29 March 2021, 20:50
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 22-28, 2021
Campaign to smear a policeman who spoke about extrajudicial executions in Chechnya; abolition of martial law in Armenia; arrest of Maikop Mayor, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of March 22-28, 2021, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".
Campaign to smear policeman who spoke about extrajudicial executions in Chechnya
On March 24, the “Grozny” Chechen TV Channel released a video in which relatives of Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, who spoke about extrajudicial executions, described him in a negative way. The relatives claimed that the former policeman had been using psychotropic substances and had fled Russia while owing large amounts of money. Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, criticized Suleiman Gezmakhmaev and called his testimonies of the extrajudicial executions a fiction voiced in order to obtain asylum in Europe. The “Grozny” Chechen TV Channel also released other records with relatives and acquaintances of Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, in which they were voicing their claims against the former law enforcer.
The authorities of the republic describe Suleiman Gezmakhmaev as a dishonest person addicted to drugs, but in fact, they do not respond to his testimonies about the killings committed by law enforcers, Internet users note. The Chechen authorities have launched a PR campaign against Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, since they have no real grounds to institute a criminal case against him and cannot refute his information about the extrajudicial executions, human rights defenders Igor Kalyapin and Oleg Orlov believe.
Avalanches that cut off dozens of Dagestani villages from world
On March 21, an avalanche descended on the outskirts of the village of Tsakhur in the mountainous Rutul District of Dagestan. The avalanche blocked nine villages with almost 4000 residents. On the same day, the second avalanche descended, and on March 22 – the third occurred. By the evening on March 25, three more avalanches descended. On March 26, the seventh avalanche blocked a road in the Rutul District, and two more avalanches hit roads in the Shamilsky and Tlyaratinsky Districts. On March 26, a new large avalanche blocked the passage to the village of Gdym in the Akhtyn District. According to the Dagestani Ministry of Transport, since March 21, more than 20 avalanches descended in Dagestan, which blocked the passage to dozens of villages. No one fell victim to the avalanches. Some of the blocked roads have been promptly cleared, but not everywhere. So, residents of the villages in the Rutul District, cut off from the world, are afraid of being left without food.
Abolition of martial law in Armenia
On March 24, MPs of the Armenian parliament decided to lift the regime of martial law imposed in connection with the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh in the autumn of 2020. The opposition, which voiced the initiative of the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation after the ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan had been signed on November 10, 2020, sought the abolition of martial law, as it interfered with the consideration of their initiative. However, on March 18, Nikol Pashinyan announced that parliamentary elections would be held on June 20, 2021. After the abolition of martial law, the only obstacle to early parliamentary elections was the resignation of the Prime Minister. Political analysts believe Nikol Pashinyan will agree to resign, because he insured his future with an agreement with the opposition, which agreed to temporarily not nominate its candidates for the post of prime minister. On March 28, Nikol Pashinyan announced that he would leave office in April for the early parliamentary elections, but would continue to serve as the chair of the Armenian government.
It should be noted that on March 23, the opposition decided to unblock the avenue in the centre of Yerevan near the parliament building, where protesters were holding a round-the-clock rally with the demand of the Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation. The movement “To Save the Motherland” explained the above decision by the concern for the convenience of city residents, but announced new protests. At a rally on March 28, protestors called the formal resignation of Nikol Pashinyan unacceptable and claimed that they would seek his actual resignation. The protest action grew into a march with the participation of several thousand residents of Armenia. The abolition of martial law and agreements on the early parliamentary elections became a convenient reason for the opposition to unblock Bagramyan Avenue in Yerevan and thus disguise the ineffectiveness of its long-term protests, political analysts believe.
Arrest of Maikop Mayor
Andrei Getmanov, the head of the Maikop city administration, has been detained on suspicion of extortion, the Investigating Department for Adygea of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) reported. Andrei Getmanov has been arrested for two months. According to the ICRF’s Department for Adygea, in May 2018, the head of the Maikop city administration threatened to kill an entrepreneur who refused to exchange land plots and forced him to make a bad deal. Andrei Getmanov was appointed the Mayor of Maikop in February 2018. Now he faces up to 15 years of imprisonment.
Verdict of guilty to brother of former leader of Dagestan
On March 22, in Moscow, a court found Radjab Abdulatipov, a brother of Ramazan Abdulatipov, the former leader of Dagestan, guilty of bribe-taking and fraud and sentenced him to 12 years of imprisonment. Radjab Abdulatipov was initially charged with participation in a criminal community, which issued certificates of disability for bribes. However, later, the charge was lifted, and Radjab Abdulatipov was accused of receiving a large bribe and committing an especially large fraud. In September 2018, Radjab Abdulatipov, who headed the Committee on Education, Science, and Culture at the People's Assembly of Dagestan, was detained in connection with the Makhachev’s case. According to the calculations run by the Prosecutor’s Office, in 2017 alone, about 24 million roubles were stolen from the Pension Fund of Russia as a result of the unjustified recognition of 300 residents of the republic as persons with disabilities. The sentence of 12 years of imprisonment to the brother of the former leader of Dagestan speaks of the loss of the Ramazan Abdulatipov's influence in the republic and a decrease in his ability to influence the decisions made in Moscow, experts suggest.