06 January 2020, 14:55

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 30, 2019-January 5, 2020

Celebration of the New Year 2020 holiday; attack on DPS checkpoint and shootout between two teips in Ingushetia; public inspection of the central square reconstruction in Makhachkala; protest rally in Elista; opposition complaints about obstacles to participation in the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 30, 2019-January 5, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Celebration of New Year 2020

Residents of the southern regions of Russia and the countries of Southern Caucasus celebrated the New Year holiday. At night on January 1, many cities of Russia organized festivities near New Year trees. The Chechen authorities reported about more than 120,000 people who gathered in the centre of Grozny on the New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, residents of Grozny complained that public sectors employees had to participate in festivities under the threat of dismissals. Some social network users noted that the Chechen authorities should not spend money on New Year's festivities. Internet users criticized the dances of young men and women near a New Year tree in Grozny and the fact that the New Year tree was installed opposite a mosque. It should be noted that in the Muslim regions of Northern Caucasus, the tradition of celebrating the New Year holiday is a subject of resonant discussions involving officials and religious figures.

Attack on DPS checkpoint and shootout between two teips in Ingushetia

In the evening on December 31, 2019, at the entrance to Magas, two attackers used their car to hit an inspector of the road-and-patrol service (known as DPS) who was standing near the road. Then they attacked policemen with knives. According to the law enforcement bodies, the attackers were identified as Mikail Miziev and Akhmed Imagozhev, a master of sports in arm wrestling. Mikail Miziev was killed, while Akhmed Imagozhev was wounded and placed to resuscitation ward. One of the policemen was also killed, and other three law enforcers were injured. Two of them were hospitalized. The "Islamic State" (IS), a terrorist organization, banned in Russia by the court, claimed responsibility for the attack. According to analysts, the attack in Magas were similar to other attacks committed by IS* militants. The attack fits into the global trend of actions committed by terrorists on behalf of the IS*, while the terrorist organization itself is used as a kind of brand, believe Caucasian expert Akhmet Yarlykapov. The attack on the police proves that in Northern Caucasus, terrorism does not exist only as an ideology, and IS* supporters are ready for real actions, journalist Joanna Paraschuk notes.

At night on December 30, 2019, in the Sunzha District of Ingushetia, there was a conflict with a shootout between members of the Evloev and Polonkoev teips (family clans). One person was killed, and six others were hospitalized. A 36-year-old resident of Sunzha was detained on suspicion of killing a 43-year-old man involved in the conflict. Investigators found that the conflict occurred on the basis of hostile relations in connection with the fight to own the family towers located in the village of Pyaling in the Djeirakh District of the Ingush republic. Members of the Polonkoev teip expressed their regret and condolences to relatives of a killed man from the Evloev teip. In a return appeal, a member of the Evloev teip threatened the opponents with responsibility for the death of Aslanbek Evloev. A source of the "Caucasian Knot" did not rule out a blood feud between the teips.

Public inspection of central square reconstruction in Makhachkala

On January 4, in Makhachkala, activists of the public movement "Our City" conducted an inspection of the central square to assess the results of its reconstruction. On December 28, 2019, the central square of Makhachkala was opened after the reconstruction. The square was made accessible for people with limited mobility. The square has got recreational areas with free Internet access, more than 50 trees are planted, and about 8000 square meters of tiles are laid, the Makhachkala City Mayoralty reports. The money for reconstruction - 350 million roubles - was allocated to Makhachkala from the budget of Moscow. However, residents of Makhachkala considered multimillion-rouble expenses to be ineffective. In social networks, users criticized the quality of the reconstruction works. During the inspection conducted on January 4, the activists measured gaps between the laid tiles and examined old sewer manholes. The activists were approached by officials from the City Mayoralty. According to the officials, the reconstruction of the square has so far only been partially completed, and all deficiencies will be eliminated.

After a conversation with the officials from the City Mayoralty, some activists continued to walk around the square, but they were detained by policemen and taken to a police station. The policemen wrote down passport details of the detainees and then released them. Six persons were detained. The activists decided to appeal against the law enforcers' actions.

Protest rally in Elista

On January 5, in the capital of Kalmykia, participants of a protest action demanded the resignation of Dmitry Trapeznikov, the acting City Mayor, and Batu Khasikov, the leader of the republic. The protest action was sanctioned by the authorities, and about 500 people attended the rally. In a notification to the authorities, the action was declared as a protest against the personnel policy of Batu Khasikov. The protestors accompanied their demands for the resignation of Dmitry Trapeznikov with reproaches to Batu Khasikov for the lack of dialogue with city residents and the harassment of protesters. The protest action was visited by a lot of natives of Kalmykia who lived outside the republic, but arrived home for the New Year holidays.

Opposition complaints about obstacles to participation in parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is preparing for the early parliamentary elections, and the voting will take place on February 9. On December 30, the "Musavat" Party issued a statement in which it noted "the obstacles and red tape faced by candidates in several districts." In particular, oppositionists reported pressure on voters who left their signatures in support of candidates from the "Musavat" Party, as well as delays in issuing by officials of the necessary certificates to collect signatures. The "Republican Alternative" (ReAl), another opposition party, which nominated 60 candidates for the parliamentary elections, claimed it had problems during registration of three activists because of their earlier criminal records. On January 2, the court recognized that the Central Election Commission (CEC) was right when it cancelled the decision to register Zaur Gurbanly, a member of the "ReAl" Party, with notification that the activist had an earlier criminal record. The court should not have denied Zaur Gurbanly the right to run for a seat in the parliament, since the verdict was recognized by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as a result of political persecution, notes advocate Khalid Agaliev.

* Islamic State (IS, former ISIL) is a terrorist organization, banned in Russia by the court

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 6, 2020 at 09:18 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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