21 June 2021, 16:28
Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 14-20, 2021
Parliamentary elections in Armenia; complication of the situation with coronavirus in Southern Russia; visit of the Turkey’s President to Azerbaijan, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of June 14-20, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.
Parliamentary elections in Armenia
On June 20, extraordinary elections to the National Assembly of Armenia took place. The agreement on holding them was reached after several months of protests by the opposition, which was dissatisfied with the defeat of Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. On the eve of the voting, political analysts noted that it is difficult to predict the election results due to volatile foreign policy factors and a large proportion of undecided voters. The favourites were the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s “Civil Contract” Party and the “Hayastan” (Armenia) bloc led by second Armenian president Robert Kocharyan. Before the elections, politicians held mass actions and voiced accusations against each other. On June 17, Nikol Pashinyan gathered many thousands rally of his supporters, which was the last gathering before the voting. The opposition claimed that some people took part in the action under pressure. Besides, Robert Kocharyan’s bloc also claimed that the police unreasonably use force against activists and interfere with the pre-election campaign.
The voting was carried out in compliance with security measures in connection with the coronavirus. Incidents were not avoided: a quarrel broke out between members of the “Prosperous Armenia” and “Rise” Parties in front of a polling station in the village of Azatashen, and one of the participants in the conflict fired a gas pistol. After the voting, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reported about 47 violations containing constituent elements of crimes. Observers registered attempts to bribe voters and violations in the work of election officials. On June 21, it became known about the victory of the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s “Civil Contract” Party with 53.92% of the votes. The second place is taken by the “Armenia” bloc, and the third – by the “I have the honour” Party.
Complication of situation with coronavirus in Southern Russia
In different regions of Southern Russia, the situation with the coronavirus has become more complicated, and the authorities had to introduce new restrictions. On June 18, operation of food courts and clubs was banned in Dagestan, and catering and public events were limited. Two days earlier, the village of Urakhi, where 36 villagers fell ill, was quarantined in connection with the coronavirus outbreak. According to the Ministry for Public Health, the coronavirus outbreak in the village was caused by the memorial meeting with the participation of guests from Moscow and Izberbash. Instagram users also associate the surge in the incidence with an increase in the number of tourists coming to Dagestan. In Kabardino-Balkaria, enterprise managers have been recommended to send 30% of employees to remote work starting from June 19, self-isolation has been introduced for working people over 65, and the number of participants in mass events is limited to 50.
The authorities are trying to use various ways to increase the number of vaccinated. So, starting from June 15, in Adygea, the authorities began to hand out to the vaccinated people the tickets for concerts. On June 16, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, threatened to impose severe restrictions in the event of low rates of vaccination. His threats encouraged a haphazard nature of the vaccination process, and, among others, people with chronic diseases also get vaccines, which can lead to health problems, a doctor says. Schoolchildren and employees of public institutions are being persuaded to get vaccinated under the threat of being denied access to studies and working places, local residents complain.
Visit of Turkey’s President to Azerbaijan
On June 15, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrived in Azerbaijan and drove from Fizuli to Shusha (the Armenian name is Shushi, – note of the “Caucasian Knot”) along the highway built after the 2020 autumn aggravation of the Karabakh conflict. The presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan signed the Declaration on allied relations, which includes an agreement on mutual military assistance and stipulates the creation of the Zangezur transport corridor to Nakhichevan. President Erdoğan called on Armenia to take part in the international platform for regional development. It should be noted that the capture of Shusha became a key event in the battles that Azerbaijan fought in Karabakh in the period from September 27 to November 9, 2020. On May 7, Ilham Aliev declared the city of Shusha the cultural capital of the country.
The Shusha Declaration consolidated the results of the Karabakh war and created a legal basis for a military alliance between the countries, Azerbaijani military experts emphasize. The Shusha Declaration is aimed at demonstrating the growing role of Turkey in the region, while there are no benefits for Yerevan from the corridor proposed by Presidents Aliev and Erdoğan, Armenian political analysts believe.
“Glocalisation” festival in Kalmykia
On June 14, the “Glocalisation” Festival of Creative Industries came to its end in Elista. Participants of four creative laboratories, including “Documentary Observation”, “Photography”, “Street Art”, and music “Writing Camp”, presented their works at the festival. According to authors of the projects, they gained valuable experience during three days of practical training. During the festival, residents of Kalmykia had the opportunity to communicate with well-known experts in Russia and representatives of international corporations in the field of cinema, design, marketing, photography, and music and create joint projects in each of the mentioned areas. The festival hosted the first Russian screening of the animated film “Nutag – Homeland”, which was recognized as the best short film of 2017 at the US Sundance Film Festival. The film by Alice Telengut, a Canadian of Mongolian origin, tells a story about the Stalinist deportation of Kalmyks.
This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on June 21, 2021 at 09:19 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.