25 February 2019, 20:09

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 18-24, 2019

The 75th anniversary of the deportation of Chechen and Ingush people; CTO in Dagestan; update in the list of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 18-24, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

75th anniversary of deportation of Chechen and Ingush people

On February 23, residents of Chechnya succeeded in holding religious ceremonies on the 75th anniversary of the deportation of the Vainakh people and a mourning meeting in Grozny. Contrary to the expectations, the above actions were announced by Ramzan Kadyrov, although in the past eight years, the Chechen authorities treated February 23 only as a public holiday. Moreover, residents of Chechnya distributed alms in memory of victims of repressions, and the authorities organized a large-scale distribution of food to the poor.

In Ingushetia, the authorities once again tried to combine holiday and mourning events. However, at the official event held on the occasion of the Defender of the Fatherland Day and the 75th anniversary of the deportation of the Ingush people, activists expressed their protest. The speech delivered by the leader of Ingushetia was accompanied by whistles and shouts. On February 23, mourning events to pay tribute to victims of the deportation of 1944 also took place near the monument to victims of Stalin's repressions in the village of Yaryk-Su in Dagestan.

Actions in memory of oppositionist Boris Nemtsov in Southern Russia

On February 24, actions in memory of Boris Nemtsov took place in Russian cities, including in Southern Russia. The politician was assassinated in Moscow on February 27, 2015. Five natives of Chechnya and Ingushetia were sentenced in the case on Boris Nemtsov's murder, but names of the persons who ordered the crime were never mentioned. In Volgograd, seven activists held pickets and criticized a superficial investigation into the murder. In Sochi, where the politician was born, protesters laid flowers and lit candles at the monument to victims of political repressions. Solo pickets were also held in Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, and Astrakhan.

In Moscow, participants of the march in memory of Boris Nemtsov demanded to find a person who ordered the politician's murder and called for the release of political prisoners, including Oyub Titiev, the head of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" office in Grozny.

CTO in Dagestan

On February 19, a counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was introduced on the outskirts of the Belidji village in the Derbent District of Dagestan. Sources reported a shootout between law enforcers and militants. The National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) reported killing a militant who was plotting a terror act and had a "suicide bomber's belt" with him. The CTO did not affect local residents. Users of social networks questioned the fact that the killed man was a militant. They recalled the resonant murder of the Gasanguseinov brothers-shepherds.

According to the calculations run by the "Caucasian Knot", the CTO in the Derbent District became the second one within 10 months.

Trial on case of man's death after interrogation at police station in Vladikavkaz

On February 18, the court of Vladikavkaz started hearings in the case on Vladimir Tskaev's death in November 2015 after his interrogation at a police station. Relatives of Vladimir Tskaev believe that he had been tortured. There are 10 policemen in the prisoner's dock, and none of them has pleaded guilty. A widow of Vladimir Tskaev called on the court to toughen up the articles of the prosecution for the defendants. The woman said that after the detention of her husband, law enforcers did not informed her of any details about him and she learned about his death from her acquaintance who worked at a morgue. A cousin of Vladimir Tskaev noted that she did not immediately recognize her brother's body, since the body "was covered with bruises and blood stains."

Update in list of political prisoners in Azerbaijan

On February 20, a group of Azerbaijani rights defenders, activists, and lawyers made public an updated list of political prisoners. The list included 181 people. Of them, 127 were recognized as political prisoners, and the cases of other 54 were taken under monitoring. The previous version of the list included names of 128 political prisoners, and other two persons were taken under monitoring. The Azerbaijani authorities deny the existence of political prisoners in the country.

Loss of constitutional majority in parliament by "Georgian Dream" Party

The ruling "Georgian Dream" Party lost its constitutional majority in the parliament after three MPs had left it. Ekaterina Beseliya left the party in protest against the fact that the council of the "Georgian Dream" Party did not support her proposal to postpone the indefinite appointment of judges until December 31, 2024. Furthermore, MPs Levan Gogichaishvili and Beka Natsvlishvili left the party, being dissatisfied with the position of the "Georgian Dream" Party on a number of bills. All three MPs will continue their activities as independent members of the parliament. At present, the "Georgian Dream" Party has 112 mandates in the parliament, while 113 are needed to gain the constitutional majority. In total, there are 150 members of the parliament.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 25, 2019 at 09:01 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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