Mourning events to commemorate the victims of the terror act in Beslan. Photo by the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent

04 September 2023, 23:09

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 28-September 3, 2023

Mourning in Beslan, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, fire in Gelendzhik, blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, impeachment proceedings against Zurabishvili, 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 August 28-September 3, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Mourning in Beslan

On September 1, Beslan hosted mourning events on the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the seizure of a local school by militants. People came to the school No. 1 to lay flowers in memory of the victims of the terror act.

On September 1, 2004, militants seized 1128 hostages in a gym of the school No. 1 in Beslan. As a result, 334 people perished, including 186 children, and other 810 people were injured.

On September 2, the “Mothers of Beslan” organization called for speeding up the investigation into the terror act, which has not yet been completed. Investigators mentioned Aslanbek Parchiev, a native of Ingushetia, as one of the participants of the terror act. Relatives do not believe in his involvement in the terror act.

On September 3, people who came to the school No. 1 in Beslan lit candles, carried flowers in memory of the dead, and brought bottles of water and left them in the gym. Many families came to the school No. 1, brought their children there, and told them about what happened in 2004.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

The Akhtubinsky District Court fined Elena Vatanskaya, a resident of the city of Znamensk in the Astrakhan Region, after recognizing her comment on a social network as discrediting Russian militaries.

The Gelendzhik City Court fined local resident Sergey Veshtort under the same article. Nikolai Zhdanov, a resident of the village of Alexandrovskoye in the Stavropol Territory, was fined under the article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces because of a conflict in a local hospital, during which he shouted pro-Ukrainian slogans and demonstrated a Nazi salute.

Ivan Kurilkin, a resident of Rostov-on-Don, was fined 30,000 roubles by the Oktyabrsky District Court for holding a picket with a request to stop the special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine. The Leninsky District Court of Krasnodar fined Maxim Belomytsev, who had earlier been expelled from the university for promoting gender reassignment, by 30,000 roubles. According to the Maxim Belomytsev’s story, the police drew up an administrative protocol against him for his post with an image of the Ukrainian flag and a pacifist inscription. At the same time, Maxim Belomytsev noted that when he was detained, his post had been deleted earlier. The Shamil District Court sent local resident Shamil Magdiev for compulsory treatment in a psychoneurological dispensary. The court recognized that he posted a video on a social network with unreliable information about Russian militaries.

Fire in Gelendzhik

On August 29, a forest fire broke out in Gelendzhik near the Bobrukova gap, and according to the Mayor’s report, the fire affected 118 hectares. On August 30, the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) reported that the fire had been extinguished. The police reported the detention of a local resident, who, according to the law enforcement bodies’ version, provoked a fire while working with electrical cables in the yard of his house.

As a result of the fire that affected the Markotkh Natural Park in Gelendzhik, an oak-hornbeam forest and junipers listed in the Red Book of Russia (state document established for documenting rare and endangered species of animals, plants, and fungi) burned down.

Blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh

On September 1, Nagorno-Karabakh President Araik Arutyunyan submitted his resignation letter to the National Assembly of the unrecognized republic. Before his resignation, Araik Arutyunyan appointed Samvel Shakhramanyan, who served as Secretary of the Security Council, as Minister of State. “Before the parliament elects a president, the functions of the head of state will be performed by David Ishkhanyan, Speaker of the National Assembly,” announced the republic’s parliament.

Over the past week, eleven patients in need of emergency care were taken to the medical centres of Armenia along the Lachin Corridor with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). On August 30, ten trucks with humanitarian aid from France left Republic Square in Yerevan, but Azerbaijan did not allow the trucks to enter Nagorno-Karabakh. The French delegation has announced that part of the delivered products would be distributed to refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh, and part would remain in the trucks in the hope that the road would be open and the goods would be delivered.

On August 29, two heavy trucks with 40 tons of humanitarian aid were sent by the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society to Nagorno-Karabakh. The trucks reached a checkpoint of Russian peacekeepers and stopped waiting for permission to pass. Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh blocked the road from Agdam to Stepanakert to prevent the passage of those trucks. The protesters stated that if the Azerbaijani troops had not prevented the villagers from harvesting wheat by regular shelling attacks, then the flour shortage would not have arisen. The protestors spent the night of August 30 at the place of the action and declared their readiness not to let trucks with cargo from Azerbaijan through in the future as well.

On August 28, Azerbaijani law enforcers detained at the Lachin checkpoint three students Alen Sargsyan, Vage Ovsepyan, and Levon Grigoryan, football players of the Martuni “Avo” Football Club (FC), who were heading to Yerevan to study, being accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. On August 29, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan reported that a court in Azerbaijan had arrested them for ten days, and after serving their sentence, the students would be expelled from the country.

Impeachment proceedings against Zurabishvili

On September 1, the ruling “Georgian Dream” Party announced the start of impeachment proceedings against the Georgian president. Party members accused Salome Zurabishvili of violating the country’s Constitution by starting meetings with European leaders without the government’s consent. According to Irakli Kobakhidze, the leader of the “Georgian Dream” Party, impeachment requires the conclusion of the Constitutional Court, but it will confirm that the president has violated the Constitution of Georgia. However, opposition MPs have emphasized that the “Georgian Dream” Party does not have enough votes to impeach the president and that they refuse to cooperate with the ruling party on the issue, since they support European integration.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By September 3, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 2476 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1264 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1212 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 605 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 488, in the Rostov Region – 284, in North Ossetia – 206, in the Astrakhan Region – 188, in the Krasnodar Territory – 186, in Stavropol Territory – 165, in Chechnya – 128, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 98, in Ingushetia – 39, in Adygea – 34, in Kalmykia – 32, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 23.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 1, 2023 at 08:07 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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