15 June 2020, 13:05

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 8-14, 2020

Spread of the coronavirus infection in the Caucasus; calls to help Karachay-Cherkessia in the fight against COVID-19; 25th anniversary of the terror act in Budyonnovsk; celebration of Russia Day amid the pandemic; election of the Stavropol administration head, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of June 8-14, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Spread of coronavirus infection in Caucasus

The number of coronavirus-infected people still increases in Southern Caucasus and the regions of Southern Russia.

Over the past week, Armenia still leads in Southern Caucasus in both the number of coronavirus-infected patients and the COVID-19 death toll. By the evening on June 14, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Armenia reached 16,667 (3537 new cases over the week), in Azerbaijan – 9957 (2404 new cases over the week), in Georgia – 864 (55 new cases over the week), in Nagorno-Karabakh – 78 (19 new cases over the week), in South Ossetia – 76 (10 new cases over the week), and in Abkhazia – 37 (1 new case over the week). By 8:00 p.m. Moscow time on June 14, Armenia registered 269 deaths, Azerbaijan – 119, Georgia – 14, and Abkhazia – 1.

On June 9, in connection with the continued spread of the coronavirus infection, the Azerbaijani authorities extended the quarantine regime imposed on March 24 until the end of June. On June 12, the Armenian parliament approved the extension of the emergency regime in connection with the difficult situation with the spread of the coronavirus infection for other 30 days, until July 13. In Georgia, where, according to the authorities, the situation with the spread of the coronavirus infection has stabilized, the authorities decided to continue further mitigation of the quarantine measures. Starting from June 15, Georgia opens natural reserves and resumes railway passenger traffic in five directions, as well as domestic flights.

The number of coronavirus-infected patients is also increasing in regions of Southern Russia. While by the evening on June 7, it was reported about 39,799 coronavirus-infected patients in all the regions of Southern Russia, then by the evening on June 14, their total number reached 46,335 (6536 new cases over the week). Over the week, the Rostov Region still leads in the number of new cases per week, where 7481 patients were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection. Dagestan still stays at the second place with 6557 coronavirus-infected patients. In the Krasnodar Territory, 4970 patients were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, in the Volgograd Region – 4677, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 3895, in the Stavropol Territory – 3677, in North Ossetia – 3547, in the Astrakhan Region – 2733, in Ingushetia – 2587, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 2156, in Chechnya – 1481, in Adygea – 1311, and in Kalmykia – 1263.

Over the week, the coronavirus death toll also increased: from 695 to 777. During the week, according to the sad death toll statistics, Dagestan still leads in the region: the republic has already registered 316 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Dagestan is followed by the Stavropol Territory, where 69 COVID-19 deaths have been already registered, and the Rostov Region with 67 COVID-19 deaths stays at the third place in the sad death toll statistics. By 8:00 p.m. Moscow time on June 14, in North Ossetia, 66 patients with the diagnosis of the coronavirus infection died, in Ingushetia – 62, in the Krasnodar Territory – 52, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 38, in the Volgograd Region – 27, in the Astrakhan Region – 24, in Kalmykia – 18, in Chechnya – 17, in Adygea – 12, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 9.

By May 22, apart from the COVID-19 death toll, in Dagestan, 820 residents died of community-acquired pneumonia not registered as COVID-19, the Mayoralty of Derbent reported with reference to Irina Tragira, the spokesperson for the federal medical centre. According to the statistics from the "Rospotrebnadzor", (Russian Federal Agency for Consumer Supervision), the COVID-19 death toll was 65 by May 22. Ziyautdin Uvaisov, the head of the human rights organization "Patient Monitor", suggests that in fact, many of the patients included in the statistics on deaths from community-acquired pneumonia died from COVID-19.

Calls to help Karachay-Cherkessia in fight against COVID-19

During the past week, information was received from residents of Karachay-Cherkessia who expressed their concern over the situation with the spread of the coronavirus infection in the republic. On June 8, at least six persons took part in solo pickets in front of the hospital in the Malokarachaevsky District. The protestors demanded to provide infected patients with drugs and medical care. After the solo pickets, residents of the Malokarachaevsky District held a protest rally, and, following the protest action, they signed an appeal to the Russian President. In their appeal, the people complained to President Putin about the collapse of health care system and the shortage of medical officers in the district hospital who were not paid their salaries and incentive bonuses. Furthermore, according to the protestors, local residents were denied medical assistance and free medicines and tests. Doctors from other regions of Karachay-Cherkessia also reported problems. According to them, in the republic, hospitals for coronavirus-infected patients are overcrowded, and there are not enough medical officers in health care institutions. Doctors called on the federal centre to help organize military field hospitals according to the Dagestani scenario. It should be noted that on June 9, Diana Kamurzaeva, Deputy Minister for Public Health of Karachay-Cherkessia, reported that 100 people died in the infectious diseases hospitals of the republic during the coronavirus epidemic. Of them, nine patients died from COVID-19, while the rest died from decompensation of chronic diseases and their complications. The Deputy Minister for Public Health emphasized that "any concealment or forgery of data could not be possible."

On June 14, the republic's operational headquarters reported that the Russian Ministry for Public Health sent to the region 17 highly-qualified doctors from Bashkiria with extensive experience in treating coronavirus-infected patients. On June 10, it became known that a reserve hospital with 110 beds for treatment and rehabilitation of coronavirus-infected patients was to be opened on the basis of the Ust-Dzheguta District Hospital. It will be the sixth hospital for treatment of coronavirus-infected patients.

25th anniversary of terror act in Budyonnovsk

On June 14, the Stavropol Territory held mourning events dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the armed attack of militants on the city of Budyonnovsk. Let us remind you that on June 14, 1995, a detachment of militants from Chechnya led by Shamil Basaev took 1500 people hostage in the central hospital of Budyonnovsk. After the negotiations held on June 19, 1995, the militants released the remaining hostages, and the Russian authorities agreed to cease combat actions in Chechnya and allowed the militants leaving. As a result of the terror act, 129 people were killed and 415 others were injured. Officers the "Alfa" Anti-Terror Unit, who were involved in the operation, suggested that the armed attack of the militants on Budyonnovsk was to be finished with the liquidation of the field commander, even at the cost of the lives of most hostages. Alexander Cherkasov, the chairman of the Board of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", expressed the opposite opinion and said that the release of the majority of the hostages as a result of the negotiations was the only successful peacekeeping effort since the start of the first Chechen military campaign.

Celebration of Russia Day amid pandemic

On June 12, instead of mass celebrations, the concerts were organized under windows of houses and the ceremonial raising of flags in the central squares took place without spectators in the regions of Southern Russia. A number of actions were dedicated to doctors and volunteers who helped fight the coronavirus infection. So, in Kaspiysk, librarians and activists of the All-Russian Movement "Mother of Russia" held the action "Bake a cake and say thank you". Women handed over the cakes to medical officers of the local ambulance station. In Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, the central avenue was decorated not only with posters with the symbols of the Day of Russia, but also with banners bearing words of gratitude addressed to doctors and volunteers who helped fight the coronavirus pandemic. Cherkessk, the capital of Karachay-Cherkessia, hosted a graffiti festival, which participants depicted doctors, scientists, volunteers, social workers, couriers, drivers, trade and housing and communal services workers who did not stop their activities during the period of self-isolation.

Election of Stavropol administration head

On June 11, in Stavropol, City Duma members unanimously voted to appoint Ivan Ulyanchenko, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Population for the Stavropol Territory, the head of the Stavropol city administration. Let us remind you that the position of the Stavropol Mayor became vacant after Andrei Djatdoev, who headed the Stavropol Mayoralty since 2016, died on April 30. 11 candidates submitted documents for running for the post of the Stavropol Mayor. When commenting on the results of the contest, Facebook and YouTube users wrote that the Mayor of Stavropol should be chosen by city residents themselves. Earlier, Valery Ledovskoi, Coordinator of the Centre for Civil Initiatives of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), called the election of the Stavropol Mayor a "farce," since only City Duma members were admitted to the voting.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on June 15, 2020 at 09:05 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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