30 September 2019, 13:20

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 23-29, 2019

Resonant appointment of the former DPR's leader the acting city manager in Elista; miners' strike in Georgia; ECtHR's decisions on complaints filed by relatives of disappeared residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia and Azerbaijani activists; public apologies of four wedding party participants in Chechnya; change of the protest form by Afghan War veterans in Dagestan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 23-29, 2019, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Resonant appointment of former DPR's leader the acting city manager in Elista

On September 26, the Elista City Assembly approved Dmitry Trapeznikov the acting head of the city. In 2018, he held a position of the acting head at the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). Dmitry Trapeznikov was recommended to the position of the Elista Mayor by Batu Khasikov, the leader of Kalmykia. Residents of Kalmykia criticized the appointment of Dmitry Trapeznikov. People note his appointment testifies to the Batu Khasikov's complete dependence on the Kremlin. On September 29, residents of Elista held a gathering with the demand to remove acting Elista Mayor Dmitry Trapeznikov from office. A petition with the similar demand posted on the "Change.org" platform gained more than 1700 votes within 24 hours.

Miners' strike in Georgia

On September 24, in the Georgian city of Tkibuli, workers of two closed mines went to their working places underground and refused to go out until their August wages were paid. The miners stated that they usually received their wages before the 15th day of a month. However, in September, they did not receive the money they earned and they were not informed about the payment dates. On September 25, workers from the cities of Chiatura and Zestafoni, employees of the Mayoralty, and schoolchildren joined the protest of the Tkibuli miners. The protestors held an action in front of the Tkibuli Mayoralty. On September 26, the miners stopped their strike after a meeting with Natiya Turnava, Georgian Minister of Economy. After the meeting, it became known that the coal mines in Georgia had been sold to a new owner, the "Steel International Trade Company", and it would take on the payment of all wage arrears to the miners. Moreover, "certain social obligations, including with respect to the affected families," will be fulfilled, Mr Turnava has promises.

ECtHR's decisions on complaints filed by relatives of disappeared residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia and Azerbaijani activists

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) pronounced several decisions on complaints filed by residents of Southern Russia and Azerbaijan.

On September 24, it was reported about the decisions pronounced by the Strasbourg Court in three cases of residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia. In the case of "Israilovs et al. vs. Russia", the compensation totalling to 528,850 euros was awarded to relatives of six residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia kidnapped by law enforcers in 2002-2004. In the case of "Baisultanova et al. vs. Russia", the compensation in the total amount of 920,000 euros was awarded to relatives of 10 residents of Chechnya who disappeared in 2001-2003. In the case of "Ganatova et al. vs. Russia" on the disappearance of 12 residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia in 2003-2004 after their detentions, the ECtHR awarded the compensation exceeding a million euros. In all three cases, the Strasbourg Court concluded that the Russian authorities violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the articles on the rights to life, liberty, and an effective remedy, as well as the article on the prohibition of torture.

Besides, on September 24, a decision of the ECtHR on a complaint filed by Adyg activist Askerbiy Milinov was released. The European Court decided that in 2007, the authorities unreasonably disrupted his picket and awarded the compensation to a widow of Askerbiy Milinov in the amount of 9750 euros. On May 26, 2007, in Maikop, at a rally organized by the authorities, Askerbiy Milinov tried to protest against the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Adygea's voluntary entry into Russia. Law enforcers seized a poster which Askerbiy Milinov was holding in his hands and detained him. The pensioner got an injury to his shoulder during the detention. Askerbiy Milinov appealed to the court and demanded from the law enforcement bodies the compensation for moral and physical damage. The ECtHR found in the actions of Russian law enforcers a violation of the right to freedom of expression provided by the European Convention on Human Rights.

On September 26, the European Court of Human Rights announced its decision in the case of "Medjidli et al. vs. Azerbaijan". The ECtHR recognized unlawful the arrests and prison sentences of 11 Azerbaijani activists sentenced for participating in a rally on April 2, 2011. The European Court obliged the Azerbaijani government to pay the activists the compensation in the total amount of 128,500 euros. The ECtHR recognized violations of the complainants' rights to liberty and security of person, to a fair trial, to freedom of expression, and to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Public apologies of four wedding party participants in Chechnya

On September 24, at a meeting with ministers, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov criticized videos from wedding parties posted on social networks. The Chechen leader stated he would not allow violators of local traditions live in the republic. In particular, Ramzan Kadyrov condemned a resident of Chechnya, who shot a video of himself with her daughter on her wedding day. The man himself recorded a video with an apology for his "unworthy act." On the same day, another resident of Chechnya publicly apologized for a joking communication with his bride at their wedding party. In another video, which Ramzan Kadyrov demonstrated to participants of the meeting, a bride in a wedding dress was singing together with a woman wearing a hijab. After that, a video was disseminated on YouTube in which the woman who was singing on the wedding party video apologized for her "misstep." Another video with an apology for violating the Chechen wedding traditions was posted on Instagram on September 26. In the video, a man said that he had made a mistake while standing next to a bride, who was his niece. The man explained that according to the Chechen Adats, bride's relatives should have been hiding. Those videos continued the practice of public apologies in Chechnya and provoked debates among users of social networks. Ramzan Kadyrov earns points on the Chechen traditionalism, believes Ruslan Kutaev, the president of the Assembly of Caucasian Nations.

Change of protest form by Afghan War veterans in Dagestan

In Dagestan, several dozens of Afghan War veterans, who demand from the authorities to provide them with housing, have replaced their hunger strike with a round-the-clock picket. Let us remind you that the Afghan War veterans started their hunger strike on September 17. The hunger-strikers complained about the absence of the authorities' reaction to their demands. On September 25, after persuading statements from officials of the Dagestani Muftiate, who called the hunger strike an unacceptable form of protest for Muslims, Afghan War veterans stopped it. Meanwhile, the protesters said they would stay in a park in Makhachkala and would not leave the place until they were received by Dagestani leader Vladimir Vasiliev.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 30, 2019 at 09:30 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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