An example of a "carousel" in elections in Azerbaijan - voting by one person at two polling stations. Screenshot of a video posted on the YouTube channel of the Meydan TV on February 7, 2024

12 February 2024, 23:35

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 5-11, 2024

New old president, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, rumours about killings in Chechnya, 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 February 5-11, 2024, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

New old president

On February 7, Azerbaijan held voting in the early presidential election. Ilham Aliev won with 92.12% of the votes, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Azerbaijan reported. At eleven polling stations, voting results were cancelled because of violations.

The presidential election was held in conditions of restricted freedoms, and Ilham Aliev’s rivals did not present a real alternative, declared a joint observation mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Serious election irregularities cast doubt on the results of the vote count, European observers emphasize.

During the presidential election in Azerbaijan, administrative resources were actively used, including to force public sector employees and employees of private enterprises to participate in so-called “carousel voting.” Mass falsifications were used to demonstrate a high level of turnout and support for the current leader of the state after the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity, analysts noted.

Ballot stuffing, arrival of voters in groups, and voting by unregistered voters were recorded by observers from the Centre for Election Monitoring and Democracy Training (CEMDT) at 105 polling stations. The violations indicate falsification of the presidential election results, the human rights defenders claim.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

In Magas, a court found Nazir Tsechoev, a resident of Ingushetia, guilty of repeatedly discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. The reason for the institution of a criminal case against Nazir Tsechoev was his posts on Telegram, which ridiculed the level of armament of the Russian Army and the actions of the military personnel, including commanders. In addition, the Nazir Tsechoev’s posts also provided the information on losses during the special military operation in Ukraine. Nazir Tsechoev admitted his guilt and repented. The court sentenced him to a fine of 250,000 roubles and confiscated his mobile phone.

In Maikop, a court fined local resident Yuri Khuaz 30,000 roubles, recognizing that his pacifist statements about the special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine discredited the Russian Armed Forces. According to the investigators’ version, Yuri Khuaz worked as a senior mechanic on a floating crane in Sevastopol and expressed his opinion to his colleagues about the special military operation in Ukraine.

In the Volgograd Region, a court brought Dmitry Vanifatiev to responsibility for his pacifist post under an administrative article, which provides for a fine amounting from 30,000 to 50,000 roubles, as indicated in the case summary released on the official website of the Volzhsky City Court.

Rumours about killings in Chechnya

Sources in Chechnya reported that Seda Suleimanova could be killed by her relatives. Human rights defenders requested the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) and the General Prosecutor’s Office to check the information about a possible “honour killing”, because “nothing has been reported about Seda Suleimanova for more than 150 days.”

On August 23, 2023, law enforcers visited 26-year-old Seda Suleimanova, who fled from Chechnya to Saint Petersburg, and her fiancé, and detained them, explaining that the young woman was suspected of stealing jewellery. Then Seda Suleimanova was sent to Grozny and handed over to her uncle and aunt. Advocates were not allowed to visit their client. On October 20, Stanislav Kudryavtsev, a fiancé of Seda Suleimanova, announced that he had converted to Islam and wanted to visit her, but received no response from the young woman’s relatives.

The long absence of information about the fate of Seda Suleimanova does not give reason to believe that she was killed, experts point out. They explain that “honour killings” are not committed for lack of religiosity, and the relatives could just isolate the young woman from the world.

According to sources, Lieutenant Colonel Albert Atmurzaev perished in Grozny after the police opened fire on his car because he refused to comply with their request to stop the car.

Law enforcers have the right to use firearms in case of a threat to society, lawyers emphasize. In Chechnya, law enforcers use firearms more often than in other regions of Russia. That may be explained both with two military campaigns and with the Ramzan Kadyrov’s permission to “shoot in the forehead” at those who fail to obey the police, military experts and human rights defenders point out.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By February 11, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 3394 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1649 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1745 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 734 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 676, in the Rostov Region – 382, in the Krasnodar Territory – 314, in Stavropol Territory – 275, in the Astrakhan Region – 265, in North Ossetia – 258, in Chechnya – 172, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 122, in Kalmykia – 60, in Ingushetia – 47, in Adygea – 47, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 41.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 12, 2024 at 09:55 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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