Participants in an unsanctioned rally. Nalchik, May 21, 2023. Screenshot of the video by the "Gazeta Yuga" (South Newspaper) https://t.me/gazetayuga/1479

22 May 2023, 23:33

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 15-21, 2023

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, memory of the victims of the Caucasian War, kidnapping of Pashinyan’s son, death of a girl from Malgobek, scandals in Georgia, 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 15-21, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

Last week, in Southern Russia, courts continued to fine residents of the regions for criticizing the special military operation or supporting Ukraine. The Volzhsky City Court fined Vladimir Belik, who shouted words in support of Ukraine from his balcony. In Astrakhan, a court fined local resident Dmitry Kiselev, recognizing that he had posted comments discrediting the Russian Armed Forces on the social media. And Igor Korotkov, fined in Adygea for 800,000 roubles, cannot appeal with an advocate, as he is dissatisfied with the work of an advocate by appointment, but he is short of money to hire an advocate by agreement.

Three protocols at once under the administrative article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces were drawn up against Yevgeny Katyshevtsev, a resident of Astrakhan. The Sholokhovsky District Court of the Rostov Region received a case against Oleg Moiseev. The Giaginsky District Court of Adygea again received an administrative case against Viktor Cherchenko, accused of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. Earlier, the court returned the materials to the police due to violations, and the law enforcement bodies eliminated them. And a case against Timur Talkanov was received by to the Kirovsky District Court in Makhachkala.

Krasnodar journalist Alipat Sultanbegova left Russia after she received a notification by mail that a criminal case had been instituted against her for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. “Having a criminal intent aimed at discrediting the actions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, standing ... in front of the bust of the Russian poet of Ukrainian origin Taras Shevchenko <...>, and realizing the criminal nature and social danger of her actions, [Sultanbegova] deliberately laid flowers at the monument and placed signs near it,” states the resolution as quoted by the “Sota” Telegram channel.

Memory of victims of Caucasian War

May 21, the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Caucasian War, was declared non-working in Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachay-Cherkessia, where the Circassians are the dominating nation. This year, the authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria banned holding events in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War, threatening responsibility for violating the ban, notes Aslan Beshto, the chair of the “Coordinating Council of Adyg Public Associations”.

The Caucasian War (1763-1864) brought the Adyg peoples to the brink of extinction. After the war and the mass deportation of the Circassians to the Ottoman Empire, a little more than 50,000 of them remained in their homeland.

Despite the ban, a march was hold in Nalchik. Its participants considered it important to preserve the Adyg traditions.

In Sochi, about 50 people took part in the events dedicated to the victims of the Caucasian War. The Adyg people do not want to turn mourning into widely discussed ceremonies, explains Asker Sokht, the chair of the “Adyge Khase” of the Krasnodar Territory.

Kidnapping of Pashinyan’s son

On April 2, Alen Simonyan, the speaker of the Armenian Parliament, announced an attack on Ashot Pashinyan, a son of the Armenian Prime Minister. However, two days later, Pashinyan Jr. denied the information. On May 17, the police reported about an attempted kidnapping of Ashot Pashinyan near his home. The newspaper “Haykakan Zhamanak” (Armenian Time), owned by the family of Nikol Pashinyan, reported about an attempt to kidnap the Armenian Prime Minister’s son by members of the “Call of Sons” organization, created by relatives of the fallen Armenian soldiers.

The police detained four parents from the “Call of Sons”, including Gayane Akopyan, a mother of deceased soldier Zhora Martirosyan. The woman went on a hunger strike in protest. About 100 parents of the deceased soldiers gathered in front a detention facility where Gayane Akopyan was kept.

On May 20, in Yerevan, a court decided to arrest Gayane Akopyan for a month amid a protest action.

Victim from Malgobek

On April 30, it became known that a four-year-old girl was taken to a hospital in the Malgobek District in severe condition. Investigators instituted a criminal case of beatings against the girl’s mother and grandmother. On May 6, the girl’s mother was accused of causing grievous bodily harm to her daughter. On May 16, the leader of Ingushetia reported that the girl had died in the hospital.

On May 18, unidentified people broke into a house of a resident of Malgobek, threw a grenade, and fired several shots. The owner of the house himself is being kept in a SIZO (pre-trial prison), as he is involved as a suspect in a case on beating of a woman from Ingushetia. According to the investigators’ version, her four-year-old daughter might be raped.

The “Marem” human rights group has posted a petition with a demand to bring to justice all those responsible for torturing the girl from Malgobek. Not only the direct participants of the violence, but also the inactive employees of the guardianship authorities must be brough to responsibility, emphasize the authors of the petition posted on the “Change.org” website.

Scandals in Georgia

On May 20, oppositionists and activists held a protest action in Kakheti near Lake Kvareli, where, according to them, members of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s family, who fell under sanctions, have a wedding party. Some of guests were transported to a hotel in minibuses, and the protesters threw eggs at them. Sixteen people were detained at the protest action.

On May 19, a plane of the “Azimuth” airline took off from Moscow and landed at the Tbilisi airport on the same day. This is the first direct flight from Russia to Georgia within four years. The arrival at the Tbilisi airport of the plane from Moscow was met with a protest action. On the other day, a direct flight of Georgian Airways arrived at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow from Tbilisi.

The diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia were severed in 2008 after Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The ban on the flights of Russian airlines to Georgia was introduced on June 21, 2019.

On May 19, Georgian NGOs called for refusing air communication with Russia, as it “contradicts the Georgia’s European integration plans.”

On May 21, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili called for a boycott of Georgian Airways. According to the Georgian President’s statement, by resuming flights to Russia, the airline just wants to make money. Tamaz Gaiashvili, the head of Georgian Airways’ board of directors, has said the company is banning Salome Zurabishvili from flying its planes until she apologizes for her call.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By May 21, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 1967 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1085 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 882 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 506 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 351, in the Astrakhan Region – 133, in the Rostov Region – 210, in North Ossetia – 178, in the Stavropol Territory – 152, in Kuban – 139, in Chechnya – 102, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 90, in Ingushetia – 36, in Adygea – 28, 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 22, 2023 at 09:00 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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