Aikhan Israfilov. Screenshot of a video by

08 April 2024, 23:17

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 1-7, 2024

Emergency incidents, persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia, prisons for Azerbaijani oppositionists, 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 April 1-7, 2024, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Emergency incidents

An accident occurred at the Inguri hydroelectric power plant (HPP), as a result of which the operation of the HPP was suspended. Due to energy shortages in Abkhazia, the authorities announced a power cut schedule for six hours a day. According to the preliminary information, the restoration works will last until April 15. In connection with the accident at the HPP, it was decided to cut off the power supply for six hours a day, including two hours in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The electricity will be supplied only from Russia. The authorities promised that once the restoration works are completed, restrictions on the electricity supply will be lifted completely.

On April 7, in Tbilisi, an explosion in a firearm store killed two persons, and four others were hospitalized with burns. Later, one of the four victims died in hospital. According to the report released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the explosion occurred in a shooting range of a store that sells firearms. Shooting training courses are also held there. One of the dead was a policeman, two of the three wounded are also employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), and one is a store employee.

On April 5, the Russian militaries shot down 44 drones sent to the Rostov Region from Ukraine, and six more drones were shot down in Kuban, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported. An explosive device detonated on one of the drones that fell not far the airfield in the Morozovsky District, and as a result, eight persons were injured.

On March 31, a fire broke out in a 16-storey residential building in the Narimanov district of Baku. According to the preliminary information, the electrical wiring in an elevator shaft caught fire. Firefighters evacuated 50 people, including 15 children, and the fire was extinguished. Sixteen people were injured, and fifteen of them were hospitalized. According to the preliminary information, the victims got minor injuries.

Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia

In Bataysk, a court recognized entries posted on a social network by blogger Nelly Stefan about participants of the special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine as discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and obliged her to pay a fine of 30,000 roubles. The blogger apologized, explaining that she posted the above entries being under the influence of some medicines, but then claimed that she recorded a video with her apology under pressure.

The details of six cases instituted against Vitaly Fedorenko, a resident of the Stavropol Territory, about discrediting the Russian Armed Forces have been reported, under which the Shpakovsky District Court sentenced him in March. The reasons for the persecution were the man’s posts criticizing the special military operation (SMO). At all six court hearings, Vitaly Fedorenko pleaded not guilty. “The man explained to the court that the comments he left ... on the ‘VKontakte’ social network ... are his personal opinion and personal position,” the court reported the defendant’s position. Nevertheless, the court found him guilty under all six protocols, and a fine of 30,000 roubles was imposed on Vitaly Fedorenko under each protocol.

In Krasnodar, the court of cassation cancelled the sentence of Askhabali Alibekov, a native of Dagestan, under the article on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and sent the case for reconsideration, although the blogger had already served his sentence. The First Eastern District Military Court sentenced Zakhar Zaripov, a resident of the Khabarovsk Territory, to five years of imprisonment, having found signs of justification for terrorism in the citizen’s public address to Ramzan Kadyrov.

Yevgeniya Maiboroda, a pensioner from Shakhty, was sentenced to imprisonment for her pacifist position. Her prosecution is politically motivated and must be stopped, states the “Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial” human rights project.

Prisons for Azerbaijani oppositionists

A court in Baku sentenced Elkhan Aliev, a member of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), to five years of imprisonment, finding him guilty in a case on fraud in the sale of a land plot. Two other defendants received suspended sentences.

On April 5, the Baku Court on Grave Crimes found Elbai Kerimli, an activist of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), guilty of drug trafficking on a large scale and sentenced him to six years of imprisonment.

The same court sentenced activist Aikhan Israfilov to three years of imprisonment on the charge of drug trafficking. He insists that the charge is fabricated and calls his activities the real reason for his prosecution.

The Baku Court of Appeal (BCA) dismissed the complaint against the refusal to transfer Ruslan Izzetli, a board member of the “Platform III Republic”, to house arrest. The BCA also refused to grant the complaint about violations during the search in the activist’s apartment.

On April 5, the Baku Court of Appeal dismissed the complaint against the refusal to transfer oppositionist Tofig Yagublu from custody to house arrest. The defence requested the court to release Tofig Yagublu, since his four-month arrest was coming to an end, and the investigative actions were carried out only during the first days after his arrest. On the other day, the court extended the arrest period by two months.

On April 3, a court considered a complaint filed against the refusal to transfer Alesker Mamedli, a “Toplum TV” founder, to house arrest. Despite the fact that the journalist’s health condition worsened, the court left him in custody.

On March 8, Alesker Mamedli, a “Toplum TV” founder, and Ruslan Izzetli, a board member of the “Platform III Republic”, who participated in the activities of the Institute for Democratic Initiatives, were detained in Baku. The police said they found foreign currency in the detainees’ apartments, and a criminal case was instituted under the article on smuggling. Alesker Mamedli and Ruslan Izzetli claimed that the foreign currency was planted to them by the police. The court arrested both detainees for four months.

The Yasamal District Court in Baku extended by 20 days the pre-trial detention of activist Ilkhamiz Guliev, who helped internally displaced persons (IDPs) and was detained in Baku on the charge of drug trafficking. The defence considers the court’s decision unfounded and intends to filed an appeal against it.

Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine

By April 7, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 3701 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1820 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1881 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).

In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 807 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Volgograd Region – 717, in the Rostov Region – 408, in the Krasnodar Territory – 348, in Stavropol Territory – 317, in the Astrakhan Region – 295, in North Ossetia – 270, in Chechnya – 188, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 137, in Kalmykia – 63, in Ingushetia – 53, 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 April 8, 2024 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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