25 September 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 18-24

Mass evacuations in seven southern cities after reports about mined buildings; rally in Baku with a demand to investigate reports about bribery by ruling elite of European lobbyists; refusal to pardon the former Makhachkala Mayor Said Amirov, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 18-24, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Mass evacuations in seven southern cities after reports about mined buildings

Last week, in seven cities of Russia, many reports were received about bombs planted in various buildings. On September 19, people were evacuated from public buildings in Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Volgograd and Astrakhan. On September 20, telephone terrorists provoked evacuations in Nalchik and Vladikavkaz; and on September 21 – again in Vladikavkaz and in Krasnodar. On September 22, there were reports about mined schools, state institutions and trade-and-office centres in Makhachkala. All the telephone calls turned out to be false.

On September 21, in Krasnodar, a suspect of making one of the false calls (about a mined high-rise building) was detained. On September 22, Rostov-on-Don policemen reported detention of a local resident after a report about a bomb allegedly planted at the construction site of a shopping-entertainment centre.

On September 14, law enforcers stated that the "Islamic State" (IS) (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) had to do with the false mining calls.

Baku protesters demand inquiry into ruling elite’s bribing European lobbyists

On September 23, in the stadium in the Yasamal District of Baku, a sanctioned action was held under the slogan: "End to corruption, freedom to political prisoners!" It was organized by the oppositional National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF). According to preliminary estimates, the rally was about 3000 persons strong; it was provoked by the information about facts of bribing by the country’s ruling elite of European lobbyists, which was released by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). The press service of the Azerbaijani leader has stated that Ilham Aliev and his family have nothing to do with money laundering and briberies.

The participants of the rally demanded to investigate the reports on the removal of about 3 billion US dollars from the country for laundering. The NCDF has also associated the arrest of Akhsan Nuruzade, a member of the "Muslim Unity", and the detention of Bakhruz Guliev, a religious activist, with the protest rally. On September 24, the NCDF reported the detention of over 50 its activists on the eve of the rally. Oppositionists intend to bring their cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg.

New large fire in central Rostov-on-Don

On September 21, a 10-story hotel located in the centre of Rostov-on-Don caught fire. The ignition area was 840 square meters. As a result, two persons perished, and seven cars parked at the building burnt down. Eyewitnesses told about five children who jumped out of the hotel windows and were caught by townspeople. During the fire, more than 400 people were evacuated from the hotel, neighbouring houses and a kindergarten. After the fire, a criminal case was opened on provision of services that do not meet the security requirements.

The fire in the hotel occurred a month after the fire in the Proletarsky District of the city destroyed a whole residential block. Then, one person died and seven others were injured.

Muslim Khuchiev re-elected as Grozny Mayor

In Grozny, on September 21, Muslim Khuchiev was re-elected as the Mayor of the Chechen capital. Mukhmud-Khasan Asakov, the head of the Municipal Unitary Enterprise (MUE) “Sursad”, was also admitted to the election, but local NGOs immediately treated his chances as "insignificantly small." Finally, twenty members of the City Assembly voted for Khuchiev; seven – for Asakov. The political analysts, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", explained the Khuchiev's re-election by the cadre deficit in Chechnya. They noted that Khuchiev is one of the most educated politicians in Kadyrov's entourage; however, he is known by ensuring the mass character of pro-governmental actions.

Jurymen find figurants in "Rostov Amazons" murder case guilty

The Rostov Regional Court has completed the inquiry into the case of the criminal grouping known as "Rostov Amazons". It comprised three residents of the Stavropol Territory: Roman Podkopaev, who was killed in a shootout; his partner Inessa Tarverdieva and her daughter Victoria Tarverdieva; as well as two residents of the Rostov Region: Podkopaev's sister Anastasia Sinelnik and her husband Sergey, who was a law enforcer. The defendants were accused of killing 10 persons, including law enforcers and members of their families. On September 20, the jury found the Tarverdievs and the Sinelnik spouses guilty on all five charges. However, the jurymen found that Victoria Tarverdieva deserved indulgence on certain episodes. Inessa Tarverdieva is guilty of organizing a gang that operated from 2007 to 2013, the jury has concluded. The verdict will be rendered approximately in November, the press service of the court has informed. The Sinelnik spouses refuse to plead guilty; Inessa Tarverdieva rejected the murder charges, but admitted that she had done nothing to stop Roman Podkopaev, whose orders she had fulfilled; her daughter pleaded guilty of killing two persons.

Said Amirov rejected pardoning

The commission has unanimously rejected any pardoning of Said Amirov, a life-long convict, a local newspaper reported on September 19 referring to the vice-governor of the Orenburg Region, where the former Makhachkala Mayor is serving his term. According to the vice-governor, in the period from July to September, the governor’s reception office received 189 applications asking to support Amirov’s pardoning. The commission has pointed, in particular, to the non-recognition of guilt by Amirov, the vice-governor has noted.

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