14 January 2019, 18:14

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 7-13, 2019

Celebration of Christmas by Orthodox believers; attacks on law enforcers in Dagestan and Ingushetia; outbreak of swine flu in Georgia; protest actions in front of the Russian military base in Gyumri, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 7-13, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Celebration of Christmas by Orthodox believers

On January 7, in Southern Russia, hundreds of thousands of believers attended church services on the holiday of Christmas. The leaders of the North-Caucasian republics voiced best wishes to Orthodox believers on Christmas, and the leader of Dagestan personally visited a church service in Makhachkala. At night on January 7, church services and festive events were held under enhanced police control.

Christmas services were also held in Orthodox churches of Azerbaijan. In Tbilisi, the traditional Christmas procession "Alilo" also took place, and its participants raised donations for the poor, the elderly people, and orphans. Believers of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the main religious organization in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, celebrated the holiday of Christmas on January 6.

Attacks on law enforcers in Dagestan and Ingushetia

On January 11, in the Karabudakhkent District of Dagestan, three persons travelling in a car attacked a checkpoint of the road-and-patrol (known as DPS) in the Kizilyurt-Makhachkala section of the "Kavkaz" Highway. The police started chasing the car. When offered to surrender, the people travelling in the car opened fire at the law enforcers. As a result of a shootout, three attackers were killed, the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) reported. According to the NAC, the killed suspects were involved in recruiting young people into the "Islamic State" (IS), a terrorist organization banned in Russia by the court, and assisting militants. Besides, the law enforcement bodies also reported the detention of a militants' accomplice, a native of Kaspyisk.

On January 12, in the Sunzha District of Ingushetia, on the way to the "Magas" airport, a car of Ibragim Eldjarkiev, the head of the Ingush Centre for Combating Extremism (CCE or "E" Centre), was shelled. The incident occurred several kilometres from a border checkpoint between Ingushetia and Chechnya. Ibragim Eldjarkiev was not injured, but three policemen travelling in his car were wounded, and one of them died.

Outbreak of swine flu in Georgia

This winter, cases of swine flu (H1N1 virus) have become more frequent in Georgia. As of January 10, 845 people were hospitalized. So far, doctors declare there is no epidemic situation in Georgia yet, but note the great aggressiveness of the virus. On December 24, in Batumi, the first death from swine flu was registered in Georgia. According to the latest information (as of January 12), the death toll of H1N1 virus in the country reached 15 people. Starting from January 10, the Georgian rescue service has been transferred to the emergency operation regime. Vaccination against flu is still underway in the country, and the measure will make it possible to avoid serious consequences, the National Centre for Disease Control reports.

The neighbouring regions have reacted to the situation in Georgia. Starting from January 11, the Security Council of South Ossetia has suspended the operation of checkpoints on the border with Georgia to prevent the spread of swine flu. On the same day, Abkhazia also restricted the border crossing with Georgia because of swine flu.

Protest actions in front of Russian military base in Gyumri

On January 12, in Gyumri, on the fourth anniversary of the killing of the Avetisyan family members, residents of Armenia gathered in front of the Russian military base with the demand to withdraw Russian troops from the country. Let us remind you that on January 12, 2015, seven members of the Avetisyan family were killed. The court found Valery Permyakov, a soldier of the 102nd Russian military base, guilty of the crime, and the soldier was sentenced to life imprisonment. The protest action was organized by members of the European People's Party of Armenia. In their hands, the protesters were holding photos of the killed members of the Avetisyan family, as well as photos of Julietta Gukasyan, who died after being beaten in December 2018. Representatives of the Russian military base did not come out to meet the participants of the protest action. Meanwhile, on the same day, other activists gathered in front of the Russian military base in Armenia to support the presence of Russian troops in the country. Residents of Gyumri interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" have expressed different opinions concerning the presence of the Russian troops in Armenia. Some of the local residents have said they do not trust Russian soldiers, while others have noted that the military presence of the Russian Federation restrains Turkey and ensures the security of Armenia. Meanwhile, all of the interviewed local residents have demanded to establish order at the Russian military base.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 14, 2019 at 09:06 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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