16 September 2019, 13:39

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 9-15, 2019

Election results on unified voting day in Southern Russia; claim to court after summing up of the voting results at the presidential election in Abkhazia; closing of the border of South Ossetia with Georgia for an indefinite period; searches at offices and homes of Navalny's activists in Southern Russia; President Putin's trip to Dagestan on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the defeat of militants – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 9-15, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Election results in Southern Russia

Last week, the results of the September 8 election in the southern regions of Russia were reported.

On September 9, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Kalmykia reported that Batu Khasikov, the acting leader of Kalmykia, won the gubernatorial election. On September 10, the final information on the voting at the elections to the Elista City Council was reported: one mandate went to the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and one to the "Communist Party of Social Justice", three mandates to the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party and three to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), while the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party got 17 mandates out of 25, including 10 mandates at a single constituency and all seven mandates in single-mandate constituencies. Meanwhile, the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party and the CPRF did not agree with the voting results to the Elista City Council. They announced the intention to go to court to seek the cancellation of the voting results at some polling stations.

On September 9, the election commission of the Stavropol Territory reported the victory of Vladimir Vladimirov, the incumbent leader of the region, at the gubernatorial election. Vladimir Vladimirov gained almost 80 percent of the votes. The regional branch of the CPRF registered at least four violations during the election, including an attempt to bribe voters.

Igor Babushkin, the acting governor of the Astrakhan Region, gained 75.64% of the votes at the election of the leader of the region, reported the election commission for the Astrakhan Region following the results of the voting.

After processing 100% of the protocols at the election of the governor of the Volgograd Region, the election commission reported the victory of Andrei Bocharov (nominated by the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party), the incumbent leader of the Volgograd Region, who gained 76.81% of the votes. Observers from the Navalny's office and members of the CPRF pointed out violations committed during the voting, but the election commission declared the elections legitimate. According to the results of the elections to the Volgograd Regional Duma, the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party got a majority of votes. In addition to the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party, seats at the Volgograd Regional Duma were also won by members of the CPRF, the LDPR, the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party, and the "Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice".

Following the election results in Kabardino-Balkaria, five parties got seats at the parliament of the republic. The "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party got seven seats, the Green Party two seats, the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party 50 seats, the CPRF nine, and the LDPR two seats.

Six party gained seats to the parliament at the elections in Karachay-Cherkessia. The parliamentary mandates in the Karachay-Cherkessian parliament will be distributed between members of the "Edinaya Rossiya" Party, the CPRF, the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" Party, the "Patriots of Russia" Party, the "Civil Platform" Party, and the LDPR, the election commission reports. The absence of violations on the election day is also reported.

Claim to court after summing up of voting results at presidential election in Abkhazia

On September 9, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Abkhazia announced the official results of the voting during the second round of the presidential election, which took place on September 8. According to the Abkhazian CEC, 47.39% of voters voted for incumbent President Raul Khadjimba, while his opponent Alkhas Kvitsiniya, the chairman of the "Amtsakhara" Party, gained 46.17% of the votes. Nine parties and NGOs demanded to declare the presidential election as null and void. They insisted that Raul Khadjimba should have gained not a simple, but an absolute majority of votes. However, the CEC of Abkhazia dismissed the appeal. Alkhas Kvitsiniya did not recognize the Raul Khadjimba's victory and on September 11 filed a claim to the Supreme Court (SC) of Abkhazia with a request to declare the decision of the Abkhazian CEC illegal. On September 13, the Supreme Court of Abkhazia began consideration of the claim and dismissed the request of Alkhas Kvitsiniya demanding not to recognize the Raul Khadjimba's victory at the presidential election until the end of the court consideration, after a CEC's spokesperson explained that the verdict in the case would be delivered before the winner took office for a new term. The next court hearing is scheduled for September 17. On the same day, the "Amtsakhara" Party called on residents of Abkhazia to attend a "public meeting" in Sukhumi.

Closing of border of South Ossetia with Georgia for indefinite period

On September 9, the KGB of South Ossetia announced that the border with Georgia would be closed for an indefinite period. When explaining the reason for the closure of border checkpoints, the KGB of South Ossetia noted the escalation of tension by the official Tbilisi in connection with the arrangement of several Georgian checkpoints near the border. On September 13, at a meeting within the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in Ergneti, delegates of Georgia demanded from South Ossetia to open the border for the movement of residents of border regions. Meanwhile, delegates of South Ossetia declared they were ready to do that only if Georgia made concessions. However, on September 14, one of the checkpoints on the border of South Ossetia was temporarily opened for transportation of a local resident to Georgia for medical treatment. On the same day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia said that the closure of checkpoints created critical humanitarian conditions for the population and accused Russia of a "targeted policy" "to destabilize the situation at the place through various aggressive actions and provocations."

Searches at offices and homes of Navalny's activists in Southern Russia

On September 12, law enforcers conducted searches at offices and homes of employees of the Anti-Corruption Foundation and Navalny's offices in 39 cities of Russia, including Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, Stavropol, and Volgograd. The searches were conducted as a part of the "money laundering" case against the Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), noted Navalny's associate Leonid Volkov. On September 12, in Volgograd, solo pickets were held in protest against the actions of the law enforcement bodies. During searches in Krasnodar, law enforcers seized PCs and mobile phones and asked about the money of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, local activists reported on September 13. They also reported that their banking accounts were frozen by a court order in Moscow. One of the activists and a coordinator of the "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus" (EcoWatch) said he and his colleagues were subjected to searches despite not cooperating with Navalny. Activists from Rostov-on-Don and Volgograd also reported that their personal banking accounts had been frozen. Political analysts treat the actions of the law enforcement bodies as a reaction to the "Smart Voting" service.

President Putin's trip to Dagestan on eve of 20th anniversary of defeat of militants

On September 15, Makhachkala and Kaspiysk hosted events on the occasion of the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Dagestan and the 20th anniversary of the defeat of the militants who invaded the republic. The celebrations were attended by officials, activists, and participants of the events of 1999. And on September 12, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the defeat of the militant units led by Basaev and Khattab, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the village of Botlikh. At a meeting with people who fought with militants, the President promised to develop the infrastructure of mountain villages and to discuss with the Ministry of Finance a contractor for the modernization of treatment facilities in Makhachkala.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 16, 2019 at 09:20 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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