A shot-down drone, photo: press service of the Governor of the Rostov Region https://www.donland.ru/activity/8/

20 May 2024, 23:56

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 13-19, 2024

Chechnya: kidnappings of people, escape of a Chechen native, and resignation of Magomed Daudov, parliamentary elections in South Ossetia, Georgian “Russian” law, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, UAV attacks in the Caucasus, 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 13-19, 2024, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Chechnya: kidnappings of people, escape of Chechen native, and resignation of Magomed Daudov

On May 6, in Grozny, an unidentified person set fire to a car that belonged to a person reportedly affiliated with Adam Kadyrov, a son of Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya. The fact of the car owner’s affiliation with Adam Kadyrov is evidenced by a number with the inscription “DUSTUM”, one of the opposition Chechen channels reports. A resident of the Chechen capital has been detained on suspicion of arson. The man has surrendered himself after members of his family were kidnapped.

In the period from May 6 to May 14, at least 80 residents of Chechnya were kidnapped after the arson. In the village of Starye Atagi in the Urus-Martan District, about 50 members of the family of Sayf-Islam Elmurzaev, suspected of setting fire to the car, were kidnapped, and about 30 people were kidnapped in the Shalinsky District.

Relatives of Liya Zaurbekova, a 19-year-old native of Chechnya, who ran away from her family because of permanent pressure, found the girl in Moscow. On May 16, they surrounded the police department where the girl stayed, but the police promised to ensure Liya Zaurbekova’s safety. The girl herself stated in a video message that she fears reprisals from her relatives.

Adam Delimkhanov, a Russian State Duma member from Chechnya, announced that he was acting in the Liya Zaurbekova’s case on behalf of Ramzan Kadyrov. The Chechen official noted that the person who misled the girl “would be punished to the fullest extent of the law.” Liya Zaurbekova asked not to look for her and claimed that she feared a forced return to her family. Human rights defenders emphasized that physical and psychological violence in the family forced Liya Zaurbekova to escape. Russian State Duma member Shamsail Saraliev accused human rights defenders of inciting ethnic hatred, and Chechen Ombudsman Mansur Soltaev announced that he did not believe in the possibility of violence against girls in Chechen families.

On May 17, a lawyer of Liya Zaurbekova reported that the runaway girl had left the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, Magomed Daudov, the chair of the Chechen Parliament, announced the early termination of his powers after a meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov. Vice-Speaker of the Parliament Shaid Zhamaldaev was elected as the new chair of the Chechen Republic’s parliament. 

Ruslan Kutaev, the president of the Assembly of Caucasian Nations, suggested that resignation of Magomed Daudov does not mean a disgrace for him and he may expect significant changes, including a possible appointment to a federal-level position.

Parliamentary elections in South Ossetia

The Parliament of the Republic of South Ossetia is elected for a period of five years and consists of 34 seats, the official website of the South Ossetian Parliament reports. A citizen of the Republic of South Ossetia who has reached the age of 21 and has the right to participate in elections may be elected as a member of the republic’s parliament. A large number of parties that have announced their participation in the parliamentary elections will split the percentage of votes, but there are three main leaders, including the “People’s Party” led by Sergey Kharebov, the pro-presidential “Nykhas” Party led by Zita Besaeva, and the largest “United Ossetia” Party led by with Atsamaz Bibilov, notes political analyst Alan Sanakoev. In total, 270 people have been nominated as candidates to the parliament, and 185 were registered.

Georgian “Russian” law

On May 14, the parliament of Georgia adopted the draft law “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” amid protests from its opponents. The adoption of the draft law was supported by 84 MPs, while 30 MPs voted against it. On May 18, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced that she had vetoed the law. However, the parliamentary majority has enough votes to override a veto (at least 76 are required).

The United States expresses its indignation with the negative rhetoric of the Georgian authorities, and the country is ready to reconsider relationship with them, including restrictions, if the process of adopting the law on foreign agents goes forward out of conformity with EU norms and undermines democracy and uses violence against protesters, notes US Assistant Secretary of State James O’Brien. The US official emphasized that the United States planned to provide the Georgian authorities with the assistance package of 390 million US dollars. Half of them are military assistance, about a third is aimed at economic development, and the same amount is aimed at “building democratic institutions and civil society.” However, the US Assistant Secretary of State has emphasized that “if Georgia now regards the US as an adversary and not as a partner,” the issue of the assistance package would have to be “put under review.”

Street protests do not subside in Georgia, nor do arrests of participants and attacks on opponents of the law decrease. On May 18, students protesting against the law on foreign agents were attacked near the Tbilisi State University by a group of people. The attack involved supporters of the prime minister, the protestors complained.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

A court sentenced a woman from Taganrog to two years and six months of suspended imprisonment with a probationary period of two years. According to the investigators’ version, the defendant posted materials on the Internet discrediting the use of the Russian Armed Forces during the special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine. Moreover, in March 2023, the resident of Taganrog was already fined under the relevant administrative article.

Artyom Babin, a resident of Stavropol, was fined 30,000 roubles by a court’s decision. His pacifist post on a social network was recognized as discrediting the Russian Armed Forces.

The police drew up a report under the article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces against Pavel Prokudin, a blogger from Volgograd, who was arrested in a criminal case on inciting hatred towards Russian militaries.

UAV attacks in the Caucasus

On May 14, a fire occurred at the Kotluban railway station not far from Volgograd, and freight train cars derailed, the “RZhD” (Russian Railways) reported. The fire at the station occurred after a drone attack. A total of nine train cars derailed, the “Baza” Telegram channel reported with reference to its source.

On the other day, in the Rostov Region, as a result of a UAV attack, two explosions occurred on the territory of a fuel depot in the Proletarsky District.

The Russian militaries shot down drones that were attacking civilian targets in Novorossiysk, the Governor of Kuban announced on May 17. “The air defence forces suppressed more than ten drones. As a result of the fall of the devices, local fires occurred, which are now being eliminated. According to the preliminary information, there are no casualties,” the Governor of Kuban wrote in his Telegram channel. On the same day, two drones were shot down over Tuapse, and their falling fragments caused a fire at an oil refinery.

On May 19 at night, the air defence systems over the Krasnodar Territory destroyed 57 drones launched from Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported in its Telegram channel. Six drones fell on the territory of the refinery in Slavyansk-on-Kuban, and it suspended operation for an indefinite period.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By May 19, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 4020 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 2004 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 2016 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 893 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 749, in the Rostov Region – 431, in the Krasnodar Territory – 384, in Stavropol Territory – 376, in the Astrakhan Region – 317, in North Ossetia – 282, in Chechnya – 190, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 144, in Kalmykia – 78, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 59, in Ingushetia – 60, and in Adygea – 57.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on May 20, 2024 at 09:12 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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