23 November 2020, 16:55

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 16-22, 2020

Return of refugees from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh and transfer of territories to Azerbaijan; coronavirus infection spread statistics in Caucasus; second round of parliamentary elections in Georgia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 16-22, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Return of refugees from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh and transfer of territories to Azerbaijan

Throughout the week, there have been no reports from the Karabakh conflict zone concerning any violations of the ceasefire announced on November 10. Over five days, 25,000 people, who had left their homes earlier, arrived in Karabakh, reports Araik Arutyunyan, President of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Russian Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) expects that in total, 30,000 people will arrive in Nagorno-Karabakh, and most of them are likely to find themselves homeless.

Residents of Stepanakert, who lost their houses in shelling attacks, find temporarily accommodation in hotels, and the authorities have promised to provide them with housing. Gas, electricity, water supply, and mobile communications will be provided free of charge for all residents of Nagorno-Karabakh throughout the year. People who have lost their houses will receive payments and reimbursement of money paid for renting of housing. The authorities have promised to rebuild their houses. However, not all refugees are ready to return, because they are not sure that they will be safe and do not know how to restore their households affected by shelling attacks. The refugees say that they managed to take only the most necessary belongings and have not yet received new housing.

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. The number of coronavirus-infected people in Armenia reached 126,224, in Azerbaijan – 93,094, in Georgia – 104,732, in Abkhazia – 5380, in Nagorno-Karabakh – 421, and in South Ossetia – 1768. Armenia registered 1952 deaths from COVID-19, Azerbaijan – 1131, Georgia – 976, Abkhazia – 68, Nagorno-Karabakh – 2, and South Ossetia – 30.

During the past week, the Rostov Region, where 37,459 cases were registered, still leads in the number of coronavirus-infected patients. The Stavropol Territory with 25,907 COVID-19 patients follows the Rostov Region. In the Volgograd Region, 25,255 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, in the Krasnodar Territory – 20,726, Dagestan – 18,135, the Astrakhan Region – 12,509, Kabardino-Balkaria – 11,987, Karachay-Cherkessia – 11,521, Kalmykia – 10,973, Ingushetia – 8848, North Ossetia – 8752, Adygea – 7370, and Chechnya – 3597.

Over the past week, the Rostov Region registered the highest COVID-19 death toll – 1184. In Dagestan, 888 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus infection died, the Krasnodar Territory – 545, the Stavropol Territory – 507, the Volgograd Region – 275, the Astrakhan Region – 231, Kabardino-Balkaria – 193, Kalmykia – 128, Ingushetia – 105, North Ossetia – 73, Adygea – 61, Chechnya – 57, and Karachay-Cherkessia – 34.

Second round of parliamentary elections in Georgia

On November 21, the voting was held at the second round of the parliamentary elections in Georgia. The elections took place without the participation of the opposition, which withdrew its observers and called on its supporters to boycott the voting in protest against the results of the first round of the elections. Despite the above decision, the names of opposition candidates appeared on the ballots. According to Irakli Kobakhidze, the executive secretary of the ruling "Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia" Party, the opposition is trying to take advantage of the low voter turnout by mobilizing a protest electorate. The Central Election Commission (CEC) announced the victory of the ruling party in all electoral districts. The opposition claimed that ballot stuffing and pressure on voters took place in Batumi. A protest action took place in the city during the voting.

Start of trial in case against leaders of Ingush protests

On November 18, a preliminary court hearing was held behind closed doors in a case against seven Ingush activists, including Akhmed Barakhoev, a member of the Ingush Council of Teips (family clans), Musa Malsagov, the co-chairman of the World Congress of the Ingush People, Bagaudin Khautiev, the head for the Council of Youth Organizations in Ingushetia, Barakh Chemurziev, the chairman of the public movement "Support of Ingushetia", Malsag Uzhakhov, the head of the Council of Teips of the Ingush People, and Akhmed Nalgiev and Zarifa Sautieva, members of the Ingush Committee for National Unity (ICNU). All of the defendants are accused of creating an extremist community. The court extended the arrests of the defendants for six more months, and the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" recognized them as political prisoners.

Sentences in resonant cases on beating of a child in Ingushetia and plotting of a terror act at Philipp Kirkorov's concert

The court sentenced to six years of imprisonment an aunt of a girl from Ingushetia, who got her arm amputated after beatings. A woman's partner was sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment. The woman pleaded guilty to torturing the child. Let us remind you that after her parents had divorced, the girl ended up in her aunt's family. At present, the child lives with her mother in Magas.

In Rostov-on-Don, a court found four natives of Dagestan guilty of plotting a terror act at a Philipp Kirkorov's concert in Makhachkala in 2017. The defendants were sentenced to 19, 18, 17, and 10 years of imprisonment in a high-security penal colony. The defence considers the case as fabricated. On August 20, the defendants claimed that they had signed their confessions after being beaten and threatened. Investigators suggest that the defendants were members of a dormant unit of the "Islamic State" (a terrorist organization, banned in Russia by the court, – note of the "Caucasian Knot"), manufactured several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and prepared attempts on the lives of law enforcers. Meanwhile, during an interrogation, one of the defendants confessed that he was plotting an attempt on the contract murder of Philipp Kirkorov. According to the defendant, in 2017, Maxim Galkin allegedly offered him 2 million roubles for the murder of Philipp Kirkorov. The defendant explained the "murder order" by the fact that Maxim Galkin was allegedly jealous of his wife Alla Pugacheva for the singer. Philipp Kirkorov and Maxim Galkin publicly laughed at the above version.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on November 23, 2020 at 09:15 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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