in Moscow, the City Mayor. Out of 40 candidates, only three persons reached the final stage of the fight for the Mayor's post, including Salman Dadaev, Abulmumin Ibragimov, the deputy head of the city, and Elmira Abieva, the chair of the assembly in the Kirov District of Makhachkala. However, Abulmumin Ibragimov withdrew his candidacy from the election before the voting. 39 members of the Makhachkala city assembly voted for Salman Dadaev, and other four voted for Elmira Abieva. After being elected the City Mayor, Salman Dadaev pointed out the lack of qualified specialists in the Makhachkala Mayoralty and announced his plans to invite to Dagestan his colleagues from the administration of the Basmanny District in Moscow. According to residents of Makhachkala, Salman Dadaev will have to solve a set of problems with communal infrastructure, repairing roads, arranging parks and squares, providing high-quality drinking water, and refusing chaotic city development. People believe the Mayor should also pay attention to the problems of garbage collection, the construction in the city centre, and the situation with public transport.

Report on attack on law enforcers' checkpoint in Chechnya

On January 28, the Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reported an attack on a law enforcers' checkpoint at night on January 25-26. According to the MIA's version, the checkpoint located on the outskirts of the Sernovodskaya village was shelled from machine guns. Two law enforcers were wounded, and one of the attackers was later found killed in the forest and identified as Mansur Beltoev, a 24-year-old resident of Ingushetia. The mobile police checkpoint was located on the outskirts of the Sernovodskaya village, reported local residents. They noted that the attack on the law enforcers' checkpoint committed by one man raises many questions. On February 1, it became known that the "Islamic State" (IS), a terrorist organization banned in Russia by the court, claimed responsibility for the attack on law enforcers in the Sernovodskaya village and marked the place of the attack as the "Stavropol Territory within Chechnya."

Mass evacuation in Southern Russia caused by reports of mine planting

Last week, throughout Russia, including in the south of the country, people were evacuated from schools, hospitals, shopping centres, markets, and administrative buildings after reports of mine planting. On January 30, people were evacuated in Kuban, the Stavropol Territory, the Astrakhan and Rostov Regions, Adygea, and Ingushetia. In the Krasnodar Territory alone, the number of evacuees amounted to several thousand people. In Southern Russia, like throughout the country on that day, identical reports about mine planting came to e-mails of various institutions. In the city of Shakhty in the Rostov Region, classes in all schools were cancelled because of the reports about mine planting. On January 31, in Volgograd, there were reports about mine planting on 16 buildings, including schools, hospitals, and administrative buildings. After checks, law enforcers reported that the information about the bombs had been false.

ECtHR's decision on complaint about deportation of Georgian citizens from Russia

On January 31, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) awarded citizens of Georgia a compensation of 10 million euros for the deportation of at least 1500 citizens of Georgia from Russia in 2006. The decision was supported by 16 judges, while one voted against. In accordance with the ECtHR's decision, each citizen of Georgia who fell victim to violation of Article 4 of the Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens) is to get 2000 euros. Meanwhile, the Strasbourg Court ordered Russia to pay 10,000-15,000 euros to each citizen of Georgia who suffered from violations of Article 5 (unlawful deprivation of liberty) and Article 3 (inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment). The ECtHR dismissed the demand of the Georgian side to pay more than 70 million euros of compensation, the Russian Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reported. It also noted that when considering the complaint, the Strasbourg Court used for the calculations the data of the Russian side on the number of victims.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 4, 2019 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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