12 October 2009, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 5-11

Actions in memory of journalist Anna Politkovskaya three years after her murder; developments at resonant litigations; negotiations of heads of Armenia and Azerbaijan on Karabakh settlement; signing by Turkey and Armenia of Protocols on development of mutual relations; elections in a number of regions of the SFD, - look up these and other events in the review of the week of October 5-11 in the Caucasian regions prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Third anniversary of Politkovskaya's murder

October 7 was three years to the day after journalist Anna Politkovskaya, well-known, first of all, by her materials on the topics of Chechnya and Northern Caucasus, was shot dead in the porch of the apartment block, where she lived, in central Moscow. Actions in memory of the journalist were held in a number of Russian regions. In Moscow, assemblies were held in the Chistoprudny Boulevard and at No. 8 Lesnaya Street, where Anna Ploitkovskaya lived and was assassinated.

A meeting in memory of Anna Politkovskaya was also held on October 7 in Ingushetia, in the office of human rights organization "Mashr". The human rights activists and relatives of killed, kidnapped and missing persons, who were present at the meeting, expressed hope that the murder would be solved and culprits punished.

In Chechnya, no memory actions were held on the occasion of the third anniversary of the journalist's murder. On that very day, October 7 - the 57th birthday of Russian Premier Vladimir Putin - local authorities organized grandiose horse races in his honour.

Developments at resonant litigations

The hearings on the case about the attempt on Sulim Yamadaev, ex-commander of the "Vostok" battalion, due to take place on October 5 in Dubai, after a 10-minute court session, were re-appointed on October 26 for unknown reasons.

On October 6, the Tver Court of Moscow satisfied the claim of President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov against Oleg Orlov, head of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" on defence of honour and dignity and ruled to collect 50,000 roubles from the HRC "Memorial" and 20,000 personally from Mr Orlov in favour of Chechen President. The court made this decision after 30 minutes of consultations. Before, the court listened to the witnesses of the claimant and respondent. Kadyrov's advocate said that he would not appeal against the court ruling, but Anna Stavitskaya, the defence of Orlov and HRC "Memorial", is going to appeal against it.

On October 8, the Dorogomilovo District Court of Moscow passed a decision on the case of "Black Hawks". The natives of the Caucasus, accused of attacking two students in Moscow, were found guilty of nationalism-motivated hooliganism. Arutyunov was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment, Guseinov - to 6 years and Mamedov - to 5 years. To other three defendants received 4 years of imprisonment each with serving their terms in a minimum security colony.

The board of jurymen of the Moscow City Court passed a guilty verdict to four skinheads, accused of nationalism-motivated murders and attacks; they were members of the grouping of Arthur Ryno and Pavel Skachevskiy. They were found guilty of murders and murder attempts, including on Caucasus natives, but acquitted from charges of kindling national hatred and enmity.

The Supreme Court of Ingushetia refused to unite the death case of Magomed Evloev, former owner of the website "Ingushetia.Ru", with the case about disappearance from him of three millions roubles, and the materials of the main case were returned to the Karabulak Court of the republic for consideration on the merits.

The Tbilisi City Court finished interrogating witnesses on the case dealing with the Mukhrovani mutiny. 20 defendants refused to admit their guilt and evidence to the court; however, 13 other defendants, including Giya Gvaladze, under whose evidences General Koba Kobaladze was arrested, concluded a remedial agreement with the prosecutor's office and received 2 years of prison each. The court has passed over to interrogating witnesses, which are 120 in number.

The Sabail District Court of the capital of Azerbaijan again refused to change the custody for some more lenient regime for the bloggers Adnan Gadjizade and Emin Milli, authors of the video clip about the "donkey's policy", accused of hooliganism and inflicting bodily injuries. The court refused to release then on bail.

Negotiation progress on Nagorno-Karabakh

On October 5, the co-chairs of the Minsk OSCE Group on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Andzhei Kasprshik, special representative of the incumbent chairman of the OSCE, held a meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev. The parties exchanged opinions on the present situation and prospects of negotiations on Karabakh settlement.

On October 8 in Kishinev, a meeting took place of Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia, with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev, and on October 9, also there - a tripartite meeting of Presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan on the issue of Karabakh settlement.

The co-chairs of the Minsk OSCE Group found the negotiations successful and said that the remaining uncoordinated points are not so many. Meanwhile, the head of Azerbaijan Aliev was not happy with the outcomes of the meeting - he believes that the parties have failed to reach agreement on the main discussed issues. In Azerbaijan, also a number of experts found Aliev's meeting with Sargsyan fruitless.

Signing of Armenian-Turkish Protocols

In the evening on October 10 in Zurich, documents on normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations were signed. The "Protocol on Development of Mutual Relations" and the "Protocol on Establishment of Diplomatic Relations", which were initialled on August 31, were signed by Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Turkey Edward Nalbandyan and Ahmet Davutoglu.

The signing ceremony was to take place at 7:00 p.m. Moscow time; however, it was postponed as the Armenian party was not satisfied with the text of the statement to be announced after signing by the Turkish Foreign Minister, namely - mentioning of Nagorno-Karabakh in the statement. By 9:45 p.m. Moscow time, the Armenian delegation returned to the university, and the Protocols were signed.

The Protocols should come into force on the first day of the month following the exchange of ratification instruments. The Armenian opposition is going not to admit ratification of the protocols by the parliament.

President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan said in his address to the nation on October 10 that there is no alternative to establishment of relations with Turkey without preconditions.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan has reacted to signing of Armenian-Turkish Protocols by a statement that this step is not in the national interests of Azerbaijan and endangers its friendship with Turkey.

Resignation of Ingush government

On October 5, President of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Evkurov sacked the government of his republic under the motive of "unsatisfactory work towards social and economic development" and appointed Alexei Vorobyov, Secretary of the Security Council, to be the acting head of the government. In Mr Evkurov's opinion, the dismissal of the government was a must.

South-Ossetian opposition scarifies Kokoity in Moscow

On October 9, Moscow was the venue of the first Russian-South-Ossetian forum of public and political organizations, which brought together more than 200 representatives of various organizations from South Ossetia. One of the organizers of the forum was Albert Dzhussoev, President of the "Stroyprogress" group of companies, known as an opponent of the President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity.

The delegates of the forum recollected the events of August 2008. All the speakers were toughly critical to the incumbent authorities of South Ossetia and imposed the guilt on local authorities for the poor readiness of South Ossetia to the war with Georgia and for slow rates of post-war restoration of the republic.

Meanwhile, on October 8, in the capital of South Ossetia, a rally took place in support of the President and government of South Ossetia. It was organized by the Popular-Patriotic Movement "Farn". According to the organizers, the action was intended to demonstrate that the people of South Ossetia support the course of their leaders and that no opposition should express on behalf of them any discontent with the course of restoration.

Elections in SFD regions

On October 11, a number of regions of the Southern Federal District (SFD) of Russia held elections to different levels of local self-government. Out of the Russian subjects constituting the SFD, only Kabardino-Balkaria and Kalmykia has no elections on that day.

Ingushetia held its first elections in history of deputies to representative bodies of municipal formations; the bodies will start working since January 1, 2010. According to the Republic's Central Electoral Commission (CEC), no violations were registered. In total, 1063 nominees from regional branches of five parties - "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia), "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia), CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and "Yabloko" - ran for deputy's mandates.

For the first time elections to institutions of local government took place on October 11 in Chechnya. 4162 candidates ran for 2801 mandates in municipal power bodies. On the voting day, the republic saw unprecedented security measures. According to the CEC, the voter turnout was very high - traditionally for Chechnya.

Dagestan elected three district heads and heads of rural and urban settlements. The pre-election campaign and the elections as such were especially strained in Derbent, the second largest city of Dagestan, where citizens elected their Mayor. On the eve of the voting day, on October 10, an attack was committed on journalists of the REN TV Channel, when they filmed a fight near a polling station. On the voting day, a message arrived that at a polling station militiamen opened fire and wounded a local resident. Out of 36 polling stations, more than one third remained closed on the voting day. Vladimir Ustinov, plenipotentiary of Russian President in the SFD went to Derbent to supervise the situation. At 11:00 p.m., the Derbent CEC announced the victory of the incumbent Mayor Felix Kaziakhmedov, who gathered about 63 percent of votes. The remainder was cast for his main opponent - former public prosecutor of Dagestan and current head of the Suleiman-Stalskiy Distrct - Imamali Yaraliev.

On the same day, city Mayor was also elected in Astrakhan. The voting was accompanied by rough violations of the laws on elections and mass media, including prohibition to journalists to work at polling stations.

Elections to local government bodies also took place in the Volgograd Region. Here, two black residents of the region - Phillip Kondratiev and Joachim Krima - were registered, among others, as candidates for the head of the Sredneakhtubinskiy District.

The repeated election of the Mayor of Karachaevsk took place in Karachai-Circassia, where five candidates ran for the post. Observers report numerous violations in the course of voting.

Three districts of North Ossetia - Pravoberezhny, Digorskiy and Ardonskiy - held additional elections of deputies to Assemblies of Representatives of districts and settlements. According to territorial CECs, elections in all three districts passed without violations. By 8:00 p.m., 53 percent of voters cast their ballots.

The Krasnodar Territory held early elections of heads of seven municipal districts - Apsheron, Caucasian, Leningrad, Novokubanskiy, Starominskiy, Tbilisi, and Ust-Labinsk. Residents of Apsheronsk, Belorechensk, Korenovsk, Mostovskiy, Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Temryuk, Timashevsk and Tuapse elected their Mayors. In Adygea, on the united voting day, people elected the head of the settlement of Yablonovskiy, additional elections to Soviets of People's Deputies in two districts and early election of the head of the city of Adygeisk.

The Rostov Region held elections of the Mayor of the city of Azov, deputies of city dumas of Azov and Bataisk and heads of settlements in a number of districts. Residents of the Stavropol Territory elected heads of eight municipal formations and deputies to city, rural and settlement dumas.

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    Authorities of North Ossetia have completed the coordination of the border with Chechnya and are ready to do the same with other neighbouring republics, Aslan Tsutsiev, the Minister for National Relations of North Ossetia, has announced. His republic denies any territorial claims of Ingushetia and would not revise the border therewith, Mr Tsutsiev has stressed.

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