18 February 2021, 23:44

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 1-7, 2021

Case of Chechen native Djumaev; public outcry about a murder in Makhachkala; trial in a case against Ingush activists, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 1-7, 2021, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Case of Chechen native Djumaev

On January 23, Chechen native Said-Mukhammad Djumaev had a fight with law enforcers at a rally in support of oppositionist Alexei Navalny in Moscow. The young Chechen fled, but was soon detained and arrested until March 23 on the charge of using violence against public officers. On February 2, Ramzan Kadyrov criticized Said-Mukhammad Djumaev: the leader of Chechnya claimed that the young man harmed the people of Chechnya and added that when the young Chechen was hiding from the law enforcement bodies after the rally, his action was not worth a man.

By insulting Said-Mukhammad Djumaev, the leader of Chechnya provoked a new wave of his heroization. Meanwhile, a video collage with the participation of Said-Mukhammad Djumaev was posted on social media platforms. An author of the video story made conclusions about the unworthy behaviour of the young man. However, friends of Said-Mukhammad Djumaev stated that the facts were distorted by editing.

The public outcry around the story with Said-Mukhammad Djumaev was caused by the fact that he became the first Chechen within many years to take the side of the opposition, note blogger Musa Lomaev and human rights defender Oyub Titiev. The young Chechen native may avoid real imprisonment for his fight with the law enforcers if he admits his guilt, the lawyers suggest.

A friend of Said-Mukhammad Djumaev said the young man took to the street not so much for Alexei Navalny as for the change in the situation in the country.

Public outcry about murder in Makhachkala

On February 6, Abakar Kaplanov, the former head of the village of Novokuli, was shot and killed at a police station in Makhachkala. Two fighters of the National Guard of Russia were detained on suspicion of the murder. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) for Dagestan reported that the incident resulted from a conflict between fellow villagers over a disputed land plot.

According to a source, Abakar Kaplanov was suspected of illegal transactions with land plots.

Return of refugees, post-war victims, and search for dead bodies in Karabakh conflict zone

According to the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD), by January 31, more than 52,000 people had returned to Karabakh. Residents of the villages of Shurnukh and Vorotan, whose houses appeared to stay in the territory controlled by Azerbaijan, will receive a one-time assistance in the amount of 300,000 drams and monthly payments in the amount of 68,000 drams, reports Mesrop Arakelyan, Armenian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. The Armenian authorities also announced the construction of new houses for the above-mentioned people.

Cases when civilians of Azerbaijan were blown up on mines became more frequent. On February 3, three residents of the Fizuli District entered the territory where the combat actions used to take place and were blown up by a mine. One of the residents was killed in the explosion, while two others were injured. On February 5, seven residents were detained when they entered an area not cleared of mines in the Fizuli District. A court arrested six of them for 30 days, and one more man was fined 150 manats (90 US dollars). On February 7, a car with residents of the Fizuli District was blown up by a mine in the Djabrail District. One person was killed in the explosion, and field investigators are engaged in establishing the whereabouts of two of his fellow travellers.

Not only civilians fell victim to the mine explosions: on February 4, three Azerbaijani soldiers were blown up by a mine in the Agdam District. Gubad Zenailov was killed in the explosion, while Nemat Babaev and Baligardash Malikmamedov got injuries.

The search for the remains of the dead bodies is still underway. By February 3, the number of found dead bodies of soldiers reached 1355, but since then, Baku has not allowed search activities on the battlefield, Karabakh rescuers report.

Echoes of protest actions in Southern Russia

On January 23 and 31, mass protests, primarily associated with the support of arrested oppositionist Alexei Navalny, took place throughout the whole Russia. On February 2, Alexei Navalny was sentenced to imprisonment in a penal colony. Meanwhile, the Navalny's office in Krasnodar, where the most massive rally in Southern Russia took place, urged people not to hold protest actions. In the absence of rallies, the police began to detain passers-by.

The arrest of Alexei Navalny did not provoke any massive actions in Krasnodar, Volgograd, and Rostov-on-Don, since many of the participants in the January protests were not his supporters, political analysts suggest. They predict the extinction of the protest activity in Southern Russia.

Trial in case against Ingush activists

In Yessentuki, the court continues the trial in a case against seven leaders of the Ingush protest accused of creating an extremist community. Prosecution witnesses so far testified in favour of the defendants. On February 2, two fighters of the National Guard of Russia retracted their claims against the defendants.

On February 4, one prosecution witness called the participants of the March 2019 protest extremists, but was unable to substantiate his assessment with any certain facts. The second witness testified in favour of the defendants.

Garbage collapse in Dagestan

On February 4, Salman Dadaev, Mayor of Makhachkala, announced that the city is not able to take out the garbage in due time because of the shortage of special vehicles. Users of social media platforms assessed the situation with garbage collection in the city as disastrous. On February 5, the Mayoralty announced that several thousand people would take part in a massive cleanup. Instagram users note that the authorities should deal with the problem of garbage collection by themselves, without involving city residents in the problem.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 8, 2021 at 02:26 pm MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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