31 October 2016, 09:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 24-30
Voting in the second round of the parliamentary elections in Georgia; Russian SC's decision in the case against Ukrainian citizens Nikolai Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh on their involvement in the war in Chechnya; mass poisoning of Makhachkala residents with drinking water; amendments to the Azerbaijan legislation toughening responsibility for religious extremism and empowering law enforcers during special operations; murder of a judge in Karachay-Cherkessia; withdrawal of the banking licence of the "Kuban Universal Bank" from Krasnodar, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of October 24-30, 2016, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
In Georgia, voting in second round of parliamentary elections held against complaints about violations
On October 30, 50 electoral districts of Georgia held the second round of the parliamentary elections from single-seat electoral districts. Political analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" claimed an intrigue of the second round of the elections at least at three electoral districts where the opposition had a real chance to win. During the day of the voting, the information about different kinds of violations was reported. Thus, the "Georgian Dream" Party accused the "United National Movement" (UNM) Party of an attempt to disrupt the voting at the Marneuli electoral district. The "UNM" Party has complained about mass cases of "carrousels" at the elections at the Mtatsminda electoral district of Tbilisi and Batumi, an attempt to bribe voters in Rustavi, and ballot stuffing at the Marneuli electoral district. According to the preliminary information of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia, voiced in the morning of October 31, at the second round of the parliamentary elections, the "Georgian Dream" Party has won at 48 single-seat electoral districts. The ruling party will get 115 out of 150 seats in the new parliament, and that is two seats more than it is required for constitutional majority.
SC upholds sentence to Ukrainian citizens Nikolai Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh in connection with their involvement in war in Chechnya
On October 26, the Russian Supreme Court (SC) upheld the verdict against two Ukrainian citizens Nikolai Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh, sentenced by the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic for involvement in the first Chechen war on the side of militants to 22.5 and 20 years of imprisonment, respectively. The sentenced men were involved in the consideration of the appeal in Moscow via video conference. Advocates of the sentenced Ukrainian citizens asked to acquit their clients. They pointed to numerous violations of criminal law and criminal procedure law and also complained about torture of their clients and the pressure on jurors at the Chechen Court. In their final speeches, the defendants themselves pleaded not guilty. The court hearing was attended by Nadezhda Savchenko, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, who expressed her support for the sentenced Ukrainian citizens. According to the advocates of Nikolai Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh, they expected the decision pronounced by the Russian SC in the criminal case against their clients. The advocates predict that Nikolai Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh will be exchanged for Russian citizens sentenced in Ukraine.
Hundreds of Makhachkala residents poisoned with drinking water
On October 27, inMakhachkala, dozens of people addressed physicians with symptoms of poisoning. On the other day, it became known that 108 people, including 72 children, were hospitalized with suspected intestinal infection. The state of the hospitalized people was assessed as moderately severe. According to the Dagestani Ministry for Public Health, released in the evening of October 30, in total, 364 people, including 265 children, were hospitalized. Investigators opened a criminal case on the fact of mass poisoning. According to their version, the preliminary cause of poisoning could be contaminated drinking water, which was supplied to houses of city residents through water supply pipelines. It should be noted that on October 27, inMakhachkala, works on the Miatli Hydro Power Plant (HPP) were completed. Water supply to the city was restored, and city residents reported on dirty water flowing from taps.
Azerbaijan toughens responsibility for religious extremism and expands powers of law enforcers during special operations
On October 28, the National Assembly of Azerbaijan adopted amendments to the Criminal Code, toughening penalties for religious extremism. In particular, now, the Criminal Code stipulates punishment of up to 20 years of imprisonment and life imprisonment for acts for violent change of constitutional order, seizure of power and violation of territorial integrity of the country on the grounds of religious hatred, radicalism, and fanaticism. According to Ali Guseinli, the chairman of the Committee on Legal Policy and State Construction of the Azerbaijani Parliament, the innovations are associated with increasing concern in the community about the threat of religious extremism.
On the same day, the Azerbaijani Parliament adopted amendments to the Laws "On Mass Media", "On Gas Supply", "On Electric Power Industry", "On Water Supply", "On Telecommunications", and "On Traffic". The amendments provide law enforcers with power to cut the area of a special operation against religious extremists off the supply of gas, electricity, water, and communications, as well as to block traffic. Meanwhile, the authority carrying out a special operation will have the right to temporarily prevent journalists from entering a special operation zone. Law enforcers will provide information in the volume and time period considered by them as necessary. The amendments have already caused criticism of opposition and civil society activists. In particular, Gudrat Gasanguliev, the chairman of the United Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, claimed that provision of information about special operation under permission of law enforcers restrict the rights of journalists. Alesker Mamedli, a member of the "Civil Society Platform", believes that restrictions may be reasonable only in the period of actions involving use of weapon. According to Oktai Gyulalyev, the leader of the Alliance "Azerbaijan without political prisoners", the powers of the law enforcement bodies to cut off utilities and communication in a special operation zone can result in violation of human rights. Oktai Gyulalyev also noted that the case already took place during the special operation carried out in the village of Nardaran last November.
Judge shot dead in Karachay-Cherkessia
On October 27, Ruslan Botashev, the acting chairman of the Malokarachay District Court, was shot dead in his own car in the village of Pervomaiskoe. On the same day, law enforcers detained Pilyal Djatdoev, a 53-year-old local resident, on suspicion of committing a crime, and he confessed to the crime. During interrogation, Pilyal Djatdoev has explained that three years ago, his pension was significantly reduced because of the judgment made by Ruslan Botashev and that was a motive for the murder committed by him, report investigators.
In Krasnodar, "Kuban Universal Bank" deprived of its banking licence
On October 27, the Bank of Russia announced the withdrawal of the banking licence of the "Kuban Universal Bank", founded by the Krasnodar administration and Open Joint-Stock Company (OJSC) "AK 'Moscow Municipal Bank-Bank of Moscow'. Among the reasons for revocation of the banking licence, the Bank of Russia has mentioned investment of funds in low-quality assets, which led to the emergence of grounds for implementation of bankruptcy prevention measures, as well as bank owners' failure to normalize the bank's activities. The interim administration is appointed at the "Kuban Universal Bank". The Russian Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA) has announced the occurrence of the insured event in respect of the commercial bank "Kuban Universal Bank" deprived of its banking licence. The Russian DIA has also reported that payments to depositors will be started no later than November 10 and agent banks will be selected until November 2.