31 May 2021, 15:32

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 24-30, 2021

Military incidents on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan; re-arrest of Ingush activist Akhmed Pogorov; FSB reports about the detention of suspected terrorists in the Stavropol Territory; deadline for accepting applications for participation in the parliamentary elections in Armenia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of May 24-30, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Military incidents on border between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan and Armenia cannot resolve the border conflict, which arose as a result of the autumn aggravation of the Karabakh conflict in 2020. As part of the above border conflict, several serious incidents occurred during the week. On May 25, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Armenia reported about the death of a contract soldier at the border near the village of Verin Shorzha in the Gegarkunik Region as a result of a shootout with Azerbaijani soldiers. The Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan denied the reports of its Armenian counterpart. On the same day, heads of the Armenian border communities announced that the Azerbaijani troops had advanced deep into the territory of the Syunik and Gegarkunik Regions. On the other day, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of shelling attacks on May 24-26. The Armenian MoD considered the accusation a provocation. On May 27, six Armenian soldiers were captured in the border Gegarkunik Region. The captured Armenian soldiers tried to cross the border with Azerbaijan to mine a road, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence announced. The Armenian military officials deny their counterparts’ version and claim that the contract soldiers were captured on the territory of a military unit in the Gegarkunik Region during engineering works. On May 28, Azerbaijan claimed a shelling attack from Armenia on the border with the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, as a result of which an Azerbaijani soldier was wounded. The Armenian MoD called the information unreliable.

On May 19, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to create a commission for the demarcation of the border and assured that Moscow was ready to act as a mediator. Yerevan agrees to the creation of such a commission, subject to the withdrawal of the Azerbaijani troops to their original positions, acting Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan stated on May 29. On the same day, Azerbaijani Prime Minister Ali Asadov reported that Baku accepted the Moscow’s proposal to create a trilateral commission for the demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Re-arrest of Ingush activist Akhmed Pogorov

On May 25, Akhmed Pogorov, the former Ingush Minister of Internal Affairs, a co-chairman of the World Congress of Ingush People, accused of organizing violence against law enforcers at a rally in Magas in 2019, was released under house arrest by a court’s decision on from a SIZO (pre-trial prison), where he had been since this February. On May 26, Akhmed Pogorov was hospitalized, but the police took him away from the hospital in Yessentuki. The law enforcers explained their actions by the need for investigative actions. Advocate Magomed Gagiev immediately suggested that the law enforcers were not satisfied with the court’s decision on house arrest and called the interrogation only a pretext. Late at night on the same day, the Yessentuki City Court pronounced a decision to take Akhmed Pogorov into custody for two months. The Ingush activist was charged under the article on extremism, while the defence was not notified of the court hearing held. Thus, the situation resembles the case of Ingush activist Zarifa Sautieva, who was also arrested by a court’s decision several days after she had been released under house arrest. The prosecution of Akhmed Pogorov, like other Ingush activists, is carried out for political reasons and is aimed at stopping public criticism of the authorities, human rights defenders believe.

FSB reports about detention of suspected terrorists in Stavropol Territory

Last week, the FSB twice reported about the detention in the Stavropol Territory of supporters of the “Islamic State” (IS, a terrorist organization, banned in Russia by the court, – note of the “Caucasian Knot). On May 27, the FSB reported that in April, two persons who were plotting terror acts in the region were detained in Stavropol. Law enforcers found “means of terror” in a garage belonging to one of the detainees. The FSB seized explosives and striking elements from the house of another detainee, which he planned to use to make an improvised explosive device (IED). Both of the suspects are arrested. On May 25, the FSB reported about the detention in the Stavropol Territory of a man who was plotting a terror act in Norilsk. Law enforcers found explosives and striking elements in a hiding arranged by the suspect. The detainee had an earlier criminal record for terrorism and spent 15 years in prisons, sources reported.

Deadline for accepting applications for participation in parliamentary elections in Armenia

On May 26, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Armenia finished accepting lists for participation in the early parliamentary elections. Twenty-three parties and four blocs applied for participation in the elections. Let us remind you that the early elections to the National Assembly of Armenia, which the opposition sought, are scheduled for June 20. The election campaign will start on June 7 and end on June 18. The upcoming elections will apply a simple proportional, closed-list electoral system.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on May 31, 2021 at 09:24 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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