03 August 2020, 14:59

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 27-August 2, 2020

Spread of the coronavirus infection in the Caucasus; celebration of Eid al-Adha amid the pandemic; opening of the border between Russia and Abkhazia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 27-August 2, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Spread of coronavirus infection in Caucasus

Over the past week, Armenia still leads in Southern Caucasus in both the number of coronavirus-infected patients and the COVID-19 death toll. Meanwhile, for the third week in a row, Azerbaijan stays at the first place in terms of an increase in the number of coronavirus-infected patients. By August 2, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Armenia reached 39,050, in Azerbaijan – 32,433, in Georgia – 1177, in Nagorno-Karabakh – 239, in South Ossetia – 89, and in Abkhazia – 98. Armenia registered 754 deaths from COVID-19, Azerbaijan – 462, Georgia – 17, Abkhazia – 3, and Nagorno-Karabakh – 1.

The number of coronavirus-infected patients also increased in regions of Southern Russia, and by August 2, it reached 79,775. Over the week, the Rostov Region still leads in the number of coronavirus-infected patients, where 13,205 cases were registered. Dagestan still stays at the second place with 9350 coronavirus-infected patients. The Volgograd Region remains on the third place with 9328 coronavirus-infected patients. In the Krasnodar Territory, 8472 patients were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, in the Stavropol Territory – 8449, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 6008, in the Astrakhan Region – 4657, in North Ossetia – 4568, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 4465, in Ingushetia – 3729, in Adygea – 2803, in Kalmykia – 2659, and in Chechnya – 2082.

Over the week, the coronavirus death toll also increased up to 1393. During the week, according to the sad death toll statistics, Dagestan still leads in the region: the republic has already registered 445 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Dagestan is followed by the Rostov Region where 233 COVID-19 deaths have been already registered, and the Stavropol Territory with 161 COVID-19 deaths stays at the third place in the sad death toll statistics. In the Krasnodar Territory, 116 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus infection died, in Ingushetia – 74, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 70, in North Ossetia – 67, in the Volgograd Region – 64, in the Astrakhan Region – 49, in Kalmykia – 38, in Chechnya – 33, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 23, and in Adygea – 20.

In Southern Russia, the regional authorities extend restrictions imposed because of the spread of the coronavirus infection, but allow certain types of activities. So, on August 1, the Stavropol Territory opened sports centres. Starting from July 30, Chechnya tightens the mask regime and control over the compliance with sanitary measures in public places.

Celebration of Eid al-Adha amid pandemic

On July 31, in Southern Russia and the countries of Southern Caucasus, Muslims began to celebrate the sacrifice holiday of Eid al-Adha. This is one of the two main Muslim holidays. It is celebrated 70 days after the Eid al-Fitr holiday and falls on the tenth day of the month of Zu al-Hijjah, which marks the end of the Hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca. This year, because of the spread of the coronavirus infection, the Hajj takes place without guests from other countries, including pilgrims from Northern Caucasus.

The Muftiate of Adygea and Krasnodar Territory cancelled collective prayers in mosques. Chechnya, Dagestan, the Stavropol Territory, and Kabardino-Balkaria recommend compliance in mosques with social distancing and mask regime. However, not all believers fulfilled those requirements. Some residents of Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Chechnya could not buy meat on the Eid al-Adha holiday because of financial difficulties amid the quarantine regime, since prices for meat increased significantly. In Azerbaijan, the restrictions imposed during the pandemic also affected the celebration of Eid al-Adha. The festive prayer was cancelled in mosques of Azerbaijan.

Opening of border between Russia and Abkhazia

On August 1, Russia opened the border with Abkhazia, which had been closed during several months. Over 24 hours, more than 5000 people arrived from Russia to Abkhazia, while more than 2500 people crossed the border in the opposite direction, the Sochi Customs Office reported. To receive tourists after the opening of the border, hotels were obliged to comply with the requirements imposed by the "Rospotrebnadzor" (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare). However, in Abkhazia, hotels found the above requirements unaffordable, and owners of guest houses refused to comply with them.

Cancellation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's death sentence in USA

On July 31, the US Court of Appeal threw out the death sentence to Chechen native Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found guilty of committing a terror act in Boston. On April 15, 2013, in Boston, an explosion killed three persons and injured 180 others. According to the US secret services, the terror act was organized by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during his detention. The verdict to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was cancelled because of the possible biased attitude of jurors, who were selected at the scene of the terror act in Boston. Meanwhile, the defence did not challenge the grounds for life imprisonment. The revision of the verdict to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev caused a resonance in Chechen public accounts on Instagram. Residents of Chechnya believe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had not been involved in the commitment of the Boston terror act.

Determination of candidates for post of Kuban governor

On September 13, five persons submitted documents to participate in the election of the Governor of the Krasnodar Territory. According to the regional election commission, the candidates are Alexander Safronov from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), Ivan Tutushkin from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Oleg Lugin from the "Party of Growth", Denis Khmelevsky from the "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" (Fair Russia) Party, and Veniamin Kondratiev from the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party. In the Krasnodar Territory, local residents claim they do not hope for an improvement in their living conditions in connection with the election of the new governor, because they believe that the result of the voting has been already predetermined and Veniamin Kondratiev, the incumbent Governor of the Krasnodar Territory, has no strong rivals.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 3, 2020 at 09:05 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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