03 May 2021, 14:42

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 26-May 2, 2021

Celebration of May Day and Easter; large road accident in the Stavropol Territory, which killed children from Volgograd; closure of markets near Rostov-on-Don after police raids; beginning of the trial in a case against “Magas”, leader of the Ingush militants; termination of the boycott of the Georgian parliament’s work by the opposition and the pardoning of Giorgi Rurua, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of April 26-May 2, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Celebration of May Day and Easter

On May 1, Russia celebrated the Spring and Labour Day. The Russian citizens from Southern regions interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” express diametrically opposite opinions with regard to the celebration of the International Workers’ Day: young people say that it is the holiday of the past, while older people believe that the authorities want to make citizens forget their history. In Makhachkala, festive events were limited to a march of local communists and an open-air concert. Residents of the city have told the “Caucasian Knot” that they perceive May 1 as a holiday of spring, and not the Day of Solidarity of Workers. Residents and guests of Abkhazia, where May 1 is not a holiday, told the “Caucasian Knot” that they were busy with pre-Easter work and did not remember the Soviet Day of Workers’ Solidarity.

On May 2, Orthodox believers celebrated the holiday of Easter, or the Resurrection of Jesus. In the Stavropol Territory, residents were the first in Russia to receive the Holy Fire, which the Russian pilgrimage delegation brought from Jerusalem to the Easter service. By the recommendation of “Rospotrebnadzor” (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare), the Easter services were held in compliance with the mask regime in connection with the continuing threat of coronavirus infection. In Makhachkala, Orthodox Christians interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent called it important to visit the church on Easter, even during the pandemic. According to father Alexei Maslov, the press secretary for the Volgograd and Kamyshin Dioceses, the pandemic affected the number of parishioners in churches: their number has decreased significantly over the past year.

Large road accident in Stavropol Territory, which killed children from Volgograd

On April 30, a road accident occurred in the Stavropol Territory. The incident involved a minivan, in which children were travelling from Volgograd to Cherkessk to participate in a competition. Five members of the Volgograd children’s basketball team died on the spot. Out of the 18 victims, six were staying in sever condition, the Ministry for Public Health of the Stavropol Territory reported on the same day. On May 1, a plane of the Russian Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) took to Moscow for treatment six children and one adult injured in the road accident with the minivan in the Stavropol Territory. According to the police, the road accident was caused by a manoeuvre of a passenger car, which went to overtake a truck with a semitrailer loaded with grain. A driver of the passenger car failed to complete the manoeuvre, and the car got into a tangential collision with the truck, which fell to its side as a result of braking and blocked part of the road. Then, the minivan with children moving in the opposite direction collided with the fallen truck.

According to a source, after the road accident, the police detained the drivers of the minivan and the passenger car. Andrei Bocharov, Governor of the Volgograd Region, declared May 3 a mourning day in the region in connection with the children’s deaths and decided to allocate one million roubles to each family of the killed children. Residents of Volgograd brought flowers and toys to the sports school to which the deceased children went. Volgograd trade unions changed the May Day festive programme because of the tragedy. The authorities of Karachay-Cherkessia made the decision to cancel the basketball competition, in which the children involved in the road accident were to participate.

Closure of markets near Rostov-on-Don after police raids

On April 27, the police visited four markets near Rostov-on-Don to check them with regard to drug and arms trafficking. The police also checked the markets for the presence of illegal migrants. At least 460 citizens of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, and Turkey were detained at the markets of the Aksai District. The detainees are facing deportation. The market operations were suspended, and that affected thousands of merchants. On April 30, several dozen people held a protest action with the demand to let them work at their earlier places. The Business Ombudsman and the leader of the “Delovaya Rossiya” (Business Russia) regional branch drew attention to the growth of protest sentiments among entrepreneurs.

According to the unofficial information, the check of the markets was carried out within the criminal case against Vitaly Borzenko, the head of the Aksai District, charged with creating a criminal community. He was arrested until June 11. The case also involves an owner of a large business, his two sons, and a relative of Vitaly Borzenko. According to the investigators’ version, in the period from 2000 to 2021, the suspects illegally took possession of six land plots, on which they organized entrepreneurial activities.

Beginning of trial in case against “Magas”, leader of Ingush militants

On April 27, in Rostov-on-Don, the Southern Military Court began the consideration of a case against Ali Taziev (also well known as “Magas”) on the charge of attacking inspectors of the road-and-patrol (known as DPS) police service and military personnel on the territory of Ingushetia in 2009-2010. At the first court hearing, Ali Taziev, who was twice sentenced to life imprisonment, pleaded not guilty. Let us remind you that Ali Taziev is one of the former leaders (amirs) of the “Imarat Kavkaz”, a terrorist organization banned in Russia by the court. The suspect was considered the second most influential member of the terrorist organization after Doku (Dokku) Umarov. Ali Taziev was sentenced for leading a grouping of militants, which, according to the investigators’ information, blew up a bus in Nevinnomyssk in 2007, blew up a building of the OVD (Interior Division) in Ingushetia in 2009, and attempted to assassinate Yunus-Bek Evkurov, the leader of Ingushetia. Ali Taziev got his second life sentence in a case on an attack on government facilities in Ingushetia committed by militants led by Shamil Basaev.

Termination of boycott of Georgian parliament’s work by opposition and pardoning of Giorgi Rurua

On April 27, 13 opposition MPs stopped their six-month boycott of the Georgian parliament’s work. After that, President Salome Zurabishvili signed an act of pardon for Giorgi Rurua, a shareholder of the “Mtavari Arkhi” TV Company, who was sentenced in July 2020 to four years of imprisonment in a case on illicit arms trafficking. Let us remind you that on April 19, the ruling “Georgian Dream” Party and opposition parties came to an agreement to hold parliamentary elections and release political prisoners, including Giorgi Rurua. On April 27, Giorgi Rurua was released. He claims that the conditions of the first clause of the agreement between the ruling party and the opposition have been fulfilled in part and that it is time to set free Nika Meliya, the leader of the “United National Movement” (UNM) Party, who was arrested on the charge of organizing group violence, leading, and participating in it.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on May 3, 2021 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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