06 June 2022, 14:59

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 30-June 5, 2022

Persecution of pacifists in Southern Russia; protests in Armenia with a large number of victims; suspension of preparations for a referendum on the integration of South Ossetia with Russia; strike of employees at the “Borjomi” plants in Georgia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of May 30-June 5, 2022, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Persecution of pacifists in Southern Russia

In Southern Russia, the persecution of residents who oppose the special military operation in Ukraine and related events continues. So, on May 28, two protocols at once were drawn up against Daria Vilkova, a resident of Krasnodar, for her pacifist posts publications – the activist was accused of discrediting the Russian armed forces and posting Nazi symbols. On May 30, a court in the capital of Kalmykia fined Oleg Otkhonov for reposting a pacifist video message from journalist and human rights defender Valery Badmaev. On June 1, a court sentenced local resident Olga Olkhova to a fine for discrediting the Russian armed forces because of her post on a social media outlet. Olga Olkhova pleaded not guilty, as the page in which the post is written does not belong to her, the defence says. On the same day, a court in the Rostov Region fined a local resident, recognising his posts on the “VKontakte” social media outlet and the Telegram messenger as discrediting the Russian armed forces, and a court in Krasnodar fined activist Marina Zakharchenko, considering her pacifist posted on Instagram* to be discrediting the Russian armed forces.

On June 2, in Volgograd, the police drew two protocols against street artist Philip Kozlov, known under the pseudonym Philippenzo, under the article on discrediting the Russian armed forces. The street artist himself suggested that the protocols were related to his pacifist posts on the “VKontakte” social media outlet. On June 4, a resident of Khasavyurt was taken to a police station after he went to the “Hill of Glory” memorial with a pacifist poster in his hands. On the same day, in Sochi, the police stopped a pacifist picket held by Anastasia Vasieva.

Protests in Armenia with a large number of victims

In Yerevan, the opposition continues holding protest actions with the demand of the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, launched on April 25 in connection with the Nikol Pashinyan’s statement about the possibility of “lowering the bar” on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The protest actions are accompanied by mass detentions. So, on May 30, the police reported about 111 detainees for disorderly conduct. On June 3, the opposition initiated a parliamentary meeting, which was supposed to discuss the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. MPs from the “Civil Contract” faction did not come to the parliament meeting, and the protesters went to the government building for explanations. Clashes occurred between the police and the protestors, in which 39 policemen and 21 activists were injured. According to the opposition’s version, such a large number of victims could be caused by the use of stun grenades with an expired shelf life. Investigators reported about the detention of 13 people in the case on mass riots. On June 4, protesters in Yerevan stated that the clashes were provoked by the law enforcers, acting on the instructions of the authorities, who feared of possible revenge for betraying national interests. The police and protesters must refrain from using violence, the Ombudsperson emphasizes.

Suspension of preparations for a referendum on integration of South Ossetia with Russia

On May 30, a week after taking office, Alan Gagloev, President of South Ossetia, suspended the decree of his predecessor Anatoly Bibilov on calling a referendum on the republic’s accession to Russia until consultations with Moscow were completed. Earlier, Alan Gagloev said that the wording of the referendum raises questions. According to analysts, such actions by the new president pointed to his attempt to cancel the referendum. On May 31, Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the Anatoly Bibilov’s initiative had not been coordinated with the Kremlin. Russian political analysts argued about Moscow’s position on the referendum issue. The initiative of the former South-Ossetian president was agreed with the Kremlin, but then he abandoned his step so as not to aggravate the international situation, Dmitry Oreshkin believes. The announcement of the referendum was unexpected for Russia and sounded not at the right time, Andrey Kolesnikov suggests.

Strike of employees at “Borjomi” plants in Georgia

On May 31, workers of two mineral water bottling plants in Borjomi went on strike. The strikers demand to punish those guilty of blackmail and threats against workers, improve working conditions, and reinstate the dismissed people. The reason for the strike became labour contracts with worse conditions, which the “IDS Borjomi Georgia” Company offered to employees of enterprises after the suspension of plants. On June 3, the strikers did not allow to the plant the trailers arriving to take out finished products. The workers recorded an appeal to Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili with a request to protect their rights. The “IDS Borjomi Georgia” Company announced the suspension of work starting from April 29 after it faced restricted access to its bank accounts due to the connection of its owners with Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman, who was sanctioned because of the situation in Ukraine.

* On March 21, the Tverskoi Court of Moscow banned the activities in Russia of the Meta Company, owning Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, in connection with extremist activities.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on June 6, 2022 at 09:50 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Source: Caucasian Knot

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