Grandpa Hassan is killed

Interfax reports, Russian Interior Ministry confirms that from fatal gunshot wounds in a hospital Russian criminal Aslan Usoyan (Grandpa Hassan) died.

As it was reported earlier, there was an attempted assassination against Grandpa Hassan. This famous criminal authority has been a victim or attempted murder twice in the last few years. Law enforcement agencies report, that several bullets were released against Usoyan. The incident happened in the center of Moscow near a restaurant in the street Povarskaya.

Aslan Usoyan aka Grandpa Hassan is an ethnic Kurdish Yezidi mobster and thief in law began his career operating in Georgia, continued in Moscow, Ural, Siberia, Uzbekistan, Krasnodar, Sochi, and other parts of ex-USSR.

Starting in 2007, Usoyan was embroiled in a gang war with Georgian mobster Tariel Oniani, who was seeking to reestablish himself in Moscow. Several of Usoyan’s top lieutenants were killed including the Armenian national Alek Minalyan, a man allegedly in charge of extorting construction firms working on the 2014 Winter Olympics. In July 2008 police raided Oniani’s yacht as a meeting took place amongst the criminal leaders in an attempt to settle the conflict. Usoyan was not however amongst those detained. He later gave an interview to a newspaper, denying the stories of escalating violence and stated that “We are a peaceful people and don’t bother anybody, we are for peace in order to prevent lawlessness”.

Vyacheslav Ivankov was brought in to mediate the conflict, in which he sided with Usoyan’s faction. He was however shot by a sniper while leaving a Moscow restaurant in July 2009, and died of his wounds in October that year. Although he did not attend, Usoyan sent an elaborate wreath to Ivankov’s funeral saying “To our brother from Grandpa Hassan”.
In April 2010 Usoyan was arrested by Ukrainian security forces after entering the country illegally using false documents. His business in Ukraine was allegedly connected to a rift with an Armenian organized crime group. On September 16, Usoyan was shot by a 9mm calibre bullet fired by an unidentified assailant in central Moscow, but survived the attack along with his bodyguard who was also wounded. It was at first announced to the press that Usoyan had died to ensure his safety.
In the early 2010’s the Obama administration placed sanctions on members of the alleged criminal organisation the Brothers’ Circle. It has been speculated by security expert Mark Galeotti that the so-called Circle is a stand-in for Usoyan’s network.

Syrian women and girls allege use of sexual violence as weapon of war. Mark Tran. The Guardian

Rape is a “significant and disturbing” feature of the Syrian civil war, with women and girls citing sexual violence as their main reason for fleeing the country, according to a report published on Monday.

Women and girls told the International Rescue Committee (IRC) of being attacked in public and in their homes, primarily by armed men. The rapes, sometimes by several men, often occurred in front of family members.

“The stories we’ve heard, talking to Syrian women, are truly horrific,” said Sanj Srikanthan, IRC-UK emergency field director. “Many of these women have experienced rape and torture in Syria, but as refugees [they] can’t find the support they need to heal their physical and emotional scars – let alone provide food and shelter for their families.”

During interviews with 240 Syrian women and girls in Lebanon and Jordan, IRC learned of attacks involving kidnap, rape, torture and murder, with Syria’s many roadblocks a particular danger.

IRC said it was impossible to give figures, but its report draws attention to the use of rape as a strategy in war. Sexual violence occurs in every humanitarian crisis, notably during the Balkan wars and in conflicts in parts of Africa, and Syria is no exception. In a report in June, Human Rights Watch said Syrian government forces have used sexual violence to torture men, women and boys detained in the conflict.

Last year, British foreign secretary William Hague launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative to highlight these issues. The Foreign Office has assembled a team of 70 doctors, lawyers, forensic experts and psychologists who can be deployed to conflict areas.

Hague told parliament last week that the UK is sending specialists to deal with rape and sexual violence in Syria. “We’ve deployed experts to the region to provide training in how to respond to reports of sexual violence, to improve the prospect of future investigation and prosecutions, and we will intensify this work as a matter of urgency,” he said.

Members of the team will train local health professionals to gather medical and forensic evidence and documentation that can be used in prosecutions. Hague has said Britain will use its presidency of the G8 group of industrialised countries this year to push for a new international protocol on the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in conflict.

The UN estimates the death toll during nearly two years of civil war in Syria at 60,000. More than 2.5 million people, from a population of 22.5 million, have fled their homes, with 612,000 people registered as refugees in neighbouring countries. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said on Friday that harsh winter conditions, including freezing rain, have made life even more difficult for refugees.

The UN World Food Programme has warned that it was unable to deliver food to up to 1 million hungry and desperate Syrians because of spiralling violence across the country and a lack of fuel. The UN has appealed for $1.5bn (£9.3m) for the first six months of this year, the largest short-term UN appeal, but it remains seriously underfunded.

IRC said aid is drastically insufficient to meet existing needs, let alone the barest requirements to respond to a lengthy humanitarian emergency and post-conflict recovery.

Refugee camps have gained much media attention, yet most Syrian refugees are in towns and cities in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, IRC added. In a grim irony, Iraq and Syria have reversed their previous roles as states of refuge. Iraq now hosts 67,000 refugees whereas, five years ago, Iraqis fled to Syria. Lebanon has received more than 200,000 Syrian refugees, Jordan 176,500 and Turkey more than 148,000.

“While some Syrians are housed by host families in cramped quarters, most are renting small, dilapidated unfurnished apartments that they increasingly cannot afford,” said IRC. “Others find shelter in sheds, barns, basements and abandoned buildings unfit for habitation. Some are offered shelter by local authorities in unused public spaces.”

Urban refugees are straining the education, health and water facilities of host countries. Rents have gone up for both refugees and locals, and tension is on the rise.

The IRC report also described the deliberate targeting of medical and healthcare facilities by the Syrian government. Doctors told the IRC of a systematic campaign to restrict access to healthcare through strategic bombing, forcing the closure of hospitals.

IRC urged donors to significantly increase bilateral aid to host countries to help offset the strain on their infrastructure and ease tension. The US has given $100m to Jordan, but IRC said donors should give more to Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. IRC said donors must recognise sexual violence as a feature of the Syrian conflict, as well as the threats Syrian women and girls face as refugees and the shortage of quality services available to them, and develop an appropriate strategy to address the crisis.

The Armenian Patriarch of Turkey does not find the harassment of Armenian women as “an action against solely the Armenians”

The recent events in Samatia Armenian district of Istanbul the murder of an old Armenian lady agitated a number of discussions. In the talk with the First Armenian News and Analyses the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey said he does not find the harassment of Armenian women in Turkey as “an action against solely the Armenians. He said this news was wide spread among the Armenians because an Armenian was murdered but tens of other similar accidents happen. As the patriarch mentioned, these kinds of murders usually take place not based on the national identity but more based on the property the victim possessed.

Aram Archbishop Ateshyan mentioned the Christmas holidays were neverthelesscelebrated in the patriarchy but not in a solemn way. Ateshyan assured there is no serious problem between the Turks and Armenians in Istanbul and there are no difficulties to preserve the Armenian identity there.

The reason for such agitation was the December 28 murder of an Armenian old woman and on her body besides 7 stabs a cross was drawn by the murderer.

Special events to be held in Polis dedicated to the 6th anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder

Hrant Dink, was a Turkish editor, journalist and columnist of Armenian descent.
As editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper “Agos”, Dink was a prominent member of the Armenian minority in Turkey. Dink was best known for advocating Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and human and minority rights in Turkey; he was often critical of both Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, and of the Diaspora’s campaign for its international recognition. Dink was prosecuted three times for denigrating Turkishness, while receiving numerous death threats from Turkish nationalists.

Hrant Dink was assassinated in Istanbul in January 2007, by Ogün Samast, a 17-year old Turkish nationalist. This was shortly after the premiere of the genocide documentary Screamers, in which he is interviewed about Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the case against him under article 301. While Samast has since been taken into custody, photographs of the assassin flanked by smiling Turkish police and gendarmerie, posing with the killer side by side in front of the Turkish flag, have since surfaced. The photos created a scandal in Turkey, prompting a spate of investigations and the removal from office of those involved.

At his funeral, two hundred thousand mourners marched in protest of the assassination, chanting “We are all Armenians” and “We are all Hrant Dink”. Criticism of Article 301 became increasingly vocal after his death, leading to parliamentary proposals for repeal. The 2007–2008 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honor.
Since this year is the 6th anniversary of Dink’ murder, special events will be eold in Polis.

According to one of the organizers of such events Chinzgiz Alkan, the goal of the events is to show what Dink wanted to tell Turkey.
Alkan stressed that it is very bad that till today, when 6 years have passed, Turkey couldn’t find the one who has ordered to kill Dink.
On January 19, the day when Dink died, a march will take place in Dink’s honor.

The main enemy of the Georgian president to be set free

Kommersant reports the former Minister of Defense of Georgia to be set free in the near future. 3 out of 4 imputations were already taken away, the forth to be removed soon.

The prosecution states that Irakli Okruashvili was not to blame in the accusations he was attributed and that there is no ground to imprison him.

The head of the “United National Movement” party Akaki Bobokhidze states that after freeing a number of Russian spies out of the Georgian prisons, it would be senseless to keep Okruashvili imprisoned. Several experts state, Okruashvili was imprisoned by the new government however it was later decided that it is more convenient to let him free. Global News expert states that the liberation of Okruashvili will be a bad news for the president of Georgia because Okruashvili is his main enemy.

Georgian Finance Ministry made changes in the staff

Georgian media reports that country’s Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri headed an enlarged meeting of the Advisory Council during which he presented some of his personnel decisions.

As reported, Georgian Finance Ministry made changes in the staff: George Tabuashvili has been appointed as First Deputy Finance Minister. Lasha Khutsishvili has been appointed as the head of the Revenue Service on the proposal of the Finance Minister and by the order of the Prime Minister. Tsotne Kavlashvili has been appointed as head of the Treasury Service.
The meeting also discussed the reforms that the Finance Ministry plans to carry out in 2013.

Heads of Orthodox churches arrive in Georgia to attend celebrations in honor of Patriarch Ilia II

Georgian media reports that country continues to celebrate the 35th anniversary of enthronement and 80th anniversary of the birth of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II.

Due to the occasion, heads of Orthodox churches start their visits to Georgia to attend the festivities, which are scheduled for January 10-14.
Serbian Patriarch Irinej and representative of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Kirill with accompanying individuals will today arrive in Georgia on Wednesday.

93 Georgian soldiers wounded and 19 killed in Afghanistan during 2010-2012

Georgian Defance Ministry informers that between 2010-2012, a total of 93 Georgian servicemen were wounded in Afghanistan.
Up to this time, the policy of the Ministry of Defence was not to publish information about any incidents when Georgian military in Afghanistan were wounded.

20 soldiers were wounded in 2010, when the Georgian contingent was first stationed in Helmand province and 44 soldiers were injured the following year, while 29 soldiers were among the wounded as of November 26, 2012.
During the period of stay in Afghanistan, 19 Georgian peacekeepers were killed, eight of whom in 2012.

Note, at the funeral of Sergeant Giorgi Kikadze killed in Afghanistan, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili stated that Georgia should continue its participation in NATO-led operations in Afghanistan.

Majority of the Georgian political parties is against Chakhalyan’s freedom

The leader of “Multinational Georgia” movement told the First Armenian News and Analyses that Armenian political prisoner Vahagn Chakhalyan can be set free according to the law accepted on December 21 but it is not clear whether he will be set free or not.

But a number of political parties in Georgia are against his liberation although it is not excluded that he could be liberated on January 17.

The reason for such opinion is the rumors that Chakhalyan organized an attack on religious women. This is non-official information however. Another reason based on non-official information is that he organized an attack on one of the local universities.
Chakhalyan himself rejects the news and in order to be liberated a political will is needed.

Traffic in Georgian-Russian border was stopped because of heavy snowfall

Georgian Road Department reports that traffic has been prohibited from travelling on the Gudauri-Kobi section of Mtskheta-Stepantsminda-Lars highway (Georgian-Russian border, Upper Lars checkpoint) due to heavy snowfall and the danger of an avalanche.

As reported, movement of trailers, semi-trailers and buses, carrying more than 30 passengers, has been restricted on the Gudauri-Kobi section.
Movement of other vehicles is allowed on the section from Aragvispiri to Pasanauri and from Stepantsminda to Lars.