Public concern over building projects in Karachay-Cherkessia

KARACHAY-CHERKESSIA, 20 December, Caucasus Times: Several notable events took place in Karachay-Cherkessia last weekend leading to different reactions among the people of the republic.

Power plants and cable railway opened

Saturday [16 December] morning saw the opening of the third operations area of the cascade of Zelenchuk hydropower plants which engineers say will provide 45 per cent of locally-generated ecologically pure electricity. At the same time, neither the local nor the federal authorities have said anything about how the construction of the Zelenchuk power stations will impact on the ecology of Karachay-Cherkessia.

The project provides for taking 70 per cent of the volume of water from the rivers. A group of ecological experts the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources has shown that taking the water from the rivers will mean an ecological disaster for more than ten per cent of the region. The Bolshoy and Malyy Zelenchuk rivers are the only sources of water in the two valleys where over 40 per cent of residential areas are located.

The same day an event of great importance for the republic’s skiing resort – the festive opening of a new cable railway took place. The event was attended by a number of officials the President of the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic Mustafa Batdyyev, the Russian president’s authorized representative to the South Federal District Dmitriy Kozak, the head of the Federal Tourism Agency Vladimir Strzhalkovskiy, President of the Chechen Republic Alu Alkhanov, the President of the South Ossetian Republic Eduard Kokoyty, and others.

A stage was erected in front of the new cable railway station on which invited artists, singers and musicians performed. The concert went on until late in the evening and the festival ended with a fireworks display.

People question timing and fear disaster

However, not all comments on the new cable railway have been so optimistic. In the opinion of one member of the president’s administration, who wished to remain anonymous, the new cable railway will bring a lot more trouble to the people of the republic. “The railway was built in an emergency, the builders worked day and night, and therefore the work was not of high quality. The day before the opening ceremony, a trial run was carried out which led to a brief closure. Furthermore, there are still several problems which no-one in the republic will talk about,” the member of the administration said. He pointed out that for the moment the cable railway probably will not be operating, and it has only operated twice, and then as a demonstration.

One can guess what the point was for this grand event, just like the opening of the third operations complex of the Zelenchuk power plants. Many people are saying that all these measures were clearly timed to deflect attention from a very important event the announcement of the verdict in the case of the former son-in-law of the head of republic, Aliy Kaitov. Otherwise, why bring together such a large number of guests, without properly completing construction and assembly work. Many fear that some kind of terrible tragedy could happen because of incomplete work and undue haste,” the member of the president’s administration said.

Against the background of all these celebrations, the fierce attack on the rector of the Islamic Institute and Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Karachay-Cherkessia and Stavropol Territory Ismail-Khadzhi Bostanov, who during the presidential elections, unlike other religious leaders in the republic, supported Mustafa Batdyyev’s candidature, was ignored by the Karachay-Cherkessia leadership.

Madina Botasheva, Cherkessk, Caucasus Times

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