02 September 2019, 13:24

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events from August 26 to September 1, 2019

Fifteen years after hostage-taking in Beslan school; outcomes of presidential election in Abkhazia; increased tension on Georgian-South-Ossetia border – read about these and other events in the Caucasus that happened from August 26 to September 1, 2019, in the weekly review prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Fifteenth anniversary of hostage-taking in Beslan school

On September 1, the city of Beslan, North Ossetia, held a commemoration service on the 15th anniversary of the terror act with hostage-taking committed in School No. 1. People laid flowers at the scene of the tragedy and lit candles. The "Beslan Mothers" Committee has called on the Russian President's plenipotentiary for the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) to join the inquiry into the terror act. Let us remind you that on September 1, 2004, terrorists captured 1128 hostages in the school gym. When the gym was stormed, 334 people perished, including 186 children; 810 people received various wounds.

Ella Kesaeva, the chair of the "Voice of Beslan" Committee that unites some of victims' relatives, is indignant at the attempt to heroize the special fighters, who stormed the school. She is sure that the blame for the hostages' deaths in on law enforcers. Let us note here that according to the polling conducted by the Levada Centre, the share of Russians, who believe that only terrorists are to blame for Beslan hostages' deaths, has grown over the past five years from 39% to 51%. This is explained by the extremely low level of historical memory, Oleg Orlov, the head of the "Hot Spots" Programme of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", has noted.

Election outcomes of Abkhaz president

On August 25, at the presidential election in Abkhazia, none of the candidates won the victorious count of votes. Out of the nine candidates, the incumbent Raul Khadjimba and Alkhas Kvitsiniya, the chairman of the "Amtsakhar" Party, have gained most of the votes. The second round is scheduled for September 8. In the opinion of Vladimir Novikov, a political analyst, the election outcomes have indicated voters' dissatisfaction with the ruling elite. The close results of the two leaders of the election race indicate Khadjimba's high anti-rating, and absence of support to the opposition by the electorate, Anton Krivenyuk, a journalist, is sure.

Russian President's presentation of candidates to head of Ingushetia

On August 26, Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted three candidates for the post of the head of the republic for the consideration of the Ingush MPs: Uruskhan Evloev, a member of the Nazran City Council; Magomed Zurabov, a senior territorial specialist of the "Vympel Communications" Company; and Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov, the acting head of Ingushetia. Kalimatov is a favourite of the election; the other two being just formal rivals, political analysts believe. Local residents hope that the new republic's head will overcome the political crisis. Let us remind you that on June 26, 2019, the resignation of Yunus-Bek Evkurov, who had led Ingushetia since 2008, was accepted by President Putin.

Large military exercises in Southern Russia

Large-scale exercises involving 8200 military servicemen of the Southern Military District began on August 26 at training grounds in the Rostov, Volgograd and Astrakhan Regions, in the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories and in the Crimea. These are the second major exercises in the Southern Russia held since the beginning of August. In the opinion of analysts, the exercises are a reaction to a number of threats in the region, including the NATO exercises held in Georgia. The possible considered threats include the exacerbations in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict and on the border with Ukraine, as well as the possible return of militants from Syria.

Tension increase on Georgian-South-Ossetian border

Last week, tensions intensified on South-Ossetian-Georgian border. On August 28, South Ossetia demanded to remove the check-post, deployed by Georgian militaries near the village of Tsnelis. However, the spokesman of the State Security Service (SSS) of Georgia, stated that the new check-post is located near the village of Chorchan, the territory covered by the Georgian jurisdiction. On August 30, Georgian officials met their South-Ossetian counterparts in the village of Tsnelis. The parties recognized the need to resolve disputes "through a constructive dialogue," but on September 1, a new incident occurred. The South-Ossetia Committee for State Security (known as KGB) reported a quadrocopter shot down by Georgia in the vicinity of Tsnelis, and treated it as a provocation. The drone fell after a collision with another quadrocopter, the Georgia's SSS has reported.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 2, 2019 at 09:15 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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