27 May 2019, 14:26

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 20-26, 2019

Election results in Georgia; opposition protests in Abkhazia; CTO in Dagestan; withdrawal of the Rauf Arashukov's senator status; actions to pay tribute to memory of victims of the Caucasian War; renaming of the Chechen village in honour of Akhmat Kadyrov, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of May 20-26, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Election results in Georgia

According to the results of the voting held on May 19, members of the "Georgian Dream" ruling party won the mid-term parliamentary and local self-governmental elections in a number of Georgian municipalities, reported the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) on May 20. The CEC has also announced that the second round of the voting will take place only in the Mtatsminda District of Tbilisi, where none of the candidates gained more than 50% of the votes. The most acute struggle unfolded in Zugdidi. The opposition alliance "Strength in Unity" claimed 120 violations at the elections in the Zugdidi electoral constituency. According to the Georgian CEC's information, released on May 20, after the procession of the ballots from all polling stations, the elections in Zugdidi were won by Giorgi Shengeliya, a member of the "Georgian Dream" Party, who gained 54.18% of the votes. Sandra Roelofs, the former first lady of Georgia, a member of the "United National Movement" (UNM), gained 42.75%. Sandra Roelofs has announced that she does not recognize the official election results, while the opposition is launching protests. Lawyers and political analysts believe that the opposition will be able to succeed in seeking the cancellation of the voting results at some polling stations, but not a revision of the election results.

Opposition protests in Abkhazia

Participants of the opposition rally held in Abkhazia on May 20 announced the start of an action of civil disobedience and the introduction of a state of emergency in the republic. The protest action began after the parliament refused to postpone the presidential election for the autumn. The opposition requested MPs to postpone the election in connection with the disease of presidential candidate Aslan Bzhaniya. Opposition supporters blocked the republican highway near the village of Tamysh and the bridge in the village of Bzypta. President Raul Khadjimba accused the opposition of an attempt to seize power. However, in the evening on May 21, the opposition managed to agree with the president on postponing the election from July 21 to August 25. On May 22, Raul Khadjimba submitted an appropriate bill to the parliament. It should be noted that the opposition also demanded to investigate the version about poisoning of Aslan Bzhaniya. On May 21, at a meeting of the Abkhazian parliament, a medical officer from the Republican Hospital stated that the disease with which Aslan Bzhaniya had been diagnosed in Moscow was not related to poisoning. The findings of the Moscow doctors "exclude the fact of poisoning," reports Valery Kvarchiya, Speaker of the Abkhazian parliament.

CTO in Dagestan

On May 24, the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) of Russia reported that three persons were killed during a shootout with law enforcers in the Kizilyurt District of Dagestan. According to the NAC, law enforcers engaged in the counterterrorist operation (CTO) were attacked while inspecting a deserted private house in the village of Sultan-Yangi-Yurt. The NAC released a video showing an explosion in the house during its assault by law enforcers and guns found on the ruins of the building. The shootout in the Kizilyurt District was the first armed incident in the Kizilyurt District since early 2019. After the armed clash, the authorities and imams of Kizilyurt and the Kizilyurt District decided to temporarily postpone a collective breaking of the fasting of believers who observed the month of Ramadan.

Withdrawal of Rauf Arashukov's senator status

At a plenary meeting of the Russian Federation Council held on May 22, senators unanimously voted for the early termination of power of Rauf Arashukov, a delegate from Karachay-Cherkessia, who was accused of involvement in a criminal grouping, organization of two murders by prior agreement from mercenary motives, and pressure on a witness. Meanwhile, it was reported that the reason for the withdrawal of the Rauf Arashukov's mandate was a declaration of income not submitted in due time. The lawyers interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" called the withdrawal of the Rauf Arashukov's senator status a pure formality. According to the lawyers, the reasons for the deprivation of senator status are not related to the charges of resonant murders brought against Rauf Arashukov, and the decision on the senator status had no effect on the investigation into the case. Rauf Arashukov himself reproached the senators for devaluing the senator's immunity.

Actions to pay tribute to memory of victims of Caucasian War

On May 20 and 21, Circassian activists held rallies to pay tribute to victims of the Caucasian War. On May 20, more than 300 people took part in a memorable rally held in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, and on the other day, the rally brought together 3000 people. Besides, Nalchik also hosted an equestrian march and a mass march of Circassians in national costumes with Adyg flags. On May 21, more than 300 people gathered at the mourning rally in Cherkessk, and 150 people came to an action in Sochi. Memorial events also took place in the Georgian town of Anaklia, through which Adygs were deported to the Ottoman Empire.

Renaming of Chechen village in honour of Akhmat Kadyrov

On May 19, Magomed Daudov, the chairman of the Chechen parliament, proposed to rename Tsentaroi, the native village of the leader of the republic, located in the Kurchaloi District. Already on May 21, it was announced that at the gathering, villagers unanimously voted to rename their village in honour of Akhmat Kadyrov, and the name above the entrance to the village was replaced with "Akhmat-Yurt". On the same day, Ramzan Kadyrov emphasized that the village was renamed at the request of residents of Khosi-Yurt and explained that a founder of the village was not a Chechen. The "Caucasian Knot" has found out that the Ramzan Kadyrov's criticism of the name of Tsentaroi contradicts the data of historians. The renaming of the village in honour of Akhmat Kadyrov testifies to the strengthening of the Ramzan Kadyrov's personality cult in Chechnya, believes Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, Director of the Conflict Analysis and Prevention Centre, whose views were shared by some residents of the region. It should be noted that the village of Khosi-Yurt was founded in the second half of the 19th century. The village was named after the first leader who was invited by residents from the village of Oiskhara.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on May 27, 2019 at 08:40 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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