13 January 2020, 15:31

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 6-12, 2020

Political crisis in Abkhazia and resignation of President Khadjimba; Christmas celebrations in the regions of Southern Russia and the countries of Southern Caucasus; resonance from the incident with money thrown to a crowd by a Chechen blogger in Volgograd, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 6-12, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Political crisis in Abkhazia and resignation of President Khadjimba

On January 10, Alkhas Kvitsiniya, the leader of the "Amtsakhara" Party, succeeded in seeking the cancellation of the results of the presidential election, in which he lost to Raul Khadjimba only 1000 votes. The decision of the Supreme Court (SC) of Abkhazia was made amid the seizure by protesters of the presidential administration building in Sukhumi. The activists insisted on the immediate resignation of Raul Khadjimba. Opposition leader Aslan Bzhaniya should become the new leader of the state, the protesters state. Let us remind you that Aslan Bzhaniya, who was called the main candidate for the presidency from the opposition, was unable to participate in the presidential election because of his illness. His relatives claimed he was poisoned. Aslan Bzhaniya called on people to support Alkhas Kvitsiniya.

On January 12, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Abkhazia scheduled for March 22 the re-election of the president, but Raul Khadjimba promised to challenge the CEC's decision. After that, Aslan Bzhaniya handed over to Raul Khadjimba a request to resign and gave him time to respond. When the two-hour period for respond expired, the opposition went to assault a summer cottage where Raul Khadjimba stayed. Sergey Shamba, the former Prime Minister of Abkhazia, asked the protestors to leave the place and promised that the President of Abkhazia would resign. However, the protesters refused to leave. After that, Sergey Shamba announced that Raul Khadjimba had resigned "in order to prevent bloodshed."

The crisis in the country was provoked by a set of reasons, including the inefficiency of the state administration, analysts note.

Christmas celebrations in regions of Southern Russia and countries of Southern Caucasus

On January 6, residents of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh celebrated the holidays of Christmas and Epiphany. On January 5, the Chragaluyts Candlelight Divine Liturgy was served in all the churches of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Believers brought home candles, lampads, and consecrated water, considered to be healing. The holiday of Christmas, unlike the New Year holiday, is usually celebrated with family members: after a visit to a church, people set the table with dishes traditional for the holiday, residents of Yerevan say. On January 6, believers of the Russian, Georgian, Jerusalem, and Serbian Orthodox Churches celebrated the Christmas Eve. Orthodox believers celebrated Christmas on January 7, and in some regions, festivities took place under enhanced security measures, in particular, in Chechnya.

Liberation of people from labour slavery in Dagestan

On January 6, the movement "Alternative" announced the liberation of a 69-year-old resident of Magnitogorsk, who had been forced to work at brick factories and quarries and to graze cattle in Dagestan for free during 24 years. On January 7, the movement "Alternative" reported the liberation of two more people from labour slavery in Dagestan. For several months, a husband and a wife were forced to work for free at a farm not far from Karabudakhkent. They managed to escape from the second attempt. The spouses did not run away from labour slavery, but left the farm due to lack of work, concluded the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Dagestan.

Resonance from incident with money thrown to crowd by Chechen blogger in Volgograd

On January 6, blogger Muhammad Nosaev, also known as Alfredo Auditore, a son of Tamerlan Nosaev, the deputy envoy of the leader of Chechnya in the Volgograd Region, threw 200,000 roubles into the crowd in a shopping centre in Volgograd. His act caused a crush. The Muhammad Nosaev's action provoked a sharply negative reaction in social networks. Meanwhile, users of social networks condemned the people who were catching the banknotes. Tamerlan Nosaev explained that the money was the advertising budget of a Moscow company for which the blogger worked. The act of the blogger was condemned by residents of Chechnya. They say that it does not comply with the Chechen decency rules. The eccentric behaviour of Muhammad Nosaev should not be projected onto the Chechen people, note activist Kazbek Farniev, political analyst Vitaly Arkov, and Mufti Bata Kifakh Mohamad.

Disruption of ski resort season and pardon of prisoners in Georgia

In Gudauri, the opening of the ski season, scheduled for January 11, has been postponed because of lack of snow, the Mountain Resorts Development Company Ltd reports. Moreover, on the eve of the New Year, resorts of Gudauri and Bakuriani experienced problems with water, and hotels were left without water supply. Some of the tourists left earlier than they planned. It should be noted that, according to the National Tourism Administration of Georgia, the flow of tourists to Georgian resorts remains high.

On January 7, on the occasion of the Christmas holiday, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili pardoned five persons, not including Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, who was sentenced in 2017 to nine years of imprisonment on the charge of plotting the murder of the secretary of the Georgian Patriarch and illegal possession of weapons. Supporters of Giorgi Mamaladze held a protest action, and human rights defenders called the refusal to pardon the Archpriest unjustified. Giorgi Mamaladze went on a hunger strike in connection with the conditions of imprisonment, but on January 8, he agreed to accept food after a meeting with the Georgian Ombudsman. An advocate called the condition of Giorgi Mamaladze critical.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 13, 2020 at 09:18 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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