13 May 2019, 14:06

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 6-12, 2019

Military parades and "Immortal Regiment" marches dedicated to the Victory Day; start of the Muslim fasting of Ramadan; gas explosions in a multi-storey building in Zheleznovodsk and an apartment building in the Rostov Region village; detention of Ingush activist Ismail Nalgiev in Minsk, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of May 6-12, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Military parades and "Immortal Regiment" actions dedicated to Victory Day

On May 9, military parades were held in various cities of Russia, including in the south of the country, and marches of the action "Immortal Regiment" took place to pay tribute to the memory of participants of World War II. The march "Immortal Regiment" became the main event on Victory Day for residents of Nalchik and other cities of Kabardino-Balkaria: 85,000 residents of the republic took part in the marches. Residents of Makhachkala joined the action "Immortal Regiment". According to them, every year on Victory Day they go out to march with portraits of their relatives and country people. The people praised the organization of festive events. In Rostov-on-Don, the action "Immortal Regiment" gathered 105,000 participants. 140,000 residents of Sochi took part in the march "Immortal Regiment". In Volgograd, the action "Immortal Regiment" was held with enhanced security measures, and because of them, law enforcers did not allow people with bicycles to go through metal detectors to reach the gathering place. In Grozny, some students and public sector employees said they were obliged to take part in the celebration of Victory Day and the march "Immortal Regiment". They noted that they were given ready-made portraits of front-line soldiers and officers unfamiliar to them.

On May 9, in Nagorno-Karabakh, residents of five cities also participated in the action "Immortal Regiment". In contrast to similar processions in Russia, local residents carried in their hands the portraits of participants not only of World War II, but also of the Karabakh conflict. The march "Immortal Regiment" was also held in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia: it was organized by the Russian-Armenian Youth Unity and the Association of Armenian Volunteers. According to the police, the march "Immortal Regiment", which was held for the fourth year in a row, gathered about 3000 people.

On May 9, the march "Immortal Regiment" and the counteraction with anti-Russian slogans took place in Tbilisi. Five persons were detained. All of them were released on the same day. One of them has got a warning for using Soviet symbols banned in Georgia, while the others will appear before the court in an administrative case on disorderly conduct and disobedience to the police.

In Azerbaijan, the day of May 9 was declared a holiday. However, at the state level, no mass processions and military parade are held on that day. Meanwhile, this year, in Baku, the traditional solemn ceremony was held at the monument to Azi Aslanov, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, while another festive event with the participation of war veterans, public officials, law enforcers, officials from diplomatic missions of the CIS countries, public figures, and schoolchildren was held at the memorial complex "Mass Grave" in the Narimanov District of Baku.

Start of Muslim fasting of Ramadan

In 2019, the first day of the fasting on the Muslim holy month of Ramadan fell on May 6. On that day, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Ingushetia held various charity events, collective iftars, and nashid evening. In Chechnya, like in the neighbouring republics, the fasting in honour of the holy month of Ramadan began this year on May 6. The Chechen authorities have reported on the distribution of more than 30,000 food packages on the first day of the fasting month. Local residents treated the action as a PR step. The authorities practiced demonstrative distribution of food also in Soviet times, reported scientists engaged in studies of the Caucasus, interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". This year, Chechen theologians set zakat al-Fitr (alms compulsory for the believers) and kaffarat (redemption for breaking the fasting) in the amounts of 100 and 50 roubles, respectively. On the eve of Ramadan, in Grozny, prices for certain types of products grew, local residents reported.

Gas explosions in multi-storey building in Zheleznovodsk and apartment building in Rostov Region village

At night on May 6, in Zheleznovodsk, a fire broke out in a nine-storey building in No. 43 in Engels Street. 70 people were evacuated from the building. Of them, eight stayed at temporary accommodation centres (TACs). As a result of the fire, one person was killed, and other 20 were injured, including eight hospitalized. An emergency mode was introduced in the city. Users of social networks report that the fire was preceded by an explosion. The fire started in one of the apartments on the ground floor after a domestic gas explosion, investigators report. However, according to the gas supply company, the apartment where the fire started had no gas supply and there was no gas leakage. Later, it was reported that the fire was caused by a gas explosion in one of the apartments of the house where a gas cylinder was allegedly stored.

At night on May 12, an explosion of gas occurred in an apartment building in the village of Chistoozyorny in the Rostov Region. As a result of the gas explosion, two persons were hospitalized, including an elderly woman with a traumatic brain injury. According to doctors, the woman is in severe condition. Moreover, a child died in an ambulance, and rescuers got an adult body out of the ruins. The tenants evacuated from the house were placed to a TAC, which was organized in a local hospital. Some of the people were sheltered by their relatives. According to the local authorities, the building where the gas explosion occurred is not suitable for living.

Detention of Ingush activist Ismail Nalgiev in Minsk

On May 8, Ismail Nalgiev, the coordinator of the NGO "Choice of Ingushetia", was detained at the airport in Minsk, from where he planned to fly to the Czech Republic. According to Ingush activists, the search was initiated by the authorities of Ingushetia. Human rights defenders called for prevention of violations of the Ismail Nalgiev's rights and his extradition to Russia. The human rights defenders expressed their concern that the activist might be subjected to torture. Ismail Nalgiev himself threatened to go on a hunger strike if extradited to Russia. He was charged with an administrative offense, but a trial in Minsk was cancelled in connection with the decision to extradite the activist to Russia. During about a day after Ismail Nalgiev had been handed over to the Russian law enforcement bodies, neither his relatives, nor human rights defenders, nor advocates knew the exact whereabouts of the activist. On May 11, it became known that Ismail Nalgiev was taken to a SIZO (pre-trial prison) in Nalchik. He was charged with using violence against a public official in a criminal case on protests and clashes with law enforcers in Magas and Nazran, which took place in late March.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on May 13, 2019 at 09:01 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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