08 July 2019, 17:17

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

Attack on policemen in Chechnya; adoption of OSCE resolution calling on Russia to abolish the recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; recognition of the leaders of Ingush protests to be political prisoners, – read about these and other events in the weekly review of the main developments in the Caucasus during the week from July 1 to July 7, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Attack on policemen in Chechnya

On July 1, 2019, an attack on the police post deployed near the village of Bamut in the Achkhoi-Martan District of Chechnya resulted in the killing of a policeman, who had been sent to perform his service duties in Chechnya from the Kemerovo Region of Russia. According to the Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the attacker stabbed the policeman, threw a grenade and was shot dead. The attack was the third one since the start of 2019 committed in the republic. Later, the MIA announced that the attacker was Zelimkhan Musaev, a native of the village of Achkhoi-Martan, a drug addict, who married a relative of some militants who had left for Syria to take part in warfare there. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the "Islamic State" (IS), a terrorist organization banned in Russia by the court. However, former law enforcers doubted that the attack was a terror act; and the IS made its statement with the aim of self-promotion.

Adoption of OSCE resolution urging Russia to cancel recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

On 7 July, the Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) adopted a resolution brought in by Georgia and calling on Russia to cancel the recognizing of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The document refers to the difficult human rights situation in the "occupied territories". However, researchers of the Caucasus were sceptical about the resolution, stating that it would not change Russia's policy regarding the independence of the two republics, said Alexander Skakov and Mikhail Roschin. Let us note here that on July 3, the human rights organization Amnesty International in its report on "borderization" in Georgia noted that the fortifications built along the demarcation lines of South Ossetia and Abkhazia with Georgia are painfully perceived by the Georgian society and add to anti-Russian sentiments therein. The restrictions imposed on crossing the Georgia's borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia violate the rights of residents of pre-border villages, who are thus deprived of opportunities to farm and face the risk of being detained for crossing the border, the report says.

Declaring Ingush protest leaders as political prisoners

On July 1, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" declared five leaders of the March protests in Magas, the capital of Ingushetia, namely, Akhmed Barakhoev, Musa Malsagov, Ismail Nalgiev, Malsag Uzhakhov and Barakh Chemurziev, as political prisoners, and demanded their release. All the five were arrested within a criminal case of using violence against law enforcers. Barakhoev, Malsagov and Chemurziev are also charged with calls to mass riots. Rights defenders have pointed to videos and eyewitnesses' reports evidencing that the above protest leaders called on the protesters to disperse and not to admit clashes with law enforcers. The leaders of the HRC "Memorial" have stated that the list of Ingush political prisoners will be added with names of other oppositionists, should the prosecution fail to move convincing evidence against them.

Verdict in case of house explosion in Volgograd

On July 1, a court in Volgograd found the defendants in the case of an explosion of the house in University Avenue in 2017 guilty of their crime committed during the works of connecting a trade pavilion to the water supply system. Vladimir Leksunkin, who carried out the works with some homemade equipment, was sentenced to 5.5 years in colony. Yuraslav Babayan, the pavilion owner, will spend five years in prison; and his father, Yuri Babayan, who tried to connect the commercial pavilion to the water supply system in violation of the law, was sentenced to a conditional imprisonment. Let us remind you that the explosion killed four people; 11 others were hospitalized.

Appointment of elections of heads of Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria

On July 1, the Ingush Central Election Commission (CEC) announced that the MPs of the Republic's National Assembly (Parliament) had appointed the election of the regional head for September 8, 2019. The head of Ingushetia will be elected by the MPs out of the candidates nominated by Russian President. On June 26, Vladimir Putin accepted the resignation of Yunus-Bek Evkurov, who had led the republic since 2008, and appointed Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov to be the acting head of the region.

On July 4, the Parliament of Kabardino-Balkaria appointed the election of the head of the region for October 3. The head of Kabardino-Balkaria will also be elected from among the candidates nominated by Vladimir Putin. On September 26, 2018, Putin appointed Kazbek Kokov as the acting head of Kabardino-Balkaria, after Yuri Kokov, who had led the republic since 2014, asked to be transferred to work in Moscow.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on July 8, 2019 at 09:15 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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