24 December 2018, 16:58

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 17-23, 2018

OSCE's recognition of the facts of torture and extrajudicial executions in Chechnya; questions to President Putin from Southern Russia; special operation in Stavropol; detention in Kabardino-Balkaria of a man suspected of a murder committed 13 years ago; protest action of "Nairit" workers in Yerevan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 17-23, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

OSCE's recognition of torture and extrajudicial executions in Chechnya

On December 20, a report on human rights violations in Chechnya, prepared by Wolfgang Benedek, a professor of international law, within the framework of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, was published in English. The report described as indisputable facts the information about enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial executions, pressure on rights defenders, and persecution of gays in Chechnya. In particular, Russia has been recommended to conduct trials involving violations of human rights in Chechnya outside the republic. Russia cannot agree with the conclusions of the OSCE report on human rights violations in Chechnya and finds it deliberately politicized, stated on December 21 Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov and Permanent Representative of Russia to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich. Representatives of the Chechen authorities associate the report with political pressure on Russia. Publication of the report will not affect the situation in the republic, but will make it easier for refugees from Chechnya to get protection abroad, representatives of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" and the "Russian LGBT Network" told the "Caucasian Knot".

Questions to President Putin from Southern Russia

During a press conference held on December 20 in Moscow, in particularly, Russian President Vladimir Putin answered questions asked by journalists from Northern Caucasus.

A journalist from Dagestan asked a question concerning a case on the murder of Gasanguseinov shepherds during a special operation in 2016. According to journalist, at first, the shepherds were called militants, and then it turned out that they were not involved in the armed underground, the case was reclassified and transferred to Moscow, but there was no progress in it. The journalist asked the President to take the case under his personal control and assist in the rehabilitation of the killed shepherds. President Putin confessed that he was hearing about the Gasanguseinov brothers' case for the first time and promised to instruct Alexander Bastrykin, the chair of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) to investigate the case. It should be noted that just on December 20, a father of the killed shepherds held a solo picket in Makhachkala, but after the President Putin's statement, he decided to suspend his protest actions.

At the press conference, there were also questions about the return of Russian children from Syria and the expansion of the airport in Grozny. However, Vladimir Putin did not respond to them in detail, but indicated that Ramzan Kadyrov was responsible for those activities.

Special operation in Stavropol

On December 19, the FSB of Russia reported that in Stavropol, members of the "Islamic State" (IS), a terrorist organization banned in Russia by the court, rendered armed resistance during their detention and were killed. The two killed men were not residents of the region, reported the Stavropol Governor. One of them fought in Syria for three years, reported the law enforcement bodies. According to the operational information, the young people were plotting terror acts to be committed during the New Year holidays, and they intended to use Molotov cocktails as explosive devices. The special operation, according to the updated information, was conducted on December 17. According to the calculations run by the "Caucasian Knot", based on its own information and reports from open sources, the special operation conducted on December 19 became the fourth armed incident in the Stavropol Territory since the beginning of 2018.

Detention in Kabardino-Balkaria of a man suspected of a murder committed 13 years ago

On December 22, the ICRF reported on the arrest of a man, suspected of killing Arthur Zokaev, the head of the village of Khasanya. At night on May 15, 2005, Arthur Zokaev was killed near the gates of his own house in the village of Khasanya, where unidentified persons called him at night. He was shot from a machine gun right in the yard. 13 years later, the law enforcement bodies succeeded in identifying the people suspected of the murder, and one of them was detained. The suspect was entrepreneur Khusein Babaev, a former member of the Kabardino-Balkaria parliament. On December 22, about 100 people, relatives and acquaintances of the entrepreneur, gathered in front of the Nalchik City Court building, where a pre-trial restriction measure was to be chosen for Khusein Babaev. They wanted to support him, expressed their astonishment over the incident and called the Khusein Babaev's arrest "a someone's order," and said he could not kill Arthur Zokaev.

Protest rally of "Nairit" workers in Yerevan

On December 19, in Yerevan, about 100 former workers of the "Nairit" plant blocked the building of the Armenian government with the demand to pay them penalties for delayed wages. The protesters complained about their poor situation after the closure of the plant and wanted to meet acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to also discuss the issue concerning revival of the plant. Without waiting for a meeting with Nikol Pashinyan, the protestors went home and agreed to continue their protest action in a day. On December 21, they again gathered in front of the Armenian government building. That time, the chief of the Armenian Deputy Prime Minister's office came out to them and promised to consider the project to revive the "Nairit" plant, proposed by a foreign investor. It should be noted that the "Nairit" plant, which produced chloroprene rubber in demand on world markets, has been idle since April 2010. The former workers of the plant regularly hold actions with the demand to restore its operation. Wage arrears were paid back in August 2015, but the workers said they had to refuse penalties for delayed wages.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on December 24, 2018 at 11:27 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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