27 January 2020, 16:25
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 20-26, 2020
Resonant statement on the completed demarcation of the Chechen border; ECtHR's decision on complaints filed by relatives of people disappeared in Northern Caucasus; appointment of the voting date for the elections in Nagorno-Karabakh, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 20-26, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Appointment of new presidential envoy to NCFD and abolition of Ministry for Northern Caucasus Affairs
On January 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to appoint Alexander Matovnikov the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Ground Forces. At the same time, President Putin appointed Yuri Chaika, former General Prosecutor of Russia, the presidential envoy to the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), to replace Alexander Matovnikov at that position held by him since June 2018. Being the presidential envoy to the NCFD, Alexander Matovnikov failed to complete the task of determining the borders between Chechnya and Dagestan, and although the determination of the borders with Ingushetia had been completed, it brought serious image losses for the authorities. These comments were voiced by political analysts when they were explaining the resignation of the presidential envoy to the NCFD. Meanwhile, the "Beslan Mothers' Committee" mentioned presidential envoy Alexander Matovnikov in a positive way. Activists noted that he helped the NGO to get a grant and became the first official who admitted that the authorities were preparing an assault on the school building with hostages taken by terrorists. Earlier, Yuri Chaika had shown himself to be a defender of human rights, noted human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina.
On January 21, the abolition of the Ministry for Northern Caucasus Affairs was announced. The functions of the above ministry, which existed less than six years, were transferred to the Ministry of Economic Development in the structure of the new government. Analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" noted the ineffective work of the abolished ministry. Unresolved problems of the socio-economic development of the North-Caucasian Federal District have become the reason for the transfer of the functions from the Ministry for Northern Caucasus Affairs to the Ministry of Economic Development, believes Professor Igor Dobaev. The abolished ministry did not have enough funding for effective activities, noted expert Mikhail Chernyshev.
Resonance statement on completed demarcation of Chechen border
On January 20, Magomed Daudov, the speaker of the Chechen parliament, announced that the determination of the borders of Chechnya with neighbouring regions had been completed. His statement surprised residents of Chechnya. The border demarcation was of a backstage nature amid disputes over the Chechen borders with Ingushetia and Dagestan, local residents noted. According to Magomed Magomedov, a member of the Dagestani public commission on border demarcation, the authorities of Dagestan did not report the completion of their activities to determine the borders with Chechnya, so the border demarcation process cannot be considered completed. Dagestani journalists called on the authorities of the republic to be transparent in determining the borders with Chechnya in order to prevent conflicts. The backstage nature of the determination of the border between Chechnya and Dagestan can be explained by the desire of the authorities to avoid mass unrest, as it occurred in Ingushetia, note political analyst Sergey Zhavoronkov and geographer Alexei Gunya.
ECtHR's decision on complaints filed by relatives of people disappeared in Northern Caucasus
On January 21, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) pronounced a decision to pay compensation of 80,000 euros under each complaint filed by relatives of 20 natives of the republics of Northern Caucasus who were kidnapped in 2000-2006. The total amount of non-pecuniary damage amounted to 1.6 million euros. The number of the persons who will receive compensation includes relatives of Dagestani resident Salikh Saidov and Ingush residents Sukhrap Makhauri, Adam Patsuev, Ibragim Idigov, Salam Kerimov, and Lom-Ali Shaipov.
Appointment of voting date for elections in Nagorno-Karabakh
On January 21, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Nagorno-Karabakh announced the election date scheduled for March 31, 2020. Let us remind you that at the referendum on constitutional amendments in Nagorno-Karabakh, the form of government was changed from a mixed republic to a presidential one. A transition period was pronounced from 2017 to 2020. At present, Bako Saakyan is the President of Nagorno-Karabakh. In 2018, he announced that he would not take part in the presidential election in 2020. According to the amendments to the Constitution, for the first time, the parliamentary elections in Nagorno-Karabakh will be held exclusively under the proportional system.
Mitigation of pre-trial restriction measure to Rostov officials
The court mitigated the pre-trial restriction measure for at once several top-ranking officials arrested in Rostov. On January 24, the court of Rostov-on-Don dismissed an investigators' motion to extend the period of house arrest for Tatiana Bykovskaya, Minister for Public Health. On January 27, when the term of the pre-trial restriction measure expires, the minister will become a "free person," her advocate explained. The court also pronounced the decision to release Stanislav Besedovsky, Deputy Minister for Public Health, from the SIZO (pre-trial prison). Both the minister and her deputy are suspected of abuse of power. The investigators suggest that the minister and her deputy lobbied for the interests of a commercial company to conclude contracts with the Ministry for Public Health. On January 24, the court also upheld the decision on a refusal to extend the house arrest for Sergey Sidash, Deputy Governor of the Rostov Region, accused of abuse of power in connection with a case against Nikolai Bezuglov, Minister of Construction for the Rostov Region.
This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 27, 2020 at 08:50 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.