05 September 2022, 14:32

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 29-September 4, 2022

Persecution of pacifists in Southern Russia; anniversary of the terror act in Beslan; completion of the trial in the case against the Ingush policemen; mass protests in Stepanakert; meeting of Aliev and Pashinyan in Brussels, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 29-September 4, 2022, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Persecution of pacifists in southern regions of Russia

In Southern Russia, the persecution of residents who oppose the special military operation in Ukraine and related events continues. So, on August 30, Yuri Kiselev from Volgograd was fined 15,000 roubles for leaving a note on someone else’s car criticizing the special military operation in Ukraine. On the same day, it became known that in Krasnodar, fines amounting to 30,000 roubles were imposed on Karen Nagapetyan for a post on social media and Yori Gordon for a pacifist picket. On September 1, in the Krasnodar Territory, a court found Vitaly Molodanov, a resident of the village of Poltavskaya, guilty of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces after his posts on a social media outlet and a local chat. The man referred to a pacifist video on the “VKontakte” social media outlet and a photo with the letter Z in the chat for elections to the local legislative body. On September 2, the Elista City Court fined 30,000 roubles Sergey Petkiev, accused of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces, for posting a photo with a pacifist banner on a social media outlet.

Anniversary of terror act in Beslan

On September 1-3, in Beslan, a three-day memorial watch was held on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the terror act at school No. 1. Thousands of people came to honour the memory of the dead. Let us remind you that as a result of the terror act, 334 people died, including 186 children. Other 810 people were injured. Members of the memory watch brought flowers, wreaths, and toys to the site of the tragedy. A funeral service was held in the gymnasium of the school. According to former hostages interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”, the victims of the terror act and their relatives still need psychological help. Due to the absence of a law on the victims of the terror act, the money allocated from the budget to the victims of the terror act in Beslan is not enough to treat and rehabilitate all the former hostages, activists from the “Mothers of Beslan” Committee and “Voice of Beslan” say. At the same time, they express different opinions regarding the idea of creating a museum and a pantheon in Beslan. Until the investigation into the terror act in Beslan is completed, the construction of a museum on this territory could destroy the evidence, says Emma Tagaeva, an activist of the “Voice of Beslan”. On the contrary, the “Mothers of Beslan” Committee stand in favour of the construction of the museum, saying that it will become a place of consolidation of people.

Completion of trial in case against Ingush policemen

On August 30, in Zheleznovodsk, a court sentenced 12 Ingush policemen to one and a half years of suspended sentence for disobeying an order to disperse protesters in Magas in March 2019. Let us remind you that then residents of Ingushetia were protesting against the border agreement with Chechnya and demanding the resignation of Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Evkurov. The Prosecutor’s Office requested the court to sentence the defendants to 2.5 years of imprisonment. Lawyers interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” considered the case against the Ingush policemen biased and called the defendants’ actions during the rally legal and professional. The defendants themselves pleaded not guilty in court.

Mass protests in Stepanakert

On August 29, activists, dissatisfied with the transfer of the Lachin Corridor to Azerbaijan and the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, demanded the resignation of top-ranking officials, including the state minister (the chair of the Cabinet of Ministers of Nagorno-Karabakh) and the heads of the Ministry of Finance and the Security Council of Nagorno-Karabakh. After meeting with the President, the activists gathered in Stepanakert for a rally attended by more than 1000 people. At a new rally held on August 31, in addition to activists, ordinary residents of Stepanakert spoke. They urged fellow citizens not to be indifferent to the future of their children. On September 3, the participants of the protest action complained that officials did not pay attention to the protesters and did not try to explain to the residents what steps were planned to be taken to overcome the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Let us remind you that on August 26, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev announced that the Azerbaijani troops took control of Lachin (Armenian name is Berdzor, – note of the “Caucasian Knot) and the villages of Zabukh (Armenian name is Akhavno, – note of the “Caucasian Knot), and Sous, which local residents left at the insistence of the Karabakh authorities. The local residents complained that they had to pack in a hurry and that the money allocated by the authorities for the resettlement was not enough.

Meeting of Aliev and Pashinyan in Brussels

On August 31, a meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan took place in Brussels. On the eve of the meeting, analysts assessed the alignment of forces. The Ilham Aliev’s position is stronger against the backdrop of the transfer of Lachin and two villages to Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani analysts point out. During the talks, Azerbaijan will push through the creation of the Zangezur Corridor, Armenian political analysts suggest. According to Alexander Skakov, a Russian expert on the Caucasus, there is competition between Moscow and Brussels on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, but it is for the good. Following the talks, Nikol Pashinyan stated that the next high-level meeting would be held in November, while the foreign ministers of the two countries would hold substantive negotiations within a month to develop a draft peace treaty.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 5, 2022 at 09:02 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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