21 December 2020, 16:57
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 14-20, 2020
Return of refugees, three days of mourning for the deceased, and the beginning of the exchange of prisoners of war in the Karabakh conflict zone; two armed incidents in Chechnya; round-the-clock protest action in Tskhinvali, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of December 14-20, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Return of refugees, three days of mourning for deceased, and beginning of exchange of prisoners of war in Karabakh conflict zone
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD), by December 20, over 42,000 refugees had returned to Nagorno-Karabakh with the support of Russian peacekeepers. Russia sends building materials to Karabakh to repair houses damaged during the fighting. 26 houses have already been rebuilt for Martuni residents with the involvement of the Russian peacekeepers.
The authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia declared December 19-21 the days of mourning for the people killed in the fighting. According to the official information released by Karabakh, the losses of the Armenian side reached 1825 people.
On December 14, Azerbaijan and Armenia began an exchange of prisoners of war on the principle of "all for all." On the same day, 14 Azerbaijani citizens were brought to Baku, including Shakhbaz Guliev and Dilgam Askerov, who were sentenced in Karabakh in 2014. 44 people returned to Armenia. On December 17, Azerbaijan demanded from Armenia to return three more prisoners of war, and the Karabakh authorities asked Baku for the information about the fate of 73 Armenian soldiers missed in action in the Gadrut District.
Coronavirus infection spread statistics in Caucasus
Over the past week, Georgia still leads in Southern Caucasus in the number of coronavirus-infected patients, while Armenia leads in the COVID-19 death toll. By December 20, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Georgia reached 208,638, in Azerbaijan – 202,088, in Armenia – 153,825, in Abkhazia – 7779, in Nagorno-Karabakh – 421, and in South Ossetia – 2208. Armenia has already registered 2630 deaths from COVID-19, Azerbaijan – 2210, Georgia – 2094, Abkhazia – 101, Nagorno-Karabakh – 2, and South Ossetia – 55.
Over the past week, the Rostov Region, where 47,396 cases of infection were registered, still leads in Southern Russia in the number of coronavirus-infected patients. The Stavropol Territory with 32,407 COVID-19 patients follows the Rostov Region. In the Volgograd Region, 32,403 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, in the Krasnodar Territory – 25,669, Dagestan – 21,737, the Astrakhan Region – 17,041, Kabardino-Balkaria – 14,701, Karachay-Cherkessia – 14,120, Kalmykia – 13,644, Ingushetia – 11,164, North Ossetia – 11,043, Adygea – 10,034, and Chechnya – 7159.
Over the past week, the Rostov Region registered the highest COVID-19 death toll – 1828. In Dagestan, 1064 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus infection died, the Krasnodar Territory – 785, the Stavropol Territory – 669, the Volgograd Region – 405, the Astrakhan Region – 335, Kabardino-Balkaria – 250, Kalmykia – 183, Ingushetia – 124, Chechnya – 87, North Ossetia – 85, Adygea – 77, and Karachay-Cherkessia – 38.
Two armed incidents in Chechnya
On December 16, a counterterrorist operation (CTO) took place in the Achkhoi-Martan District of Chechnya, after which Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced that suspected militant Kazbek Baidulaev had been killed in the special operation. According to the law enforcement bodies, Kazbek Baidulaev refused to surrender, tried to throw a grenade at law enforcers, and was killed by return fire. Meanwhile, the name of Kazbek Baidulaev was already mentioned among the suspects killed in the special operation conducted on October 11 in the Sernovodsky District of Chechnya near the border with Ingushetia.
On December 17, law enforcers shot dead two persons at a road-and-patrol service (known as DPS) checkpoint in Kurchaloi. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), law enforcers stopped a car to check IDs of a driver and passengers, but the people from the car threw an improvised explosive device (IED) at the law enforcers and opened fire.
After the December shootouts with law enforcers in Chechnya, the number of armed incidents in the republic has reached four since the early 2020. These are the results of the calculations run by the "Caucasian Knot" based on its own materials and information from other open sources.
Round-the-clock protest action in Tskhinvali
Starting from December 4, relatives of Inal Djabiev, who died on August 28 after his detention, have been holding an indefinite protest action in Tskhinvali. The protestors demand an effective investigation into a case on the Inal Djabiev's death, punishment of the guilty persons, and the resignation of the General Prosecutor. Let us remind you that Inal Djabiev was detained in a case on an attempt on the life of Interior Minister Igor Naniev. After the death Inal Djabiev, photos of his body with signs of severe beating were posted on the Internet. The death of Inal Djabiev was followed by mass rallies and the resignation of Prime Minister Erik Pukhaev and the entire government. A widow of Inal Djabiev refused to trust the results of the forensic examination, when the Prosecutor's Office mentioned the cause of his death as heart failure against the background of the drug withdrawal. The prosecutors' version contradicts a story of Nikolai Tskhovrebov, who was detained together with Inal Djabiev and who complained about torture. Up to 200 protesters gather in the centre of Tskhinvali. A mother of Inal Djabiev complained that the authorities ignored the demands of the protesters.
Apologizes to Ramzan Kadyrov from mother of blogger Malika Djikaeva
A mother of Malika Djikaeva, a blogger from North Ossetia, posted a video on Instagram, in which she asked Ramzan Kadyrov to help free her daughter in Chechnya and apologized for her daughter's shocking videos. In Grozny, a court sentenced Malika Djikaeva to three years of imprisonment in a case on drug possession. Relatives of Malika Djikaeva believe that the drugs were planted to punish her for the shocking Instagram videos. Malika Djikaeva became well-known in 2017 when a video of her dancing in a hijab was posted on Instagram. Since then, hijab dancing videos have become a specific feature of the Malika Djikaeva's blog. The court verdict and the appeal of the blogger's mother to Ramzan Kadyrov caused an outcry on the social networks. In their comments, together with numerous posts with condemnation, users also write posts with doubts about the Malika Djikaeva's guilt. Instagram users note it happens quite often when drugs are planted. The blogger was punished for her behaviour using the method popular in Chechnya, believes Ruslan Kutaev, the president of the Assembly of Caucasian Nations.
This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on December 21, 2020 at 09:19 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.