22 April 2019, 14:45

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events for April 15-21, 2019

Events to mark 10th anniversary of CTO cancellation in Chechnya; suspending of Chechen-Dagestani border demarcation, – read about these and other events that happened during the week from April 15 to April 21, 2019, in the Caucasus in the review, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Georgia: protests against HPPs in Pankisi and struggle for the post of Zugdidi Mayor

On April 21, in the village of Birkiani of the Akhmeta District of Georgia, several hundred residents of the Pankisi Gorge held a spontaneous action to prevent the start of the construction of the "Khadori-3" hydraulic power plant (HPP). Law enforcers used tear gas and rubber bullets against the crowd. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), protesters set fire to construction equipment and police cars. In the clashes, 55 people were injured; and 23 policemen are still in hospital. 15 people were detained during the action. Then, Georgian authorities stopped the works and invited locals to dialogue. With the start of the talks, protest actions were stopped. Earlier, Pankisi residents had repeatedly protested against the construction of HPPs, which, in their opinion, are a threat to ecology, agriculture and tourism. At one of the previous actions, they refused to resettle because of the construction, even if they were offered better housing conditions. According to Ramazan Bakagashvili, a deputy of the Duisi community at the Sakrebulo (local council) of the Akhmeta District, during the negotiations on April 21, the authorities came to an agreement with the population that if 90 percent of the surrounding villagers are against the construction, it will be stopped.

On April 19, registration was over of candidates for the Mayor of Zugdidi; the election of which will take place on May 19. The election was appointed after Lasha Gogiya, the former Mayor, was accused of receiving a bribe and resigned in September 2018. There are 16 candidates. A special attention to this election is caused by the fact that Sandra Roelofs, the wife of the former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, is among the candidates. She was nominated by the oppositional alliance "Strength in Unity", which includes the United National Movement (UNM) Party. The ruling party, the "Georgian Dream-Democratic Movement" has nominated Giorgi Shengeliya, the acting Mayor of the municipality. The chances of Ms Roelofs are high; the struggle at the election in Zugdidi will be hot, political analysts predict.

Events to mark 10 years after CTO abolition in Chechnya

On April 16, Chechnya marked the 10th anniversary of the abolition of the counterterrorist operation (CTO) regime in the republic. On this occasion, a large-scale flash mob was staged in Grozny, the participants of which formed the word "Peace". The events passed under heavy control of law enforcers, local residents said. However, according to rights defenders, the strengthening of the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, made the abolition of the CTO regime just formal. The abolition failed to stop kidnappings and extrajudicial executions in the republic, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" has stated.

Suspension of Chechen-Dagestani border demarcation

On April 16, the speakers of the parliaments of Chechnya and Dagestan announced a suspension of entering the border data into the State Real Estate Registry. They failed to voice out the reasons, but it is worth recalling that the process of fixing the mutual republics' border launched this January, triggered serious public resonance. On March 16, Chechnya unilaterally registered a disputable land plot on the border with the Kizlyar District of Dagestan as its territory. Ramzan Kadyrov's office explained that Chechnya failed to get any reaction from Dagestan. The Dagestani border commission failed to visit the village in question, local residents said. On April 17, a sitting of the Dagestani border commission was held in Makhachkala. Its participants stated that Chechnya had committed a gross violation of the law in fixing the border, by registering the disputed area as its territory. In total, Dagestani activists counted 200 hectares of land misappropriated by Chechnya. In their turn, the authorities of Chechnya believe that Dagestan has unilaterally bestowed 300 hectares of disputed lands.

Resignation of Kalmyk government

On April 19, Batu Khasikov, the acting head of Kalmykia, appointed to this position on March 20, signed a decree on the resignation of the republic's government. Igor Zotov, the chairman of the cabinet of ministers, had resigned on his own will, Boova Badmaev, his former deputy, is now the acting premier. The resignation of the government and Igor Zotov is a correct decision, the opposition has stated, while blaming the acting head of Kalmykia that he has dismissed the cabinet only a month after his appointment.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on April 22, 2019 at 09:08 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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