Lazar Grigoriadis (in the centre) in a courtroom. Photo: Newsgeorgia
 https://www.newsgeorgia.ge/sud-v-tbilisi-izbral-predvaritelnoe-zakljuchenie-dlja-uchastnika-martovskih-akcij/

15 April 2024, 23:57

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 8-14, 2024

CTO in Nalchik, drone attacks in the Caucasus, criminal case against journalist Marshenkulova, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, pardon for Lazar Grigoriadis, 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 April 8-14, 2024, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

CTO in Nalchik

On April 11, a counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was introduced in Nalchik and the Chereksky District. Special forces cordoned off several suspected militants. After offering to surrender, the suspects opened fire on the law enforcers. According to the report released by the National Antiterrorism Committee (NAC), the law enforcers shot and killed two suspected members of a grouping that was part of an international terrorist organization and was planning terror acts in Kabardino-Balkaria. The Investigating Department for Kabardino-Balkaria of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) reports that the killed suspects have been identified as local residents born in 1997 and 2004.

Residents of Volny Aul and other villages located not far from Nalchik said that they were awakened by submachine gun fire and explosions. Some people decided not to let their children go to school. In Kabardino-Balkaria, the CTO legal regime was introduced for the first time since July 3, 2021. Then the CTO was carried out in Nalchik and Baksan, and law enforcers killed five suspected militants.

Drone attacks in the Caucasus

Ten drones launched from the direction of Ukraine were shot down over the territory of the Krasnodar Territory, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on April 14. Russian militaries shot down four drones attacking Novoshakhtinsk at night, the Governor of the Rostov Region reported on April 12. On April 8, according to the press service for the regional governor, a drone fell in the village of Matveev Kurgan. The drone bore no explosive devices.

Criminal case against journalist Marshenkulova

On April 11, in Moscow, a court approved a search warrant in a case against Zalina Marshenkulova, a journalist from Kabardino-Balkaria, accused of justifying terrorism. By that time, law enforcers had already conducted a search in the journalist’s former Moscow apartment, where Zalina Marshenkulova had not lived for at least a year.

In her Telegram channel, Zalina Marshenkulova wrote that she felt “infinitely sad for Russia, for political prisoners, for wonderful people who were expelled from the country or imprisoned.” The journalist noted that the accusation of justifying terrorism brought against her greatly alarmed her family. The journalist’s relatives, including her son, mother, and 90-year-old grandmother, live in Russia.

In 2020, Zalina Marshenkulova appealed to the police with complaints about threats she received on behalf of the “For the Good of the Common People” community. Zalina Marshenkulova claims she began to receive threats on social networks after she wrote a post in support of actresses from a video recorded by the frontman of the “Rammstein” band. Then the police refused to investigate the threats against Zalina Marshenkulova.

Human rights defenders doubt the connection between the Zalina Marshenkulova’s case and the fight for women’s rights in which she was engaged in Kabardino-Balkaria. However, Katerina Neroznikova, a journalist and a former coordinator of the human rights group “Marem”, considers the Zalina Marshenkulova’s case a sign of “targeted harassment of fem activists.”

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

The Budyonnovsky City Court fined Azerbaijani citizen Nemat Mardanov 30,000 roubles. The reason for the fine was a pacifist video posted on the Internet by Nemat Mardanov in September 2023 during his stay in Turkey. Nemat Mardanov admitted his guilt.

Svetlana Khapisht, a resident of Adygea, was fined 30,000 roubles. The fine was imposed by the Teuchezhsky District Court. In January, Svetlana Khapisht “spoke in public using verbal discredit aimed at undermining the authority of the image and trust of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as the government bodies of the Russian Federation in the exercise of their powers to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens.”

The Central District Court of Sochi sentenced local resident Mikhail Rubtsov to a fine of 30,000 roubles. On his page on a social network, Mikhail Rubtsov posted an entry depicting the flags of Russia and Ukraine and a statement against the special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine.

A 74-year-old resident of Gelendzhik was charged under the criminal article for discrediting the Russian Army. According to the investigators’ version, in the period from December 2022 to March 2023, the man posted and reposted on his social network page the entries of other users with information discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. In October 2022, the man was brought to administrative responsibility for similar actions. He was detained and admitted his guilt.

Pardon for Lazar Grigoriadis

After a court had found Lazar Grigoriadis guilty in a case on attacking law enforcers and setting fire to a police service car, the President of Georgia announced that the man would be amnestied. On April 12, the Tbilisi City Court found Lazar Grigoriadis guilty of attacking the health of policemen and destroying state property and sentenced him to nine years of imprisonment.

“In good conscience, I considered that this young man could not be punished with nine years of imprisonment,” said Salome Zurabishvili as quoted by the “Pirveli” TV Channel.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By April 14, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 3746 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1839 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1907 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 815 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 721, in the Rostov Region – 411, in the Krasnodar Territory – 356, in Stavropol Territory – 323, in the Astrakhan Region – 298, in North Ossetia – 270, in Chechnya – 188, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 139, in Kalmykia – 68, in Ingushetia – 56, in Adygea – 53, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 48.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on April 15, 2024 at 09:20 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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