18 November 2019, 16:15

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 11-17, 2019

Protests in Tbilisi related to the MPs' failure to pass a bill to change the electoral system; pickets in Makhachkala held by a father of killed shepherds; opening of checkpoints on the border between Chechnya and Dagestan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 11-17, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Protests in Tbilisi related to MPs' failure to pass bill to change electoral system

On November 14, the majority of members of the ruling party of Georgia voted in favour of a bill on constitutional amendments to change the electoral system, but their votes were not enough to pass the initiative. NGOs indicate an impending crisis in the country. On the same day, opposition activists gathered for a spontaneous rally in Tbilisi. They set up tents and stayed in them for the night with the demand to change the mixed electoral system to the proportional one, appoint an interim "government of people's confidence", hold early parliamentary elections, and dismiss Prime Minister Giorgi Gakhariya. On November 15, about 5000 people took part in the protest action. On November 17, in Tbilisi, opposition supporters gathered again with the demand for the resignation of the government. In total, three rallies were held in the city; however, despite the similar demands on the authorities, their participants did not unite. According to the opposition, 20,000-25,000 people gathered on Rustaveli Avenue.

Investigation of Alexei Navalny about former prosecutor of Dagestan

On November 11, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF) released an investigation which suggested that close relatives of Denis Popov, the former prosecutor of Dagestan, who participated in anti-corruption clean-ups in the republic, owned hotels and cottages in Montenegro and Spain, as well as a recreation centre in the Astrakhan Region. At present, Denis Popov is the Prosecutor of Moscow. On his website, Alexei Navalny posted an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request for the early resignation of Denis Popov.

New rally for resignation of Dmitry Trapeznikov, acting head of Elista

On November 17, in Elista, another meeting was held with the demand for the resignation of Dmitry Trapeznikov, the acting head of the city. Participants of the protest action declared the need for direct elections. Last week, in Elista, the court imposed on pensioner Badma Kataeva a fine for participating in a prayer service on October 1, and on November 13, the court closed the proceedings in the case against blogger Sot Amunov, who participated in the same rally. Lawyer Semyon Ateev reported that 15 cases were instituted on the rally on October 1, and so far, only three defendants were acquitted.

Solo pickets in Makhachkala held by father of shepherds killed by law enforcers

On November 14, Murtazali Gasanguseinov, a father of the shepherds killed in Dagestan started his protest in Makhachkala. He demands the dismissal and criminal prosecution of a law enforcer, who at the time of the killing was the police chief and reported on the killings of two militants. Every day, Murtazali Gasanguseinov holds a solo picket in front of the buildings of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and the FSB Department for Dagestan. Passers-by express their support, and some of them also take part in the picket. Let us remind you that on August 23, 2016, 17-year-old and 19-year-old shepherds Nabi and Gasangusein Gasanguseinov were killed during a special operation carried out in the Shamil District of Dagestan. The law enforcement bodies declared them militants. Parents of the Gasanguseinov brothers succeeded in seeking a start of an investigation into the killings of their sons.

Opening of checkpoints on border between Chechnya and Dagestan

Two new Chechen police checkpoints are opened in the Shelkovskoy District of Chechnya bordering Dagestan, the Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reports and notes that the new police checkpoints would improve the quality of the policemen's activities and ensure reliable control over a section of the border with Dagestan. Social network users pointed out the inconsistency of the actions of Ramzan Kadyrov, who advocated the closure of such police checkpoints. The opening of checkpoints on the border of Chechnya indicates the persistence of tension in the region, analysts believe. The police checkpoints on the Chechen border are necessary to ensure security, suggest experts Andrei Serenko and Ruslan Gereev. Ramzan Kadyrov's calls for the elimination of checkpoints in Northern Caucasus were populist steps, Alexander Perendjiev believes.

Detention of chief of FSIN Department for Rostov Region

On November 13, Muslim Dakhkhaev, the chief of the Federal Penitentiary Service (known as FSIN) Department for the Rostov Region, and his deputies were detained. According to the FSIN, the criminal case involves the disclosure of state secrets. FSIN Deputy Director Valery Maksimenko did not rule out that Muslim Dakhkhaev would be accused of corruption. Muslim Dakhkhaev was born in Dagestan, and he participated in combat actions against groupings led by Basaev and Khattab, which invaded the republic in 1999.

Withdrawal of Kreditinvest Bank's licence in Makhachkala

On November 15, the Central Bank of Russia withdrew a bank licence from Kreditinvest Bank, registered in the capital of Dagestan. The licence is withdrawn for violation of laws on combating money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as dubious cross-border transactions conducted by the Kreditinvest Bank's top managers. The bank is a member of the compulsory deposit insurance system.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on November 18, 2019 at 09:17 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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