23 January 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 16-22

Two CTOs in Dagestan; appointment of referendum date on draft new Constitution of Nagorno-Karabakh; UNM congress in Georgia after the split of the party; gatherings of Chechnya residents who decided to evict militants' families; detention in Spain of a resident of the Rostov Region on US suspicion of creating a computer virus; information about release under CER of Sergey Arakcheev, convicted for killing residents of Chechnya, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 15-22, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Two CTOs conducted in Dagestan

Last week, Dagestan hosted two counterterrorist operations (CTOs). On January 17, at 1:00 p.m. Moscow time, the CTO regime was introduced in an area covering a part of the Buynaksk District and a part of the adjacent Karabudakhkent District. Power agents stated a search for militants and their accomplices. The effect of the CTO was almost not felt; and no official notification about the introduction of any restrictions was made, local residents reported. In the evening on January 18, the CTO regime was lifted; and no results of the CTO were reported. On January 21, the CTO regime was introduced in the village of Vperyod, Kizlyar District. According to power agents, two militants had taken refuge in one of the houses; they were killed in the assault; and later identified as Rashid Asulbekov and Ruslan Magomedrasulov, members of the "Khasavyurt" grouping. As reported by power agents, they had been engaged in extorting money from entrepreneurs and took part in the December attack on policemen, when two policemen were killed. The CTO regime was lifted in the evening on the same day. Besides, on January 17, in Khasavyurt, power agents killed a man, after he opened fire, when law enforcers tried to stop his car. He was identified as a 38-year-old Ruslan Magomedov, said an investigation source.

NKR appoints date of referendum on draft of new Constitution

On January 17, most MPs of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) supported the referendum on the draft of a new Constitution, which assumes the introduction of the presidential model of governance. The oppositional MPs voted against. On January 19, the NKR's President signed a decree on appointing the referendum for February 20. Voting for the Constitution will take place both within the NKR, and at its representative office in Yerevan, the NKR's Central Election Commission (CEC) has reported, noting that 101,207 people are on the voter lists. It should be noted that the oppositional MPs are opposing the proposed strengthening of presidential power, while the MPs of the parliamentary majority have rejected their commitment to the ideas of the parliamentary governance after the last April's escalation of the Karabakh conflict.

Tbilisi: UNM holds congress after party split

On January 20, Tbilisi hosted a congress party "United National Movement" (UNM) Party. The congress was held a week after the final split of the party, in the course of which a number of members of the association, including 21 out of 27 MPs left it and organized the "European Georgia". According to the organizers of the congress, 7000 delegates took part in it. The congress decided that until the return to the country of the UNM leader, the former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, the party will be led by the political council, headed by Nika Meliya and his two deputies, Zaza Bibilashvili and Levan Varshalomidze. The Secretary General of the party is still the jailed Vano Merabishvili. Saakashvili himself addressed his video message from Washington to the congress. He stated that the current Georgian authorities are not independent and connive to the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili; therefore, the mission of the renovated UNM is to restore the Georgian statehood. While commenting on the outcomes of the congress, the Georgian political analysts, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", said that the election of new UNM leaders plays no fundamental role for the party prospects; and its fate and that of the breakaway "European Georgia" will depend on the further specific initiatives, offered by both parties.

Chechnya holds gatherings, deciding to evict militants' families

Already three dwelling settlements of Chechnya have held gatherings of citizens, which imposed responsibility on militants' relatives for their actions, and decided to evict their families in the future. The pretext for the gathering was in the detentions, made in the course of the counterterrorist operation (CTO) conducted in the village of Tsotsi-Yurt, Kurchaloi District, after an armed clash that broke out there on January 11. The gathering in Kurchaloi, the district centre, where five local residents were detained, took place on January 16. In Shali, where seven persons were detained, a gathering was held on January 19. In the village of Tsotsi-Yurt, local residents gathered on January 13 and condemned militants' relatives. Some participants of these gatherings believe that the authorities are trying, by organizing such meetings, to avoid responsibility for their illegal actions against militants' relatives in the future. It should be noted that on January 16, a source from power agencies of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) said that as a result of a CTO conducted in Chechnya some 60 suspects of having links with the terrorist organization "Islamic State" (IS), banned in Russia by the court, were detained.

Resident of Rostov Region detained in Spain on suspicion of creating computer virus

On January 13, Stanislav Lisov, a programmer from the city of Taganrog, was detained in Barcelona, where he spent his vacation. This was announced on January 18. Spanish policemen have explained his detention by the receipt by them of requests from the FBI and the Interpol. On January 16, Stanislav Lisov was handed over to the National Judicial Collegium of Spain, which has to decide on his extradition to the USA. On January 19, Konstantin Dolgov, an official of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), said that Lisov was visited by consular employees, and that the programmer is accused in the USA of committing frauds through the use of electronic means. On the following day, the Spanish police clarified that Lisov is suspected in the USA of designing malicious software, and that the damage caused by his actions amounts to about 5 million US dollars. After that, the Russian Embassy to Spain said about the ongoing "active contacts with Spanish authorities and Stanislav Lisov himself in order to protect his interests and provide him with all the necessary consular assistance," the "Interfax" reports.

Information appears on release on CER of Sergey Arakcheev, convicted for killing residents of Chechnya

On January 17, law enforcement sources reported the release on the conventional early relief (CER) of Sergey Arakcheev, a former officer of Internal Troops of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), who was sentenced in 2007 to 15 years in prison for killing three Chechen residents. On January 18, this information was confirmed by the head of the joint press-service of the courts of the Nizhny Novgorod Region. He said that the petition for CER, received from Arakcheev by the Bor City Court, was considered and granted on December 5, 2016, while on December 16, 2016, the court judgement came into force, after which Arakcheev was released. His acquaintances reported that after his release, he "immediately left the country for fear of reprisals." Let us note here that Arakcheev had completely refused to plead guilty.

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