06 December 2021, 20:47

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 29-December 5, 2021

Voting of MPs in Southern Russia for a bill on QR codes amid protests; death of 14 soldiers in a helicopter crash in Azerbaijan; dispersal of the protest action of Mikhail Saakashvili’s supporters in Tbilisi by the police, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 29-December 5, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Voting of MPs in Southern Russia for a bill on QR codes amid protests

In the increasing number of regions the authorities approve a bill on mandatory QR codes in public places and in transport. On November 30, the bill was supported by MPs of Kabardino-Balkaria, and on December 1, it was approved by members of the Volgograd Regional Duma. Activists gathered in front of the regional Duma building and called the restrictions a violation of the Nuremberg Code. On December 2, the parliament of Karachay-Cherkessia also supported the bill on QR codes. Earlier, amendments on mandatory QR codes in public institutions were adopted in other regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), including Dagestan and North Ossetia.

Local activists oppose QR codes. So, nine residents of Kalmykia recorded a video appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they called the introduction of QR codes a discrimination. On December 3, a resident of Prokhladny went to a picket, stating that he did not agree with the policy of the authorities and considered it a violation of the rights of citizens to require QR codes for visits to public places. Many residents of Kabardino-Balkaria have a negative attitude to QR codes, activists of social movements note.

Start of trial in case against Rauf Arashukov, senator from Karachay-Cherkessia 

On November 29, a court in Moscow began to consider a case against Raul and Rauf Arashukov. Rauf Arashukov, a former senator from Karachay-Cherkessia, and his father pleaded not guilty. According to the investigators’ version, the Arashukov son and father are involved in the murders of Aslan Zhukov, a deputy chair of the “Adyge-Khase” movement, and Fral Shebzukhov, an adviser to the leader of Karachay-Cherkessia, as well as the theft of gas for the amount of 3.8 billion roubles. The criminal proceedings were launched against the Arashukovs after their conflict with a patron, the head of one of the regions of Northern Caucasus, the “Caucasian Knot” was informed by its sources. Social media users considered the Arashukovs’ case typical for Russia and noted that the case was of interest as evidence of the crisis in the Russian law enforcement system.

Death of 14 border guards in a helicopter crash in Azerbaijan

On November 30, a Mi-17 military helicopter crashed during a training flight at the Garageybat aviation training ground in the Khizi District of Azerbaijan. As a result of the crash, 14 border guards were killed, and two others were injured. According to one of the versions, the crash could be caused by a pilot’s error and a technical problem.

Dispersal of protest action of Mikhail Saakashvili’s supporters in Tbilisi by police

On November 29, several hundred opposition supporters gathered in front of the Tbilisi court building, where former president Mikhail Saakashvili was brought as a defendant. The police used tear gas, and several of the victims addressed doctors for help. After the protesters decided to block the road several dozen meters from the courthouse, the police detained 15 protesters for disobedience. On December 1, four other participants of the protest action were detained in a criminal case on the use of violence against policemen. Let us remind you that after his return to Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili was arrested on October 1. The former president of Georgia went on a hunger strike in prison, which he did not stop until November 20, when he was transferred to a military hospital. After his return to Georgia, the politician was arrested, since he had been earlier sentenced in his homeland in absentia to imprisonment in two criminal cases. Mikhail Saakashvili was also charged with illegal crossing of the border, and other charges were also brought against him.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on December 6, 2021 at 01:30 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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