27 June 2022, 14:04

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 20-26, 2022

Echoes of Ukraine in Southern Russia: fire at the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery and persecution of pacifists; transfer of Zarema Musaeva’s case to a court in Grozny; end of the strike at the “Borjomi” factories, and protest action against the current authorities in Georgia; refusal of the initiator of the protest movement in Armenia to participate in street actions, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of June 20-26, 2022, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Echoes of Ukraine in Southern Russia: fire at the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery and persecution of pacifists

On June 22, the Governor of the Rostov Region reported that the operation of an oil refinery in Novoshakhtinsk was stopped after a fire and that fragments of two drones that arrived from the territory of Ukraine were found at the enterprise. After the first strike, a fire broke out at a vacuum unit, while the second strike did not lead to ignition, the press service of the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery reported. According to the rescuers’ report, no one was killed or injured as a result of the fire at the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, and the fire was extinguished. It should be noted that the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery was affiliated with the family of Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvechuk, who is under arrest in Kiev.

In Southern Russia, the persecution of residents who oppose the special military operation in Ukraine and related events continues. So, on June 22, pacifist activist Sergey Medvedev, a resident of Volgograd, complained about threats and pressure. According to the man, the inscription reading: “Death to traitors. Za!!! Peace” appeared on the door of his apartment. The activist also received threats by mail, and an author of the letter introduced himself as a law enforcer. On June 24, human rights defenders reported that a court in Maikop fined Ilya Yekimovsky, an employee of the Chamber Musical Theatre of Adygea, 35,000 roubles, finding him guilty of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces for a comment on the letter Z, the symbol of the special military operation in Ukraine, which Ilya Yekimovsky left under the news in one of the social media. Ilya Yekimovsky himself pleaded not guilty and stated that he opposed “using foreign letters in the Russian language” and that he had no intent to discredit the Russian Armed Forces.

On June 25, in Anapa, a court imposed a fine of 30,000 roubles on local resident Andrei Melnikov, finding him guilty of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces by posting a video on a social media outlet. On the same day, it was reported that Alexander Shestopalov, another resident of the Krasnodar Territory, was fined 30,000 roubles for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces after a conversation with a colleague at work. He was fined by the Pavlovsky District Court. The man was brought to court after talking with a colleague at work. The fined man suggested that his relative might perish during the special military operation in Ukraine. At the trial, four of the Alexander Shestopalov’s colleagues testified against him.

Transfer of Zarema Musaeva’s case to a court in Grozny

On June 20, the Grozny District Court received a criminal case against Zarema Musaeva, who is charged with fraud and assault on a law enforcer. Let us remind you that on January 20, Zarema Musaeva, a spouse of former federal judge Saidi Yangulbaev, was taken away by Chechen law enforcers from Nizhny Novgorod to Grozny and on February 1, the woman was accused of assaulting a law enforcer. Zarema Musaeva is under arrest, and on June 10, a court in Grozny prolonged her detention until July 12. On June 23, the Supreme Court (SC) of Chechnya dismissed the complaint against the decision on the prolongation of the Zarema Musaeva’s arrest.

End of strike at “Borjomi” factories, and protest action against current authorities in Georgia

During the past week, a strike by employees of the mineral water bottling factories in Borjomi ended in Georgia. On June 20, the management of the “Borjomi” Company verbally agreed with disgruntled employees to end the strike. On June 21, the strike was officially ended. The workers succeeded to achieve most of their demands, except for compensation for the period of the strike. The management of the “Borjomi” enterprise began to pay wages to the striking employees, and they resumed work, Giorgi Diasamidze, the chair of the Trade Union of Agricultural, Trade, and Industry Workers of Georgia, reported on June 25. Let us remind you that the strike of workers at two factories in Borjomi began on May 31. The strikers demanded better working conditions and the reinstatement of dismissed people.

Mass protests took place in Georgia, the participants of which supported Georgia’s accession to the European Union (EU) and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. On June 20, rallies were held in Tbilisi and Zugdidi. The protest action in Tbilisi under the slogan reading: “Home, to Europe” for Georgia’s European integration was organized by the “Shame” movement. The protest action was also attended by activists from local NGOs, members of various political parties, and students. According to different sources, the protest action gathered from 20,000 to 120,000 people. On June 24, another protest action “Home, to Europe” was held in Tbilisi, the participants of which came out in support of European integration. The action was attended by 60,000 to 80,000 people. They demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the formation of a government of national accord. The protesters gave the authorities a week to comply with the demands.

Refusal of initiator of protest movement in Armenia to participate in street actions

In Yerevan, the opposition continues protest action with the demand of the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation, launched on April 25 in connection with his statement about the possibility of “lowering the bar” on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. On June 20, participants of a march blamed the current authorities for the situation that led to the conflict with the shooting in the town of Nigavan, during which two persons were killed and five others were injured. According to the protestors, as long as Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan remains in power, such incidents will continue. The conflict in Nigavan occurred between supporters and opponents of Nikol Pashinyan, opposition MPs noted. On June 24, protesters in Yerevan accused the Nikol Pashinyan’s team of manipulating economic indicators and deceiving voters.

Meanwhile, on June 21, Arthur Vanetsyan, an initiator of the street protests, the leader of the “I Have the Honour” opposition faction, announced that he was ending his cooperation with the “Resistance” protest movement. Arthur Vanetsyan also renounced his parliamentary mandate and announced the withdrawal of his “Fatherland” Party from the parliament. According to local analysts, the Arthur Vanetsyan’s statements were the result of the failure of the protest movement in Yerevan, and the politician himself did not live up to the expectations of his political sponsors.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on June 27, 2022 at 09:30 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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