28 August 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 21-27

Huge fire in central Rostov-on-Don and fires in 12 districts of the Volgograd Region; special operation in Ingushetia; arrest in Azerbaijan of Mekhman Aliev, Director General of independent news agency, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 21-27, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Huge fire destroys residential neighbourhood in central Rostov-on-Don

In the afternoon on August 21, a fire broke out the centre of Rostov-on-Don and captured the area of 10,000 square meters. It was extinguished only by the morning on August 22. 123 houses were damaged. One person died, and seven others were hospitalized. In total, 692 fire victims turned to city authorities; and the latter began paying out money to the victims. Moscow plans to provide material help and issue housing certificates to the victims.

Experts have concluded that the fire occurred as a result of deliberate arsons. Victims believe that the fire was arranged by black realtors who had planned to build a residential complex in the burnt down area.

Landscapes fires cover 12 districts of Volgograd Region

A complicated situation due to fires has occurred in the Volgograd Region. Fires in 12 districts broke out on August 22. According to the authorities, two persons perished; 155 buildings were damaged; and 25 families lost their only dwellings. On August 25, local residents and children of summer health camps were evacuated in the Dubovka District. The Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) does not rule out the version of arsons.

Candidates for head of Adygea announced

On the uniform Russia’s election day, September 10, Deputies of the State Council-Khase of Adygea will elect the head of the republic. This became known on August 21 after a day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented to the parliament of Adygea three candidates for the post – the current acting head Murat Kumpilov; Alexander Loboda, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for legislation, legality and local self-government; and Shamsudin Pshizov, Director General of Open Joint-Stock Company (OJSC) "Zarem".

Power agents hold CTO in Ingushetia

On August 23, the counter-terrorist operation (CTO) regime was introduced in the Ingush village of Psedakh; and four alleged militants were killed. Later, a law enforcement source reported that, according to preliminary data, those killed were Bekkhan Soltukiev, the leader of the Malgobek militant grouping, and its members Mikail Cherbizhev and Khasan Khatsiev. According to the Russian National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC), during the battle, a powerful explosion occurred in the house and completely destroyed it. On the same day, the CTO regime was lifted. A genetic examination was appointed to define the exact number of casualties. In the house basement, power agents found a bunker and a shop for making explosive devices. The head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Evkurov, has stated that the casualties had been plotting terror acts. According to his version, should investigators confirm that the casualties were members of the Malgobek grouping, then the power agents’ victory over militants’ organizations in Ingushetia could be stated.

Mekhman Aliev, Director General of independent news agency, arrested in Azerbaijan

On August 24, Mekhman Aliev, Director General of the “Turan” News Agency, was detained. He was accused of illegal entrepreneurship and tax evasion. Aliev himself denies the charges. Azerbaijani civil society activists insist on the political nature of Aliev’s persecution. They noted that his agency was one of the country's last independent media that uncovered corruption facts. Two hours before the detention, Mr Aliev gave an interview to the "Caucasian Knot", in which he warned that the “Turan” could suspend its work because of authorities’ pressure. He also stressed that officials began charging him with tax offences right on the eve of the upcoming elections. Oppositional activists have called on Europe and the United States to impose sanctions on Azerbaijani human rights infringers in the context of Aliev’s arrest. The US State Department has expressed its concern about the arrest of Aliev, while the Council of Europe has criticized it. The PACE’s Rapporteur on the freedom of press and the international Human Rights House Foundation have called to liberate Mekhman Aliev.

Krasnodar Territory: bus falls down into sea killing 18 people

On August 25, a bus transporting workers of the “Tamanneftegaz” fell down into the sea. 18 people dies, and 33 were injured. The territorial authorities decided to pay out a million roubles to each of the casualties’ families. The accident could be caused by a failure of the bus braking system, The Rostransnadzor” (Russian Federal Authority for Transport Oversight) has stated. According to the calculations run by the "Caucasian Knot", this accident was preceded by at least seven major road accidents with buses in the Krasnodar Territory since start of 2017. They killed four people and injured 54 others.

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