Khamzat Kadyrov. Photo: Grozny Inform

06 February 2023, 16:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 30-February 5, 2023

Scandals with Ramzan Kadyrov, continuation of the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, official data on the natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, struggle of Azerbaijani oppositionists, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 30-February 5, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Scandals with Ramzan Kadyrov

On February 2, Ramzan Kadyrov announced that he had appointed his nephew, 26-year-old Khamzat Kadyrov, as the republic’s Minister of Property and Land Relations. The head of Chechnya called his nephew “a talented and executive leader.”

Ramzan Kadyrov reacted sharply to criticism of his personnel policy, compared to a style of running a family business. The leader of Chechnya noted that his relatives “appointed to any position are to bear responsibility ten times greater” than any other employees. “Whoever I trust, I appoint. I care about the result and the dedication of the officials, but not about opinions of some political analysts,” Ramzan Kadyrov wrote.

The same week, a public outcry was caused by the news about a draft law submitted to the Chechen parliament proposing to supplement the position of the head of Chechnya with the title of “Mekhkan Da”, which means “the father or head of the country.” Chechen Minister of Press Akhmed Dudaev explained the introduction of the new title as concern for the preservation and development of the culture and identity of the Chechen people.

Blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh does not stop

The Lachin Corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and the outside world has been blocked since December 12 by Azerbaijani activists. They demand from Russian peacekeepers to provide them with access to the “Gyzylbulag” and “Demirli” mining deposits. The unrecognized republic suffers from a shortage of foodstuffs and medicines, and the republic’s authorities introduced a schedule for the supply of electricity. The gas supply is sometimes being interrupted.

On February 2, the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh announced that 5500 children were deprived of the opportunity to attend schools and kindergartens. More than 5000 local residents were left without income amid the blockade.

From time to time, the Azerbaijani activists on protest let cars of Russian peacekeepers and employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) pass. On February 5, 29 vehicles of peacekeepers drove along the road, and the day before, six patients in need of help were evacuated to Armenia.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

Last week, the authorities of the Astrakhan Region confirmed the information about five compatriots perished in Ukraine. So, since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine, the information about at least 81 residents of the Astrakhan Region has been officially confirmed. Roman Plyasun perished in Ukraine, announced the governor of the Apanasenkovsky District of the Stavropol Territory. And the leaders of the Maikop District of Adygea reported about four compatriots perished in Ukraine.

On February 3, it became known that Vakhtang Ezugbaya, a resident of Sochi, who was convicted in a case on extortion, perished in Ukraine, for where he left from prison after signing a contract with the “Wagner” Private Military Company (PMC). The city authorities did not provide any assistance to the family of the deceased man, his relatives said. Murad Zakaryaev, a fighter of the “Rosgvardiya” (National Guard of Russia), a native of the Kayakent District of Dagestan, perished in Ukraine in February 2022. This became known after the opening of a memorial plaque at a local school. On January 31, the authorities of the Derbent, Kulinsky, and Magaramkent Districts confirmed the information about the deaths of Albert Seferov, Khidirnebi Akimov, Murad Magdiev, and Shekikhan Kerimov.

Sergeant Vyacheslav Kravchenko perished in Ukraine, the administration of the Tuapse District of the Krasnodar Territory reported. The man left a wife and two children. The information about the deaths of three natives of North Ossetia – Maxim Djigkaev, Soslan Tedeev, and Alexander Gagiev – was also confirmed. The administration of the city of Kamyshin in the Volgograd Region reported about three compatriots perished in Ukraine.

Nikolai Shkoda and Alexander Nikolaev from the Rostov Region perished in Ukraine, the authorities of the Azov and Peschanokop Districts reported. According to the administration of the Maloderbetovsky District, deceased Vladimir Sanompilov was buried in the Kalmyk village of Korobkino. The man was 29 years old. The authorities of the Lesken and Baksan Districts of Kabardino-Balkaria confirmed the information about the deaths of two of their natives.

Struggle of Bakhtiyar Gadjiev and the risk of falling into coma

On February 3, advocates of Bakhtiyar Gadjiev, who continued his hunger strike for the 26th day in the Baku SIZO (pre-trial prison), requested the Penitentiary Service to let Professor Adil Geybulla visit the arrested person for examination. The defenders fear that Bakhtiyar Gadjiev may fall into a coma. On the other day, Adil Geybulla examined the state of the arrested person and confirmed that the assumptions about the threat of the activist falling into a coma were not unfounded. Bakhtiyar Gadjiev himself asked the advocates to organize a visit of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Bakhtiyar Gadjiev is an Azerbaijani political activist, the director of the Institute for Public Policy. The activist is well-known for criticizing the authorities of Azerbaijan in international forums. He was repeatedly arrested.

Meanwhile, on February 1, a court in Baku ignored the arguments of the defence and refused to place the activist on hunger strike under house arrest. Such a motion has been dismissed for the third time already, and the advocates, being sure that the charges were fabricated, requested the court to release Bakhtiyar Gadjiev “at least for humanitarian reasons.”

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 6, 2023 at 09:00 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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