The special military operation in Ukraine. Photo:

01 April 2024, 23:17

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 25-31, 2024

CTO in Dagestan, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, prisons for Azerbaijani oppositionists, news from 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 March 25-31, 2024, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

CTO in Dagestan

On March 31, the counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was announced in the Leninsky and Sovetsky Districts of Makhachkala and in Kaspiysk, bordering Makhachkala. According to the law enforcement bodies’ version, law enforcers got information about the whereabouts of armed people involved in terrorism, and FSB special forces blocked them at night in apartments in residential areas of Makhachkala and Kaspiysk. Residents of nearby residential buildings were evacuated.

The special operation confirmed the transition of the armed underground in the republic to the format of secret cells. Before the CTO in Makhachkala, carried out in May 2022, a similar special operation took place in Dagestan on September 10, 2021. Then, two persons were killed in the Buynaksky District not far from the village of Talgi. The suspects were identified as Urudj Ramazanov and Airuz Abdulaev.

Two of the three suspects – migrants from Tajikistan – were taken out of the rented apartment without resistance. In an apartment building in Kaspiysk, law enforcers evacuated residents of neighbouring apartments and had to use smoke bombs and break out windows in an apartment on the fifth floor to force a tenant to surrender. The “Kommersant” reports with reference to its source that all three detainees worked on construction sites in Makhachkala and Kaspiysk, while being simultaneously engaged in cryptocurrency transactions. The special operation took place as part of strengthening security after the terror act in the Moscow Region, announced Sergey Melikov, the leader of the republic.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

The Volzhsky City Court imposed a fine on local resident Vladimir Dronov, finding him guilty under the administrative article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. The reason for the persecution was an inscription made by the defendant on a Russian Army banner at a bus stop.

In Timashevsk, a court fined local resident Alexei Zaichenko 50,000 roubles, finding him guilty of discrediting the Russian Army with public statements at a polling station. It is alleged that Alexei Zaichenko came to the polling station and spoke in a negative way about one of the presidential candidates. The man also disseminated a recording of his statements on the Internet, thereby discrediting the Russian Armed Forces.

The Sovetsky District Court of Astrakhan considered an administrative case against local resident Ruslan Der about discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. The ruling released on the court’s official website states that Ruslan Der posted a pacifist appeal on a social network. The man explained that he had no intention to discredit the Russian Army, but simply outlined his pacifist position. The court did not listen to the defendant’s arguments and fined him 30,000 roubles.

The Chegemsky District Court of Kabardino-Balkaria pronounced a decision in an administrative case against Murat Kyagov, who “posted an entry on the Internet aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in order to protect the interests of the Russian Federation.” The court fined Murat Kyagov 30,000 roubles.

Yevgenia Opalich, a former teacher of the branch of the All-Russian State University of Justice, succeeded in seeking the cancellation of a fine amounting to 40,000 roubles. The protocol against Yevgenia Opalich was drawn up after she listed the signs of military aggression during her lecture on civil procedure. A complaint to the law enforcement bodies against Yevgenia Opalich was filed by her student. After the complaint, the teacher was dismissed from her position at the university, and more than a year after the lecture, the Central District Court of Sochi fined Yevgenia Opalich for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. However, the regional court cancelled the decision on the fine due to the statute of limitations, as the protocol was drawn up more than three months after the alleged offense.

Prisons for Azerbaijani oppositionists

On March 30, with the help of his relatives, Ulvi Gasanli, the director of the “Abzas Media”, released an appeal on social networks stating that he talked to a person arrested in the “Toplum TV” case in a waiting room of the Baku Court of Appeal (BCA). It turned out that during an interrogation, investigators told the above-mentioned person that Ulvi Gasanli had allegedly testified against him and had previously transferred money abroad. The director of the “Abzas Media” suggests that the investigators use him to persuade arrested “Toplum TV” employees to testify.

Journalist Shamo Eminov attempted to commit suicide at a SIZO (pre-trial prison) in Baku, his spouse reported. The Penitentiary Service denied the information about the prisoner’s attempted suicide. Opposition politician and economist Gubad Ibadoglu, arrested in Azerbaijan, rapidly loses his sight, but no effective medical care is being provided to him, claims Galib Bairamov, a brother of the political prisoner.

A court in Baku extended the arrest of former MP Nazim Beidemirli by a month, despite the defence’s arguments that no investigative actions are being carried out, an advocate reported. The health state of Nazim Beidemirli worsened due to ineffective medical care at the SIZO, his spouse claims. A court in Baku ignored reports about the deteriorating health state of Alesker Mamedli, a “Toplum TV” founder, and refused to transfer him to house arrest, an advocate reported. Any delays in medical examination for Alesker Mamedli is dangerous for his life, his brother and a human rights defender believe.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović expressed her deep concern at the “increasing repression faced by journalists in Azerbaijan.” Dunja Mijatović noted that “arrests and detentions are stifling freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.” “In recent months, the Azerbaijani authorities have intensified the crackdown on independent media, civil society, and activists who were manifesting dissenting opinions or critical views of the government,” stated the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Right.

News from Georgia

The chairman of the Georgian parliament signed the law on amendments to the Electoral Code, adopted by MPs despite the president’s veto and criticism from the opposition. In the previous version of the Electoral Code, the president was to create a commission to select candidates for the post of the head of the Central Election Commission, presenting the selected candidates to the parliament. The amendments transfer the above functions to the chairman of the parliament, and elections will be held by simple voting. The amendments to the Electoral Code deprived the opposition of control over the formation of the Central Election Commission (CEC), and thus, the ruling party’s ability to influence the election results increased, pointed out opposition MPs.

On March 28, the opposition submitted to the President of Georgia more than 150,000 signatures under a request to pardon Mikhail Saakashvili in order to show the authorities the scale of support for the former Georgian president.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By March 31, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 3659 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1802 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1857 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 798 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 713, in the Rostov Region – 408, in the Krasnodar Territory – 343, in Stavropol Territory – 315, in the Astrakhan Region – 282, in North Ossetia – 268, in Chechnya – 186, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 135, in Kalmykia – 61, in Ingushetia – 52, in Adygea – 50, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 48.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on April 1, 2024 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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