31 August 2020, 13:54

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 24-30, 2020

Spread of the coronavirus infection in the Caucasus; unrest in Tskhinvali after the detainee's death; capture of an Armenian officer in Azerbaijan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 24-30, 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. By August 30, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Armenia reached 43,750, in Azerbaijan – 36,309, in Georgia – 1469, in Nagorno-Karabakh – 287, in South Ossetia – 90, and in Abkhazia – 315. Armenia registered 877 deaths from COVID-19, Azerbaijan – 531, Georgia – 19, Abkhazia – 4, and Nagorno-Karabakh – 2.

In regions of Southern Russia, the number of coronavirus-infected patients reached 98,982. Over the past week, the Rostov Region, where 16,799 cases were registered, still leads in the number of coronavirus-infected patients. The Volgograd Region took the second place with 12,030 cases of the coronavirus infection, and the Stavropol Territory – the third place with 11,857 cases. In the Krasnodar Territory, 11,121 patients were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, in Dagestan – 10,928, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 6488, in the Astrakhan Region – 5658, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 5066, in North Ossetia – 4901, in Ingushetia – 4368, in Kalmykia – 4137, in Adygea – 3364, and in Chechnya – 2265.

Over the week, the coronavirus death toll also increased to 1789. During the week, according to the sad death toll statistics, Dagestan still leads in the region: the republic has already registered 495 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The republic is followed by the Rostov Region where 348 COVID-19 deaths have been already registered, and the Stavropol Territory with 233 COVID-19 deaths stays at the third place in the sad death toll statistics. In the Krasnodar Territory, 177 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus infection died, in the Volgograd Region – 97, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 77, in Ingushetia – 76, in North Ossetia – 67, in the Astrakhan Region – 72, in Kalmykia – 56, in Chechnya – 38, in Adygea– 27, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 26.

Unrest in South Ossetia after detainee's death

On August 28, in Tskhinvali, several hundred residents gathered in front of the South-Ossetian government building with the demand of the government's resignation. The protesters took to the square after photos of Inal Djabiev with signs of beatings appeared on the Internet. The man was detained in a case on the assassination attempt on Igor Naniev, the Minister of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia. Later, the detainee died. Relatives of Inal Djabiev believe he was tortured. The protesters also demanded the resignation of the leader of South Ossetia. Anatoly Bibilov, President of South Ossetia, accepted the resignation of Erik Pukhaev, the chairman of the South-Ossetian government. Igor Naniev was deprived of his official powers, and the parliament announced a vote of no confidence in General Prosecutor Uruzmag Djagaev. Furthermore, eight employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) were detained. On August 29, sources reported about brutal beating of two other detainees in the above case. As a result of the beating, Nikolai Tskhovrebov is not able to walk, and Gennady Kulaev was tortured with electric current.

Capture of Armenian officer in Azerbaijan

On August 23, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Azerbaijan reported about a clash with a sabotage reconnaissance group in the Karabakh conflict zone and a capture of an Armenian officer. According to the Armenian side, Gurgen Alaverdyan was not a saboteur, but he lost his way because of bad weather. The Armenian officer was accused of espionage and aggressive warfare. The State Security Service of Azerbaijan made public a video appeal from Gurgen Alaverdyan, in which the Armenian officer claimed that he had been sent for sabotage, that he repented of his deed, and that he "wanted to serve Azerbaijan." The Armenian officer was forced to read out the prepared text, experts in Yerevan suggested. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Armenia regarded the actions of Azerbaijan as a violation of the war prisoner's rights. Azerbaijani political analysts did not rule out that Baku would exchange Gurgen Alaverdyan and three other residents of Armenia for citizens of Azerbaijan kept in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. However, the exchange of prisoners on the principle of "all for all" is being hindered by Armenia's demand to involve the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh in the negotiations, which is unacceptable for Azerbaijan, the Baku political analysts believe. The Armenian side claims that the exchange of Azerbaijani citizens sentenced in Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenian prisoners of war is not possible, since such an exchange would pose a threat to the security of residents of border villages.

CTO, car bombing, and conflict of teips (family clans) in Ingushetia

On August 26, a counterterrorist operation (CTO) was carried out in the village of Ali-Yurt in the Nazran District. A suspected militant activated an explosive device and was killed in an explosion. Another suspect fled. The CTO became the sixth special operation carried out in Ingushetia since the early 2020. Experts associate the growth in the militant activity with the spread of the ideology of radicalism in the Russian Federation.

On the same day, a car was blown up in Nazran. There were no people in the car. According to a source, an owner of the exploded car was sentenced in a case on bombing of law enforcers' cars.

On August 26, another incident took place in the village of Sunzha. During the conflict, nine of its participants were injured, and later, three others got injuries in the course of a fight. When the victims were taken to a hospital, hundreds of people gathered around the building. To prevent another clash, law enforcers were firing into the air. According to sources, the conflict was provoked by a dispute over the vacancy of the village administration head. However, the deputy head of the Sunzha District claimed the incident was caused by a quarrel between a rural official and a security guard dismissed by the official several months ago.

Fire in "Utrish" natural reserve in Kuban

On August 24, a forest floor caught fire between the villages of Bolshoi and Maly Utrish in Anapa in the Krasnodar Territory. The fire spread to the "Utrish" natural reserve. On August 25, the number of tourists evacuated from the reserve reached 1000. According to tourists, they had to pay for their evacuation. Volunteers suggest the fire was caused by arson. According to local ecologists, the arson may be related to an attempt to build a "fitness centre" in the territory of the natural reserve. The access to the "Utrish" natural reserve should be closed for visitors, announces Veniamin Kondratiev, Governor of the Krasnodar Territory.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 31, 2020 at 09:14 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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