06 September 2021, 14:26

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 30-September 5, 2021

Seventeenth anniversary of the terror act in Beslan; ECtHR’s decision on the murder of Natalia Estemirova; verdict of guilty to an activist from Nalchik; refusal of the Georgian authorities from the EU’s assistance; MIA’s decision on life-long expulsion of comic Mirzalizade from Russia, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of August 30-September 5, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Seventeenth anniversary of terror act in Beslan

On September 1-3, North Ossetia held mourning events in memory of the victims of the terror act in Beslan. The events were started with a memorial service and the laying of flowers in the Beslan school, which was seized by terrorists 17 years ago. All three days, residents of North Ossetia and guests of the republic carried toys, flowers, and bottles of water to the place of the tragedy and lit candles in memory of the victims. On September 3, the mourning rallies and funeral services in memory of the victims of the terror act took place in Moscow and the Russian regions. Let us remind you that on September 1, 2004, terrorists seized 1128 hostages in a gymnasium of the school No. 1 in Beslan. The operation to free the hostages was finished on September 3, 2004. As a result of the terror act, 334 people were killed, including 186 children, and 810 people were injured. On the seventeenth anniversary of the terror act, the NGO “Mothers of Beslan” Committee organized a press conference at which activists criticized the investigation into a case on hostage-taking. This year, the victims of the seizure of the school in Beslan have obtained help with medical treatment and rehabilitation, but there is still a problem with the employment of former hostages, and the law on the status of victims of terror acts has not yet been adopted, reports Susanna Dudieva the head of the NGO “Mothers of Beslan” Committee.

ECtHR’s decision on murder of Natalia Estemirova

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) recognized the failed investigation into a case on the murder of Chechen human rights defender Natalia Estemirova. On August 31, the ECtHR awarded a sister of Natalia Estemirova the compensation of moral damages in the amount of 20,000 Euros. The European Court has noted that the Russian authorities provided the ECtHR with an incomplete copy of the case file on the murder of the human rights defender, but there is reason to doubt the effectiveness of the investigation. The ECtHR demanded from the Russian authorities to find and punish those responsible for the murder, where appropriate. At the same time, the Strasbourg Court did not recognize Russia as responsible for the Natalia Estemirova’s death. Let us remind you that Natalia Estemirova, an employee of the Grozny office of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Memorial”*, was kidnapped on July 15, 2009, taken to Ingushetia, and killed. Until present, the murder remains unsolved. The ECtHR did not recognize Russia as responsible for the death of Natalia Estemirova due to political reasons, human rights defender Oleg Orlov suggests. Lana, a daughter of Natalia Estemirova, voiced her disappointment with the court’s decision in the case on the murder of her mother.

Verdict of guilty to activist from Nalchik

On September 2, in Kabardino-Balkaria, a court found Aslan Iritov, the head of the NGO “Volny Aul” (Free Mountainous Village), which sought the distribution of land plots to needy residents of Nalchik, guilty of using violence against a policeman and sentenced him to two years of suspended imprisonment. Let us remind you that on October 31, 2017, when members of the NGO “Volny Aul” were going to hold a rally, law enforcers came to the Aslan Iritov’s yard to warn him that it would be inadmissible to hold an unsanctioned action. According to public prosecutors, disabled person Aslan Iritov, who does not have both hands, inflicted a moderate injury to Khamidbi Gubashiev, the deputy chief of the Centre for Combating Extremism (known as “E” Centre). Aslan Iritov himself complained that his family members got injuries. He is seeking criminal prosecution of the law enforcers. The activist has called the verdict biased and promised to file an appeal against it.

Refusal of Georgian authorities from EU’s assistance

On August 31, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated that the country’s authorities decided to refrain from receiving 75 million Euros from the European Union (EU). The Prime Minister explained that Georgia has begun to reduce its external debt and therefore there is no need to receive more money. The refusal of the Georgian authorities from the financial assistance of the European Union, offered in exchange for reforms, including in the judicial system, threatens an imbalance in relations with the West, Georgian analysts suggest. At a protest action held in front of the office of the ruling “Georgian Dream” Party, activists of the “Shame” movement claimed it was inadmissible to refuse to cooperate with the EU. The Georgian government’s decision was also criticized by Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili. The leader of the state has noted that would affect the well-being of residents and the reputation of Georgia. The refusal of the country’s authorities to cooperate with the European Union creates preconditions for a decrease in investment and an economic recession, say experts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”.

MIA’s decision on life-long expulsion of comic Mirzalizade from Russia

On August 30, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation banned comic Idrak Mirzalizade, a citizen of the Republic of Belarus, from entering Russia for life. Ethnic Talysh Idrak Mirzalizade, who has served 10 days of administrative arrest for his joke about xenophobia, has been recognized as an undesirable person in Russia, the country’s MIA said. A member of the State Duma called the punishment of Idrak Mirzalizade for the joke excessive, and the comic’s colleagues considered the pressure on him a new level of repression in Russia. Let us remind you that in July, Idrak Mirzalizade was sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest in a case on humiliation on ethnic grounds. The reason for prosecution was his joke about the problems with renting housing in Moscow. When commenting on the Russian MIA’s decision to expel Idrak Mirzalizade for life from the country, lawyers interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”, have suggested that Russian state bodies declare foreign citizens undesirable persons with formality and no chances for appeal, thus violating international law.

* The organization is included by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) of Russia in the register of NCOs performing the functions of a foreign agent.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on September 6, 2021 at 09:25 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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