28 January 2019, 15:59

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of January 21-27, 2019

Start of the Chechen and Dagestani authorities' activities to clarify the borders; attack on policemen in Nalchik; closure of blogger Mekhman Guseinov's case in Azerbaijan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of January 21-27, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Start of Chechen and Dagestani authorities' activities to clarify borders

On January 22, in Makhachkala, the speakers of the Chechen and Dagestani parliaments agreed to clarify the historically established borders of the two republics. The authorities explain that it will make possible to include the information on the border to the state real estate cadastre. In social networks, residents of Dagestan expressed their dissatisfaction with the plans to revise the border. Residents of Chechnya believe when clarifying the border with Dagestan, the authorities are to resolve the problem of the Aukh District, the restoration of which was demanded by Chechen Akkins. Ramzan Kadyrov explained the clarification of the Chechen borders with neighbouring regions by instructions from the country's leaders.

The problem of the border with Chechnya recalled the protest potential in Dagestan. The lack of information about the process for clarification of the borders can be alarming, and that can result in mass protests, similar to rallies in Ingushetia, believe political analyst Eduard Urazaev and observer Shakhrudin Khalidov.

Attack on policemen in Nalchik

On January 24, inspectors of the road-and-patrol service (known as DPS) were attacked in Nalchik. All four attackers were killed. As a result of the attack, a policeman was severely wounded by a knife. Investigators report that all four attackers are residents of Ingushetia. According to sources, one of the attackers is a son of a retired employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Evkurov called the attack a blow to the reputation of Ingushetia and asked officials to identify the motives of the attackers. According to a source from the law enforcement bodies, none of the attackers was registered at the police for radical views and had no problems with the law enforcement bodies.

Closure of blogger Mekhman Guseinov's case in Azerbaijan

On January 22, investigators closed the criminal case against Azerbaijani blogger Mekhman Guseinov, who was accused of beating a warder two months before the end of his sentence. The blogger complained about torture after his detention. In March 2017, he was sentenced to two years of imprisonment for defamation. Rights defenders treated a new criminal case as a revenge on the blogger for criticizing the authorities. The decision to close the case on beating of a warder was made after in connection with the appeal of Mekhman Guseinov and rights defenders to the President of Azerbaijan, the leader of the state had called on the General Prosecutor to ensure objectivity of the investigation. A brother of Mekhman Guseinov considered the position of Ilham Aliev as a concession to the international community. After the closure of the blogger's case had been announced, members of the "Musavat" Party and imprisoned activists ended their hunger strike, declared with the demand to release Mekhman Guseinov.

Russian authorities' consent to send skull of Haji Murat to Dagestan

Last week, the media reported about the consent of the Russian President to the idea of transferring the skull of Haji Murad, a naib (deputy) of Imam Shamil, from the Museum of Saint Petersburg to Dagestan. Vladimir Tolstoy, Advisor to the President of Russia, noted that such a decision had been made "in view of the internal political situation in the republic." Descendants of the Shamil's naib want to bury the skull of Haji Murad together with his remains in the grave in Azerbaijan.

Meeting of Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliev in Davos

On January 22, an informal meeting of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev was held in Davos in Switzerland. According to the Armenian Prime Minister, they discussed the situation with the negotiations on Karabakh. Nikol Pashinyan noted that the meeting was not the official start of the negotiations, but added that he had touched the terms of the negotiations and the "possibilities and impossibilities" of the settlement. Nikol Pashinyan refused to disclose the details of his meeting with Ilham Aliev. That provoked criticism of Armenian oppositionists, who stated that the society was not sufficiently informed about the actions of the new leader of the country concerning the Karabakh settlement.

Russia opens first case against Rostov activist on activities of undesirable organization

In Rostov-on-Don, the first case in Russia has been instituted regarding activities of an undesirable organization. Rostov activist Anastasia Shevchenko, a member of the Federal Council of the "Open Russia", is involved in the case as a suspect. On January 21, law enforcers came to her place to conduct searches, and the court sentenced her to 1 month and 25 days of house arrest. Human rights organization "Amnesty International" (AI) recognized Anastasia Shevchenko as a prisoner of conscience. According to the AI, the activist was arrested solely for her political views.

It should be noted that in April 2017, the Mikhail Khodorkovsky's organization "Open Russia" registered in the UK, and the public movement "Open Russia" (Great Britain) were declared undesirable for Russia. According to the Prosecutor's Office, the activities of those organizations contribute to protests and destabilization of the political situation and that threatens "the foundations of the constitutional system and the security of the state."

The case against Anastasia Shevchenko will not be unique, warn lawyers from the human rights group "Agora".

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 28, 2019 at 09:10 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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