14 December 2020, 16:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 7-13, 2020

Return of refugees, violation of the truce and statement by human rights defenders about war crimes in the Karabakh conflict zone; explosion committed by a suicide bomber in Karachay-Cherkessia; military parade in Baku; opposition boycott on the first day of the Georgian parliament's work, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 7-13, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Return of refugees, violation of truce and statement by human rights defenders about war crimes in Karabakh conflict zone

The first violation of the ceasefire regime since the end of the fighting in the Karabakh conflict zone was registered on December 11. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Nagorno-Karabakh, on December 11 and 12, the Azerbaijani armed forces attacked two Armenian villages Khtsaberd and Khin Takher (the Azerbaijani names are Chailakkala and In Takhlar, respectively, – note of the "Caucasian Knot") in the Hadrut District, which ended up in an enclave. Three soldiers of Nagorno-Karabakh were wounded, the MoD of the unrecognized republic reported. In the evening on December 12, Russian peacekeepers arrived at the place of the conflict. The Azerbaijani armed forces managed to establish control over the village of Khin Takher, the head of the village of Khtsaberd reported. On December 13, the Azerbaijani side declared the incident a necessary antiterrorist operation. According to the joint statement voiced by the Azerbaijani State Security Service and the Ministry of Defence, it was decided to hold the above antiterrorist operation because in the period from November 26 to December 8, four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the Hadrut District, while three others were wounded in attacks by armed groupings that still stayed there. Armenian analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" suggest that after the violation of the truce in the Hadrut District, similar incidents cannot be excluded in other territories of Nagorno-Karabakh, including in the Lachin corridor controlled by the Russian peacekeepers. The Armenian analysts believe Russia should react harder in such cases.

During the past week, refugees continued to return to their houses in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, by December 13, with the support of the Russian peacekeepers, about 38,500 refugees returned to Nagorno-Karabakh.

On December 10, human rights defenders announced war crimes committed by both sides of the Karabakh conflict. During the autumn escalation of the conflict, Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers decapitated prisoners of war and desecrated dead bodies of the enemy, experts from the "Amnesty International" (AI) reported after examining and verifying the authenticity of the videos from Nagorno-Karabakh. The AI called on the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia "to immediately conduct independent, impartial investigations and identify all those responsible."

Explosion committed by suicide bomber in Karachay-Cherkessia

On December 11, an explosion took place in the village of Uchkeken in the Malokarachaevsky District of Karachay-Cherkessia. According to the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC), a suspect activated an explosive device during an attempt to detain him, when law enforcers prevented him from breaking into the territory where the operational-and-search measures were being carried out. The suicide bomber was killed as a result of the explosion, while six law enforcers were injured. According to sources, the incident took place in front of the FSB building. Investigators reported that two explosive devices were activated in the village, and it was the second explosion in which the law enforcers suffered. All the injured law enforcers stay in stable condition, and there is no threat to their lives, the Ministry for Public Health of Karachay-Cherkessia reports. According to some unconfirmed reports, the deceased suicide bomber was identified as 35-year-old Ruslan Tekeev. It should be noted that the law enforcement bodies did not report any suicide bombing attacks in Northern Caucasus since November 2018. In Karachay-Cherkessia, no armed incidents have been registered since December 2017.

Military parade in Baku

A parade dedicated to the end of the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh was held on Azadliq (Freedom) Square in Baku on December 10. More than 3000 soldiers took part in the parade, and people watching the event had a chance to see about 150 items of military equipment, including the ones recently passed into service, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that played an important role during the fighting, and captured military equipment of the armies of Karabakh and Armenia. The Turkish military personnel also took part in the event. The parade was attended by Ilham Aliev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey, respectively. It should be noted that on December 12, Azerbaijan lifted the martial law regime, which was in force since September 28 in connection with the hostilities in the Karabakh conflict zone. The day of November 10, when the agreement on the cessation of the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh came into force, was declared in Azerbaijan the Victory Day in the Patriotic War, and the day of September 27, when the autumn escalation of the conflict began, was declared as the Day of Remembrance of the Deceased.

Opposition boycott on first day of Georgian parliament's work

On December 11, the Georgian opposition announced a boycott of the Georgian parliament on the first day of its work. Most of the Georgian opposition parties, which refused to recognize the election results, filed applications with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to annul their lists. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili criticized the opposition and stated that the population was tired of the opposition's attempts to "manage political processes from the street." The work of a one-party parliament will reduce confidence in the country throughout the world and affect the provision of international assistance to it, Georgian political analysts believe. According to them, the opposition boycott of the parliament's work will lead to an intensification of the political crisis in Georgia, and the absence of opposition in the parliament increases the freedom of actions for the ruling "Georgian Dream" Party.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on December 14, 2020 at 09:20 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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