13 November 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 6-12

Events to mark the 100th anniversary of October Revolution in Southern Russia; voting at the second round of local elections in Georgia; strike of Armenian students against the abolition of delay of army service; Navalny's rally in Volgograd; SC's decision on the case of Astrakhan activist Igor Stenin, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 6-12, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Residents of Southern Russian mark the 100th anniversary of October Revolution with rallies and exhibitions

On November 7, cities of Southern Russia held rallies, motor rallies, exhibitions, demonstrations and conferences dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. The rallies were organized by local branches of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). The October Revolution gave hope to people, residents of Nalchik, Makhachkala, Sochi and Volgograd, who grew up in the USSR, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondents. In their turn, young people in these cities confess that they know almost nothing about the events that happened 100 years ago.

Second round of local elections held in Georgia

On November 12, the city of Kutaisi and five other Georgian municipalities held voting within the second round of local elections. The first round thereof took place on October 21. This time the voter turnout was 33.24%. By the evening, observers reported some violations. In particular, the members of the NGO "Young Lawyers" stated that the number of ballots at the polling station in the Borjomi District exceeded the number of voters on the lists. Besides, observers reported that at some polling stations people tried to vote based on overdue documents; unidentified persons fixed the coming voters; and crowds of activists and policemen were observed near the stations. On November 10, the NGO "International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy" (ISFED) published a report, stating the pressure on the voters by the ruling party. The political analysts, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" on the eve of the second round of local elections, noted that the candidates from the ruling "Georgian Dream" had serious competitors in Ozurgeti and Borjomi.

Armenian students strike against cancellation of army service delays

On November 7, about 500 students of the Yerevan State University (YSU) went on a strike, demanding to withdraw the bill, intended to cancel the students' postponement from conscription for the time of studies. On October 27, the MPs passed a bill on military service in the first reading. It assumes that only those students, who agree to serve after graduation two years instead of three and sign a respective contract with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), will be granted a conscription delay. The protesters point out that after a three-year break in studies, almost none of the graduates can continue training at postgraduate courses. On November 8, the protesting students demanded a meeting with the Minister of Education, who called them to stop the strike, but would not support their demands. On November 9, the Prime Minister of Armenia suggested them to wait for the adoption of the bill; however, the students decided to go on with their protests. On November 10, they went out to the Parliament of Armenia, demanding to let them in for hearings on the controversial bill at the parliamentary commission on defence and security, but they were not allowed to get in. On the same day, the commission approved amendments to the bill on the eve of the second reading by adding an amendment to increase fines imposed on draft evaders.

Navalny's rally in Volgograd was at least 1000 strong

On November 1, in Volgograd, Metallurgists Square hosted a rally with the participation of Alexei Navalny. The opposition politician stated the need to combat corruption and optimize tariffs in the housing and communal sector. According to the police, the rally was attended by about 1000 people; while volunteers, in their turn, counted about 1800 participants. Most of them were young people. A police officer told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that, in his opinion, people came to "look at the star." During the rally, Alexei Volkov, the coordinator of Navalny's electoral office in Volgograd, was detained. Policemen said that he had violated the rules of holding the rally and obliged him to appear at the police on November 13 to draw up a protocol, Mr Volkov explained himself.

SC returns the case of Astrakhan activist Stenin to appellate instance

On November 9, the Russia's Supreme Court (SC) satisfied the cassation presentation of the General Prosecutor's Office (GPO), which disagreed with the cancellation of the verdict to Igor Stenin, and returned the case to the appellate instance. In May 2016, Igor Stenin, who had openly declared the infringement of Russians' rights in the Astrakhan Region, was sentenced to two years in a colony-settlement under the article on spread of calls for extremism for reposting an article about the war in Ukraine in a social network. According to his defence, Stenin was convicted for the comment of another user under his record in the network. In May 2017, the Presidium of the Astrakhan Regional Court cancelled the verdict to Stenin and stopped the case because of the absence of corpus delicti; and the activist returned home from the colony. However, Leonid Korzhinek, Deputy General Public Prosecutor of Russia, challenged the decision of the Regional Court. In the course of considering Mr Korzhinek's cassation presentation, Igor Stenin told the court about his innocence; and his advocates asked the court to reject the presentation. However, the court overturned the decision of the Presidium of the Astrakhan Regional Court and decided to return the case to a new appellate review.

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