Law enforcers talk to the residents of the village of Kirants, May 2, 2024. Photo:Киранц/2269417

06 May 2024, 23:34

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 29-May 5, 2024

Attack on DPS checkpoint in Mara-Ayagy, protests in Georgia, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, march to Yerevan, 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 29-May 5, 2024, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Attack on DPS checkpoint in Mara-Ayagy

At night on April 29, a road police (known as GIBDD) checkpoint was attacked in the village of Mara-Ayagy. Attackers approached the police checkpoint in a car, threw an explosive device towards policemen, and opened fire. The policemen returned fire, and an explosive device which one of the attackers had attached to his body blew up. As a result, two employees of the Department for the Kurgan Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) were killed, and two employees of the road-and-patrol police service (known as DPS) of the MIA’s Department for Karachay-Cherkessia, a fighter of the Karachay-Cherkessian Department of the National Guard of Russia, and an employee of the MIA’s Department for the Kurgan Region were wounded. Five attackers were killed, and several homemade bombs were found at the scene.

Protests in Georgia

On April 29, the Legal Committee of the Georgian Parliament supported the draft law “On Transparency of Foreign Influence”. On April 30, Georgian MPs began discussing the draft law. Opponents of the law on foreign agents tried to block the parliament building, but the police pushed them back using tear gas. In the evening, the police again used tear gas and a water cannon against demonstrators. Law enforcers beat up the leader of the opposition “United National Movement” (UNM) Party and an opposition MP. The police reported that 63 people were detained during the protest action. Human rights defenders demanded to launch an investigation into attacks on protest participants and journalists.

On May 1, the Georgian parliament approved the draft law on foreign agents. The protesters occupied a significant part of Rustaveli Avenue. Several tens of thousands of people took part in the protest action. Poet Rati Amaglobeli called on the protestors not let the MPs who voted for the draft law on foreign agents to leave the parliament building. However, MPs from the “Georgian Dream” Party managed to leave the building. Some protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the passage of the draft law by knocking on the parliament gates and climbing them. Special forces fighters reinforced the gates and later fired tear gas. Law enforcers also used rubber bullets, the “Georgian News” agency reported.

The Georgian Ministry for Public Health reported the hospitalization of eight injured protesters. Later, their number increased to 15. One policeman also required medical assistance. Victims most commonly complained about headaches and sandpaper in the eyes.

In her address to the protesters, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has recalled that Holy Week is underway. The President has called on the participants of the protests to “stand peacefully on Rustaveli Avenue and show the world what Georgia is and what young people of Georgia are capable of.”

On May 3, a group of unidentified persons beat up opponents of the law on foreign agents who were blocking traffic on the road in Tbilisi. On the same day, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze refused his visit to the United States because Washington called the suspension of consideration of the law on foreign agents a condition, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) explained.

On May 4, in their appeal to Georgian diplomats, 60 non-profit organizations called on them to remain faithful to the European course and express their position on the law on foreign agents.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

In Kamyshin, a court imposed an administrative punishment on local resident Gairitin Sumanakov, accused of discrediting the Russian Army. According to the investigators’ version, in the period from May 9, 2022 to March 13 of this year, Gairitin Sumanakov posted several messages criticizing the Russian Armed Forces on his page on the “Odnoklassniki” social network. The man’s posts were discovered by law enforcers. Gairitin Sumanakov admitted his guilt and repented. The court fined the man 33,000 roubles.

March to Yerevan

On May 4, residents of the Tavush Region and supporting activists of the “Tavush for the Motherland” movement, together with Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, Primate of the Tavush Diocese, began a march from the border village of Kirants to Yerevan. The activists demand to stop the delimitation of the border with Azerbaijan. They intend to come to the capital of Armenia by noon on May 9. Students of the Armenian Conservatory joined the opponents of the border delimitation moving from the Tavush Region to Yerevan.

On April 19, the state commissions of Azerbaijan and Armenia approved the intention to agree on the border of the two countries in its northern section along the line at the time of the collapse of the USSR. After that, people began to protest in the border Tavush Region, and they were supported by residents of other regions. The reasons for the residents’ dissatisfaction were the transfer of territories to Azerbaijan, although experts see the preconditions for the situation in the way the border delimitation was made between the two countries after the collapse of the USSR.

On May 2, residents of the village of Kirants complained that they could not enter their village, since the police had completely cordoned it off while clearing the territory from mines. After negotiations, the police allowed villagers into Kirants, but left the village closed to other protesters. Law enforcers unblocked the roads to the Kirants village on May 3, after demining the areas had been completed there.

On April 30, 64 supporters of the “National Democratic Pole” opposition movement were detained in Yerevan on the charges of failure to obey lawful requests of the police. On April 27, in the Tavush Region, law enforcers tried to detain Djanibek Khachatryan, an operator of the “Newday” website, using force against him. The Union of Journalists of Armenia demanded to investigate the law enforcers’ actions.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By May 5, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 3887 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1922 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1965 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 841 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 738, in the Rostov Region – 424, in the Krasnodar Territory – 381, in Stavropol Territory – 356, in the Astrakhan Region – 299, in North Ossetia – 279, in Chechnya – 189, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 140, in Kalmykia – 70, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 59, in Ingushetia – 58, and in Adygea – 53.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on May 6, 2024 at 09:00 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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