22 June 2020, 15:55

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 15-21, 2020

Spread of the coronavirus infection in the Caucasus; Azerbaijani people's protest action in the Dagestani village of Kullar; resonance after the death of a Chechen woman, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of June 15-21, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Spread of coronavirus infection in Caucasus

There has been still an increase in the number of coronavirus-infected patients in Southern Caucasus and in the regions of Southern Russia.

Over the past week, Armenia still leads in Southern Caucasus in both the number of coronavirus-infected patients and the COVID-19 death toll. By June 21, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Armenia reached 20,268, in Azerbaijan – 12,729, in Georgia – 906, in Nagorno-Karabakh – 97, in South Ossetia – 83, and in Abkhazia – 38. Armenia registered 350 deaths from COVID-19, Azerbaijan – 154, Georgia – 14, and Abkhazia – 1.

On June 19, in Azerbaijan, the authorities extended the quarantine until August 1, and the country's borders will be closed till the above date. Moreover, the strict quarantine regime has been imposed until July 5 in a number of villages, towns, and cities, including Baku. Residents are allowed to leave home only with SMS permits. Starting from June 17, in Armenia, where the state of emergency stays in force, the authorities have obliged all residents of the republic to have their IDs with them so that the police could draw up protocols in case of violations of the mask regime. On June 15, in Georgia, the authorities allowed opening hotels, subject to permission and compliance with sanitary rules.

The number of coronavirus-infected patients is also increasing in regions of Southern Russia. On June 21, the total number reached 52,372. The Rostov Region, where 8534 coronavirus-infected patients have been detected, leads in terms of the above indicator. The Rostov Region is followed by Dagestan with 7188 cases of the coronavirus infection. In the Krasnodar Territory, 5440 patients were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, in the Volgograd Region – 5410, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 4436, in the Stavropol Territory – 4349, in North Ossetia – 3768, in the Astrakhan Region – 3158, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 2815, in Ingushetia – 2806, in Chechnya – 1600, in Adygea – 1541, and in Kalmykia – 1327.

Over the week, the coronavirus death toll also increased up to 879. According to the sad death toll statistics, Dagestan still leads in the region: the republic has already registered 348 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Dagestan is followed by the Rostov Region with 90 and the Stavropol Territory with 83 COVID-19 deaths. By June 21, in North Ossetia, 66 patients with the diagnosis of the coronavirus infection died, in Ingushetia – 64, in the Krasnodar Territory – 63, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 45, in the Volgograd Region – 33, in the Astrakhan Region – 28, in Chechnya – 20, in Kalmykia – 18, in Adygea – 12, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 9.

In Southern Russia, the authorities of the regions extend the quarantine regime, while new mitigations are being introduced in some regions. So, the self-isolation regime has been extended in Karachay-Cherkessia, the Volgograd Region, and Kalmykia. On June 21, Kuban cancelled the quarantine regime and declared opening stores and decreasing control over people coming to the region. Only persons returning from abroad will be placed to special facilities for observation. Starting from June 21, Adygea allowed operation of summer cafes.

Azerbaijani people's protest action in Dagestani village of Kullar

On June 15, citizens of Azerbaijan, who are not able to return to their homeland because of the closed state borders, arranged a protest action which grew into clashes with law enforcers. The police used tear gas and batons. Four policemen and ten Azerbaijanis were injured, and 83 protesters were arrested for 10 days. Let us remind you that in early June, near the Dagestani village of Kullar, Azerbaijani citizens declared a mass hunger strike with the demand to ensure their soonest return home. After June 16, more than 400 people still stayed in a tent camp. Many of them have been waiting for permission to enter homeland for 1-2 months.

Former Armenian president Robert Kocharyan released from custody

On June 18, a court in Armenia upheld a complaint filed by the defence of Robert Kocharyan, the second president of the country, and released him on a large bail amounting to 2 billion drams (288.6 million roubles). The money was paid by Russian businessmen. On June 20, Robert Kocharyan returned home. Let us remind you that the former president of Armenia is accused of financial fraud, money laundering, and dispersal of demonstrators in Yerevan on March 1-2, 2008, during which 10 people had been killed. Robert Kocharyan was arrested twice in 2018, but was released from custody. The defence requested the court to release the defendant because of the threat of coronavirus infection and in connection with his disease. Until June 18, courts refused to release Robert Kocharyan, despite the guarantees of Armenian and Karabakh politicians.

Anniversary of dispersal of protests in Tbilisi

On June 20, about 3000 people held a rally near the parliament in Tbilisi on the anniversary of the start of protests in June 2019. The protestors demanded to change the current government and punish those responsible for the use of violence during the rally. In Georgia, the protests began after Russian State Duma member Sergei Gavrilov took the chair of the speaker of the Georgian parliament at a meeting of the Orthodox Assembly. After that, the parliament building was surrounded by thousands of people who wanted to express their indignation. Clashes occurred. The police used tear gas and rubber bullets. 305 people were detained. Three persons were officially recognized as victims. However, human rights defenders report about 23 people injured in the clashes, including eight journalists. The protesters succeeded in seeking the resignation of Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakhariya, whom they considered to be responsible for the use of force at the protest action on June 20, the resignation of the speaker of the parliament, and the consent from the ruling party to hold elections in 2020.

Resonance after death of woman from Gudermes

In Chechnya, the murder of a wife by a resident of Gudermes was reported. The woman's body was buried at night. According to the social networks, the 23-year-old woman was killed by her husband during a quarrel. The conflict was triggered by comments from the mother of the husband, who criticized the wife of her son for spending child allowance. The funeral ceremony was carried out at night to hide the crime. The husband of the killed woman claimed no involvement in her death, and the imam, who buried the woman, explained the funeral at night by hot weather. Residents of Chechnya argue that there is no practice of night funeral ceremonies in the republic. The woman from Gudermes many times tried to leave her husband because of beatings and complained to her relatives about the mother of her husband, relatives of the killed woman claimed. The mother of the killed woman believes that relatives try to blanch over the husband of her killed daughter because he is a military man. On June 20, the body of the killed woman was exhumed to check the version of her death as a result of domestic violence.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on June 22, 2020 at 09:15 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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