28 June 2021, 14:58

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 21-27, 2021

Unexpected results of the parliamentary elections in Armenia; tightening of anti-COVID measures in Southern Russia; easing of restrictions on coronavirus in Georgia and Azerbaijan; decision of the ECtHR in a case on the deaths of residents of the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya; Ramzan Kadyrov’s nomination to the post of the leader of Chechnya, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of June 21-27, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Unexpected results of parliamentary elections in Armenia

On June 27, the Central Election Commission of Armenia announced the final results of the early parliamentary elections, which took place on June 20. More than half of the votes, 53.91 percent, were won by the Nikol Pashinyan’s “Civil Contract” Party. The “Hayastan” (Armenia) bloc, considered the closest rival of the current authorities and led by Robert Kocharyan, the second president of Armenia, gained 21.09 percent of the votes. The third place was occupied by the “I Have the Honour" bloc, which gained 5.22 percent of the votes. The rest of the Armenian political forces did not get seats in the parliament. The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Armenia rejected the motions of the “Hayastan” and “I Have the Honour” blocs and “Zartonk” Party, which demanded to recognize as invalid the results of the parliamentary elections because of violations.

While commenting on the outcome of the parliamentary elections, lawyer Gohar Meloyan, CEO of the International Centre on Development of Parliamentarism, said that numerous violations gave grounds for a reconsideration of the voting results, and the right of the “Civil Contract” Party to solely determine the composition of the government had not yet been confirmed. It should be noted that the police reported about 47 violations committed during the elections. Observers representing the Armenian political forces complained about stuffing, bribery of voters, re-voting, and power outages. On June 23, it became known that out of more than 2000 polling stations, 70 were carrying out the recount of votes. However, the recount actually did not change the situation. The results of the parliamentary elections in Armenia appeared to be unexpected, since the “Hayastan” bloc was considered the leader of the pre-election race along with the “Civil Contract” Party. According to the poll data available in open sources before the voting, the results of those two political forces were approximately equal and fluctuated around 24 percent.

Tightening of anti-COVID measures in Southern Russia

More and more restrictions related to the coronavirus infection are being imposed in the regions of Southern Russia.

On June 21, the Governor of the Stavropol Territory announced the cancellation of mass events in the region. He did not rule out the possibility of introducing compulsory vaccination against coronavirus. On June 22, the authorities of North Ossetia banned mass events, as well as the operation of clubs, discos, and food courts. Restrictions have been imposed on the operation of catering, cinemas, theatres, and concert halls.

On June 21, it became known that the “Rospotrebnadzor” (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare) Department for Dagestan had banned mass services in mosques, which caused discontent among local residents. On June 24, the leader of Dagestan signed a decree imposing mandatory mask regime in all types of public transport, including taxis. Furthermore, the headquarters of Dagestan banned the operation of food courts, children’s and night clubs and restricted the operation of catering and holding public events. Social media users expressed their doubts that those measures would stop the increase in the number of people infected with coronavirus. Users of social media suggest that the authorities took such a step in order to speed up vaccination and replenish the budget through fines.

Kuban became the first regions in the Southern Federal District (SFD) and the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), where mandatory vaccination was imposed for most workers in the fields of tourism, education, trade, public catering, and transport. Tourists were also subject to restrictions. Starting from July 1, hotels, sanatoriums, and boarding houses of the Krasnodar Territory are allowed to accommodate guests only with a negative test for coronavirus, and starting from August 1 – with a vaccination certificate. Sochi entrepreneurs, interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”, expressed their indignation about the new anti-COVID measures. According to the businessmen, the requirement for mandatory vaccination of service workers and restrictions on accommodation in hotels and sanatoriums for tourists will scare away vacationers and destroy the tourism business. On June 25, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia reported that after the introduction of new requirements had been announced, tourists requested to cancel about 30 percent of bookings for July and more than 70 percent for August.

Easing of restrictions on coronavirus in Georgia and Azerbaijan

In the countries of Southern Caucasus, authorities are easing restrictions related to coronavirus due to an improvement in the epidemiological situation. On June 22, the Georgian authorities cancelled the mandatory wearing of masks in the street and announced lifting of restrictions on movement at night starting from July 1. On June 22, the Azerbaijani authorities announced lifting the ban on holding wedding, engagement, and birthday parties starting from July 1.

Decision of ECtHR in case on deaths of residents of Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya

On June 22, the Strasbourg Court pronounced a decision concerning complaints from residents of the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that the Russian authorities were responsible for the disappearance during the special operation and the probable deaths of eleven residents of the Borozdinovskaya village, ill-treatment, discrimination, and torture. The European Court obliged the authorities of Russia to pay compensation to 71 villagers in the amount exceeding 1.8 million euros.

Ramzan Kadyrov’s nomination to post of leader of Chechnya

On June 26, participants of the conference of the Chechen branch of the “Edinaya Rossiya” (United Russia) Party unanimously supported the Ramzan Kadyrov’s candidacy for the post of the leader of the republic and rejected his only rival Magomed Selimkhanov, a member of the State Duma. Let us remind you that the next election of the leader of Chechnya will be held on September 19. On June 23, participants in the World Congress of the Peoples of Chechnya adopted a resolution calling on Ramzan Kadyrov to nominate himself for participation in the election. Ramzan Kadyrov promised to convey the position of the Chechen people to Vladimir Putin, which he did on the same day. In response, the Russian President voiced a proposal to Ramzan Kadyrov to participate in the autumn election in order to continue to lead Chechnya. It should be noted that on May 20, Ramzan Kadyrov announced that he would not participate in the upcoming election if at least “a few percent of the population” opposed his candidacy. Carte blanche to Ramzan Kadyrov from Vladimir Putin for the participation in the September election confirmed that the Chechen leader’s declaration about his willingness to abandon the new term voiced in May was nothing more than a ritual step, political analysts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” suggest.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on June 28, 2021 at 09:22 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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