15 August 2022, 19:39

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 8-14, 2022

Persecution of pacifists in the southern regions of Russia; explosion in a shopping centre in Yerevan; events in Georgia and South Ossetia on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the start of the “Five-Day War”; complaints about torture from convicts after an attack on prison warders in Kalmykia; completion of the construction of a road along the new route of the Lachin corridor, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 8-14, 2022, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Persecution of pacifists in southern regions of Russia

In Southern Russia, the persecution of residents who oppose the special military operation in Ukraine and related events continues.

So, on August 9, it became known that Alexei Kursakov, a resident of Rostov-on-Don, was fined 30,000 roubles after holding a solo pacifist picket in the city centre. On the same day, human rights defenders reported that Murat Kumykov, a resident of Nalchik, and Irina Slavkina, a resident of Prokhladny, were accused of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. On August 11, in Volgograd, a court fined street artist Philippenzo for the third time, finding him guilty of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. According to a street artist’s advocate, his client’s guilt has not been proven and an appeal will be fined against the court’s decision. On the same day, human rights defenders reported that the Leninsky District Court of Krasnodar received administrative cases on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces against Vladimir Ineshev, Karen Nagapetyan, and Alexei Nikitin. Earlier, Alexei Nikitin had been already fined 30,000 roubles under the above article. On August 13, it became known that in Rostov-on-Don, a court imposed a fine of 30,000 roubles on local resident Denis Sklyarenko, who, while talking to his colleagues, criticized the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. On the same day, human rights defenders reported that the Voroshilovsky District Court of Volgograd received 22 administrative cases under the article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces against local resident Vitaly Gotra. Earlier, the court considered 20 protocols on a public demonstration on leaflets of Nazi symbols and sentenced Vitaly Gotra to 10 days of arrest.

In the first half of 2022, in the Rostov Region, 37 people were prosecuted under new articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. The total amount of fines amounted to 1.165 million roubles, the regional department of the judicial department reported on August 13.

Explosion in a shopping centre in Yerevan

On August 14, an explosion took place in the “Surmalu” wholesale and retail trade centre in Yerevan. After the explosion in a fireworks warehouse, a strong fire broke out, and part of the building collapsed. By midnight, the bodies of three dead were found, under the ruins of the shopping centre, and the total number of victims exceeded 60 people. Eyewitnesses told the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent that there were a lot of people in the shopping centre when the explosion occurred. By 9:00 a.m. Moscow time on August 15, the number of victims of the explosion increased: six persons perished, and 16 people were included in the missing list.

Events in Georgia and South Ossetia on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the start of the “Five-Day War”

Residents of Georgia and South Ossetia paid tribute to the victims of the August 2008 events. On the eve of the 14th anniversary of the start of the “Five-Day War”, memorial services were held in the churches of South Ossetia. Besides, representatives of the authorities announced mourning events and the laying of flowers at memorials in the Znauri and Leningor Districts. On August 8, in Georgia, state flags were lowered at half mast on administrative buildings in memory of the victims of the “Five-Day War”. On the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the beginning of the armed conflict, memorial services were held in Georgian churches, and MPs proposed to name 15 streets in Tbilisi after the dead. In its statement timed to coincide with the 14th anniversary of the start of the “Five-Day War”, the Representative Office of the European Union in Georgia noted that Russia should refuse to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia and withdraw its troops from there.

Complaints about torture from convicts after an attack on prison warders in Kalmykia

On August 6, the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) reported about an attack by two prisoners on warders in a penal colony in Kalmykia, after which one of the warders died, and the second was hospitalized in severe condition. Besides, according to the investigators’ version, the prisoners entered a dormitory and wounded six other employees of the penal colony. On August 8, the human rights project “Gulagu.net” reported that more than 100 prisoners of the penal colony were beaten in connection with the murder of the employee of the penal colony. According to project manager Vladimir Osechkin, two prisoners who are accused of assaulting the prison staff were earlier subjected to torture. Advocate Aza Alieva visited Dagestani native Magomed Atimagomedov in a SIZO (pre-trial prison) and found him in a severe condition. According to the advocate, warders tortured him, severely beat and poured him with boiling water, forcing him to sign the necessary confession. Magomed Atimagomedov told the advocate that Daud Kuramagomedov, another suspect in the attack on the prison staff, was also subjected to torture and violence. Daud Kuramagomedov was badly beaten and is in a psychologically depressed state, but he received medical assistance only 10 minutes before the visit of his defender, advocate Snezhana Muntyan reported on August 12. According to her, a criminal case has been instituted against the employees of the penal colony on abuse of power.

Completion of the construction of a road along the new route of the Lachin corridor

On August 11, Azerbaijan announced the completion of the construction of a road to bypass Lachin. The motor way is ready for operation, the Azerbaijani State Highway Agency reports. Let us remind you that the conflict escalated amid the situation with the construction of the alternative road to the Lachin corridor, which was created by agreement signed by Ilham Aliev, Nikol Pashinyan, and Vladimir Putin. On August 5, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures of Nagorno-Karabakh met residents of the communities of Akhavno, Sous, and Berdzor and said that they were to leave their houses by August 25, since the Lachin corridor would be handed over to the Azerbaijani side. After that, the residents of the village of Akhavno opposed the resettlement and demanded to include the village in the zone of the new transport corridor, passing 1200 meters from the village. The residents also expressed their dissatisfaction with the requirement to be evacuated in a short time.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 15, 2022 at 09:45 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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