27 August 2018, 15:08

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 20-26, 2018

Attack of teenagers on policemen in Chechnya; celebration of Eid al-Adha in the Caucasus; visit of the Chancellor of Germany to Southern Caucasus, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 20-26, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Teenagers' attack on policemen in Chechnya

On August 20, in Chechnya, a series of attacks on policemen occurred. In Grozny, a Mercedes driver tried to hit an inspector of the road-and-patrol service (known as DPS) and hit other two policemen while the police were chasing him. On the same day, two young men with knives tried to break into the Shali Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and injured two policemen. The third incident occurred in the village of Mesker-Yurt in the Shali District: a man got injuries while he tried to commit suicide bombing, and later died in the hospital. Law enforcers killed the men, who attacked law enforcers with knives, the Mercedes driver, who hit the policemen, and an 11-year-old boy who was inside the Mercedes car. The eldest of the attackers, Magomed Musaev, who was mentioned as an organizer of the attacks, was 18 years old. The terrorist organization "Islamic State" (IS) banned in Russia claimed responsibility for all the attacks. Besides, a video was released showing the teenagers swearing allegiance to the IS.

After the attacks, Kheda Saratova, a member of the Human Rights Council under the leader of the Chechen Republic, announced it was decided to intensify preventive measures to work with teenagers of the "risk group." Svetlana Gannushkina, the chair of the Civic Assistance Committee, and Alexander Cherkasov, the chairman of the board of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", believe a series of attacks will be followed by harsh measures, like after the case after the attacks on law enforcers in December 2016. Then relatives of the suspected militants were detained, and some of them, according to the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta", were executed. On August 22, residents of Chechnya reported about mass detentions of teenagers, and Ramzan Kadyrov called enemies of Chechnya the rights defenders who criticized the law enforcers' activities. The Chechen leader put the rights defenders on a par with militants and announced he forbade them to visit Chechnya. Ramzan Kadyrov also announced the parents of the killed teenagers were responsible for their children's actions. In social networks, many residents of Chechnya called the killing of the teenagers an excessive use of force.

Celebration of Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in Caucasus

On August 21, Muslims started to celebrate Eid al-Adha, one of their main Muslim holidays set up in memory of the decision of Prophet Ibragim to sacrifice his son. Religious activities were traditionally started with sermons and festive namaz (prayer) in all mosques.

In Makhachkala, at the initiative of the charitable foundation "Nadezhda", the Russian theatre hosted an event in honour of Eid al-Adha. Three performances were attended by 1850 residents of Dagestan. On the eve of the holiday, residents of Chechnya and Kabardino-Balkaria claimed the increased prices for sacrificial cattle. In Moscow, people from the Caucasus complained about the lack of places for prayer. Azerbaijan started the celebrations of Eid al-Adha on August 22. The country arranged festive fairs, but according to local residents, the fairs did not stop the rise in prices for sacrificial cattle. The authorities of Azerbaijan declared August 22 and 23 as the days off. Some of the Baku residents criticized the short weekend on the occasion of the holiday.

Visit of German Chancellor to Southern Caucasus

On August 23 and 24, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Georgia as part of her trip to countries of Southern Caucasus. Angela Merkel stated that Germany supported the territorial integrity and European integration of Georgia, but it was still too early to talk about the country's membership in NATO. The Georgian experts assessed the German Chancellor's visit as a sign of support for the territorial integrity of Georgia.

On August 24, the German Chancellor visited Armenia. Angela Merkel noted that Germany closely followed the developments in Armenia and the events of the "velvet revolution." The German Chancellor also touched upon the problem of the Karabakh conflict and assured that Germany was ready to take responsibility for its settlement, the "Sputnik-Armenia" reports.

On August 25, in Baku, the German Chancellor met civil activists. Participants of the meeting expressed different assessments for the Angela Merkel's visit from the point of view of the possible contribution to the protection of human rights. According to them, the German Chancellor demonstrated good knowledge of the situation with human rights in Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, her attention was more focused on energy security in Europe.

Participation of residents of Southern Russia in all-Russian action of defrauded real estate investors

On August 25, all-Russian action of defrauded real estate investors was held at once in several cities of Russia, including Sochi. About 100 real estate investors from 30 housing complexes came to the rally in the resort city. Some of them wait for their apartments for more than 10 years. Participants in the rally signed a resolution calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene in the situation. In Rostov-on-Don, the authorities did not sanction the rally, and real estate investors went to Moscow to protest. Besides, in the Rostov Region, real estate investors held solo pickets in their cities.

A case against Makhachkala Mayor Musa Musaev sent to court

Investigators reported the completion of the investigation into the case against Musa Musaev, the former Mayor of Makhachkala. On January 21, he was arrested on the charge of abuse of office. According to the investigators, from 2016 to 2017, he signed the documents for two companies and three individuals to grant them ownership for five land plots with the total area exceeding 18,000 square meters. The investigators estimated the damage from the above actions in more than 48 million roubles. Earlier, the investigators had reported about 80-million-rouble damage from the Musa Musaev's actions. The former Makhachkala Mayor himself pleaded not guilty, and his defence called the criminal case groundless.

An Astrakhan activist gets political refuge in Lithuania

The authorities of Lithuania issued a permit for long-term residence in the EU to Igor Stenin, who left Russia in February, since he feared pressure from the law enforcement bodies. In 2015-2016, he held protest actions, including those with the demand to comply with the provisions of the Constitution of Russia. In 2016, Igor Stenin was sentenced to two years of imprisonment for reposting in a social network an article on the topic of war in Ukraine. He was found guilty under the article on dissemination of calls for extremism. The defence stated that Igor Stenin was sentenced for commenting on another user's post. In May 2017, the verdict was cancelled, and Igor Stenin was released. The Prosecutor's Office challenged the decision, and the original verdict to Igor Stenin was confirmed.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 27, 2018 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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