11 February 2019, 19:46

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 4-10, 2019

Start of the discussion on the borders between Chechnya and Dagestan; severe earthquakes in Azerbaijan; departure of an Armenian mission to Syria, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 4-10, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Resignations and interrogations resulting from arrests of Arashukov father and son in Karachay-Cherkessia

Kazbek Bulatov, the first deputy head of the Department for Karachay-Cherkessia of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF), and several other top-ranking law enforcers of the republic, including the chief of the Centre for Combating Extremism (CCE or "E" Centre), were summoned for questioning. Kazbek Bulatov resigned. The law enforcers were questioned in connection with the Arashukov family's case, reported the ICRF. Senator Rauf Arashukov was arrested on the charge of killing Aslan Zhukov and Fral Shebzukhov. Their relatives believe the senator's friends from the law enforcement bodies interfered with the investigation into the case. Rauf Arashukov and his father Raul Arashukov, arrested on suspicion of embezzling natural gas for 30 billion roubles and creating a criminal grouping, formed friendly ties with law enforcers, stated experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot".

On February 5, it became known that Beslan Baichorov, the head of the Khabez district administration in Karachay-Cherkessia, and his first deputy Azamat Sidakov wrote letters of resignation. It should be noted that the Arashukov father and son are natives of the Khabez District. Their "family estate" is located in the aul (village) of Khabez, the administrative centre of the district, and Rauf Arashukov headed the district administration for several years. The resignation of the district administration head indicates that the influential family has been pushed aside from the control over the Khabez District, reports a source in the government of Karachay-Cherkessia, a Circassian activist.

Start of discussion on borders between Chechnya and Dagestan

On February 5, the Dagestani delegation headed by Khizri Shikhsaidov, the speaker of the republican parliament, arrived in Grozny to discuss the borders with Chechnya. The discussion took place without conflicts, reported Dagestani activist Shamil Khadulaev. He showed a fragment of the map with the border along the Kezenoi-Am Lake. The authorities of Chechnya and Dagestan agreed to complete the establishment of the border by late 2019. The authorities of both republics do not request each other to cede any territories, states Magomed Daudov, the chair of the Chechen parliament. Meanwhile, according to Shamil Khadulaev, Chechnya offered Dagestan to exchange equal areas of 73 hectares.

Ramzan Kadyrov explained the clarification of the borders between Chechnya and neighbouring regions by instructions got from the country's leaders. The Unified State Register of Real Estate contains the information on only two out of 27 borders between the regions of the North-Caucasus Federal District (NCFD), including on the border between Karachay-Cherkessia and the Krasnodar Territory and the border between Chechnya and North Ossetia, reports the "Rosreestr" (Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre, and Cartography).

According to journalists and political analysts, residents of Dagestan are deprived of information about the process of border demarcation and that the policy of silence, on which Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov insists, is being conducted with the knowledge of the Kremlin.

Severe earthquakes in Azerbaijan

On February 5, a series of severe magnitude 3.9-5.1 earthquakes occurred in the Ismayilli, Shamakhi, and Agsu Districts in Azerbaijan. 30 people addressed doctors for help. Of them, four were hospitalized. The Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) found 26 houses as about to collapse. Dozens of other houses need repair, and schools and roads are damaged.

Recognition of Rostov activist Anastasia Shevchenko as a political prisoner

On February 8, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" recognized Anastasia Shevchenko as a political prisoner. She is a member of the Open Russia's Council and is suspected of involvement in an organization recognized as undesirable in Russia. Anastasia Shevchenko has been under house arrest since January 23. During her arrest, her 17-year-old disabled daughter died in hospital. On February 7, the court dismissed the defence arguments that Anastasia Shevchenko was to take children to school and care for her elderly mother. Rights defenders believe Anastasia Shevchenko was arrested solely for her political views and participation in peaceful assemblies.

On February 10, in Astrakhan, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, and Makhachkala, activists held protests "March of Mothers' Wrath" in support of Anastasia Shevchenko.

Closure of schools for flu quarantine in Southern Russia

Last week, several regions of Southern Russia had to announce vacations for schoolchildren because of the threat of the flu spread. Starting from February 2, Elista closed all educational institutions and kindergartens. On February 4, the Volgograd Region imposed quarantine because of an increase in the spread of influenza. On February 5, in Vladikavkaz, the quarantine introduced on February 1 was extended to schools and kindergartens for a week. In Astrakhan, school classes are also suspended starting from February 7. In those and other regions, doctors have indicated that the most dangerous swine flu prevails among influenza viruses.

Departure of Armenian mission to Syria

On February 8, the Armenian mission of 83 members, including specialists for humanitarian mine clearance, medical officers, and a security team, arrived in Syria. "The specialists will carry out humanitarian activities related to mine clearance, anti-mine informing of the population, and medical assistance in Aleppo outside the combat zone," reported Artsrun Ovannisyan, Armenian Defence Minister. Armenia agreed to send a contingent to Syria in order to soften disagreements with Russia, but at the same time not to spoil relations with the West, believe political analysts. According to them, the presence of the Armenian contingent in Syria will give the Russian operation the status of an international mission. The Armenian opposition criticized officials for sending a mission to Syria.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 11, 2019 at 09:20 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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