Jens Stoltenberg. Photo by Inna Kukudjanova for the "Caucasian Knot"

25 March 2024, 23:18

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 18-24, 2024

Villages of discord, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, mourning in the Caucasus for those killed in Moscow, NATO Secretary General’s visit to Southern Caucasus, 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 March 18-24, 2024, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Villages of discord

Azerbaijan demands from Armenia to immediately liberate four villages in the area of the contact line and raises the issue of four other exclave villages. On March 19, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that border demarcation and compromise on issues concerning a number of villages are necessary to prevent a military clash with Baku. Residents of the villages of Voskepar, Baganis, and Voskevan, as well as the city of Noyemberyan, said that they were ready to block roads and organize self-defence if the settlements of the region were transferred to Azerbaijan.

If the villages of the Tavush Region surrender, Armenia will lose control over strategic objects, Nikol Pashinyan intends to commit a crime, claims Avetik Chalabyan, a coordinator of the “HayaVote” initiative. What is happening is the result of an erroneous policy, notes former Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan. The transfer of villages to Azerbaijan threatens Armenia with disaster, believes Garnik Danielyan, an Armenian MP from the “Hayastan” faction.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

The Nalchik City Court fined local resident Rameta Lakunova 30,000 roubles, recognizing that the messages she posted in a messenger discredited the Russian Armed Forces.

The Adler District Court of Sochi imposed a fine under the article on discrediting the Russian Army on Maria Tikhonina, who attended the “World Youth Festival” on Olympic Avenue in the “Sirius” federal territory. According to the police version, the student held a picket showing passers-by the screen of her mobile phone with a pacifist slogan.

The same court found an offense in the reposting of a publication about Alexei Navalny’s death by Jean-Michel Otelli, a resident of the “Sirius” federal territory, and decided to impose a fine on him. The publication places responsibility for the Alexei Navalny’s death on the authorities of Russia, adding a pacifist hashtag and a call to go to the polling stations on March 17 at noon. Jean-Michel Otelli fully admitted his guilt, which was recognized by the court as a mitigating circumstance.

The Taganrog City Court sentenced Irina Skorovarova, accused of repeatedly discrediting the Russian Army, to two years and six months of probation.

Mourning in Caucasus for those killed in Moscow

In the cities of the Southern Federal District (SFD) and North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), rallies were held in memory of the victims of the terror act at the Crocus City Hall. Thousands of people took part in them.

After the terror act in Krasnogorsk, the authorities of the North-Caucasian regions reported enhancing security measures. In particular, entertainment and public events were cancelled. Vladimir Putin declared March 24 a day of national mourning.

In his Telegram channel, Rashid Temrezov, the leader of Karachay-Cherkessia, announced laying of flowers at the memorial to the victims.

Candles in memory of those killed in Moscow were lit in the gym of the Beslan school, North-Ossetian leader Sergey Menyailo announced in his Telegram channel.

Memorials in memory of the victims of the terror act in Krasnogorsk also appeared in the cities of the Southern Federal District (SFD). So, in Adygea, Maykop residents lay flowers at the “Forever with Russia” memorial in memory of the victims of the terror act.

The press service for the President of Abkhazia has declared the day of March 24 a day of mourning in Abkhazia.

NATO Secretary General’s visit to Southern Caucasus

On March 17-19, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

The NATO Secretary General had a meeting with President Ilham Aliev. Jens Stoltenberg recalled the Azerbaijan’s participation in peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. “One of the last troops to leave Afghanistan was actually Azerbaijani troops because you were responsible for protection of the airport, which was a key task in the evacuation of the NATO presence in Afghanistan. So, this demonstrates that our partnership is about political dialogue but also about practical cooperation,” noted Jens Stoltenberg.

The NATO Secretary General also expressed his support for the territorial integrity of Georgia and its sovereignty and assured that the country would become a member of the alliance. NATO will not expand its borders in the near future in connection with events in Ukraine, but these events have provoked the NATO’s interest in Georgia, analysts suggest.

During a press conference with Jens Stoltenberg, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed that Baku did not respond to the Yerevan’s proposal to conclude a non-aggression treaty between the two countries. Nikol Pashinyan also proposed the withdrawal of troops from the 1991 Armenian-Azerbaijani border and mutual arms control.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By March 24, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 3606 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1764 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1842 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 791 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 704, in the Rostov Region – 406, in the Krasnodar Territory – 343, in Stavropol Territory – 303, in the Astrakhan Region – 278, in North Ossetia – 266, in Chechnya – 175, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 129, in Kalmykia – 61, in Ingushetia – 52, in Adygea – 50, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 48.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on March 25, 2024 at 09:17 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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