30 January 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 23-29

Guilty verdict to figurants in "Nardaran case" in Azerbaijan; distant dispute of Vasilieva with Kadyrov on hijabs in schools; special operation in Khasavyurt, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 23-29, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

In Azerbaijan, "Nardaran case" ended in convictions

On January 25, the court in Baku convicted Talekh Bagirzade, the leader of the Movement "Muslim Unity", and 17 other defendants on charges of riots in the village of Nardaran in November 2015. Bagirzade and his deputy were sentenced to 20 years in prison each. Fuad Gakhramanly, the Deputy Chairman of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), will spend 10 years in prison. The case was considered since July 19, 2016. The defendants claimed torture by power agents and refused to plead guilty. The Azerbaijani National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) and the international Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the authorities for the sentences and called for the release of the convicts.

Adyg Bank "Novation" deprived of license

On January 23, the Bank of Russia revoked the license for banking operations from the Commercial Bank "Novation" located in Maikop. The bank's high-risk credit policy and the untimely fulfilment of obligations to creditors in connection with the loss of liquidity were named among the reasons for this decision. An interim administration was appointed in the bank. The Deposit Insurance Agency has stated the insurance case in relation to the "Novation" Bank. Payment to its depositors will be made, not later than February 6, by the agent banks, which will be selected by January 27.

Distant dispute of Vasilieva with Kadyrov on hijabs in schools triggered debate in society

On January 24, Olga Vasilieva, the head of the Russian Ministry of Education and Sciences, stated that Russian schoolchildren should not emphasize their religion with attributes. The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov accused Vasilieva of imposing her personal viewpoint on the public and unleashes the war on hijabs. Evgeny Bobrov, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Council, said that the authorities of the regions, where wearing hijabs has long been practiced, should decide by themselves on whether to allow or not hijabs at schools. The Kremlin is not going to intervene in the debates on this issue, said Dmitri Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian President. The Ministry of Education of Chechnya has stated that the hijab is a part of the uniform, introduced in local schools. Also, the Chechen Parliament has started drafting a law, which will officially allow wearing religious attributes in schools.

Action of opponents of museum in Makhachkala park and special operation in Khasavyurt

In Makhachkala, on January 29, about 100 people came to the "sightseeing excursion in the Lenin Komsomol Park" in protest against the construction of the museum complex "Russia – My Story" in the park, which will need to fell trees to clear off the space for the museum. According to Mairbek Agaev, the editor-in-chief of the "Chernovik" newspaper, the authorities decided to build a building sized 70 by 45 meters in the park, and about 40 trees will be cut. Agaev is sure that it is easy to find another place for the museum in the city. On January 27, Makhachkala hosted, on the initiative of the Public Chamber of the city, public hearings on the construction of the museum. Zagra Magomedova, a Deputy of the Kirov District Assembly, has strongly criticized the project of the museum.

On January 29, Khasavyurt was put under the counter-terrorist operation (CTO) regime. Power agents blocked a private house. People inside it refused to lay down arms; and a storm of the house began. As a result, three persons were killed, said a Dagestani law enforcement source. At 3:10 p.m. Moscow time, the regime was cancelled. According to unofficial data, the killed persons were identified as Abdulkhalik Ragimov, Murad Shakhveledov and Saipudin Abdullaev; the latter had been put on the prophylactic registry.

Release of yearly statistics of casualties in Armenian Army and another case of non-combat losses

On January 24, activists of the Vanadzor Office of the Helsinki Civil Initiative released the statistics, according to which in 2016 the Armed Forces of Armenia and the Defence Army of Nagorno-Karabakh lost 162 soldiers, 51 of them – in non-combat conditions. As stated by rights defenders, in 2016, the number of murders and suicides went up: last year 13 murders and 13 suicides or incitement to suicide were registered, while in 2015 three servicemen were killed in non-combat conditions and six others committed suicide. Rights defenders treat the system of preventing murders and suicides in the Armenian Army as inefficient. It is noteworthy that already in 2017, both combat and non-combat losses have been recorded. The latest such case occurred on January 25 when the dead body of the conscript Shavarsh Galstyan with a gunshot wound was found in a combat position of one of the units of the Ministry of Defence of Armenia. In connection with the incident, a criminal case was opened under the article of incitement to suicide.

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