Bakhtiyar Gadjiev. Photo by Aziz Karimov for the "Caucasian Knot"

13 February 2023, 19:34

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 6-12, 2023

Public activity of the Chechen authorities, continuation of the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, reaction of the Caucasus to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, official data on the natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, struggle of the Azerbaijani oppositionists, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 6-12, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Public activity of Chechen authorities

Last week, Ramzan Kadyrov continued his dispute with Viktor Sobolev, a member of the Russian State Duma Defence Committee. The latter objected to Ramzan Kadyrov in his intention to “denazify and demilitarize” Poland. “If we start an operation against Poland, all NATO countries will be at war with Russia. I believe that no one will agree to that, since in fact it will mean the beginning of the third world war, a nuclear clash,” stated Viktor Sobolev. In response, the leader of Chechnya pointed out that the statement of the Russian State Duma member indicates his readiness to lose in the event of an escalation of the conflict.

Meanwhile, human rights defenders have discovered in Chechnya the tightening of control over women who are denied the issuance of passports without the guarantee of a male relative.

Ramzan Kadyrov threatened with persecution Mufti Aider Rustemov, whose conversation with prisoners of war (POWs), including those from Chechnya, was posted on the Internet. The leader of Chechnya voiced threats against Aider Rustemov and stated that those prisoners from Chechnya should punish the Mufti after their release. Ramzan Kadyrov’s anger was provoked by the Mufti’s questions about why the special military operation in Ukraine is called jihad in Chechnya. A likely continuation is the conversation about religion with Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Akhmed Dudaev, Chechen Minister of Press.

Gas blackmail of Nagorno-Karabakh

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 which they intend to monitor. The unrecognized republic suffers from a shortage of foodstuffs and medicines, kindergartens are closed, and the republic’s authorities introduced a schedule for the supply of electricity.

Since February 7, classes in schools have been suspended because of another gas supply cut in Karabakh. On February 8, the gas supply to the unrecognized republic stopped again, for the seventh time since the beginning of the blockade. According to the “Artsakhgaz” Company, Azerbaijan also cut off the supply of gas, which enters the region through the only gas pipeline from Armenia, on December 13, January 17, 18, 21, and 28.

Caucasian echo of earthquake in Turkey

On February 6, a series of earthquakes occurred in Turkey. As of February 12, 24,617 people died and more than 80,000 were injured in the country as a result of the earthquakes. More than 3500 people have died in Syria and more than 5000 others have been injured. The death toll includes five citizens of Georgia and four citizens of Azerbaijan.

The Prime Minister of Georgia instructed his subordinates to send rescuers and necessary equipment to Turkey to help clear the ruins. Azerbaijan sent 420 employees of the country’s Ministry for Emergencies (MfE), as well as teams of doctors to Turkey. Armenia reported that 56 rescuers were sent to Turkey and Syria to help the victims.

Natives of Northern Caucasus living in the cities of Turkey are mobilizing their efforts to help people in the affected regions, public organizations of the North-Caucasian Diaspora in Turkey report. In Northern Caucasus, ordinary citizens and public institutions, including Muftiates, are involved in the collection of aid. So, the Spiritual Administration of Muslims (SAM) of North Ossetia announced the raising of funds to help the victims.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

Since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine, the authorities of the regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and the Southern Federal District (SFD) have reported about at least 1300 compatriots perished in combat operations. The information about qt least 753 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) perished in Ukraine has been officially confirmed, with the highest death toll (340) among natives of Dagestan. Besides, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies confirmed the information about 135 natives of North Ossetia, 109 fighters from the Stavropol Territory, 77 residents of Chechnya, 57 natives of Kabardino-Balkaria, 28 – of Ingushetia, and seven militaries from Karachay-Cherkessia, perished in Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the special military operation, the authorities have reported about the deaths of at least 547 residents of the regions of the Southern Federal District (SFD). The authorities confirmed the information about 220 militaries from the Volgograd Region, 124 militaries from the Rostov Region, 84 – from the Krasnodar Territory, 81 – from the Astrakhan Region, 18 militaries from Kalmykia, and 20 – from Adygea perished in Ukraine.

Struggle of Bakhtiyar Gadjiev

Activist Bakhtiyar Gadjiev was hospitalized on the 33rd day of his hunger strike. According to the defenders, the activist was planned to be force-fed, although he strongly objected to that option. On February 11, an activist’s brother reported that Bakhtiyar was taken to the prison hospital against his will and that he continued to refuse food. At the same time, Bakhtiyar Gadjiev agreed not to declare a dry hunger strike for the time being.

The charges in connection with which Bakhtiyar Gadjiev was arrested relate to an incident in court where a dispute between him and Ulviya Muradova about defamation was considered. According to the investigators’ version, Bakhtiyar Gadjiev caused damage to the Ulviya Muradova’s health state by hitting her on the head with papers. The defence insists that Bakhtiyar Gadjiev, in response to insults, hit the papers on the table. The activist’s actions are interpreted as hooliganism and contempt of court, and Bakhtiyar Gadjiev faces up to three years of imprisonment.

On February 11, it became known that US Department of State spokesman Ned Price called for the expeditious release of Bakhtiyar Gadjiev and for the release “of all persons incarcerated for exercising their fundamental freedoms.” According to Ned Price, the US Department of State is “deeply troubled that Azerbaijani activist Bakhtiyar Gadjiev has remained in detention since the eve of International Human Rights Day, last December, and that he continues to face charges widely understood as politically motivated.”

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 13, 2023 at 02:01 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Source: Caucasian Knot

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