04 April 2022, 14:06

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 28-April 3, 2022

Arrival of refugees in the Rostov Region and the death of military personnel from Southern Russia in Ukraine; trial in a case of fighters of the National Guard of Russia dismissed for refusing to go to Ukraine, and the persecution of pacifists; beginning of Ramadan; Bibilov’s statement on plans on joining South Ossetia and Russia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of March 28-April 3, 2022, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Arrival of refugees in Rostov Region and death of military personnel from Southern Russia in Ukraine

Refugees continue to arrive from the zone of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, launched on February 24. Over 13,000 residents of Donbass arrived in the Rostov Region in just one day on April 2. The Rostov Region arranged about 300 temporary accommodation centres (TACs) with food and medical care, from where refugees are being sent to other regions. Meanwhile, refugees from Donbass who arrive in the Rostov Region complain that they have to wait in several queues in order to receive financial aid.

Almost every day, the authorities of regions, districts, and cities report about compatriot militaries killed in Ukraine. The “Caucasian Knot” runs a list with names of natives of Southern Russia who perished in Ukraine. The list has been based on the data officially confirmed by the authorities. By April 4, the information about at least 172 perished natives of Southern Russia was officially confirmed. Of them, 123 perished militaries were natives of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), including 66 residents of Dagestan.

Trial in case of fighters of National Guard of Russia dismissed for refusing to go to Ukraine, and persecution of pacifists

On March 29, the Prikubansky District Court of Krasnodar held a preliminary hearing on a lawsuit of the fighters of the National Guard of Russia who challenged their dismissal, which followed their refusal to participate in the special military operation in Ukraine. Let us remind you that on February 25, Police Captain Farid Chitav, a platoon commander of the OMON (riot police) squadron of the National Guard of Russia, and eleven fighters from his squadron, who had been in Crimea on military exercises since February 6, refused to obey the order of the detachment commander to cross the border between Russia and Ukraine. The fighters were returned to Krasnodar, subjected to an internal check, and dismissed. The fighters of the National Guard of Russia considered their dismissal illegal and filed a lawsuit for reinstatement in the service. On March 29, Farid Chitav himself and eight other fighters abandoned the lawsuit. Only three fighters of the National Guard of Russia, including Vladislav Astashev, Andrei Barbakov, and Viktor Gusarov, supported the claims. At the court hearing held on March 29, the Prikubansky District Court of Krasnodar requested the Department of the National Guard of Russia to submit the materials of internal checks in relation to the plaintiffs. At the same time, at a request of the representative of the National Guard of Russia, the Prikubansky District Court of Krasnodar sent the case to the Krasnodar Territorial Court. According to the Prikubansky District Court of Krasnodar, during the consideration of the case, the information containing state secrets would be submitted to court, namely, the information about the movement and deployment of troops during the special military operation. Mikhail Benyash, an advocate of the fighters of the National Guard of Russia, considered those arguments unconvincing and promised to file an appeal against the court’s decision.

In Russia, including in the southern regions of the country, activists regularly hold protest actions against the special military operation in Ukraine. The police detain participants of those protest actions. So, on April 2, Dmitry Pepenko and Artyom Shlenov, who went out on solo pickets, were detained in Krasnodar, and the police drew up against them the protocols on discreditation of the armed forces. On April 2, it was also reported that the court fined Tatiana Zabolotnaya, a resident of Krasnodar, 10,000 roubles for participating in a picket against the special military operation in Ukraine. On April 3, Sergei Tkachyov, a participant of a pacifist action in Volgograd, reported about a search. Vyacheslav Koshelev, a resident of Volzhsky, reported that he was detained and beaten after walking around the city wearing a T-shirt and a cap with Ukrainian symbols. A court fined him for disorderly conduct.

Beginning of Ramadan

The Spiritual Administration of Muslims (SAM) of Russia announced the onset of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 1 this year. The Muftiates of Dagestan, Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria, and North Ossetia announced the beginning of Ramadan on April 2. Believers in Northern Caucasus started the holy month of Ramadan with collective prayers. On the first day of Ramadan, the village of Koshekhabl in Adygea opened a mosque, able to accommodate about a thousand believers. The regions of Russia mark the holy month of fasting with various cultural and sports events, as well as charity events. In their congratulations, leaders of the North-Caucasian republics mentioned the difficult situation in the world. Let us remind you that during Ramadan, Muslims must refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. The holy month of Ramadan ends with the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Bibilov’s statement on plans on joining South Ossetia and Russia

On March 30, South-Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov stated that the partially recognized republic would soon take legal steps to join Russia. The statement was made amid preparations for the presidential election, scheduled for April 10. On the other day, Anatoly Bibilov announced that South Ossetia could become part of Russia as a separate entity and then unite with North Ossetia. Journalists and bloggers from South and North Ossetia interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” noted that before the election, President Anatoly Bibilov again decided to play the card of joining Russia, which helped him win the previous election. According to the analysts’ version, joining Russia will not improve the economy of South Ossetia, which already lives on Russian subsidies. It should be noted that during the 2006 referendum, residents of South Ossetia supported the preservation of the status of an independent state.

The referendum in South Ossetia on joining Russia will not have legal force, emphasizes David Zalkaliani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. Georgian analysts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” point out that Moscow can use the Anatoly Bibilov’s proposal as a tool to put pressure on Georgia, and the international community should respond to the situation.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on April 4, 2022 at 08:50 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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