09 October 2023, 22:55
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 2-8, 2023
Karabakh refugees and Ilham Aliev’s demands, military base in Abkhazia, captured leaders of Artsakh in Baku, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, birthdays of Putin and Kadyrov, Zarema Musaeva’s case, 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 October 2-8, 2023, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.
Karabakh refugees and Ilham Aliev’s demands
About 300 university students from Nagorno-Karabakh have decided where they will continue their studies and have already applied to the relevant universities in Armenia, announces Tigran Khachatryan, Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia.
After the military operation carried out by Azerbaijan on September 19-20, almost all residents left Nagorno-Karabakh. By October 7, 100,632 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Nagorno-Karabakh arrived in Armenia. On October 2, a UN mission reported that 50-1000 ethnic Armenians still remained in Karabakh.
Five residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, injured in an explosion at a petrol warehouse near Stepanakert, have been sent to Italy for medical treatment, reports the Ministry for Public Health of Armenian. 293 patients injured in the explosion and during the Azerbaijan’s military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh still stay in clinics.
On October 7, President of the Council of the European Union Charles Michel called the President of Azerbaijan. Ilham Aliev called “the inclusion of Azerbaijan without its participation in the quadripartite declaration in Granada a wrong approach.” The President of Azerbaijan noted that it was the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh who “forced the Armenians to leave the territory.” Ilham Aliev also stated that “eight villages of Azerbaijan remain under the occupation of Armenia” and emphasized the “importance” of their “liberation.”
As of October 7, about 58,000 internally displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh were granted temporary housing in Armenia with the help of the state. The refugees mentioned the main problem with their resettlement as high prices for housing, the rent of which is often covered by the government assistance for less than half, and difficulties in finding jobs.
A resolution calling for sanctions against Azerbaijan in connection with the events in Nagorno-Karabakh was adopted by members of the European Parliament. Authors of the resolution call for reconsidering the terms of cooperation with Baku and reducing the Europe’s dependence on Azerbaijani gas.
At a meeting with European leaders in Granada, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a declaration recognizing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The EU leaders have promised to provide support to Armenia in connection with the massive arrival of refugees.
Military base in Abkhazia
The authorities of Abkhazia and Russia signed an agreement on the deployment of a naval military base in the Ochamchira District, announces Aslan Bzhaniya, the President of Abkhazia. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has called the agreement a provocation. According to the Georgian President’s statement, Russia is trying to strengthen its influence in the Black Sea region. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia has noted that the deployment of the military base violates the country’s sovereignty. The authorities of Georgia should increase pressure on Russia, address the UN, and call on strategic partners for help, analysts suggest. Moscow reached an agreement with Sukhumi against the backdrop of the conciliatory policy of the “Georgian Dream” Party towards Russia, the opposition states.
Captured Artsakh leaders in Baku
On October 6, members of the Azerbaijani Ombudsperson’s office visited David Babayan, the former Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Minister, who was arrested in Baku. He did not complain about his conditions of detention, and at his request, he was provided with glasses and access to the library. On October 3, Sabina Alieva, Ombudsperson in Azerbaijan, visited the places of detention of prisoners, including arrested Ruben Vardanyan.
Earlier, officers of the State Security Service of Azerbaijan detained Araik Arutyunyan, the former president of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as Arkady Gukasyan (the president of Nagorno-Karabakh from 1997 to 2007, – note of the “Caucasian Knot”), Bako Saakyan (the president of Nagorno-Karabakh from 2007 to 2020, – note of the “Caucasian Knot”). and David Ishkhanyan, the former chair of the Nagorno-Karabakh Parliament.
Arayik Arutyunyan is accused of terrorism, waging hostilities, violation of humanitarian law, and premeditated murder, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan reports. The above articles of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan provide for punishment up to life imprisonment. Baku will not massively persecute former Nagorno-Karabakh officials and law enforcers, but the leaders of the unrecognized republic and the military personnel accused of crimes will be persecuted, predict analysts.
The detentions of Nagorno-Karabakh politicians contradict the Azerbaijan’s statements about respecting the rights of Armenians, claims the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Armenia. The country’s diplomats promised to defend in international courts the rights of politicians and military men from Nagorno-Karabakh arrested in Azerbaijan.
At the same time, it became known that the preliminary investigation into the criminal case against Vagif Khachatryan had been completed with 59 people recognized as victims.
On July 29, Vagif Khachatryan, a 68-year-old resident of Nagorno-Karabakh, who was traveling to Armenia for medical treatment, was detained at the “Lachin” border checkpoint. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan stated that Vagif Khachatryan was wanted on charges of attacking an Azerbaijani village in 1991. Armenia appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in connection with the detention of Vagif Khachatryan.
Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia
On October 8, it became known that the Akhtubinsky City Court fined Amanzhol Arystanov, a resident of Astrakhan, 30,000 roubles, recognizing that the voice messages he posted in a messenger discredited the Russian Armed Forces.
On October 6, Ilya Sigida (Jonah), an assistant to Archbishop of Slavyansk-on-Kuban and South-Russian of the Russia’s Orthodox Church Viktor Pivovarov, reported that the police conducted searches in the church, after which the archbishop was detained. Ilya Sigida himself was arrested for two days for failure to obey law enforcers’ legal requests.
Earlier, the Slavyansk-on-Kuban City Court fined Viktor Pivovarov, Archbishop of Slavyansk-on-Kuban and South-Russian of the Russia’s Orthodox Church, 40,000 roubles for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. On March 29, Viktor Pivovarov confirmed that during a sermon in the cathedral, he had voiced statements that the court considered as discrediting the Russian Armed Forces.
On October 8, the Russia’s Orthodox Church confirmed that searches had taken place in the St. Intercession and Tikhon Church in Slavyansk-on-Kuban, which, according to the preliminary information, were related to the repeated discrediting of the Russian Armed Forces by Archbishop Viktor Pivovarov.
A court fined Sergey Latmentsev, a resident of Volgograd, for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces by walking down the street wearing a T-shirt with Ukrainian symbols. In court, Sergey Latmentsev stated that he did not plan to discredit the Russian Armed Forces.
The Kirovsky District Court of Volgograd fined local unemployed resident Denis Volkov under the article of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. The man pleaded not guilty, stating that it was other people who were shouting slogans in support of Ukraine, but the court did not take into account his arguments.
The Volgodonsky District Court of the Rostov Region fined pensioner Aram Khachatryan 30,000 roubles, considering his pacifist posts on a social network as discrediting the Russian Armed Forces.
The Maikop City Court in Adygea recognized the comments posted on social networks by Vladimir Karmanov, a person with disabilities, as discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and obliged him to pay a fine of 30,000 roubles.
Birthdays of Putin and Kadyrov
On October 7, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, held a rally in Grozny dedicated to the 71st birthday of Vladimir Putin. The presidential elections in Russia during the special military operation should be cancelled or held with the participation of only Vladimir Putin, Ramzan Kadyrov has said. Regional youth organizations held a flash mob, during which about 1500 young people with the flags of Russia and Chechnya lined up in 71.
Meanwhile, as Russian State Duma member Adam Delimkhanov announced, Adam, a Ramzan Kadyrov’s son, who beat arrested Nikita Zhuravel in a SIZO (pre-trial prison), was awarded the title of Hero of Chechnya. Adam Delimkhanov has noted that Adam Kadyrov achieved success in sports fighting and studying the Koran. According to sources, the police refused to institute a criminal case against Adam Kadyrov for beating Nikita Zhuravel.
On October 2, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced that Chechen Minister of Culture Aishat Kadyrova will become the Deputy Prime Minister of Chechnya for the social block and that former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Dadaev will replace Aishat Kadyrova as the Chechen Minister of Culture. And on the other day, it became known that Aishat Kadyrova got “from her father’s hands” the title of People’s Artist of Chechnya.
On October 6, Grozny hosted events to mark the city’s 205th anniversary, which were remembered for the birthday congratulations to the leader of the republic and the awards to his children. In particular, among other officials, Ramzan Kadyrov himself awarded his daughter Khadizhat Kadyrova, who in December 2020 headed the department of preschool education in Grozny. Khadizhat Kadyrova was awarded the honorary title of “Honoured Officer of the Social Sphere.”
Zarema Musaeva’s case
The European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the politically motivated kidnapping and prosecution of Zarema Musaeva. The resolution is important not only as a call for the release of Zarema Musaeva, but also as a statement of human rights violations in Chechnya, notes her son Abubakar Yangulbaev. On October 4, he said that an advocate hired by the family had submitted a request for conditional early relief (CER).
On September 12, the Supreme Court (SC) of Chechnya reduced Zarema Musaeva’s term of imprisonment to five years and replaced the term in a common-security penal colony with a settlement colony. On October 4, human rights defenders reported that the administration of the penal colony in Argun had placed Zarema Musaeva on preventive registration for a period of three months.
Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine
By October 8, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 2647 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1328 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1319 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).
In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 638 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 518, in the Rostov Region – 304, in the Krasnodar Territory – 222, in North Ossetia – 213, in the Astrakhan Region – 203, in Stavropol Territory – 173, in Chechnya – 133, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 108, in Ingushetia – 40, in Adygea – 34, in Kalmykia – 33, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 23.