11 April 2022, 15:30

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 4-10, 2022

Echoes of the situation in Ukraine in Southern Russia: the arrival of refugees, the death of militaries, the persecution of pacifists; consideration of the appeal filed by the HRC “Memorial”* in the case on its liquidation; talks between Ilham Aliev and Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of April 4-10, 2022, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Presidential election in South Ossetia

On April 10, South Ossetia held the voting in the presidential election. Five persons were registered as candidates, including incumbent President Anatoly Bibilov, Alan Gagloev, the leader of the “Nykhas’ Party, former MP Dmitry Tasoev, MP Garry Muldarov, and Alexander Pliev, the deputy speaker of the parliament, a member of the “People’s Party”. Other 12 candidates were denied registration, including former Defence Minister Ibragim Gasseev and MP David Sanakoev, who were considered real contenders for the presidency. Residents of Tskhinvali, interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”, said that they expected the new leader to develop South Ossetia, in particular, to eradicate unemployment.

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the turnout reached 82.07%. The opposition announced the second round and declared its support for leading candidate Alan Gagloev.

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) called the presidential election in South Ossetia illegal. Let us remind you that Georgia considers Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be territories occupied by Russia.

Echoes of situation in Ukraine in Southern Russia: arrival of refugees, death of militaries, persecution of pacifists

Refugees continue to arrive from the zone of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. Only on April 9, more than 13,500 residents of Donbass arrived in the Rostov Region. Some of the refugees stay in the city of Krasny Sulin. Employees of the city administration have to work without breaks and days off to fill out documents for those who came from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR, respectively). The number of refugees who arrived in Russia from Donbass exceeded 700,000.

Every day, the authorities of the regions of the Russian Federation report about compatriot militaries perished in Ukraine. By April 11, basing on the official information, the “Caucasian Knot” counted 194 perished natives of Southern Russia.

Activists hold protests against the special military operation in the form of solo pickets. On April 9, the court fined Yana Berezina, a resident of Volgograd, for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. The woman was detained on April 7 while she was placing leaflets. On April 8, an advocate of the Kuban journalist Alexander Nozdrinov reported that his client was beaten during the detention and arrested in a case on failure to obey the police and then in a case on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. A friend and a wife of Alexander Nozdrinov associate the persecution of the journalist with his civic position.

The number of residents of Southern Russia, detained under the article about discrediting the Russian army because of posts in social media, is growing. According to the information of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), only in the Rostov Region alone, 13 persons have been fined since the beginning of March.

Consideration of appeal filed by HRC “Memorial”* in case on its liquidation

On April 5, the First Court of Appeal in Moscow held a hearing on a complaint filed about the decision to liquidate the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Memorial”*. The judge did not grant the request of the defence to suspend the liquidation of the HRC “Memorial”* until the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on the complaint about the law on foreign agents. Let us remind you that on December 29, 2021, the Moscow City Court pronounced a decision to liquidate the HRC “Memorial”* at the lawsuit filed by the prosecutor’s office, which stated that the NGO allegedly justified extremism and terrorism. The HRC is starting the liquidation process, human rights defender Oleg Orlov notes. Lawyers of the HRC “Memorial”* will continue to work on complaints to the ECtHR that have already been filed, reports Anna Dobrovolskaya, Executive Director of HRC “Memorial”*. Earlier, human rights defenders and journalists pointed out that the closure of the HRC “Memorial”* would cause serious damage to the protection of human rights in Northern Caucasus.

Talks between Ilham Aliev and Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels

On April 6, a meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan took place in Brussels. They agreed to set up a border delimitation commission by late April and begin drafting a peace agreement. On March 31, Ilham Aliev announced that Baku had submitted to Yerevan the proposals with five principles for normalizing relations between the countries. Nikol Pashinyan declared that Armenia was ready to begin peace talks immediately, and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan pointed to the lack of guarantees of rights and freedoms for Karabakh Armenians in the Baku’s proposals. On the eve of the meeting between Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliev, a rally was held in Yerevan demanding to recognize the independence of Karabakh.

The meeting in Brussels was an attempt to avoid an escalation of the conflict, but the agreements reached do not guarantee an end to provocations on the border, Armenian analysts emphasize. The work of the border delimitation commission minimizes the risks of military clashes, and clarification of the borders will open up the possibility of unblocking transport communications, their colleagues in Baku note.

* The organization is included by the Russian Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in the register of NCOs performing the functions of a foreign agent.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on April 11, 2022 at 09:40 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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