15 July 2019, 17:33

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 8-14, 2019

Detention of activists in Ingushetia; return home of Russian children from Iraq; termination of direct flights between Russia and Georgia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 8-14, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

New detentions of activists in Ingushetia

On July 12, law enforcers detained Ingush activist Zarifa Sautieva. According to the law enforcement bodies, the activist is suspected of using violence against policemen at a March rally in Magas. The Ingush branch of the "Yabloko" Party, the movement "Support of Ingushetia", and the "Patriotic Union of Women of Ingushetia" associated the prosecution of Zarifa Sautieva with her civil position and demanded to release the activist. Zarifa Sautieva became the first woman detained after the rallies in Ingushetia, and that was a blatant fact for the Caucasus, noted users of social networks.

On July 12, journalist Rashid Maisigov was also detained. Law enforcers found a parcel with white powder and "leaflets about Georgia" in his house. Rashid Maisigov collaborated with the edition "Fortanga", engaged in covering the protests in Ingushetia. Recently, the journalist complained of receiving threats in connection with his work and for that reason he ceased his activities about a month ago. The journalist is suspected of drug trafficking on a large scale, reports his advocate Magomed Aushev. According to him, law enforcers tortured Rashid Maisigov with electric current and demanded from him to confess to a crime.

On July 14, it was reported that the website "Fortanga" was blocked by a decision of a court in the Rostov Region because of a piece of poetry left by one of the users in the comments, which was recognized as extremist in 2013. The comment has been removed, the edition reports. The blocking of the website "Fortanga" and the detentions of Rashid Maisigov and Zarifa Sautieva are links of one chain, the edition states in its Telegram channel.

Aslan Bzhaniya's refusal to participate in presidential election in Abkhazia

On July 14, Aslan Bzhaniya, the leader of the Bloc of Opposition Forces, decided not to take part in the presidential election in Abkhazia for health reasons. He called on voters to support Alkhas Kvitsiniya, the head of the "Amtsakhara" Party. On May 28, the Parliament of Abkhazia adopted the law on postponing the presidential election from July 21 to August 25. The opposition sought to postpone the election date in connection with the Aslan Bzhaniya's illness. Relatives of Aslan Bzhaniya insist that he was poisoned. In April, the political analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" called Aslan Bzhaniya one of the favourites of the presidential race.

Return home of Russian children from Iraq

On July 10, 33 children, from one to four years old, were brought to Russia from Baghdad. Their mothers are under investigations or sentenced to imprisonment terms under articles about terrorism. Children's relatives who live in eight regions of Russia begin to take them home. According to Anna Kuznetsova, Russian Children's Rights Commissioner, another flight is being prepared to Baghdad, where 30 children still stay in prisons with their mothers.

Termination of direct flights between Russia and Georgia

On July 8, the last plane from Tbilisi landed in Moscow, and after that direct flights between Russia and Georgia were stopped. Since the beginning of the riots in Tbilisi on June 20, President Vladimir Putin banned Russian airlines from transporting passengers to Georgia starting from July 8. It should be noted that on July 5, the Georgian Airways offered 40,000 customers who bought tickets to fly from Moscow to Tbilisi and back through Yerevan. The airline offered to assume the costs incurred. The Russian authorities estimated the damage to airlines from the termination of flights between Russia and Georgia at the amount of 3 billion roubles.

On July 9, members of the Russian State Duma proposed to ban the import of Georgian wines and sorts of water, as well as to limit remittances. Vladimir Putin said that new sanctions against Georgia would increase tension between the two countries. The idea to impose sanctions was voiced by Russian MP Sergey Neverov after journalist Giorgi Gabuniya used bad language while appealing to President Putin on the air of the "Rustavi-2" TV Channel.

Protests in cities of Southern Russia

On July 13, rallies were held in various cities of Russia, including in the south of the country. One of the main slogans was the demand to stop the persecution of Pavel Grudinin, the director of the "Lenin State Farm" enterprise, who participated in the 2018 presidential election as a candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). In Krasnodar, the rally was attended by members of the public organization "Transport Initiative", opposing the elimination of transport routes, as well as defrauded real estate investors. In Nalchik, participants of a rally criticized the economic policy of the authorities. In Rostov-on-Don, participants of a rally also spoke out against garbage and pension reforms and criticized the authorities for the state of the regional economy.

"Golden Apricot" Film Festival in Yerevan

Last week, Yerevan hosted screenings of the films of the 16th "Golden Apricot" International Film Festival, which was opened on July 7. The programme includes more than 110 films, including the Armenian film "The Long Night" by Edgar Baghdasaryan.

The main prize of the festival went to British director Richard Billingham for his film "Ray & Liz". Kantemir Balagov was awarded Silver Apricot for his film "Dylda", which won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on July 15, 2019 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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