20 January 2020, 13:34
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 13-19, 2020
Announcement of new presidential election in Abkhazia; mass poisoning in Kizlyar; charges of extremism brought against protest leaders in Ingushetia; resonance after information about Ramzan Kadyrov's illness; demand of Krasny Sulin residents to preserve Verbenskoye reservoir, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 13-19, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Announcement of new presidential election in Abkhazia
On January 13, after a day earlier, Raul Khadjimba decided to resign under pressure from protesters, the parliament of Abkhazia appointed Valery Bganba acting Prime Minister. The re-election of the President of Abkhazia is scheduled for March 22. Raul Khadjimba refused to run for president, while opposition leader Aslan Bzhaniya announced his participation in the presidential election. Aslan Bzhaniya has a high chance of winning the presidential race, and he suits the Kremlin. However, serious rivalry for him can come from candidates close to the previous government and members of the opposition, emphasize experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". Residents of Sukhumi interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" complained that political crises spoiled the tourist image of Abkhazia and prevented the republic from developing amid unemployment and low salaries.
Mass poisoning in Kizlyar
On January 14, in Dagestan, the City Mayoralty of Kizlyar reported the poisoning of 10 children and 22 adults with drinking water. The City Mayor accused local residents of water pollution by saying they had illegally connected sewer pipes to the water supply pipelines. The Ministry for Public Health urged residents of Kizlyar to abandon the use of raw water. The water supply in barrels was organized for the population. The Prosecutor's Office reported the institution of a case on provision of services that did not meet security requirements. By the morning on January 17, the number of poisoning cases rose to 136, including 66 children.
Charges of extremism brought against protest leaders in Ingushetia
On January 16 and 17, investigators brought extremism charges against activists Akhmed Barakhoev, Malsag Uzhakhov, Barakh Chemurziev, Ismail Nalgiev, Zarifa Sautieva, and Bagaudin Khautiev, arrested after a rally held in Magas in March 2019. Earlier, it has been reported that Musa Malsagov, Akhmed Barakhoev, and Malsag Uzhakhov were suspected of creating an extremist community, and other five activists were suspected of participating in the above community. Malsag Uzhakhov and Barakh Chemurziev were not explained the new charges, and advocates of Musa Malsagov were not notified of the date the charges had been brought, the defence claims. According to the advocates, the activists' cases contain no specific facts and no indication to signs of extremism in the community allegedly created by them. Human rights defenders have already announced their intention to defend the interests of the Ingush activists up to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" called on the law enforcement bodies to stop criminal proceedings against the Ingush activists.
Resonance after information about Ramzan Kadyrov's illness
On January 13, Ramzan Kadyrov appointed Muslim Khuchiev, the chairman of the government, the acting leader of Chechnya for the period of his temporary incapacity to work. That was not announced on January 15, and Instagram users argued about the reasons for the appointment of the Ramzan Kadyrov's successor amid the absence of the timely official explanations. On January 16, the press secretary for the leader of Chechnya announced that like in February 2019, Ramzan Kadyrov appointed Muslim Khuchiev as the acting leader of Chechnya in connection with his illness. It should be noted that information about the Ramzan Kadyrov's illness was released three times in the recent 11 months. In particular, the similar information was released in October 2019, but then Ramzan Kadyrov did not lay down the powers of the leader of the republic. The next sick leave of Ramzan Kadyrov does not threaten his political image; however, the new Prime Minister may have questions for the leader of Chechnya, note political analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". Let us remind you that on January 15, several hours after the Russian President's appeal to the Federal Assembly, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the resignation of the government. On January 16, Mikhail Mishustin, the former chief of the Federal Tax Service, took office as the chairman of the government.
Demand of Krasny Sulin residents to preserve Verbenskoye reservoir
On January 15, an initiative group of residents of Krasny Sulin, a city in the Rostov Region, began raising signatures under appeals to MPs and the President of Russia with a request to prevent the liquidation of the Verbenskoye reservoir. The raising of signatures was preceded by a gathering of Krasny Sulin residents on January 13. In the course of the gathering, the spokesman of the "Nesvetai State District Power Plant" Limited Liability Company (LLC), an owner of the Verbenskoye reservoir dam, announced a decision to liquidate the dam and discharge the water from the reservoir, since the company was no longer able to maintain the dam and the reservoir. The gathering participants opposed such a decision. They decided to create an initiative group to achieve the preservation of the dam. Residents of neighbouring towns and villages, who sometimes face interruptions of the water supply, are also interested in the preservation of the reservoir. The discharge of water from the reservoir will disrupt the ecosystem of the reservoir, settled during over 70 years in the Verbenskoye reservoir, claim ecologists. At present, no institutions monitor the state of the dam, and people fear of water coming to their yards during a spring flood.
This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 20, 2020 at 09:15 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.