31 July 2017, 09:05

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 24-30

Death of three Russian citizens in a wreck of a light aircraft in Abkhazia; kidnapping of Dagestani minister with the aim of claiming ransom; Deprivation of former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili of Ukrainian citizenship – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 24-30, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Three Russian citizens perish at wreck of a light aircraft in Abkhazia

On July 27, at a crash of a light aircraft in the city of Pitsunda, three Russian citizens perished: a pilot from Samara and two passengers, including a six-year-old girl. According to the preliminary version, the aircraft fell down for the pilot’s error. President of Abkhazia Raul Khajimba ordered to suspend air tours in the republic until security measures are strengthened. Air tours are in demand in Abkhazia, Anna Kalyagina, the president of the Abkhaz Tourism Union, told the "Caucasian Knot".

Dagestani minister was kidnapped for ransom

On July 24, in Dagestan, investigators reported the disappearance of Ibragim Kazibekov, the Dagestani Minister of Construction, Architecture, Housing and Utilities, who was kidnapped on July 20 in Makhachkala. On July 21, during the transfer of a part of the ransom claimed for Kazibekov in the amount of 30 million roubles, two local residents were detained, and the minister was released. On July 25, the suspects, who turned to be brothers, Zalkip and Yakhya Aliskantov, were arrested. According to investigators, at kidnapping, Kazibekov was threatened with firearms. On July 28, it was reported that Magomed Omarov, the head of security of the building of the Dagestani government of, was detained within the kidnapping case. On July 30, the administration of the republic’s head and the government refuted the information that Omarov is a relative of the Dagestani leader Ramazan Abdulatipov.

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is stateless

He has been deprived of the Ukrainian citizenship received in 2015. The reason was declared to be the presentation by Saakashvili, who until November 2016 headed the Odessa Regional Administration, of false information when obtaining his Ukrainian passport. Saakashvili intends to return to Ukraine from the United States. In the opinion of Sergey Leschenko, a Ukrainian MP, if he does it, Saakashvili may be extradited to Georgia. His advocates intend to appeal against the decision of deprivation. The fact of Saakashvili’s deprivation of Ukrainian citizenship became known a week after the visit of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to Georgia. The Georgian experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" did not exclude that the deprivation decision became the result of the agreement reached during the informal negotiations held during the visit. Saakashvili has become an apatride – a stateless person, as he was deprived of the Georgian citizenship back in December 2015.

Rostov-on-Don: verdict passed on one of terror act plotting cases

On July 26, in Rostov-on-Don, the North-Caucasian District Military Court pronounced a verdict on one of the cases on preparing a terror act in this city and sentenced Victoria Semyonova, a native of the Stavropol Territory, to three years in a general-security colony. She was detained together with two other young women, Tatiana Karpenko and Natalia Grishina. According to investigators, Semyonova was to become the perpetrator of the terror act; now, she concluded a pre-trial agreement with investigators, pleaded guilty and testified against Karpenko and Grishina.

The above court is considering other cases relating to terror act plotting, in particular, the case of Ukrainian citizen Arthur Panov, accused of preparing a terror act. On July 28, Panov stated inconsistencies in the indictment and asked to return the case to the prosecutor's office, but the court refused to grant his petition. On the same day, the second session on the case of the Ukrainian citizen Alexei Sizonovich took place; according to investigators, he had collected data on the transport infrastructure for the planned terror acts, and manufactured explosive devices. Sizonovich has pleaded guilty. The state prosecutor asked for 12 years in a high-security colony for him.

Prosecution of Valentina Cherevatenko, rights defender from Novocherkassk, stopped

The case against Valentina Cherevatenko, a Novocherkassk rights defender and the head of the "Women of the Don" Fund for the Promotion of Civil Society and Human Rights, on malicious default of the law on foreign agents, was terminated for absence of corpus delicti. On July 24, this was reported by Pavel Chikov, the head of the "Agora" international human rights group. The document received from the Branch for the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) of the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office reads that the case was stopped on June 19. Earlier, the European Union condemned Ms Cherevatenko’s criminal prosecution; and the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" called it politically motivated.

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