01 March 2021, 18:59

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 22-28, 2021

Seventy-seventh anniversary of the deportation of Chechen and Ingush people; massive actions held by opponents of the Armenian Prime Minister; appointment of the new Prime Minister of Georgia and the protests in Tbilisi, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 22-28, 2021, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Seventy-seventh anniversary of deportation of Chechen and Ingush people

In Ingushetia, events to mark the anniversary of the deportation of the Vainakh people and the celebration of the Defender of the Fatherland Day took place in different places. However, at a mourning rally in Nazran, the leaders of the republic mentioned the festive date. The celebration of the Defender of the Fatherland Day on February 23, on the day of the anniversary of the deportation, highlights the tragic nature of the expulsion, protesters state. The holiday coincides with the anniversary of the deportation, and that fact makes entertainment events unacceptable, believe Murad Daskiev, the acting head of the Ingush Council of Teips (family clans) and Issa Kostoev, an adviser to the leader of Ingushetia.

For the second year in a row, after a long break, the Chechen authorities held an official rally in Grozny in memory of victims of the Stalinist deportation and combined the mourning date with the celebration of the Defender of the Fatherland Day. However, unlike last year, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov did not attend the event, since he had left for Dubai on a visit. Earlier, the Chechen authorities rescheduled the mourning events associated with the deportation from February 23 to May 10, and the memory of the deported people was actually replaced by mourning for Akhmat Kadyrov, the former President of Chechnya.

The problem around the restoration of the Aukhov District, which the authorities of Chechnya pointed out, creates the basis for conflict between residents of the republics, Instagram users believe.

On February 23, thousands of people, including residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia, came to the mourning rally in the Novolaksky District of Dagestan. At the rally, speakers covered the acute problem around the restoration of the Aukhov District, on the territory of which Chechens lived until 1944. Analysts explained Ramzan Kadyrov's interest in Dagestani Chechens by his ambitions. The authorities of Chechnya decided to earn political points at mourning events, which they prohibited earlier, note Caucasian expert Mikhail Roschin and human rights defender Ruslan Kutaev.

Massive actions held by opponents of Armenian Prime Minister and verdict to members of "Sasna Tsrer" detachment

Last week, the situation in Yerevan escalated. Starting from November 2020, when Armenia signed the ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh, activists have been holding actions with the demand of the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's resignation. On February 25, the General Headquarters of the Armenia's Armed Forces demanded the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan. Prior to that, the Prime Minister dismissed Tiran Khachatryan, the deputy chief of the General Headquarters of the Armenia's Armed Forces, who called "ridiculous" Nikol Pashinyan's statement about the alleged combat-inefficiency of the missile systems purchased from Russia. The opposition accused the Prime Minister of undermining the Armenian-Russian relations. On February 25, Nikol Pashinyan threatened to harshly suppress the protests, but the opposition set up a tent camp in front of the parliament building. On February 28, at a rally in Yerevan, activists from among the intelligentsia and veterans of the law enforcement bodies spoke in support of the demand for the Prime Minister's resignation.

Nikol Pashinyan's conflict with the leaders of the General Headquarters of the Armenia's Armed Forces has revealed the low authority of the Prime Minister in the army, political analysts note. At a meeting held on February 26, analysts and activists said a way out of the situation might be to hold parliamentary elections and create a new political force that would unite residents and lead the country out of the crisis.

On February 24, in Yerevan, a court found members of the "Sasna Tsrer" (Daredevils of Sassoun) detachment guilty in a case on the seizure of a police regiment building in July 2016 and sentenced them to 4 to 25 years of imprisonment. The armed detachment formed by supporters of the "Constituent Parliament" movement held the police building in Yerevan from July 17 to 31, 2016, demanding to release "all political prisoners." As a result of the seizure of the police regiment building, two persons were killed. After the 2018 Velvet Revolution, most of the "Sasna Tsrer" members were released. They were accused of taking and killing hostages, illegal carrying and theft of weapons. The convicts plead not guilty and intend to appeal against the sentences.

Attack on law enforcers in Karachay-Cherkessia

On February 25, law enforcers were attacked in the village of Uchkeken in the Malokarachaevsky District of Karachay-Cherkessia. As a result, a policeman was stabbed, and a fighter of the National Guard of Russia got a gunshot wound. The law enforcers approached a car to check the driver's ID. The driver stabbed the policeman with a knife, while a passenger fired from a gun at the fighter of the National Guard of Russia. On February 28, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reported that one of the suspected attackers was detained in Cherkessk while the police were checking people's IDs. The attack on the law enforcers was preceded by an armed incident in the Uchkeken village on December 11, 2020. Then a suicide bomber activated a bomb, and six FSB agents were injured as a result.

Actions in memory of Boris Nemtsov in Southern Russia

On the anniversary of the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead in Moscow on February 27, 2015, actions in his memory were held in Southern Russia. Residents of Sochi laid flowers at the house where the politician was born and at the monument to victims of the political repressions. In Astrakhan, an activist held a solo picket, and seven city residents laid flowers at the monument to victims of the political repressions. In Volgograd, where the authorities banned a rally under the pretext of the epidemic, four residents of the city held pickets to undermine that the ordering party of the murder went unpunished.

Appointment of new Prime Minister of Georgia and protests in Tbilisi

At a meeting of the Georgian parliament held on February 22, Irakli Garibashvili was approved as the prime minister of the country. He was nominated by the "Georgian Dream" Party after Giorgi Gakhariya announced his resignation because of non-execution of a court's decision on the detention of Nika Meliya, the leader of the opposition "United National Movement" (UNM) Party. Irakli Garibashvili held the position of the Prime Minister of Georgia in the period from November 2013 to December 2015. The appointment of the new Prime Minister of Georgia took place amid protests. Participants of a protest action held in front of the parliament announced that they were protesting against the pro-Russian policy of the Georgian government and calling for early parliamentary elections.

On February 23, in Tbilisi, the police carried out a special operation to detain Nika Meliya. On the same day, supporters of Nika Meliya held a large-scale protest action in front of the government administration building. On February 26, oppositionists held a march and announced that rallies would not stop until early elections were scheduled and all political prisoners were released. On February 27, the protesters in Tbilisi arranged a tent camp in front of the parliament. The ruling party called the opponents' demands impracticable. The case against Nika Meliya was instituted in connection with the assault on the parliament on June 21, 2019, when hundreds of people were injured during the dispersal of protesters.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on March 1, 2021 at 05:23 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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