18 December 2017, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 11-17

Special operations in Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria; court's decision regarding Said Amirov's request to release him from prison; murder of a well-known businessman in Abkhazia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 11-17, 2017, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Two special operations conducted in Northern Caucasus

Late last week, special operations were carried out in Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan, during which four suspected militants were killed.

On December 15, law enforcers tried to stop a suspicious car near the village of Urvan in the Urvan District of Kabardino-Balkaria, but people in the car opened fire on the policemen. The National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) reported the liquidation of a militant, identified as Aslan Urusov, a 29-year-old resident of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR). According to a source from the law enforcement bodies, two law enforcers got concussions. The counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was introduced in the area.

Another special operation was carried out in the village of Gubden in the Karabudakhkent District of Dagestan. On December 16, the CTO legal regime was introduced in the village. On December 17, law enforcers entered into a shootout with armed men in a private house. During the assault of the house, three persons were killed. One of them was identified as Aligadji Khamutaev, who, according to the law enforcement bodies, was the leader of the "Gubden" militant grouping; he "was involved in the killing of eight persons and took part in an attack on a convoy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).

Court leaves Said Amirov in prison

On December 15, the Sol-Iletsk District Court of the Orenburg Region did not grant a motion for the release on health grounds of Said Amirov, the former Mayor of Makhachkala, who was serving his life sentence in a penal colony. Medical officers examined Said Amirov, who was moving in a wheelchair, and decided that he should be released. However, prison doctors considered that the Said Amirov's disability allows him to serve his sentence in the penal colony. The judge agreed with the conclusions of the examination of the Said Amirov's health condition, prepared by the prison doctors, but did not take into account the expertise provided by the defence, advocate Vladimir Postanyuk said. He has announced the intention to challenge the court's decision.

A well-known businessman killed in Abkhazia

On December 13, in Abkhazia, on the Sukhumi-Psou road, a Mercedes-Benz car was shelled from automatic weapons. As a result, businessman Pavel Ardzinba, who was on the international wanted list in the case on the attempted assassination of Alexander Ankvab, the former President of Abkhazia, and his acquaintance Dmitry Khagba, were killed. During the assassination attempt committed on February 22, 2012, the leader of the republic was not injured, but his two bodyguards died from the injuries they got. On September 26, 2017, Pavel Ardzinba surrendered to the General Prosecutor's Office of Abkhazia and was placed to a temporary detention facility, but later he was released due to a change in the pre-trial restriction measure. Pavel Ardzinba was considered as a "gray figure" of Abkhazia. According to journalists, he avoided publicity, but strongly influenced the political processes in the republic. The killing of Pavel Ardzinba can be explained by blood feud, suggested Alexander Skakov, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).

Court pronounces verdict in case on terror act in Budyonnovsk

On December 13, in Rostov-on-Don, the military court found Chechen natives Ramzan Belyalov and Magomed Mazdaev guilty in the case on the militant attack on Budyonnovsk in 1995. Ramzan Belyalov was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment in a common-security penal colony, while Magomed Mazdaev was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment. The defendants claimed the verdict was unfair and noted that the court ignored their alibis. Ilyas Timishev, a Magomed Mazdaev's advocate, treats the court's decision as legally incorrect. He believes the guilt of the convicts has not been proven.

TNT TV stars apologize to residents of Ingushetia

A story with a fragment of the "Comedy Woman" performance, shown on December 8 by the TNT TV Channel, has provoked a public resonance. An actress played a role of a woman from an escort service agency. From the dialogue of the actresses, it became clear it was a Jewish woman who used bad words from the Ingush language. However, users of social networks made a conclusion a TV story was about a prostitute from Ingushetia. In social networks, users posted threats addressed to actresses of the TV show. Despite the fact that on December 10, an apology was published on the "Comedy Club Production" website, on December 11, the building of the TNT TV Channel was taken under siege. A group of people dispersed only after buses with the OMON (riot police) fighters arrived to the place. On December 14, the "Comedy Club Production" Company once again brought its apologies by posting on its YouTube channel the video entitled "TNT officially apologized to the Ingush people". Besides, Andrei Levin, the general director of the "Comedy Club Production" in Moscow came with apologies to the permanent representative office of Ingushetia.

The practice of public apology has nothing in common with the Caucasian and Islamic traditions, suggest Tatiana Lokshina, the Russia programme director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Vadim Mukhanov, Senior Researcher at the Centre for Caucasus Problems and Regional Security at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (known as MGIMO). They have noted that in recent years, the practice of public humiliation has been used by the authorities of Chechnya.

Railway bypassing Ukraine open to all trains

On December 11, the "Russian Railways" transferred all 62 passenger trains of the southern direction to traffic bypassing Ukraine along the new Zhuravka-Millerovo railroad. Earlier, Russian trains had to go through the Lugansk Region of Ukraine and cross the state border twice.

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