25 November 2019, 14:11

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 18-24, 2019

Power dispersal of demonstrators in Tbilisi; termination of the protest action held by a father of the shepherds killed in Dagestan; story with the involvement of a Stavropol law enforcer in the murder of a Syrian man; release from SIZO of Ingush journalist Rashid Maisigov; arrest of former Elista Mayor Vyacheslav Namruev, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 18-24, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Power dispersal of demonstrators in Tbilisi

On November 18, in Tbilisi, law enforcers used a water cannon and tear gas against participants of a protest action which started on November 14 after Georgian MPs failed to pass a bill to change the electoral system. Let us remind you that protestors demanded to replace the mixed electoral system with the proportional one, appoint an interim "government of people's trust," hold early parliamentary elections, and dismiss from office Prime Minister Giorgi Gakhariya. During the dispersal of the protesters who blocked the parliament building, four persons were injured, and 37 activists were detained. However, the protests continued. On November 21, four protesters were detained during a rally held in front of the "Georgian Dream" Party's office. On November 22, six protesters were detained in front of the building of the State Security Service of Georgia. On November 24, law enforcers prevented an activists' attempt to hang a symbolic lock on the gates of the Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili's residence. The violent suppression of the protests reduced the chances of the "Georgian Dream" Party to win the next election, suggest analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. According to the political analysts, the violation of the promise to reform the electoral system for the next parliamentary elections has undermined the credibility of the "Georgian Dream" Party on the part of Georgia's international partners, on which the country's well-being depends.

Termination of protest action held by father of shepherds killed in Dagestan

On November 22, Murtazali Gasanguseinov, the father of the shepherd brothers assassinated in August 2016 during a special operation conducted by law enforcers in the Shamil District of Dagestan, stopped his pickets, which he held every day since November 14. The man made his decision to stop the protest after a meeting with the chief of the Investigating Department for Dagestan of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF). Let us remind you that Murtazali Gasanguseinov demanded to dismiss and bring to criminal liability a law enforcer who at the time of the shepherds' murder held the position of the chief of the police department for the Shamil District and then reported on the killing of two militants. Investigators provided Murtazali Gasanguseinov with all the materials - two volumes of 200 pages each - of the pre-investigation check against the above mentioned law enforcer. It follows from the pre-investigation check materials that an investigator failed to verify the information from the report and instituted a case, and the police chief was subjected to a disciplinary sanction for the mistake: he was demoted to the position of a district police inspector. Nevertheless, Murtazali Gasanguseinov believes that the above law enforcer's involvement in the brothers' case is not limited to official negligence. However, the father of the killed shepherds, together with his agent, decided to carefully examine the case documents. If necessary, they are ready to challenge the conclusions of the investigators. It should be noted that the protest action of Murtazali Gasanguseinov was supported by residents of Makhachkala who took part in his pickets. So, on November 21, the protest action of Murtazali Gasanguseinov was supported by 35 people.

Story with involvement of Stavropol law enforcer in murder of Syrian man

On November 20, the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" released an investigation into a video record with the execution of a Syrian resident by mercenaries from the "Wagner's PMC" ("Wagner's Private Military Company"). The video record shows how fighters of the "Wagner's PMC" brutally tortured and then killed a deserter of the Syrian government forces. The "Novaya Gazeta" found out that one of the killers was a native of the Stavropol Territory, a former employee of a law enforcement body. The video of the brutal murder in Syria was shocking, but the Russian authorities did not have any information about the people from the video and had nothing in common with them, commented on the video Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for the President of Russia, on November 22. According to him, the Russian investigating authorities may investigate the incident, "if they deem it necessary."

Release from SIZO of Ingush journalist Rashid Maisigov

On November 19, the defence of Ingush journalist Rashid Maisigov, who was detained in July on the charge of drug possession, convinced the court of appeal to transfer him from SIZO (pre-trial prison) under house arrest. It should be noted that Rashid Maisigov collaborated with the edition "Fortanga", which covered the protests held by opponents of the agreement on the Chechen-Ingush border in Ingushetia. The journalist claimed receiving anonymous threats related to his professional activities. His detention coincided with the blocking of the "Fortanga" website, which was lifted after the editorial office deleted a comment with forbidden information. This was not a random coincidence, local human rights defenders and activists suggest. The court's decision to change the pre-trial restriction measure against Rashid Maisigov gives hope that the persecution of participants of the Ingush protests will be finished, notes Magomed Mutsolgov, the head of the human rights organization "Mashr". According to an advocate of Rashid Maisigov, the journalist was persecuted for his information support of the protesters, and he was released only because he did not directly participate in the protest actions.

Arrest of former Elista Mayor Vyacheslav Namruev

On November 18, investigators reported about the detention of Vyacheslav Namruev, the former Mayor of Elista, in a case on receiving a bribe in the form of a land plot. Together with Vyacheslav Namruev, Igor Malmakov, the former member of the Elista City Council, was also detained. According to the investigators, Vyacheslav Namruev got a land plot of 418 square meters for facilitating changes to the general urban plan of Elista, as well as the rules for land use and city development. On November 20, it became known that Vyacheslav Namruev was placed in custody, and the court sent Igor Malmakov under house arrest. It should be noted that the case against Vyacheslav Namruev was instituted amid protest actions against the appointment of Dmitry Trapeznikov as the newly acting Mayor of Elista. Protesters who have been rallying since September 29 voice the demands for the resignation of Batu Khasikov, the head of Kalmykia.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on November 25, 2019 at 09:05 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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  • "Roskomnadzor" draws up two new protocols against HRC "Memorial"

    Following the FSB Department for Ingushetia, an individual filed a complaint to the "Roskomnadzor" (Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) about the fact that the materials of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" were released without a "foreign agent" mark. As a result, the number of administrative protocols drawn up against Alexander Cherkasov, the chairman of the HRC's Council, reached eight.

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