14 August 2023, 23:12
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 7-13, 2023
Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, tragedy in Georgia, persecution of opposition in Azerbaijan, and official data on the natives of Southern Russia who perished in Ukraine, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 7-13, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.
Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia
The Supreme Court (SC) of Adygea upheld the verdict against Victoria Goncharova in a case on involvement in the “Right Sector”* organization and dissemination of false information about Russian militaries.
According to the investigators’ version, Victoria Goncharova participated in a Ukrainian organization recognized as extremist and banned in Russia, as she supports nationalist ideology and was interested in events in Ukraine. Investigators also believe that Victoria Goncharova demonstrated on social media the symbols of Ukrainian organizations banned in Russia and promoted extremist ideology among her acquaintances.
In the Krasnodar Territory, the Kropotkinsky City Court found local resident Yuri Kobelev guilty and sentenced him to a fine of 30,000 roubles. The Lazarevsky District Court of Sochi fined local resident Yulia Deineka. Vasily Samonin, another resident of Sochi, was fined on the charge of extremist shouting and failure to obey the police.
The Seversky District Court of Kuban found MP Sergey Detochkin guilty of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and fined him 30,000 roubles. In Southern Russia, this is the first publicly known case of involving an MP to liability under the article about discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. According to the protocol, a complaint against Sergey Detochkin was written by officials of the local administration.
In the Volgodonsk District of the Rostov Region, a court fined local resident Nikolai Zakroev after recognizing that the slogans in support of Ukraine, which he shouted during a motor rally, discredited the Russian Armed Forces. In Krasnodar, a court found local resident Denis Kulygin guilty of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and fined him.
Last week, the Zelenchuksky District Court of Karachay-Cherkessia received a case against Yulia Yurchenko, who was charged under the administrative article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. In Volgograd, the police drew up a protocol on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces against local resident Denis Volkov. A protocol under the article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces was also drawn up against Krasnodar residents Maria Kostenko and Vladimir Skalsky.
Blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh
On August 8, the Ministry for Public Health of Nagorno-Karabakh announced an increase in mortality and morbidity. “Due to the fact that the only road (Lachin Corridor) connecting Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) with Armenia has been blocked by Azerbaijan for eight months, there is an acute shortage of medicines and food, people are under constant stress,” stated the unrecognized republic’s Ministry for Public Health.
The Ministry of Finance of Nagorno-Karabakh called on local residents not to cash out money without the need and keep it in their bank accounts. The blockade created a shortage of cash, which could lead to a problem with the payments of pensions and benefits, explained the unrecognized republic’s Ministry of Finance. On August 9, women of Nagorno-Karabakh reported problems with feeding newborns due to a shortage of baby food. In connection with the blockade, the number of cases of avitaminosis among children has increased several times, report the authorities of the unrecognized republic.
On August 7, Adam Schiff, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, emphasized the urgency of lifting the blockade of the Lachin Corridor. Mr Schiff concluded that the United States should recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh and resist ethnic cleansing and threats of genocide. Earlier, Mr Schiff has called on the administration of US President Joe Biden, the US Department of State, and colleagues “to suspend military assistance to Azerbaijan and apply sanctions to all those responsible for the crisis in Artsakh.”
On August 10, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), pointed out that the deliberate creation of conditions for the physical destruction of a group of people is consistent with the definition of genocide.
On August 9, a truck with humanitarian aid from France arrived in Kornidzor where other 21 trucks with food products and essentials are waiting to pass to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Tragedy in Georgia
During the search and rescue operation held after a landslide had occurred in Shovi, the bodies of 24 people were found. Rescuers are searching for other nine missing people.
On August 3, a landslide hit the terrain near the “Sunset Shove” Hotel. It covered most of the territory of the Shovi resort, and 210 people were evacuated.
The landslide became the result of several natural factors at once, including difficult terrain and the melting of glaciers caused by high temperatures, announces the Georgian National Environment Agency. It is “virtually impossible” to predict such events.
The opposition demanded to find the officials responsible for the deaths of people. Human rights defenders note that the emergency early warning system created by the authorities of Georgia failed to help predict the landslide, and a rescue helicopter arrived at the scene several hours after the incident.
Persecution of opposition in Azerbaijan
On August 11, in Baku, the police detained Aikhan Israfilov, a member of the board of the Azerbaijani trade unions’ confederation under the “Democracy 1918” movement. The activist was arrested for four months on the charge of drug trafficking. Colleagues of Aikhan Israfilov believe that the case was fabricated as revenge for his trade union activities.
The Baku Court of Appeal considered the complaint against the arrest of Elvin Mustafaev, another activist, and dismissed it. A case on non-repayment of a bank loan has been opened against Orkhan Zeinalov, another member of the Azerbaijani trade unions’ confederation.
On August 7, the Baku Court of Appeal did not grant a complaint filed by the defence against the refusal to transfer opposition politician Gubad Ibadoglu from a SIZO (pre-trial prison) to house arrest. The 52-year-old leader of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party has been under arrest since July 23, he is accused of making counterfeit money. Economist Fazil Gasymov was also involved in the case. He was detained in Turkey and brought to Azerbaijan.
The condition of oppositionist Samir Ashurov, who was arrested in Baku on the charge of attacking a man with a knife, worsened in a SIZO. According to his spouse, Samir Ashurov suffers from diabetes. The woman has also complained about “bad conditions of detention” in the SIZO where her husband is kept.
Afiyaddin Mamedov, a member of the board of the “Democracy 1918” movement, denied the accusation and claimed that his right to defence had been violated. However, the court upheld the decision on the activist’s arrest for 30 days.
Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine
By August 13, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 2404 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1237 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1167 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).
In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 595 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 462, in North Ossetia – 204, in the Rostov Region – 283, in the Krasnodar Territory – 178, in the Astrakhan Region – 182, in Stavropol Territory – 163, in Chechnya – 117, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 98, in Ingushetia – 39, in Adygea – 33, in Kalmykia – 29, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 21.
*On November 17, 2014, at a lawsuit of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation recognized the “Right Sector” organization as extremist and banned its activities in Russia.