19 July 2021, 16:58

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 12-18, 2021

Tightening of anti-COVID measures in Southern Russia; military incidents on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the Karabakh conflict zone; approval of the parliamentary election results in Armenia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 12-18, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Tightening of anti-COVID measures in Southern Russia

In Southern Russia, the local authorities impose more and more restrictions in connection with an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

On July 18, the Muftiate of Kabardino-Balkaria announced the conditions for visits to mosques during the holiday of Eid al-Adha from July 20 to 22. Believers may attend collective prayers on the holiday only in masks, with their own rugs, and with respect to social distance. And on July 15, in Kabardino-Balkaria, the authorities announced mandatory vaccination for service workers and employees. Earlier, the mandatory vaccination has been introduced in two other regions of Southern Russia, including the Krasnodar Territory and the Rostov Region. In Dagestan, the authorities have not introduced the mandatory vaccination for certain groups of people, but in fact, employees of some institutions are forced to be vaccinated, says Ziyautdin Uvaisov, the head of the “Patient Monitor” project. According to him, some people respond to coercion to the vaccination by buying certificates. The “Rospotrebnadzor” (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare) for Dagestan insists on the ban for any public events and visits to religious institutions. Residents of Makhachkala say that the ban on visiting mosques is justified, but note that mass events are being held in the republic against the background of restrictions on holding collective prayers.

Starting from July 12, children’s playrooms and entertainment centres, as well as food courts in shopping malls, have been closed in the Volgograd Region. Since July 12, the Governor of the Rostov Region has banned mass entertainment events. In Adygea, hotels and sanatoria will accommodate only tourists with a negative test for coronavirus, a certificate of vaccination, or a certificate of recovery from earlier illness. Starting from July 19, regional service workers will also be required to have a certificate of vaccination or a certificate of recovery from earlier illness. Starting from July 1, in the Krasnodar Territory, guests will be required to have a negative coronavirus test to check into hotels, and starting from August 1, they will have to produce a vaccination certificate upon accommodation. In Sochi, tourists interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” reported that the tightening restriction measures increased the number of people willing to rent a house in the private sector, where no one observes the coronavirus restrictions.

Military incidents on border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in Karabakh conflict zone

Azerbaijan and Armenia have not resolved the border conflict that arose as a result of the autumn aggravation of the Karabakh conflict in 2020. During the past week, several serious incidents occurred in connection with the conflict. Besides, the information about shelling attacks and explosions came from the Karabakh conflict zone.

On July 12, a resident of Azerbaijan was injured when an unexploded shell blew up in the village of Garakhanbeili in the Fizuli District. On the same day, a guide of the search group of the Nagorno-Karabakh Service for Emergencies lost his leg when he stepped on a mine while searching for dead bodies in the zone of combat actions in the Martuni District. On July 13, residents of Stepanakert reported that they heard a shooting from machine guns near Shushi (the Azerbaijani name is Shusha, – note of the “Caucasian Knot”). According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Armenia, on July 14, a soldier was killed during a shelling attack from the Azerbaijani side. In turn, the Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan reported that its soldier was wounded. Besides, on July 14, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of machine-gun shelling attacks on positions near Shushi. On July 15, Gegam Stepanyan, Ombudsman of Nagorno-Karabakh, declared that bursts of machine guns were heard in the direction of Stepanakert from the side of the Azerbaijani armed forces in Shushi. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence reported that on July 15, the Armenian armed forces fired at the positions of the Azerbaijani army in the direction of the village of Yukhary Airym in the Kelbadjar District. On July 15, a resident of the Goygol District of Azerbaijan was killed while being blown up by a mine during agricultural works. According to the Armenian MoD, on July 16, the Azerbaijani armed forces fired in the direction of the Armenian positions at the border of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (NAR) and the Ararat Region. On June 17, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence reported that Armenian soldiers fired at the positions of the Azerbaijani armed forces in the Kelbadjar, Tovuz, and Sadarak Districts.

Approval of parliamentary election results in Armenia

On July 17, the Constitutional Court of Armenia approved the results of the parliamentary elections, which took place on June 20. The opposition sought the cancellation of the parliamentary election results. Like observers, the opposition pointed to numerous violations during the voting. Judges of the Constitutional Court succumbed to pressure from the authorities, members of the “Hayastan” and “I Have Honour” blocs say. According to the results of the parliamentary elections, the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s “Civil Contract” Party won 53.91% of the vote, while the “Hayastan” bloc led by Armenian second president Robert Kocharyan gained 21.9%, and the “I Have Honour” bloc – 5.22% of the votes. An agreement on the early parliamentary elections was reached after the protests organized by the opposition, dissatisfied with the defeat of Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Election of judges of Georgian SC in violation of agreements with opposition

On July 12, the Georgian parliament elected six permanent judges to the Supreme Court, including Gocha Abuseridze, Giorgi Gogiashvili, Levan Tevzadze, Bidzina Sturua, and Lasha Kochiashvili. All six newly elected judged are affiliated with the ruling party, are controlled by the authorities, and will not work independently, opposition MPs say. The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association noted that the people loyal to the “judicial clan” had been elected as judges. When selecting candidates, the “Georgian Dream” Party did not take into account the “calls” of NGOs, the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association claimed. On July 14, the European Union threatened Georgia with the suspension of financial aid in the event of a breakdown in the judicial reform. Let us remind you that the judicial reform in Georgia is one of the points of agreement between the authorities and the opposition on overcoming the political crisis that began in the country after the parliamentary elections held in the autumn of 2020. The appointment of judges by the High Council of Justice prior to the planned judicial reform casts a shadow on its reputation, and the elections themselves were held with violations, Georgian human rights defenders clam.

Verdict to owner of boat station in Volgograd

On July 16, in Volgograd, a court re-considered a case on the deaths of 11 people in a catamaran boat crash and sentenced Leonid Zhdanov, an owner of the boat station, to four years of conditional sentence. Let us remind you that on June 12, 2018, a catamaran boat and a tugboat collided on the Volga River. As a result, 11 people died, and five other passengers of the catamaran boat survived. Leonid Zhdanov was accused of providing services that did not meet safety requirements. As a result of the first consideration of the case in court on June 10, 2020, one of the victims, Dmitry Khakhalev, the captain of the catamaran boat, was found guilty of the deaths of the people. According to the investigators’ version, he was in the state of alcoholic intoxication and ignored the signals from the tugboat. Leonid Zhdanov was acquitted, but the court of appeal cancelled the acquittal.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on July 19, 2021 at 08:52 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Source: CK correspondent

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