04 March 2019, 14:50

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 25-March 3, 2019

Threats and apologies after a performance shown in Makhachkala; CTO in Nalchik; fire in a mountainous village of Dagestan; actions to commemorate victims of the Sumgait pogroms and Khodjaly massacre; release of Azerbaijani blogger Mekhman Guseinov, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 25-March 3, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Threats and apologies after performance shown in Makhachkala

Last week, fighters for morality, including MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, criticized the performance "Hunting for Men" shown in Makhachkala on February 23. Ivan Zhidkov, a producer of the performance and an actor, apologized to residents of the republic. He noted that a resonance in Dagestan was provoked by a bed scene, which was a part of the performance. Ivan Zhidkov also reported that members of a theatre team received threats through social networks. Organizers of the performance also voiced their apologies and promised to check all the performances for compliance with local notions of morality. Meanwhile, the Council of Elders of Dagestan expressed its concern over the aggressive reaction to the performance and called for tolerance.

Among those who began to receive threats was actor Denis Kosyakov, who in a joking manner tried to stand up for the performance "Hunting for Men." According to Denis Kosyakov, he began to receive threats against his wife and children. The artist himself explained to the "Caucasian Knot" that he decided not to go to the police, since he did not want to give a reason for the continuation of the conflict. Besides, a wave of threats initiated a call to Khabib Nurmagomedov to stop attacking the theatre. The call was voiced by blogger Kamikaze. He refused to apologize to Khabib Nurmagomedov and criticized "fighters for morality" in Dagestan for inattention to the social problems of the region.

Scandals around cultural events in Dagestan already force artists to change their performances, noted Yevgeny Kulikov, the general director of the "Art Plus" concert company.

CTO in Nalchik

In the morning on February 27, a counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was introduced in Nalchik. During the CTO, law enforcers cordoned off a private house and three persons were killed in a shootout. According to the law enforcers, the killed suspects were plotting a terror act on the territory of the republic. Investigators who examined the house after the CTO found submachine guns, a pistol, grenades, and components for independent manufacture of explosive devices. The house where the CTO was carried out was completely destroyed inside, said a woman owning the house. According to her, the day before the CTO, the house was rented by a young man who she did not know.

During the CTO, Arthur Koshev, born in 1986, Aslangeriy Gurizhev, born in 1988, and Amir Taukov, born in 1990, were killed, sources from the law enforcement bodies reported. According to the law enforcers, the killed suspects were members of a secret unit of the "Islamic State" (IS) recognized in Russia as a terrorist organization and banned by the court. No official confirmation concerning the identification of the killed suspects was reported. It should be noted that the CTO legal regime was announced in Nalchik for the first time since June 2016.

Fire in mountainous village of Dagestan

At night on March 2, a fire broke out in the village of Tissi-Akhitli in the Tsumada District of Dagestan. As a result of the fire, 64 people lost their shelter. 17 houses were burned down. Of them, 11 were destroyed completely and six others partially. Residents of the surrounding villages helped to extinguish the fire, and before a fire brigade truck arrived, they had to carry water from a river. Strong wind and close houses contributed to the spread of the fire. Dagestani leader Vladimir Vasiliev promised that victims of the fire will receive all the payments due to them.

Actions to commemorate victims of the Sumgait pogroms and Khodjaly massacre

Last week, residents of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh paid tribute to the memory of victims of pogroms in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait in 1988, and residents of Azerbaijan held actions to commemorate victims of the 1992 Khodjaly tragedy.

On February 26, in Yerevan, about 2000 people gathered for a rally on the anniversary of the Sumgait pogroms. They demanded from the authorities not to make any territorial concessions in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On February 28, residents of Nagorno-Karabakh paid tribute to the memory of victims of the Sumgait pogroms. The anniversary of the 1988 events in Sumgait recalled the unresolved refugee problem, and many of them complained about the lack of housing. The problem of the return of refugees, including those from Sumgait, and the payment of compensation to them should be discussed at the official talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but it is not raised, notes Avaz Gasanov, the head of the Azerbaijani Society for Humanitarian Studies. The problem of paying compensation to refugees from Sumgait can only be considered in conjunction with the problem of compensation for damage to all victims of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, believes Shakhin Gadjiev, an editor of the agency "Turan".

On February 26, 40,000 people participated in a march in Baku in memory of Khodjaly residents killed 27 years ago during the Karabakh conflict. A delegation of Russian MPs took part in the march. They expressed the need to make films and publish books about the Khodjaly tragedy to inform people about it. Russia should recognize the tragic events in Khodjaly as the genocide of the Azerbaijani people, states Dmitry Saveliev, a member of the State Duma Deputy. On the eve of the anniversary of the mournful date, the events to the memory of Khodjaly people were held both in Azerbaijan and abroad.

Release of Azerbaijani blogger Mekhman Guseinov

Azerbaijani blogger Mekhman Guseinov, the head of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), who served his sentence on the charge of slander for complaining about torture after his detention, was released from prison on March 2. Let us remind you that on December 26, 2018, two months before the completion of his term of imprisonment, the Azerbaijani Penitentiary Service stated that Mekhman Guseinov beat a warder. Rights defenders treated the new criminal case as revenge on the blogger for criticizing the authorities. Activists, both at liberty and in prison, declared a hunger strike in support of Mekhman Guseinov. After the President of Azerbaijan had demanded to ensure the objectivity of the investigation, the case was closed. Immediately after his release, the activist took part in a rally in memory of murdered journalist Elmar Guseinov. He recalled that he was arrested two years ago after the same rally and also noted that he would continue to go "the way of Elmar."

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on March 4, 2019 at 09:12 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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