02 August 2021, 21:29

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of July 26-August 1, 2021

Aggravation of the border conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan; verdict in a case on the death of Vladikavkaz resident Vladimir Tskaev at a police department; successes of athletes from the Caucasus and Southern Russia at the Tokyo Olympics, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of July 26-August 1, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Aggravation of border conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

On July 28, battles began on the border of the Gegarkunik Region of Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Armenia, the Azerbaijani armed forces captured a combat post, but were driven back. There were wounded on both sides, and three Armenian soldiers were killed. The parties, mediated by Russia, agreed on a ceasefire, but on July 29, they exchanged accusations of violating the ceasefire. Yerevan accused Baku of wounding a soldier during a shelling attack, and workers of the Sotk mine were evacuated. Residents of Armenian border villages complained about problems with the use of pastures near Azerbaijani positions. Besides, last week, the situation on the border of the Ararat Region of Armenia and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (NAR) of Azerbaijan aggravated. So, on July 31, the Armenian MoD announced a shelling attack on its military positions near the village of Yeraskh. Azerbaijani soldiers damaged a vehicle of the logistics service, the Armenian MoD reported.

The United States called on the parties to the conflict to observe the ceasefire. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan requested Russia to establish military strongholds on the border with Azerbaijan. The priorities of the Russian foreign policy are outside Southern Caucasus, so Moscow will ignore Yerevan’s call, experts say. None of the parties to the conflict is interested in the war, political analysts emphasize. Intensive shootouts in the direction of Gegarkunik occur due to the weak fortification of the sector, and the reason for the shootouts in the direction of Yeraskh is Azerbaijan’s desire to take control over the strategic road to Iran, Armenian analysts say.

On July 31, Armenia sent a letter to the UN Security Council, stating that Azerbaijan’s aggression is accompanied by territorial claims, threats of war, and hate speech based on ethnicity.

Verdict in case on death of Vladikavkaz resident Vladimir Tskaev at a police department

On July 28, a court in Vladikavkaz sentenced 10 policemen to 2-10.5 years of imprisonment in a case on the death of Vladimir Tskaev on November 1, 2015, after an interrogation at a police department. The investigation into the case lasted more than two years. Public prosecutor requested for the defendants 6-13 years of imprisonment. All 10 defendants pleaded not guilty and did not ask for forgiveness. Vladimir Tskaev’s widow found the sentence excessively lenient. The court ruled on the real terms of imprisonment due to a wide public outcry, the journalists say. The court’s decision will not change the situation with torture at the law enforcement bodies, note journalist Zarina Britaeva. However, according to a friend of Vladimir Tskaev’s widow, the conviction will be a reason for law enforcers to think about the treatment of the detainees.

Withdrawal of ruling party in Georgia from April agreement with opposition

The April agreement with the opposition fulfilled its mission, so the “Georgian Dream” Party decided to withdraw from it, party chairman Irakli Kobakhidze reported on July 28. His statement caused a negative reaction from the opponents of the authorities, who pointed out that the withdrawal from the agreement indicates the refusal of the Georgian authorities from the peaceful development of the country through democratic reforms. The April 19 agreement was presented by Charles Michel, President of the European Council, to get out of the political crisis in Georgia after the elections in the autumn of 2020. Oppositionists held protest actions claiming electoral violations and refused to participate in the parliament’s activities. The agreement included large-scale reforms in the electoral and judicial spheres and an amnesty for political prisoners. Cancellation of the agreement could lead to destabilization in Georgia, politicians in the US and Europe point out.

Verdict of guilty in case against opponents of quarantine in Vladikavkaz

On July 26 and 28, a court in Rostov-on-Don passed sentences on the protesters against the self-isolation regime in Vladikavkaz. Ten persons were sentenced to terms ranging from 4 years and 9 months to 6 and a half years of imprisonment in a penal colony. The public in North Ossetia called him too harsh, and Instagram users considered him a “show flogging.” Let us remind you that on April 20, 2020, law enforcers dispersed activists in Vladikavkaz who demanded the resignation of the North-Ossetian government. According to the investigators’ version, 13 law enforcers were injured at a spontaneous rally. Vadim Cheldiev, whom the investigators consider an initiator of the rally, was added to the list of extremists. Vadim Cheldiev’s convicted associates fell victim to the crowd effect, analysts note. The court is considering two more cases of riots in Vladikavkaz, in which ten persons are involved.

Achievements of athletes from Caucasus and Southern Russia at Tokyo Olympics

At the Tokyo Olympic Games, athletes from the Caucasus and Southern Russia show good results, taking first places on the podium. On July 26, Armenians Arthur Dalaloyan and Nikita Nagorny from the Rostov Region won gold medals as part of the Russian men’s national artistic gymnastics team, which won the all-around team tournament. On July 27, Vladislav Urazova from Rostov won gold in the women’s artistic gymnastics team in the team all-around. On July 28, 21-year-old Georgian judoka Lasha Bekauri won a gold medal in the weight category up to 90 kg. On July 29, the Rostov foil fencer Larisa Korobeinikova won gold in the Russian national team.

In Georgia, 35 athletes were selected for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The Azerbaijan’s team includes 44 athletes in 13 sports, and the Armenia’s team consists of 17 athletes.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 2, 2021 at 09:20 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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