21 September 2020, 15:41

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 14-20, 2020

Coronavirus infection spread statistics in the Caucasus; campaign to condemn Akhmed Zakaev in Chechnya; close of the Noble Partner 2020 military exercises in Georgia; conviction of Ingush journalist Rashid Maisigov, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of September 14-20, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Coronavirus infection spread statistics 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 is also still on top in terms of an increase in the number of coronavirus-infected people. By 8:00 p.m. Moscow time on September 20, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Armenia reached 47,431 (1569 new cases over the week), in Azerbaijan – 39,188 (861 new cases over the week), in Georgia – 3502.

The number of coronavirus-infected patients is also increasing in regions of Southern Russia. While by the evening on September 13, it was reported about 110,811 coronavirus-infected patients in all the regions of Southern Russia, then by the evening on September 20, their total number reached 117,161 (6350 new cases over the week). Over the past week, the Rostov Region still leads in the number of coronavirus-infected patients, where 20,063 cases were registered. The Stavropol Territory, where 14,629 coronavirus-infected patients were detected, took the second place. The Volgograd Region with 14,063 coronavirus-infected patients found itself at the third place.

Over the week, the coronavirus death toll also increased: from 2013 to 2147 (134 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 547 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Dagestan is followed by the Rostov Region where 441 COVID-19 deaths have been already registered, and the Stavropol Territory with 292 COVID-19 deaths stays at the third place in the sad death toll statistics.

Campaign to condemn Akhmed Zakaev in Chechnya

Last week, Chechnya launched a campaign to condemn UK-based Akhmed Zakaev, the chair of the government for the self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (the bodies of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria are included in the lists of terrorist organizations, and participation in their activities is a criminal offense, – note of the "Caucasian Knot"), who condemned the incident with the Salman Tepsurkaev's humiliation which caused a public outcry. Let us remind you that on September 7-8, in Chechnya, and then beyond the republic, a video with a naked man, who introduced himself as Salman Tepsurkaev, sitting on a bottle provoked the wide public outcry. In the video, the young man explained that he was doing that as punishment for his cooperation with the opposition "1ADAT" Telegram channel. On September 10, Akhmed Zakaev condemned the incident with the Salman Tepsurkaev's humiliation. Later, Akhmed Zakaev also stated that he had evidence of the Chechen authorities' involvement in the Salman Tepsurkaev's kidnapping and torture. Chechen Mufti Salakh Mezhiev called Akhmed Zakaev an "outcast." Then, a gathering was held in the Grozny mosque "Heart of Chechnya", and on behalf of the Chechen people, participants of the gathering renounced Akhmed Zakaev and the "Euroichkerians" and subjected them to a curse. In Urus-Martan, members of the Zakaev family declared their loyalty to the "padishah" and demanded from migrants not to interfere in the affairs of Chechnya. Gatherings of citizens with the same leitmotif were held in other cities, towns, and villages of the republic, and the Press Ministry of Chechnya organized a conference on the issue. Many Instagram users considered the topic of gatherings as far-fetched and the participation of people in them as forced. Caucasian experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" called the campaign against Akhmed Zakaev in Chechnya senseless. Participants of the gatherings, condemning Akhmed Zakaev, not only broadcast the message of the authorities, but also demonstrate in such a way their loyalty to Ramzan Kadyrov, researcher Alexei Malashenko believes.

Close of Noble Partner 2020 military exercises in Georgia

On September 18, in Georgia, the Noble Partner 2020 military exercises came to a close. During the exercises, Georgian soldiers and officers practiced the skills of interaction with the United States and NATO partner countries. More than 2700 soldiers and officers, including from Poland, Great Britain, and France, participated in the military exercises, which took place since September 7. The field exercises involved military vehicles and equipment in service with Georgia and the United States, including artillery and helicopters. While commenting on the military exercises in Georgia to the "Caucasian Knot", Irakli Aladashvili, the editor-in-chief of the military magazine "Arsenali", said that the NATO's interest in the Black Sea region arose after the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula to Russia. According to the expert, "the Black Sea region has become a new 'battlefield'" in which "NATO and Russia are competing."

Conviction of Ingush journalist Rashid Maisigov

On September 16, the Magas District Court found Rashid Maisigov guilty of drug possession and sentenced him to three years of imprisonment in a common-security penal colony. Rashid Maisigov pleaded not guilty and asked the court to acquit him, while a public prosecutor requested to sentence the journalist to 5 years of imprisonment in a penal colony. Magomed Aushev, an advocate of Rashid Maisigov, called the conviction of his client unfair and unfounded and said that the verdict would be challenged up to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Let us remind you that Rashid Maisigov collaborated with the edition "Fortanga", which covered protests in Ingushetia in late March 2019. The journalist complained about receiving anonymous threats related to his professional activities. On July 12, 2019, Rashid Maisigov was detained after searches in his house, where law enforcers found a parcel with white powder and leaflets calling for the separation of Ingushetia from Russia and annexation to Georgia. Rashid Maisigov complained that after his detention he was subjected to torture. His detention coincided with the blocking of the "Fortanga" website, which was lifted after the editors' office removed a comment containing prohibited information. According to Ruslan Mutsolgov, a lawyer from the Ingush human rights organization "Mashr", the prosecution of Rashid Maisigov was motivated by his activities on the "Fortanga.ORG" portal as an administrator and a correspondent.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 21, 2020 at 09:20 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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