08 April 2019, 23:45

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 1-7, 2019

Arrests of Ingush activists after protests in Magas; attack on policemen in Kabardino-Balkaria; anniversary of the April 2016 war in Nagorno-Karabakh, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of April 1-7, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Arrests of Ingush activists after protests in Magas

In Ingushetia, law enforcers detained active participants of the rally held on March 26 in Magas, which resulted in the action with the demand for the resignation of Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Evkurov. The court imposed fines on several activists, and 12 detainees were brought to Nalchik. Three of them, leaders of the protests, were arrested, and on April 4, one of them, Elder Akhmed Barakhoev, declared hunger strike. A criminal case was instituted against nine people for the use of violence against law enforcers. Khavazh Dzaurov was released from the detention centre in Nalchik, and all suspicions were removed from him, advocate Eva Chanieva reported.

In Magas, participants of the protest held on March 26 continued their action without a sanction from the authorities. On the other day, clashes occurred between protesters and law enforcers. According to the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF), ten law enforcers got injuries.

The police attempt to disperse the rally was not justified, and the prosecution of the activists would aggravate the conflict between residents and the authorities of the republic, reported Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial". Any resistance to law enforcers during protests leads to the institution of criminal cases, advocates note. Ingush Ombudsman Djambulat Azdoev raised the issue concerning the legality of the activists' detentions in Nalchik.

Attack on policemen in Kabardino-Balkaria

On April 2, in the Baksan District of Kabardino-Balkaria, policemen who stopped a car for inspection were shelled. They were not wounded, while the gunman managed to flee the place. On the other day, law enforcers tried to stop a car with the alleged attackers. In the course of the shootout, both suspects in the car were killed. According to the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC), the killed suspects were involved in the "Islamic State" (IS), a terrorist organization banned in Russia by the court. The shelling of the policemen was the third armed incident in the republic since early 2019.

Detention of former Makhachkala UVD chief and complaints of torture filed by man involved in his case

On March 31, Raip Ashikov, the former chief of the Makhachkala UVD (District Interior), was detained in Dagestan. The court arrested him for two months. Raip Ashikov, suspected of assisting terrorist activities together with Omar Abdurashidov, a resident of Dagestan, pleads not guilty. Investigators believe Omar Abdurashidov handed 200,000 roubles over to militants. Omar Abdurashidov claims he was tortured by law enforcers who tried to force him to give testimony against a former top-ranking law enforcer. Last week, sisters of Omar Abdurashidov held pickets in Makhachkala with the demand to appoint a medical examination of their brother. On April 6, members of the Public Oversight Commission (POC) of Dagestan visited Omar Abdurashidov in the SIZO (pre-trial prison) and noticed injuries on the man's body, reported Shamil Khadulaev, a member of the Dagestani POC.

Anniversary of April 2016 war in Nagorno-Karabakh

Last week, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh held events in connection with the third anniversary of the April 2016 war. On April 1, participants of an action in Yerevan lit torches to pay tribute to the memory of the victims and marched to a military cemetery. On April 2, in Stepanakert, in memory of the victims, people laid flowers at monuments of soldiers, and memory lessons were held at educational institutions of the unrecognized republic. Furthermore, on April 2, activists of three public organizations from Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia marked the anniversary of the war with a motor rally. They called on the authorities to announce April 2 as the Day of Combat Position Defender.

Verdict of guilty to Volgograd residents in "Artpodgotovka" case

On April 5, in Volgograd, the court sentenced to 2-3.5 years of imprisonment four city residents in the case on an attempt to take part in an action of the extremist organization "Artpodgotovka" (Artillery Preparation) banned in Russia, and another resident of Volgograd was punished with suspended sentence. Five Volgograd residents were accused of trying to take part in an action organized by Vyacheslav Maltsev, the leader of the "Artpodgotovka". According to one of the defendants, in October 2017, during a discussion in social networks concerning the possibility of participating in the Vyacheslav Maltsev's action, residents of Volgograd were offered to go to Moscow for free in a minivan. Five persons who agreed were detained after they had got into the minivan. At trial, the defendants claimed they were not going to take part in riots in Moscow. Relatives and advocates of the defendants called the sentence unfair. According to a mother of Stanislav Babanov, he was sentenced only for "his intention to go to Moscow for free."

Presidential election to be held in Abkhazia

On April 4, delegates of the National Assembly of Abkhazia determined the date of the presidential election. The voting will take place on July 21. The term of office of incumbent President Raul Khadjimba, elected on August 24, 2014, expires on September 25, 2019.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on April 8, 2019 at 09:17 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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