10 January 2023, 23:29
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 2-8, 2023
Hunger strike declared by prisoner of conscience Tofig Yagublu, critical consequences of the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, sharp deterioration in the Mikhail Saakashvili’s health, and persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 2-8, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.
Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia
In Southern Russia, the persecution of residents who oppose the special military operation in Ukraine continues. Charges of discrediting the Russian Armed are mainly filed against residents of the Krasnodar Territory. So, a case against local resident Sergey Merkulov on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces was transferred to the Prikubansky District Court of Krasnodar. On January 6, it became known that in Anapa, a court received a case against Anton Sosnovsky. Meanwhile, the Krymsky District Court recognized the posts left in the social media by local resident Yuri Makarenko as discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. Yuri Makarenko was fined 35,000 roubles.
In Dagestan, a court recognized the statement of local resident Krymsoltan Mollaev that he would not allow his children to serve in the army as discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and fined him. Ruslan Nurushev, a resident of Volgograd, was fined 40,000 roubles for posting a leaflet criticizing the special military operation. In Rostov-on-Don, a court fined Ivan Alekseev for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces, pointing out that the man discussed in a public place the actions of the Russian troops from Kherson, which, according to the court’s decision, publicly discredited the use of the Russian Armed Forces.
Hunger strike declared by prisoner of conscience Tofig Yagublu
Tofig Yagublu was arrested for 30 days after his detention on December 23 at a protest action held with the demand to release activist Bakhtiyar Gadjiev. Tofig Yagublu was charged with petty hooliganism and failure to obey a police order. On January 5, in Baku, a court dismissed the complaint filed about the arrest of Tofig Yagublu. In protest, he declared a hunger strike. On January 7, his spouse Maya Yagublu joined the hunger strike. On the other day, Seimur Akhmedsoi and Elnur Guliev, activists of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), went on a hunger strike in solidarity with the opposition politician.
Tofig Yagublu is the former deputy chairman of the “Musavat” Party and a member of the coordinating centre of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF). He was repeatedly imprisoned. The international human rights organization “Amnesty International” (AI) recognized Tofig Yagublu as a prisoner of conscience.
Critical consequences of blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh
The Lachin Corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and the outside world has been blocked for four weeks now. The blockade of the road has led to a shortage of food in the region and has affected the work of transport. Shelves of the stores in the regional villages and towns are empty, and only from time to time the stores receive food products from the reserve fund. According to pharmacists, there is a shortage of medicines in pharmacies.
The need to introduce a food distribution system was announced by Nagorno-Karabakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan. On January 8, activists of the “National Democratic Pole” movement held a protest action with a plan to surround the 102nd Russian military base and block all entrances and exits from it as a sign that Karabakh was also blocked and the Lachin Corridor should be opened. Armenian law enforcers did not let the protesters to approach the building of the Russian military base, and 65 activists were detained.
Mikhail Saakashvili’s condition deteriorates sharply
The defence of Mikhail Saakashvili, the third president of Georgia, has repeatedly announced the threatening state of his health. During the first week of 2023, the Mikhail Saakashvili’s condition deteriorated sharply. Giuli Alasaniya, a mother of the politician, said that her son was in very poor condition and would not be able to attend the court hearing to be held on January 9.
On January 5, Eka Kherkheulidze, an MP from the “United National Movement” (UNM) Party, who visited Mikhail Saakashvili in a clinic in Tbilisi, reported that the politician was regularly losing consciousness. Advocate Shalva Khachapuridze demanded to expedite the trial in connection with the poor health state of his client.
Giorgi Margvelashvili, the fourth president of Georgia, who was the political opponent of Mikhail Saakashvili, spoke in favour of a postponement of the execution of the sentence. Giorgi Margvelashvili believes that no discussion of “the crimes committed or not committed by Mikhail Saakashvili” can be justified now. The fourth president of Georgia recalled that he had signed a letter for postponing the sentence of the third president, which was supported by many former members of the government and top-ranking officials in Georgia.