09 November 2020, 16:48

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 2-8, 2020

Advance of the Azerbaijani troops in Karabakh; opposition protests after the parliamentary elections in Georgia; detention of natives of Northern Caucasus after a terror act in Vienna, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 2-8, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Advance of Azerbaijani troops in Karabakh

Over the past week, the fighting continued in the Karabakh conflict zone. The parties to the conflict accused each other of violating the ceasefire agreement and reported about shelling attacks on villages, towns, and cities, including Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.

By the beginning of the week, Azerbaijan announced restoring control over about 200 villages, towns, and cities. On November 8, President Ilham Aliev announced that Azerbaijani troops had established control over the city of Shusha (the Armenian name is Shushi, – note of the "Caucasian Knot"). The Armenian side claimed that the battles for the city continued. According to analysts, control of the Shushi city plays a key role in the war for Nagorno-Karabakh due to its proximity to Stepanakert and the possibility to manage transport communications.

According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Nagorno-Karabakh, on November 2, 1177 soldiers and 49 civilians were killed. By November 7, at least 93 civilians were killed in Azerbaijan.

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. By November 8, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Armenia reached 106,424, in Azerbaijan – 65,411, in Georgia – 57,753, in Abkhazia – 4720, in Nagorno-Karabakh – 421, and in South Ossetia – 1326. Armenia registered 1559 deaths from COVID-19, Azerbaijan – 840, Georgia – 475, Abkhazia – 51, Nagorno-Karabakh – 2, and South Ossetia – 16.

The number of coronavirus-infected patients is also increasing in regions of Southern Russia. Over the past week, the Rostov Region, where 33,117 cases were registered, still leads in the number of coronavirus-infected patients. The Rostov Region is followed by the Stavropol Territory where 22,904 COVID-19 patients have been already registered. In the Volgograd Region, 22,041 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, in the Krasnodar Territory – 18,487, Dagestan – 16,751, Kabardino-Balkaria – 10,771, Karachay-Cherkessia – 10,291, the Astrakhan Region – 10,586, Kalmykia – 9846, Ingushetia – 7849, North Ossetia – 7756, Adygea – 6310, and Chechnya – 2812.

Over the past week, the Rostov Region registered 946 deaths from COVID-19, Dagestan – 807, the Krasnodar Territory – 472, the Stavropol Territory – 453, the Volgograd Region – 229, the Astrakhan Region – 186, Kabardino-Balkaria – 159, Kalmykia – 111, Ingushetia – 98, North Ossetia – 71, Adygea – 54, Chechnya – 48, and Karachay-Cherkessia – 34.

Opposition protests after parliamentary elections in Georgia

In Georgia, the opposition did not recognize the results of the parliamentary elections held on October 31, following which outcome the "Georgian Dream-Democratic Movement" Party was able to independently form the government. On November 5, the Georgian Prime Minister claimed that the number of cases of the coronavirus infection was growing because of mass actions. On November 9, the authorities of Georgia imposed a curfew in seven major cities. Experts suggest that the above measure is aimed primarily against protests. The authorities fear a repetition of the 2003 "Rose Revolution", when thousands of rallies were held in Tbilisi after the rigged elections, political analyst Gela Vasadze believes. On November 8, the opposition presented an ultimatum to the government with the demand to make an urgent decision to hold new elections. The ruling party will not accept the ultimatum, says the deputy speaker of the Georgian parliament. In Tbilisi, the police poured water over participants of a protest action in front of the Central Election Commission (CEC) building, and at least two persons were injured.

Sentence to Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Sadygov

On November 3, a court found Afghan Sadygov, the editor-in-chief of the "Azel.tv" website, guilty of extortion of money and sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment. The journalist claimed that the criminal case against him had been falsified and went on a hunger strike. According to the investigators' version, Afghan Sadygov and Sakit Muradov, the director of the "Xəbərfakt.az" website, were extorting about 9000 US dollars from Sumgait officials under the threat of making public incriminating information. The spouse of Afghan Sadygov believes that her husband is being prosecuted for his journalistic activities and posts on social networks. Advocate Elchin Sadygov notes there is no reliable evidence of the Afghan Sadygov's guilt in the criminal case. According to the advocate, the charge was brought against Afghan Sadygov in response to his article about local officials. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) came out in support of the journalist. It should be noted that the "Union for the Freedom of Political Prisoners of Azerbaijan" (UFPPA) recognized Afghan Sadygov as a political prisoner.

Day of National Unity and anniversary of October Revolution amid pandemic

In the regions of the Southern Federal District (SFD) and the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), most of the events on the occasion of the Day of National Unity were held online in connection with the spread of the coronavirus infection. In Ingushetia, an exhibition of national carpets was held online, while the Krasnodar Territory organized a photo exhibition. To take part in the above exhibition, a person was to take a picture while dressed in the national costume, perform a traditional dance, play a musical instrument, or cook a dish of national cuisine. In Kabardino-Balkaria, the Big Ethnographic Dictation became the most ambitious action. In Sochi, during the action "Pass the Victory Banner", members of national communities dressed in traditional national costumes passed each other a copy of the Victory banner to remind everyone that during the Great Patriotic War the peoples of the Soviet Union defeated the enemy due to their united force. Meanwhile, residents of Sochi interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" said that not everyone understood the relatively new holiday and that in the conditions of the epidemic, it would be better to spend a day off with the family.

On November 7, about 300 residents of Rostov-on-Don came to a rally organized by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) on the occasion of the 103rd anniversary of the October Revolution. The activists demanded to cancel the pension reform and criticized the gubernatorial elections for falsifications.

Detention of natives of Northern Caucasus after terror act in Vienna

On November 2, a series of terror act took place in the Austrian capital. Three persons were killed, while 16 others were injured. One of the gunmen was killed, and he was identified as a supporter of the "Islamic State" (IS, a terrorist organization, banned in Russia by the court, – note of the "Caucasian Knot"). After the terror acts, the Austrian authorities detained natives of Northern Caucasus and the Balkan countries. On November 5, it was reported that after the terror act in Vienna, at least 15 people suspected of having connections with the alleged terrorist, including a Chechen native, were detained.

In Vienna, a series of the terrorist attacks occurred after in October, in a suburb of Paris, a teacher was beheaded after showing his students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad from the "Charlie Hebdo" magazine. The suspected killer was a Russian citizen of Chechen origin. The French president announced that the country's authorities would not refuse to publish such cartoons. Ramzan Kadyrov accused Emmanuel Macron of fomenting extremist ideas, and Chechen Mufti Salakh Mezhiev declared the French president "the terrorist number one." Meanwhile, Ramzan Kadyrov and Salakh Mezhiev did not react in any way to a series of the terror act in Vienna.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on November 9, 2020 at 09:20 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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