01 November 2021, 16:14

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 25-31, 2021

Second round of municipal elections in Georgia; beginning of the unplanned holidays announced because of the coronavirus spread and the introduction of QR codes in Southern Russia; anniversary of the terror act during the “Nord-Ost” musical show; visit of the President of Turkey to Azerbaijan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of October 25-31, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Second round of municipal elections in Georgia

On October 30, Georgia held the second round of voting in elections to local self-government bodies. The turnout in the elections reached 49.9%. According to the results of the processing 99.87% of votes from polling stations in Tbilisi and 100% of votes from polling stations in other cities in 19 cities of Georgia, candidates from the “Georgian Dream” Party won, and in the town of Tsalendjikha a candidate from the “United National Movement” Party got the majority of votes, the Central Election Commission (CEC) reported. Even before the end of the voting, the leader of the “Georgian Dream” Party announced the victory of candidates of the ruling party in the mayoral elections in all 20 municipalities. The above is consistent with the data of exit polls commissioned by the “Imedi” TV Company in Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, and Batumi. However, according to the information from other exit polls, commissioned by the “Mtavari Arkhi” TV Company, candidates from the “United National Movement” Party, on the contrary, won in the above four cities and Zugdidi. The voting itself was accompanied by various incidents. Several clashes took place at polling stations in Batumi and Zugdidi, and five persons were taken to police stations in Zugdidi. The ruling party and the opposition exchanged accusations of provocations and attempts to control the voting process through “overseers.”

On October 1, on the eve of the first round of the elections in Georgia, former President Mikhail Saakashvili returned to the country. The politician was arrested, as he was sentenced in absentia in his homeland in two criminal cases. On October 20, Mikhail Saakashvili was also charged with illegally crossing the Georgian border. Immediately after his arrest, he went on a hunger strike. On the eve of voting in the second round, Mikhail Saakashvili announced his refusal to consult with doctors and take medications. The former Georgian president has the right to commit suicide, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili says.

Beginning of unplanned holidays announced because of coronavirus spread and introduction of QR codes in Southern Russia

On October 30, a period of non-working days began throughout Russia, which will last until November 7. This measure was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with the increase in the number of people infected with coronavirus. Furthermore, several regions of Russia announced that when visiting a number of public institutions, including gyms, cafes, and cinemas, people must produce a QR code, a negative PCR test, or a medical document on an illness over the past six months. The imposed restrictions have already affected business in a negative way, the number of visitors and revenue fell, owners of catering facilities and fitness centres in Vladikavkaz told the “Caucasian Knot”.

Anniversary of terror act during “Nord-Ost” musical

On October 26, relatives of the victims of the terror act at the Dubrovka Theatre Centre in Moscow honoured the memory of the victims. The people launched 130 white balloons into the sky, according to the number of victims of the terror act. The commemorative event ended with the laying of flowers at the monument “In memory of the victims of the terror act” and a prayer service. Let us remind you that on October 23, 2002, during the “Nord-Ost” musical show at the Dubrovka Theatre Centre, militants led by Movsar Baraev took 916 people hostage. In exchange for the lives of the hostages, the militants demanded to stop the combat actions in Chechnya and withdraw federal troops from the republic. The militants’ demands were not met, and on October 26, law enforcers carried out an operation to free the hostages. The law enforcers used gas during the operation. Forty militants were killed during the assault. According to the official information, 130 hostages were killed, and more than 700 hostages were injured. The commemorative events were also held on October 23, the anniversary of the seizure of the Dubrovka Theatre Centre in Moscow by the militants. Like a year ago, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the memorial action was limited to the laying of flowers and a minute of silence. Nineteen years after the tragedy at the Dubrovka Theatre Centre, the authorities still not disclosed the cause of the deaths, and many of the victims suffer from diseases of toxic origin, the relatives of the victims claim on the anniversary of the assault.

Visit of President of Turkey to Azerbaijan

On October 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrived in Azerbaijan on a one-day visit. The President of Turkey took part together with Ilham Aliev in the opening ceremony of the Fizuli International Airport. Until the autumn of 2020, the city of Fizuli (the Armenian name is Varanda, – note of the “Caucasian Knot) was under the control of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Presidents Erdoğan and Aliev also took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Goradiz-Debrail-Zangilan-Agbend road, which is a part of the Zangezur corridor. Besides, they held talks in Zangilan and took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the “Smart Agropark” to be built by Turkish specialists. The presidents of the two countries also inspected the construction of the “Smart Village” in the village of Agaly in the Zangilan District. The Turkish president’s new visit to Azerbaijan is of particular importance, note analysts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”. The visit of the president of Turkey to Fuzuli and other territories over which Baku gained control after the autumn war of 2020 is a demonstration of the Ankara’s growing influence in the region, suggests Mekhman Aliev, the director of the “Turan” news agency. Baku has demonstrated that it is full of determination in the implementation of the Zangezur corridor project, and Ankara has shown its support for it, says Togrul Djuvarly, a member of the Azerbaijan National Public Committee for European Integration.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on November 1, 2021 at 09:29 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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