15 March 2021, 14:43

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 8-14, 2021

Protests of Nikol Pashinyan's opponents in Yerevan and failed meeting of the Prime Minister with opposition leaders; actions and events for the International Women's Day; CTO in Makhachkala; release of Ingush activist Zarifa Sautieva from SIZO; 77th anniversary of the deportation of Balkars; statement of Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov about the failed attempt on his brother's life, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of March 8-14, 2021, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Protests of Nikol Pashinyan's opponents in Yerevan and failed meeting of Prime Minister with opposition leaders

In the capital of Armenia, the opposition continues protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after the conclusion of the peace agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh on November 9, 2020. Let us remind you that the protests intensified after Nikol Pashinyan drew up a decree on the dismissal of the chief of the General Headquarters of the Armenia's Armed Forces. On February 25, the General Headquarters called on the Prime Minister to resign, and Nikol Pashinyan considered the call an attempt of a coup d'etat. On the evening of March 9, the protesters blocked the entrances and exits of the parliament building and spent the night in tents in front of the parliament. On March 10, the opposition held another rally and march. On the evening of March 11, the activists again spent the night in the tents in front of the parliament. On March 13, the protesters tried to cordon off the building of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), where Nikol Pashinyan arrived with a business visit. Then the protestors marched to the presidential residence, where the leader of the country met the Prime Minister. There was a small clash between the protesters and the police.

It should be noted that on March 13, the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's meeting with the leaders of parliamentary factions and members of the movement "For the Sake of the Fatherland", scheduled for March 13 on the initiative of Armenian President Armen Sarkisyan, did not take place. Members of the movement "For the Sake of the Fatherland", as well as the parliamentary faction "Prosperous Armenia" evaded the set agenda by proposing their own, the presidential administration reported. On the eve of the meeting, Ishkhan Sagatelyan, a member of the ARF "Dashnaktsutyun", stated that it could take place only within the demands of the opposition movement, in particular, the resignation of the Prime Minister and the formation of an interim government.

Actions and events for International Women's Day

In the republics of Northern Caucasus, the authorities organized concerts and exhibitions dedicated to the International Women's Day. Dagestani journalist Svetlana Anokhina and blogger Maryam Alieva note the traditional format of celebrating the holiday of March 8 is no longer interesting for people.

This year, the opening of the exhibition in Vladikavkaz, which featured photos of women who survived domestic violence, can be distinguished in a range of official events. An organizer of the photo exhibition said that she received threats while working on the project.

On March 8, in Baku, the police dispersed a march of feminists who took to the streets to protest against gender inequality and domestic crimes against women. The protesters tried to draw public attention to gender discrimination, including domestic violence and early marriages. In Tbilisi, on the same day, activists of the movement for the protection of women's rights held a protest action with the demand to punish those responsible for the death of a minor girl in Kobuleti, who died on February 10. Before her death, the minor confessed to her family that in early 2020, against her will, she had a sexual intercourse with a 23-year-old guy, who later tried to rape her again. Law enforcers and social workers did nothing, while the schoolgirl did not know how to defend herself, claimed participants of the action, which gathered more than 300 people.

CTO in Makhachkala

On March 11, a counterterrorist operation (CTO) legal regime was imposed in Makhachkala for the first time since December 2016. According to the law enforcers' version, an armed man opened fire from a private house in Batyraya Street and was killed by return fire. The killed suspect was plotting a terror act, and a "suicide belt" ready for use was found at the place of the shootout, the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) reported. On the same day, the CTO legal regime was lifted. The man killed on March 11 by law enforcers in Makhachkala had earlier criminal records for terrorist crimes and planned an attack on law enforcers, the NAC's press centre reported. The man was released because he was suffering from a fatal decease, sources reported.

Release of Ingush activist Zarifa Sautieva from SIZO

On March 10, in the Stavropol Territory, a court pronounced a decision to transfer Ingush activist Zarifa Sautieva from a SIZO (pre-trial prison) under house arrest. Zarifa Sautieva was detained on July 12, 2019 and spent 21 months in custody. An advocate claimed pressure from the law enforcement bodies after the activist's release. Law enforcers are seeking to return Zarifa Sautieva to the SIZO by putting pressure on an owner of the apartment where the activist stays under house arrest, her advocate Magomed Bekov claims. Let us remind you that the case against Zarifa Sautieva and six other leaders of the protest in Ingushetia, who are accused of creating an extremist community, has been considered by the Essentuki City Court since November 24, 2020.

77th anniversary of deportation of Balkars

On March 8, Nalchik hosted memorial events held to mark the 77th anniversary of the deportation of Balkars. More than 200 people from Kabardino-Balkaria and neighbouring republics gathered to pay tribute to the memory of victims of the repression. The event took place at the Memorial to the Victims of Political Repression and included a memorial prayer, a minute of silence, and a laying of flowers. There was no rally this year. Tamara Gerieva, a member of the board of the Balkar Council of Elders, told the "Caucasian Knot", that this year, the city authorities did not sanction the action and explained their refusal with the coronavirus pandemic. Let us remind you that the operation to evict the Balkars to Kazakhstan and Central Asia took place on March 8, 1944. During 18 days on the way to the destination, 562 people died. The Balkars were not allowed to return to their homeland until 1957.

Statement of Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov about failed attempt on his brother's life

On March 8, blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov reported there was an attempt to kill his brother Mokhmad in Germany. According to the Tumso Abdurakhmanov's version, Tamerlan Aurbiev, a native of Chechnya, refused to kill Mokhmad and disclosed the name of the intermediary in the case. The family of Tamerlan Aurbiev was evacuated from Chechnya, and he himself was taken under the protection of German law enforcers. According to the blogger, the organization of his brother's murder was entrusted to a relative of Ramzan Kadyrov. Tumso Abdurakhmanov suggests that the same person who ordered the murder of the blogger himself has been involved in the failed attempt on his brother. Let us remind you that Tumso Abdurakhmanov left Chechnya after a conflict with a relative of Ramzan Kadyrov. At present, the blogger is trying to get political asylum in Sweden.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on March 15, 2021 at 08:48 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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