Vladimir Telpuk. Volgograd, August 20, 2023. Photo by Vyacheslav Yaschenko for the "Caucasian Knot"

11 September 2023, 23:12

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 4-10, 2023

Elections in Russia, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, 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 September 4-10, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Elections in Russia

In the period from September 8 to 10, six regions of Southern Russia held voting in elections at various levels. In the Volgograd Region, members of a city duma were elected. In total, the city duma will consist of 35 members. Twenty persons withdrew their candidacies, and other 49 candidates were denied registration by the election commission for various reasons.

In Volgograd, employees of the election commission did not allow a ballot to be put into a ballot box, but insisted on it to be scanned in the electronic ballot processing complex, reported activist Vladimir Telpuk.

In Dagestan, residents elected representatives to local self-administration bodies. According to the election commission, elections are underway in four city districts, including Derbent, Izberbash, Kizilyurt, and Khasavyurt Districts.

In Adygea, elections to the Maikop City Council have become the main electoral event of the year. Thirty representatives will be elected under a mixed system. Adygea has a high level of control over political parties and a traditionally high level of support for the authorities.

In Ingushetia, people voted in local elections in five urban and 35 rural municipalities.

By-elections of members of the city duma are being held in Sochi, during which 62 candidates are running for 12 seats. No violations were reported, as there were no independent observers left. Marina Antipina, a candidate for the City Duma of Gelendzhik, stated that at one of the polling stations, the number of filled-in ballots exceeded by 300 the number of voters who took part in the elections.

On September 9, Alexander Safronov, a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), reported that at a polling station in Gelendzhik, officers of a military registration and enlistment office handed over conscription notices to observer Igor Ogorodnikov and Alexei Lobanov, a member of the election commission. Igor Ogorodnikov treated the serving of conscription notices to be pressure on independent observers. Furthermore, in Gelendzhik, the police detained Valentina Shostak, a representative of one of the candidates, following a complaint from members of the election commission alleging that she was filming filled-in ballots.

On September 10, in Novorossiysk, Dmitry Lebedev was attacked, when he was taking Roman Pilipenko, a member of the territorial election commission (TEC), in his car to precinct election commissions. According to a witness of the attack, a young man in a mask ran up to the car and splashed red liquid into it and the driver. Then the attacker ran away.

In Kalmykia, residents voted in elections to the People’s Khural (parliament) of the republic. Observers reported violations that could affect the outcome of the election, stated Natalia Manzhikova, the leader of the “Spravedlivaya Rossiya” (Fair Russia) Party’s branch. No serious violations were recorded, argued MP Arslan Kusminov, Anatoly Erdniev, an expert of the Public Headquarters, and blogger Sanal Ubushiev.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

On September 8, it became known that after a conflict at a cashier desk in a supermarket, Andrei Nikiforov, a resident of Novorossiysk, was accused of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and fined 45,000 roubles.

The Primorsky District Court of Novorossiysk fined Stanislav Shaforostov 15,000 roubles. According to the police’s version, the man allegedly made a pacifist inscription in a public place.

The police drew up a protocol on discrediting the Russian Armed Force against Sergei Latmentsev from Volgograd. In June 2022, the man was already fined 30,000 roubles under the same article.

Blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh

Twenty-three MPs took part in a secret voting during an extraordinary session of the National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh held on September 9. Of them, 22 voted for the candidacy of Samvel Shakhramanyan, and one more voted against him. So, the parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh elected the president of the republic by a majority of votes. According to the National Assembly of the unrecognized republic, former Defence Minister Samvel Babayan failed to submit all the necessary documents for registration as a candidate. His candidacy was rejected.

Over the past week, nine patients in need of emergency medical services were taken to the medical centres of Armenia along the Lachin Corridor with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Starting from September 3, Major General Kirill Kulakov took up the duties of the commander of the Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh. He replaced Alexander Lentsov at the post.

On September 9, a truck with humanitarian aid sent for the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh by the Russian Red Cross Society arrived in Azerbaijan. The humanitarian aid is planned to be delivered to Stepanakert amid the blockade of the Lachin Corridor. The information headquarters of the Nagorno-Karabakh government reported that an agreement had been reached to resume the transportation of goods through the Lachin Corridor. However, later, Khikmet Gadjiev, an advisor to the President of Azerbaijan, denied the above information.

On September 8, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced that the doubts voiced among the political elite of Armenia concerning the advisability of allied ties within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), as well as concerning the possibility of implementing tripartite agreements between Moscow, Baku, and Yerevan, were expressed in unfriendly steps by Armenia. A note of protest was handed over to the Ambassador of Armenia.

On August 28, Azerbaijani law enforcers detained at the Lachin checkpoint three students Alen Sargsyan, Vage Ovsepyan, and Levon Grigoryan, football players of the Martuni “Avo” Football Club (FC), who were heading to Yerevan to study, being accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. On September 7, they were released and taken to Armenia.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By September 10, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 2502 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1280 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1222 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 609 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 490, in the Rostov Region – 284, in North Ossetia – 208, in the Krasnodar Territory – 192, in Stavropol Territory – 189, in the Astrakhan Region – 189, in Chechnya – 129, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 102, in Ingushetia – 40, in Adygea – 34, in Kalmykia – 33, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 23.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 11, 2023 at 08:48 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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