Ramzan Kadyrov, Evgeny Prigozhin. Photo by the Grozny Inform https://www.grozny-inform.ru, screenshot of the video on the YouTube channel "Life in Russia" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxyuawe6_mQ Collage by the "Caucasian Knot"

08 May 2023, 23:32

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 1-7, 2023

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, public activity of Ramzan Kadyrov, and official data on the natives of Southern Russia who perished in Ukraine, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of May 1-7, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

On May 2, in Rostov-on-Don, a military court sentenced Valery Kotovich, a former citizen of Ukraine, the former head of the procurement department of the Southern Centre for Logistics of the “Rosgvardiya” (National Guard of Russia), to six years of imprisonment, finding him guilty of spreading fake news about the Russian Armed Forces. In addition, Valery Kotovich is deprived of his rank of Colonel and banned from holding certain positions for three years. Advocate Maxim Grebenyuk reported that before Valery Kotovich was sentenced, he was not aware of any cases when top-ranking officers of the Russian Armed Forces and the “Rosgvardiya” were prosecuted for criticizing the special military operation.

Last week, courts continued to fine residents of Southern Russia for criticizing the special military operation and supporting Ukraine. On May 6, it became known that Yelizaveta Afanasieva, a resident of Krasnodar, was fined for a pro-Ukrainian inscription on a sidewalk. In Tuapse, a court fined Oleg Kazarenko under the article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces.

On May 2, the Maikop City Court fined Alexander Faustov who went to a solo picket with a pacifist poster. In the Astrakhan Region, a court found Vitaly Bagaev guilty under the article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. On May 2, in the Krasnodar Territory, a court fined pensioner Olga Shkiryatova for damaging patriotic banners. On the other day, in Sochi, a court fined local resident Dmitry Yarikov.

On May 6, in Cherkessk, law enforcers drew up a protocol on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces against local resident Ramazan Mtskhe. The protocol under the same article was drawn up against Shamil Djabrailov, a resident of Dagestan. On May 2, in Sochi, a court received a case of Ukrainian citizen Svetlana Matukhnova, accused of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. Earlier, the woman had been twice arrested under articles for her posts on the social media. It also turned out that Maria Naidenko is suspected of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces, and the report on her case was repeatedly sent to the Anapa District Court.

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 the “Gyzylbulag” and “Demirli” mining deposits. As a result, the unrecognized republic suffers from a shortage of medicines, and the supply of electricity and gas is periodically interrupted. On April 28, on the 138th day of the blockade, the picketers suspended their protest action. Azerbaijan installed a full-fledged border and customs checkpoint on the Khakari Bridge.

On May 2, Nagorno-Karabakh activists set up a tent in the Lachin Corridor with the demand to remove the Azerbaijani checkpoint. On May 3, the activists called on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to fight for their rights. On May 7, activist David Bagryan noted that about 10 persons stay in the tent overnight and that the activists do not interfere with the passage of peacekeepers’ transport. “Our demand is unchanged, and it is addressed to the world community: to immediately dismantle the Azerbaijani checkpoint in the Lachin Corridor and unblock the road for the free movement of Artsakh citizens to Armenia,” emphasized the activist. On May 5, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted the declaration “Azerbaijan must open the Lachin Corridor” demanding to unblock the Lachin Corridor.

After the talks conducted in the United States, the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia reached an agreement on some articles of the draft Agreement on Peace and the Establishment of Interstate Relations.

Public activity of Ramzan Kadyrov

The main news from Chechnya was the continuation of the Ramzan Kadyrov’s statements about his own army and the cooling of relations with Yevgeny Prigozhin. On February 19, Ramzan Kadyrov already announced his plans after leaving the civil service to found a private military company and compete with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the “Wagner” private military company (PMC). On May 1, the leader of Chechnya announced that he was considering the possibility of creating an army that would protect the interests of the oppressed peoples.

Ramzan Kadyrov and Yevgeny Prigozhin repeatedly demonstrated their solidarity by opposing the Russian Ministry of Defence. However, on May 3, Adam Delimkhanov, a State Duma member from Chechnya, called wrong the public appeal to the State Duma on behalf of fighters from the “Wagner” PMC about the problem of lack of ammunition. Adam Delimkhanov advised Yevgeny Prigozhin to contact him and solve such problems by phone. On May 5, Ramzan Kadyrov also criticized Yevgeny Prigozhin. “We have the strength to replace anyone whose nerves cannot stand it ... I feel sorry that my brother behaves like that,” the leader of Chechnya emphasized.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

Contract soldier Denis Burbovsky perished in Ukraine, the administration of the Scherbinovsky District reported. Since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, at least 138 residents of Kuban have been officially confirmed perished there. In total, by May 7, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 1865 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1017 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 848 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 455 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 337, in the Rostov Region – 196, in North Ossetia – 170, in the Stavropol Territory – 146, in the Astrakhan Region – 129, in Chechnya – 102, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 89, in Ingushetia – 34, in Adygea – 27, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 21, and in Kalmykia – 21.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on May 8, 2023 at 03:52 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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