04 October 2021, 17:30

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 27-October 3, 2021

Municipal elections and detention of Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia; anniversary of the beginning of the Karabakh war in 2020; report by law enforcers on the prevention of a terror act and detention of gunsmiths in Southern Russia; pollution of the sea with oil products in Kuban, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 27-October 3, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Municipal elections and detention of Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia

On October 2, Georgia held the voting at the elections of mayors and members of local assemblies. Immediately after the closure of polling stations, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili congratulated members of the “Georgian Dream” Party on their victory, while members of the “United National Movement” (UNM) Party expressed their confidence that the opposition had defeated the ruling party at least in Tbilisi. Municipal elections in Georgia were held in generally normal situation, with 366 complaints received by the district election commissions, the Central Election Commission (CEC) reported. The turnout in the elections exceeded 50%. During the voting, observers reported cases of ballot fraud, voter bribery, and vote fraud. The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) claimed that its observers came under pressure at polling stations where violations had been registered. On October 3, the CEC of Georgia reported that at the elections of mayors in Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Poti, Batumi, and 15 other cities, none of the candidates gained the required number of votes, and there will be a second round of elections.

For the sake of the elections, Mikhail Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and the founder of the main opposition party, the “United National Movement” (UNM) Party, returned to the country after many years of absence. He was detained and placed in the Rustavi prison. Mikhail Saakashvili went on a hunger strike there. It was back on September 6, when Mikhail Saakashvili announced his intention to come to Georgia to observe the elections, and on September 27, he posted on his Facebook page a scan of his ticket from Kiev to Tbilisi. The former president of Georgia notes that he is not afraid of the criminal cases instituted against him in his homeland, the possible detention or arrest, as he believes that the Georgian people will release him if necessary. In recent years, Mikhail Saakashvili has lived in Ukraine, now he is the head of the executive committee of the country’s National Reform Council. He was sentenced in Georgia in absentia to three years of imprisonment in a case on abuse of power when pardoning those convicted of the murder of businessman Sandro Girgvliani and six years of imprisonment in a case on the beating of MP Valery Gelashvili in 2005. The former president of Georgia also faces other charges.

Anniversary of beginning of Karabakh war in 2020

The day of September 27 marks a year since the beginning of combat actions in Nagorno-Karabakh, which ended on November 9, 2020, with the signing of a peace agreement. Yerevan and Stepanakert timed commemorative torchlight processions to the date. The capital of Armenia opened an exhibition of photographs of Mikael Nazarenko, taken by him at the front. The war in Nagorno-Karabakh came as a surprise to civilians who had to leave their homes. Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”, said that they got only fragmentary information about the fate of their family members and friends from their colleagues at the front.

It should be noted that on September 27, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution. The PACE demanded from Azerbaijan to release all Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) and from both sides – to investigate war crimes, ensure the clearance of the conflict territory, and start a dialogue.

Report by law enforcers on prevention of terror act and detention of gunsmiths in Southern Russia

On October 1, in Cherkessk, FSB officers detained a 20-year-old resident of Kabardino-Balkaria, a neighbouring republic. According to the FSB, the detainee was plotting a terror act in the city against law enforcers and acted on the instructions of militants of the “Islamic State” (IS, a terrorist organization, banned in Russia by the court, – note of the “Caucasian Knot). The video, which was released by the FSB, demonstrates the components for making an improvised explosive device (IED) seized from the detainee, as well as a map of the building of the Prosecutor’s Office in Karachay-Cherkessia.

On September 28, the FSB reported that in September, law enforcers detained 48 illegal gunsmiths in 18 regions of Russia, including Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kuban, and the Rostov Region.

Pollution of sea with oil products in Kuban

On September 28, in the port of Temryuk in the Krasnodar Territory, fuel from the “Lady Leyla” tanker spilled into the Azov Sea. That was reported by Svetlana Radionova, the head of the “Rosprirodnadzor” (Russian Federal Agency for Supervising the Nature). According to her, the incident is the second fuel spill at the sea in recent days: one more spot was found at the Mechel-Temryuk Port berths under construction. Svetlana Radionova assured that the guilty persons would be brought to justice. Several days earlier, it was reported about the appearance of an oil spill in the Black Sea near Gelendzhik. On September 28, the Gelendzhik Mayoralty announced that the oil spill had been eliminated.

According to the calculations run by the “Caucasian Knot”, during the tourist season of 2021, at least seven incidents occurred in the Krasnodar Territory, when the waters of the Black and Azov Seas were polluted with oil and oil products. The largest incident occurred on August 7, during the refuelling of the “Minerva Symphony” Greek tanker in the village of Yuzhnaya Ozereevka near Novorossiysk. It was then reported that about 200 square meters six kilometres from the coast were polluted with oil. However, on August 11, the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) announced that an oil slick with the area of 80 square kilometres was detected in a satellite image near Novorossiysk in the Black Sea. The signs of the oil spill did not disappear from satellite image until August 16.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on October 4, 2021 at 09:29 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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