17 June 2019, 18:54

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 10-16, 2019

Demolition of road signposts on Chechen-Dagestani border; early release of Chechen rights defender Oyub Titiev; unrests in Tbilisi due to possible gay parade, – read about these and other events in the weekly review of the main events in the Caucasus that took place on June 10-16, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Demolition of road signs on Chechen-Dagestani border

At night on June 10, residents of Kizlyar dismantled a road sign reading "Shelkovskoy District" installed in the outskirt of their city; and on June 11 they gathered at one of other similar Chechen signs. At least 15 protesters were detained. On June 12, it became known about the demolition of two more Chechen signs installed on the border of Chechnya with the Tarumovka District of Dagestan. Now, all the dismantled signposts have been restored. Dagestan authorities have stated that the signposts had been legally installed in the Chechen territory; residents of Kizlyar were not properly informed about the border line.

Chechen authorities have reacted sharply to the demolition of signposts. Magomed Daudov, Speaker of the Chechen Parliament, reprimanded the head of the Kizlyar District and treated the incident as "a mess." Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, has called on residents of Chechnya and Dagestan "not to succumb to provocations," and promised "to break fingers and tear out tongues" of those who wrote insulting comments. Kadyrov's threats have angered Dagestanis. The second incident with a traffic signpost on the Dagestani-Chechen border was residents' reaction to Kadyrov's threats, Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, Director of the Conflict Analysis and Prevention Centre, and Milrad Fatullaev, the head of the RIA "Derbent", believe. Residents of Dagestan distrust their authorities and are trying in their own way to defend republic's interests, Gadjimurad Sagitov, the editor-in-chief of the "Novoye Delo", has noted. On the other hand, the Chechens-Akkins living in Dagestan have supported the reaction of Chechen authorities to the demolition of road signs.

Early release of Chechen rights defender Oyub Titiev

On June 10, a court in Chechnya granted the petition for the conditional early relief (CER) of Oyub Titiev, the head of the Grozny office of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", who was sentenced on March 18 to four years in prison on charges of drug possession. The rights defender claimed that the drugs were planted on him. The HRC "Memorial" pointed to 10 facts that indicate falsification of the criminal case. The colony administration and the prosecutor's office did not object to Titiev's CER, his colleagues and the advocate have stated.

Arrest of former head of Volgograd regional ICRF branch

On June 10, in Volgograd, Mikhail Muzraev, who in 2007-2018 headed the Investigating Department for the Volgograd Region of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF), was detained within the criminal case concerning the attempted assassination of the regional governor Andrei Bocharov. The court arrested him for two months on charges of a terror act committed by a group of individuals. Investigators are also going to check Muzraev's possible involvement in other crimes. The charge has to do with the arson of Bocharov's house in November 2016, an advocate said. Muzraev himself declared his innocence, stating that those whom he had brought to justice are now taking revenge on him. Muzraev was part of the Volgograd elite; therefore, his detention is a resonant event, political analysts have noted.

Trial of former head of Dagestani government started

On June 13, a Moscow court began considering the case of Abdusamad Gamidov, a former Prime Minister of Dagestan, and Rayudin Yusufov, his deputy. They are accused of embezzling 40 million roubles allocated for the reconstruction of the building for the accommodation of stateless persons. The court has closed the trial for the media, and it was criticized by defendants' advocates, who noted that the trial would be void of public scrutiny. It is noteworthy that Gamidov's and Yusufov's defence has demanded to question the former head of the republic, Ramazan Abdulatipov, and the court has granted the petition. Whatever are Abdulatipov's testimonies, they will be of no help to defendants, but the very summon of him for questioning indicates that investigative actions may soon be launched against the former head of the republic, Dagestani journalists believe.

Unrests in Tbilisi due to possible gay parade

On June 14, LGBT activists gathered outside the Georgian government building in Tbilisi to protest against the statement of the Georgian Patriarchate that the gay parade is unacceptable. The "Tbilisi Pride" organization had announced the "March of Dignity" to be held on June 18-23 in Tbilisi. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) stated they would not be able to protect marchers from possible attacks in central Tbilisi. The Georgian Patriarchy has called the LGBT march "absolutely unacceptable." Sandro Bregadze, one of the leaders of the "Georgian March" movement, has warned that the gay parade can provoke "universal people's unrest." LGBT activists failed to obtain from the authorities a public recognition of their rights to the freedom of manifestations. Also, LGBT opponents, including clergymen, gathered for their rally. Some of those who tried to prevent the LGBT action were detained for disobeying the police, seven of them were arrested. Levan Vasadze, a businessman, announced new large-scale actions. Giorgi Burdjanadze, Deputy Ombudsperson called on opponents of the gay parade not to abuse the freedom of self-expression. On June 16, several hundred Vasadze's supporters gathered in Tbilisi and decided to patrol the city to oppose the events of the LGBT Week. In Georgia, the LGBT community is gaining momentum, but, in parallel, aggression against it is also growing, political analysts have noted.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on June 17, 2019 at 09:00 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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