06 March 2023, 23:27
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 27-March 5, 2023
Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, public activity of Ramzan Kadyrov, continuation of the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, discussions in Georgia and the health state of Mikhail Saakashvili, official data on the natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 27-March 5, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.
Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia
On March 4, 2022, a new article was included in the Code of Administrative Violations of Russia, which provided a fine for citizens for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. The people, who participate in pacifist actions, criticize the militaries, and post negative comments on social media are being brought to liability under the mentioned article. Repeated violation within a year threatens criminal prosecution.
On March 3, in Adygea, a court recognized as a fake a video about the Russian army, the link to which was posted in a messenger by Igor Korotkov. The activist was convicted and fined 800,000 roubles. Blogger Vadim Kharchenko* from Gelendzhik does not get in touch with his subscribers because he is under investigation in a criminal case on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces for posting a video on his YouTube channel.
Public activity of Ramzan Kadyrov
On March 4, Ramzan Kadyrov reported that his son Akhmat visited Vladimir Putin. Akhmat Kadyrov went to a meeting with the Russian president as the chair of the regional branch council of the “Movement of the First” organization of children and youth, Ramzan Kadyrov explained. Vladimir Putin congratulated Akhmat Kadyrov on his upcoming wedding, the leader of Chechnya emphasized.
On March 2, Ramzan Kadyrov called for “brutally dealing with all the participants” in a terror act in the Bryansk Region and bringing their families to justice. The leader of Chechnya stated that, despite the presence of civilian objects nearby, “all the points that might be associated with the preparation of the terror act should be bombed out.” Ramzan Kadyrov also called on to introduce martial law in some regions of Russia. Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov responded by saying that no decisions had been made to impose martial law.
In February, the “Power of the People” movement, which stays in the parliamentary majority together with the ruling “Georgian Dream” Party, submitted two draft laws to the parliament to create a register of NCOs and media, more than 20% funded from abroad. President Salome Zurabishvili promised to veto the draft law, saying that it ran counter to the European values. On March 2, the draft laws were sent for approval to the Committee on Legal Affairs despite harsh criticism from the opposition, activists, political analysts, and foreign diplomats.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal found no grounds for releasing or postponing the imprisonment of former President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili. The country’ authorities are denying him adequate medical care and putting him at risk of death or permanent damage to health, the “Amnesty International” (AI) and “Human Rights Watch” (HRW) state. The human rights organizations have equated the Georgian authorities’ refusal to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
Blockade of road to Karabakh and continuation of conflict
The Lachin Corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and the outside world has been blocked by Azerbaijani activists since December 12, 2022. The activists demand from Russian peacekeepers to provide them with access to mining deposits for monitoring. The unrecognized republic suffers from a shortage of food products and medicines, the gas supply is turned off regularly, and the republic’s authorities introduced a schedule for the supply of electricity. The road to Nagorno-Karabakh has been blocked for the 84th day already.
On March 5, in the Shusha District, the Azerbaijani militaries shelled a car of the employees of the Passport and Visa Department of the Nagorno-Karabakh Police. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Nagorno-Karabakh, three policemen died, and another one was severely wounded and brought to a hospital. In Baku, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that the shooting started after an attempt to stop the transportation of fighters and weapons from Armenia to the territory controlled by the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, by March 3, peacekeepers recorded three ceasefire violations in the Martuni and Shusha Districts. Azerbaijan returned to Armenia the bodies of 225 people killed during the fighting on the border between the two countries in September 2022. Yerevan is seeking the transfer of the bodies of two more victims.
Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine
Oleg Melnikov, a mobilized resident of the city of Kotelnikovo, perished in Ukraine, the “Vysota 102” (Height 102) reported with reference to the administration of the Kotelnikovo District. Since the beginning of the special military operation, the information about at least 260 residents of the Volgograd Region perished in Ukraine has been officially confirmed. In total, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 1539 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 883 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 656 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).
In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 391 perished compatriots, in North Ossetia – 154, in the Rostov Region – 155, in the Stavropol Territory – 119, in Kuban – 101, in the Astrakhan Region – 97, in Chechnya – 91, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 85, in Ingushetia – 31, in Adygea – 25, in Kalmykia – 18, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 12.
*Included by the Russian Ministry of Justice (MoJ) into the register of foreign agents.
This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on March 6, 2023 at 02:41 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.