28 October 2019, 13:47

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 21-27, 2019

Shootout between Chechen farmers in the Rostov Region; Magomed Daudov's removal from the supervision of the territorial sector in Chechnya and information on checking a video about the brutal actions of the former mayor of Grozny; railway workers' strike in Armenia; unusual personnel decisions made by President of Azerbaijan; mass protest rally in Elista, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of October 21-27, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Shootout between Chechen farmers in Rostov Region

On October 22, at the Chernozubov farm yard in the Oryol District of the Rostov Region, a land dispute between two families of Chechen farmers resulted in a conflict. Five persons were killed in a shootout, and two others were injured. After the incident, law enforcers accumulated heavy military trucks near the farm yard and organized patrols in the area. According to the authorities, the shootout was an exacerbation of the long-standing conflict between two Chechen families warring over land. Both sides to the conflict blame each other for the bloodshed and argue that it was the opponents who first opened fire. The conflict between the two Chechen families will result in blood feud, residents of Chechnya suggest. The conflict between the Chechen farmers in the Rostov Region provoked tension in Grozny, where relatives of one of the warring parties live, local residents report.

Magomed Daudov's removal from supervision of territorial sector in Chechnya and information on checking a video about brutal actions of former mayor of Grozny

On October 22, it was reported that Magomed Daudov, the speaker of the Chechen parliament, had been removed from the post of the supervisor of the sector, which included the Kurchaloi and Shali Districts of Chechnya. Lom-Ali Baimuradov, the general director of the "Chechengazprom", replaced Magomed Daudov as the supervisor of the above sector. The removal was preceded by the public criticism of Magomed Daudov by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov at a meeting held on October 16. Ramzan Kadyrov for the first time publicly criticized Magomed Daudov and expressed the disapproval of the method of the speaker's activities as the supervisor of the sector. Sources from the administration of Ramzan Kadyrov mentioned an engagement in different tasks and challenges as the reason for the release of Magomed Daudov from his duties of the supervisor of two Chechen districts. Meanwhile, the sources also pointed to a nervous atmosphere among subordinates of the leader of Chechnya. After that, the Magomed Daudov's influence has not diminished, but the first public criticism from the leader of Chechnya is an alarming signal for him, activist Ruslan Kutaev and publicist Ruslan Gereev believe. It should be noted that criticism of Magomed Daudov was voiced by Ramzan Kadyrov amid the resonance from reports about the personnel clean-ups of Chechen officials. Meanwhile, on October 24, it became known that Magomed Daudov became one of the five officials in the regions of Southern Russia appointed acting secretaries of the regional branches of the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party, and Ramzan Kadyrov approved the appointment of Magomed Daudov.

Last week, in Chechnya, another resonance was provoked when the local TV Channel made public a video in which Islam Kadyrov, a relative of Ramzan Kadyrov, was threatening local residents with reprisals and using an electric stunning device. In 2012-2015, Islam Kadyrov held the post of the Mayor of Grozny, and later, he also held high posts in the government of the republic. The Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) launched a check after the video had been made public. The information released on October 24 was known earlier and became the reason for the dismissal of the official, the Chechen authorities explained. The fact that the video about the brutal actions of Islam Kadyrov was made public by the local State Radio and TV Company can be explained by the clean-up among subordinates of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, carried out with his permission, political analysts Alexei Malashenko and Sergey Zhavoronkov believe.

Railway workers' strike in Armenia

On October 22, locomotive drivers of the South Caucasus Railway began a strike with the demand of a 30% increase in their salaries. Neither passenger nor freight trains were operated because of the protest. The routes from Yerevan to Tbilisi, as well as intercity train routes, were cancelled. At night on October 25, the train traffic on the South Caucasus Railway was resumed. The administration of the company made concessions to the locomotive drivers on strike and promised to index the salaries of the entire staff of the South Caucasus Railway by 10% starting from November 1. Moreover, it is planned to submit for consideration by the Board of Directors of the South Caucasus Railway the issue on additional indexation of the hourly tariff rates of locomotive crews by 5% starting from January 1, 2020.

Unusual personnel decisions made by President of Azerbaijan

Last week, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev accepted the resignations of several senior top-ranking officials, including Ramiz Mekhtiev, the 81-year-old head of the presidential administration, who held the post for 24 years, and Ali Gasanov, the 71-year-old vice-premier, who worked at the position for 21 years. When commenting on the resignations of the senior officials, Ilham Aliev expressed the hope that other officials who reached the retirement age would also follow their example. Furthermore, Ilham Aliev expanded the power of the Ministry of Economy by instructing the ministry to create its units for a state tax service, a state service on property, a state service on antitrust cases and supervision of the consumer market. 43-year-old Mikail Jabbarov was appointed the head of the enlarged ministry. Earlier, he held the post of the Minister of Taxes. Local analysts criticized the above personnel decisions. The changes are of superficial nature and designed for an internal audience, state, in particular, oppositionist Ali Kerimli and political analyst Khikmet Gadjizade.

Mass protest rally in Elista

On October 27, a mass protest rally was held in Elista. For almost a month, city residents have been holding protest actions with the demand to remove from office acting mayor Dmitry Trapeznikov. Without waiting for a reaction from the authorities, the activists announced a rally for 5000 participants to be held on October 27. The refusal of the City Mayoralty to sanction the rally was challenged at the City Court, which obliged the authorities not to interfere with the protest action. However, on October 25, the Supreme Court (SC) of Kalmykia cancelled the above court decision. According to the activists, the final court verdict does not make the protest action illegal. As a result, according to the organizers, the rally gathered at least 3500 people. The protesters demanded the resignation of Dmitry Trapeznikov, who temporarily headed the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic (known as DPR) in the summer of 2018, the dissolution of the City Assembly, and the referendum on direct mayoral elections. Besides, the protesters condemned the policies of Kalmyk leader Batu Khasikov.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on October 26, 2019 at 09:30 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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