05 August 2019, 15:07

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 29-August 4, 2019

Completion of registration of candidates for the posts of heads in four regions of Southern Russia; rise in prices for food and gasoline after the fall of lari in Georgia; emergency situations caused by bad weather in Southern Russia; start of Russian pilgrims' journey to Hajj, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 29-August 4, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Completion of registration of candidates for posts of heads in four regions of Southern Russia

Last week, in the four regions of Southern Russia, including the Stavropol Territory, Kalmykia, and the Astrakhan and Volgograd Regions, the election commissions completed the registration of candidates for the election of governors to be held on September 8.

On August 2, the election commission of Kalmykia announced that four candidates were allowed to participate in the voting. They are Batu Khasikov, the acting head of the republic (a candidate from the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party), Natalia Manzhikova (the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party), Pyotr Vyshkvarok (the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (known as LDPR), and Batyr Muchaev (the "Patriots of Russia" Party). Registration was denied to Namsir Mandjiev, who was nominated by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), since, according to the election commission, he failed to provide a package of reliable signatures of delegates, as well as the information about his property abroad. Namsir Mandjiev himself did not agree with the position of the election commission and stated that he would go to the courts to challenge the election commission's refusal to register him for participation in the election.

On July 31, the election commission of the Stavropol Territory announced on its website the registration of five candidates for the election of regional governor. They are Vladimir Vladimirov, the current governor of the Stavropol Territory, who was nominated by the "United Russia" Party, Alexander Kuzmin, the head of the Stavropol branch of the "Fair Russia" Party, Gennady Efimov, a member of the LDPR, Viktor Sobolev, a candidate from the CPRF, and Nikolai Kryazhev, nominated by the "Communist Party of Social Justice".

On July 26, Nikolai Arefiev, a nominee of the CPRF, was registered as the first candidate for the election of the Astrakhan governor. On July 31, on its website, the election commission of the Astrakhan Region also announced the registration of Igor Babushkin, the acting head of the region (a self-nominee), Timofei Scherbakov (a member of the LDPR), and Sergey Sychev (a candidate from the "Russian Party of Pensioners for Social Justice").

In the Volgograd Region, the election commission announced the number of registered candidates for the post of the head of the region on July 26. They are Andrei Bocharov, the current head of the Volgograd Region (the "United Russia" Party), Alexei Burov (the CPRF), Eduard Davydovsky (the "Russian Party of Pensioners for Social Justice"), Vladimir Rublyov (the LDPR), and Sergey Poleschuk (the "Fair Russia" Party).

Rise in prices for food and gasoline after fall of lari in Georgia

On July 25, according to the National Bank, the exchange rate of the Georgian currency amounted to 2.91 laris per one US dollar. Thus, there was a new record of the lari depreciation. The devaluation of the national currency would affect residents of Georgia, since it would lead to the growth of prices for food, medicine, and fuel, economists commented on the news then. On July 30, the National Bank of Georgia put up for auction 40 million US dollars from the reserve fund and explained the need for such a measure by the fact that the change in the lari exchange rate could "create risks for price stability." That, indeed, led to a slight growth of the national Georgian currency: on August 2, the National Bank of Georgia announced the exchange rate of 2.9296 laris per one US dollar. However, according to the economists interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", the measures taken by the National Bank of Georgia will not have a significant impact on the lari exchange rate, and the depreciation of the national currency will continue against the background of a decrease in tourist flow, outflow of investments, and problems at the TVS Bank. Prices for food and gasoline rose significantly, local residents noted. So, according to residents of Tbilisi, over the past 1.5 months, the prices for food have increased by about 20-50 tetris (6.7-16.8 US cents), and prices for cheap brands of gasoline have increased by 10-15 tetris (3.4-5 US cents).

Emergency situations caused by bad weather in Southern Russia

Last week, bad weather complicated the daily routine of residents of several regions in Southern Russia.

On July 31, a squalling wind damaged the roofs of private and apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals in the Urus-Martan and Achkhoi-Martan Districts of Chechnya and the neighbouring Sunzha District of Ingushetia. Many settlements of those two republics were left without electricity supply. Only in Chechnya, 321 houses were damaged, and 123,900 people spent several hours without electricity. Some settlements experienced problems not only with electricity, but also with  gas and water supply.

Besides, on July 31, hail and squalling winds damaged roofs of houses, cars, and crops in the Karabudakhkent District of Dagestan. The village of Dorgeli became a settlement which was most affected by the disaster. Here, the hail impact assessment commission registered damage to 835 houses. Less than half of the affected villagers began repairs on their own, while the rest said they were hoping for help from the authorities because of lack of money.

On July 4, after a heavy rain in the Krymsk District of the Krasnodar Territory, sections of roads and yards of houses were flooded. The authorities received from local residents more than 80 applications for water pumping out.

In the evening on August 4, after a heavy short-term rain that occurred in Rostov-on-Don, storm sewage outlets were full, several households were flooded, and at least 27 trees fell.

Start of Russian pilgrims' journey to Hajj

Residents of the republics of Northern Caucasus began to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj. The first flight with pilgrims from Magas took place in the evening on July 30. The first group included 175 residents of Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria. This year, 1400 residents of Ingushetia, more than 400 residents of Kabardino-Balkaria, and 10,000 residents of Dagestan will perform the Hajj. Pilgrims also leave for Saudi Arabia from Grozny: the first flight from the capital of Chechnya left on July 22. This year, like last year, the Hajj quota for residents of the republic was 2600 people. In total, in 2019, the quota for pilgrimage to holy places for Muslims from Russia is 25,500 people. Meanwhile, by July 22, in Dagestan, Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Kabardino-Balkaria, the main quotas for the Hajj were fully mastered. The travels of pilgrims to Muslim holy places became easier due to the introduction of electronic visas by Saudi Arabia, organizers of the Hajj noted. Each resident of the regions of Northern Caucasus, who performed the Hajj at own expense, paid for tickets from 2580 to 3550 US dollars.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 5, 2019 at 09:15 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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