16 August 2021, 14:42

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 9-15, 2021

Deaths of nine patients in a Vladikavkaz hospital because of oxygen problems; flooding after downpours in Kuban; shelling attacks in the area of the Karabakh conflict and at the border of Armenia with Azerbaijan; tightening of COVID restrictions in Georgia; oil spill in the sea near Novorossiysk; arrest of officials from the government of North Ossetia in a case on embezzlement, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 9-15, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Deaths of nine patients in Vladikavkaz hospital because of oxygen problems

On August 9, in Vladikavkaz, the Republican Clinical Emergency Hospital of North Ossetia had an accident with an oxygen pipe, and as a result, nine patients with coronavirus died at the resuscitation ward. On August 10, the Ministry for Public Health of North Ossetia reported that the hospital has arranged an uninterrupted supply of oxygen to all patients. However, in the evening of the same day, the Ministry for Public Health again reported that during the restoration works, the oxygen pressure in the system decreased, and backup oxygen supply systems were used to treat patients. Investigators detained Vladimir Pliev, a 58-year-old head physician of the hospital, and on August 14, the court sent him under house arrest.

Flooding after downpours in Kuban

On the night of August 13, a mesocyclone hit the Black Sea coast of the Krasnodar Territory, and showers continued the other day. 1406 private households and 1832 yards were in the flooded zone. A state of emergency was declared in 14 municipalities. According to the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE), 1531 people were evacuated, including tourists who spent their vacations at the resorts of the Krasnodar Territory. Stormy winds and downpours caused accidents on the power grids, and as a result, 108,000 people found themselves cut off from the electricity supply. Because of the downpours, a section of the regional road from Novorossiysk to Kerch was flooded. On August 15, a heavy downpour took place in Gelendzhik, and the authorities decided to temporarily disconnect the centre of the resort city from the power supply because of the threat of flooding.

Shelling attacks in area of Karabakh conflict and at border of Armenia with Azerbaijan

Every day from August 9 to 15, Armenia and Azerbaijan reported about shelling attacks and shootouts. Armed incidents were registered at the border with Nakhichevan, as well as in other border areas. On August 11, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Nagorno-Karabakh reported about an attack by the Azerbaijani side with the use of combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The parties did not report about the dead or wounded. Meanwhile, on August 11, three combat engineers were injured after a cluster bomb exploded during the demining of the territory of a village in the Martuni District of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Tightening of COVID restrictions in Georgia

On August 10, Georgia registered a record number of victims of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic – 54 deaths, and the number of new cases of coronavirus infection in the country amounted to 5697. According to the Ministry for Public Health of Georgia, the rapid increase in the number of cases is caused by the spread of the delta strain. Yekaterina Tikaradze, Georgian Minister for Public Health, called the epidemiological situation in the country difficult and reported a serious shortage of hospital beds. The authorities have tightened COVID restrictions. In particular, starting from August 10, they have introduced the mandatory wearing of masks in open spaces, and large fines have been imposed for catering companies for holding commemoration meetings and wedding parties. Later, for the period from August 14 to September 4, the Georgian authorities decided to ban urban transport and entertainment and sports mass events.

Oil spill in sea near Novorossiysk

Back on August 7, during the refuel of the Greek tanker “Minerva Symphony”, an oil spill occurred in the village of Yuzhnaya Ozereevka near Novorossiysk. It was announced that about 200 square meters were polluted six kilometres from the Black Sea coast. On August 8, the Transport Prosecutor’s Office reported that the place of the oil spill had been localized. However, on August 11, the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) announced that an oil slick with an area of 80 square kilometres was detected in a satellite image in the sea near Novorossiysk. The chief of the “Rosprirodnadzor” (Russian Federal Agency for Supervising the Nature) reported that the oil release was caused by the negligence of employees of the company serving the terminal. On August 12, investigators reported that the case on the oil spill near Novorossiysk was re-qualified under a more serious article because of the significant damage to water resources. On the same day, the governor of Kuban announced that the Black Sea water area was clean. However, according to ecologists, as a result of the oil spill, the shores of Abrau-Dyurso, Sukko, and Maly and Bolshoi Utrish were polluted. The ecologists emphasize the oil spill became the largest accident in the last 10 years.

Arrest of officials from government of North Ossetia in case on embezzlement

On August 11, the Basmanny Court of Moscow sent Sergey Takoev, the former chair of the government of North Ossetia, and Alan Diambekov, Minister of Tourism, accused of embezzling 180 million roubles, to a SIZO (pre-trial prison) for two months. On August 10, the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) reported about the detention of Sergey Takoev, Alan Diambekov, and Aida Gabaraeva, the general director of the Open Joint-Stock Company “Ossetian Plant of Automobile and Tractor Electrical Equipment) (OZATE). According to the investigation, in 2014, Sergey Takoev and Alan Diambekov, who then held the posts of the chair of the government of North Ossetia and the Minister of Tourism of the republic, respectively, as well as Aida Gabaraeva and other persons, ensured the conclusion of a state contract with the “OZATE”, which they controlled. The plant sold real estate facilities to the republic at an inflated price. The officials face up to 10 years of imprisonment.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 16, 2021 at 09:27 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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