24 August 2020, 13:07

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 17-23, 2020

Spread of the coronavirus infection in the Caucasus; two CTOs in Ingushetia; actions in support of Alexei Navalny; attack on an MP in Kalmykia; new protests of Armenian residents against gold mining at Amulsar field, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 17-23, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Spread of coronavirus infection in Caucasus

Over the past week, Armenia still leads in Southern Caucasus in both the number of coronavirus-infected patients and the COVID-19 death toll. Meanwhile, over the past week, Armenia also came out on top in terms of an increase in the number of coronavirus-infected people. By the evening on August 23, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Armenia reached 42,792 (1129 new cases over the week), in Azerbaijan – 35,274 (1055 new cases over the week), in Georgia – 1411 (75 new cases over the week), in Nagorno-Karabakh – 268 (14 new cases over the week), in South Ossetia – 89 (no new cases over the week), and in Abkhazia – 242 (53 new cases over the week). By 8:00 p.m. Moscow time on August 23, Armenia registered 852 deaths from COVID-19, Azerbaijan – 518, Georgia – 17, Abkhazia – 3, and Nagorno-Karabakh – 2.

The number of coronavirus-infected patients is also increasing in regions of Southern Russia. While by the evening on August 16, it was reported about 89,057 coronavirus-infected patients in all the regions of Southern Russia, then by the evening on August 23, their total number reached 93,830 (4773 new cases over the week). Over the past week, the Rostov Region still leads in the number of coronavirus-infected patients, where 15,887 cases were registered. The Volgograd Region, where 11,299 coronavirus-infected patients were detected, took the second place. The Stavropol Territory with 10,995 coronavirus-infected patients found itself at the third place.

Over the week, the coronavirus death toll also increased: from 1575 to 1672 (97 new cases of death over the week). During the week, according to the sad death toll statistics, Dagestan still leads in the region: the republic has already registered 483 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Dagestan is followed by the Rostov Region where 308 COVID-19 deaths have been already registered, and the Stavropol Territory with 215 COVID-19 deaths stays at the third place in the sad death toll statistics.

Two CTOs in Ingushetia

On August 17, in the forest near the village of Galashki in the Sunzha District of Ingushetia, law enforcers discovered a hiding with ammunition, and after that they were shelled. After starting a search for militants in the area, the law enforcers killed two suspects and claimed that they had rendered armed resistance. After examining the killed suspects' bodies, the law enforcers found a service pistol which could belong to Uvais Aliev, a fighter of the National Guard of Russia, who was shot dead on the outskirts of the village of Yandare in the Nazran District on July 28, sources reported. According to the sources, there were five attackers in total.

In the morning on August 23, a counterterrorist operation (CTO) was announced in the village of Troitskoye in the Sunzha District of Ingushetia. The CTO became the fifth in the republic since the early 2020. Three supporters of the "Islamic State" (IS), a terrorist organization banned in Russia by the court, were killed, and two law enforcers were wounded during the CTO in the Sunzha District of Ingushetia, the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) reported. According to the NAC, the militants who were hiding in a house were requested to lay down their arms and surrender, but opened fire on the law enforcers in response. The CTO legal regime in the Troitskoye village was lifted on the same day.

Actions in support of Alexei Navalny

In various regions of Russia, including in the south of the country, opposition activists held a series of actions in support of Alexei Navalny. In the morning on August 20, the opposition leader was hospitalized with suspicion of poisoning. The politician felt bad on the airplane when he flew from Tomsk to Moscow. The airplane made an emergency landing in Tomsk, and Alexei Navalny was taken unconscious to a local hospital. According to one of the doctors' versions, the oppositionist could be poisoned. On August 22, the politician was transported to Berlin for treatment. On August 21, in Southern Russia, members of the Alexei Navalny's office regarded the incident with the politician as an attempt on his life and announced their intention to hold a series of pickets in his support. Participants of the pickets held in Volgograd on August 21 associated the poisoning of Alexei Navalny with his political activities. On the same day, staff members of the Alexei Navalny's local office and activists held solo pickets in Krasnodar. On August 22, in Rostov-on-Don, a series of solo pickets was held by members of the Alexei Navalny's office: they demanded to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, after which the politician was hospitalized. On the same day, in Astrakhan and Volgograd, activists held solo pickets with the same demand.

Attack on MP in Kalmykia

On August 20, Arslan Kusminov, a member of the People's Khural (Parliament) from the "Edinaya Rossiya" (United Russia) Party, claimed that he was attacked by "young people with clubs" in the centre of Elista. The MP refused hospitalization and filed a complaint to the police about his beating. Arslan Kusminov associates the attack with his political activities, since he believes he had no domestic conflicts with anyone. According to the MP, the incident was provoked by his critical remarks about the authorities of the republic. Batu Khasikov, the leader of Kalmykia, announced that he would personally follow the progress of the investigation into the attack on the MP.

New protests of Armenian residents against gold mining at Amulsar deposit

In Armenia, activists and local residents have resumed their protest actions against the development of the Amulsar deposit near the town of Jermuk. Residents believe that the gold mining will transform the resort town into a mining one. People do not agree with the conclusions of the international expert opinion, which stated that the environmental risks during the development of the mine would be minimal. According to participants of a flash mob held in Yerevan on August 19, the authorities of Armenia ignore the situation with the Amulsar deposit, despite the massive protests. On August 20, the activists held a motor rally from Jermuk to Yerevan and announced starting in that way a series of peaceful actions of disobedience. On the same day, the Amulsar defenders held a protest march across Yerevan. The activists handed over to officials a letter addressed to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Minister of the Environment Romanos Petrosyan. In their appeal, the Amulsar defenders called for a new examination. The rally held on August 20 was a warning, the activists emphasized. They claimed that the people started protesting in the streets because of the authorities' silence over the problem.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 22, 2020 at 09:12 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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