29 May 2023, 23:00
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 22-28, 2023
Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, confrontation between the president and the government in Georgia, drone attacks in Kuban, conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, 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 22-28, 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. On May 25, in Sochi, a court fined Ukrainian citizen Svetlana Matukhnova, considering her post on the Internet in support of her country to be discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. On May 28, it became known that Olga Bogatova, a resident of Krasnodar, was fined for her post on the “VKontakte” social network. Alexander Nabokov, a resident of Vladikavkaz, was also fined.
A court fined Artyom Nikulnikov, a resident of the Matveyevo-Kurgansky District, recognizing that the videos posted by the man on the social media discredited the Russian Armed Forces. The Department for the Krasnodar Territory of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reported that a 49-year-old resident of the Ust-Labinsky District was fined under the same article for his posts in a chat.
On May 22, it became known that in Buynaksk, a court fined local resident Magomed Saidbegov for his pacifist comments on the social media. In Makhachkala, a court fined local resident Shamil Djabrailov under the same article for his comments on YouTube. Vladislav Khamzin, a resident of Astrakhan, was fined for his pacifist post on the social media.
A protocol on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces was drawn up against Vladislav Vlasenko, a resident of Krasnodar. During his visit to a military registration and enlistment office, Mark Eroshenko, a resident of Slavyansk-on-Kuban, called the authorities of Russia “satanic” and refused to donate blood, accusing the draft board of using “satanic rites.” The police considered Mark Eeroshenko’s statement to be “discrediting” the Russian Armed Forces.
Confrontation between president and government in Georgia
On the Independence Day of Georgia, after traditional congratulations, President Salome Zurabishvili turned to sharp criticism of the government. “It is insulting for our people when the government does not think about the honour and dignity of its citizens,” said Salome Zurabishvili. She noted that the government should make more efforts to develop a reasonable policy with international partners and use the moment for Georgia’s joining the European family. The President of Georgia noted that relations with Russia would not be productive for Georgia. “Whoever thinks that Russia will return territories to us in exchange for our concessions has learned nothing from history,” Salome Zurabishvili emphasized.
At the same time, the President of Georgia distances herself from the opposition as well. Despite the appeals of human rights defenders, Salome Zurabishvili did not include in the list of those pardoned in honour of Independence Day not only former country’s President Mikhail Saakashvili, but also Nika Gvaramiya, the former head of the “Rustavi-2” TV Company.
Drone attacks in Kuban
On May 26, an explosion occurred near the “MTS” Company’s customer service building in Krasnodar. Two residential houses were also damaged, but no one was hurt. Eyewitnesses said they heard the sound of a flying drone before the explosion. The explosion occurred after the fall of drones, confirmed Veniamin Kondratiev, Governor of the Krasnodar Territory.
On May 28, Yuri Vasin, the head of the Krasnoarmeisky District of the Krasnodar Territory, reported about the fall of a drone. Local residents reported that they heard a sound similar to an explosion. On the same day, the Kuban headquarters reported that at night, several unidentified drones were shot down when they were trying to approach an oil refinery in the village of Ilsky.
Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia
On May 22, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced the Yerevan’s willingness to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the territory of Azerbaijan, provided that Baku establishes a dialogue with Stepanakert on the rights and security of Karabakh Armenians. Members of the Nagorno-Karabakh parliament called the Nikol Pashinyan’s statement unacceptable, assuring that the population of the region “would not give up the fight.” Nikol Pashinyan announced that Yerevan and Baku agreed on mutual recognition of territorial integrity. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev emphasizes that his country has no territorial claims against Armenia.
Azerbaijan has installed a border checkpoint at the entrance to the Lachin Corridor, guaranteeing unimpeded passage for residents of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Stepanakert considers the new checkpoint an integral part of the blockade of the unrecognized republic. Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh refute claims of unimpeded passage through the new border checkpoint.
Amid the negotiations with Azerbaijan, the Armenia’s rhetoric about withdrawing from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is intensifying. On May 22, Nikol Pashinyan confirmed that the issue of the Armenia’s withdrawal from the bloc remains on the agenda and emphasized that Armenia will leave the organization if the CSTO leaves Armenia.
Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine
The administration of the Mozdok District reported that Anzor Sobiev from the village of Chernoyarskaya perished in the special military operation in Ukraine. Since the beginning of the special military operation, the information about at least 182 residents of North Ossetia perished in Ukraine was officially reported. In total, by May 28, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 2004 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1091 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 913 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).
In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 508 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 361, in the Rostov Region – 220, in North Ossetia – 178, in the Stavropol Territory – 152, in the Astrakhan Region – 141, in Kuban – 141, in Chechnya – 102, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 90, in Ingushetia – 36, in Adygea – 28, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 21, and in Kalmykia – 21.