18 October 2021, 15:44

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of October 11-17, 2021

Armed incidents in the Karabakh conflict zone; election of the leader of Dagestan; riot in a Vladikavkaz penal colony; actions of Saakashvili’s supporters and opponents in Georgia; communication by the ECtHR of a case on the murder of Akhmednabiev, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of October 11-17, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Armed incidents in Karabakh conflict zone

Last week, the parties to the Karabakh conflict repeatedly exchanged accusations of violating the ceasefire regime. So, on October 13, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of Azerbaijan claimed that a convoy of vehicles transporting construction materials was shelled in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers in the Kelbadjar District. The Ministry of Defence of Nagorno-Karabakh denied the information, but the Russian peacekeepers later confirmed the fact of the shelling attack on the Azerbaijani motor convoy. On October 14, the Azerbaijani MoD reported about the death of its soldier as a result of a sniper shot from the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers. The MoD of Azerbaijan considers the incident as a terror act. In turn, the Ministry of Defence of Nagorno-Karabakh denied its involvement in the incident. On the evening of the same day, the Ombudsperson of Nagorno-Karabakh claimed that the Azerbaijani armed forces attacked the positions of the Karabakh army near the village of Nor Shen, and as a result, six soldiers were severely injured. According to Lusine Avanesyan, the press secretary for the President of Nagorno-Karabakh, the soldiers were injured as a result of an attack by Azerbaijani unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, the Azerbaijani MoD denied any involvement of the country’s armed forces in the incident. On October 15, the Ministry of Defence of Nagorno-Karabakh accused Azerbaijani soldiers of shelling an ambulance of the Karabakh armed forces and reported that no one was injured or killed in the incident. The Azerbaijani side responded by claiming that the ambulance was used for provocation.

Election of leader of Dagestan

On October 14, members of the People’s Assembly of Dagestan elected Sergey Melikov as the leader of the region: he gained 82 votes. Samir Abdulkhalikov, a member of the election committee, and Kamil Davdiev, the deputy chair of the People’s Assembly, who were also nominated by the president for the position of the leader of Dagestan, gained two votes each. The election of Sergey Melikov as the leader demonstrated the absence of opposition in the parliament of Dagestan, suggested political analysts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Riot in Vladikavkaz penal colony

On October 15, riots broke out in a high-security penal colony in North Ossetia, accompanied by a fire. Prisoners smashed security cameras and internal doors. The riots were suppressed, and some people were injured, sources reported. The Federal Penitentiary Service reports that during searches, two prisoners from a punishment cell refused to obey the requests of warders and called on other prisoners to riot. Investigators instituted a criminal case on organizing and participating in the riots. According to the investigators’ version, at least 200 prisoners took part in the riot in the high-security penal colony. The riots in the colony took place a week after the appointment of a new chief of the Federal Penitentiary Service Department for North Ossetia, which toughened the attitude towards prisoners, sources reported. The prisoners themselves reported to the hotline against torture in places of detention that the riot was preceded by beatings. The prisoners achieved a meeting with the republic’s Ombudsperson. According to him, earlier, inmates of the high-security penal colony went on a hunger strike in protest against the tightening of discipline. Besides, the Ombudsperson claimed that the penal colony faced many infrastructure problems. After the incident, the convicts were divided into several groups. Out of the most active participants in the riot, 36 were quickly transferred to a high-security penal colony in Dagestan.

Actions of Saakashvili’s supporters and opponents in Georgia

Last week, several protests were held in Georgia, which were attended by both supporters and opponents of Mikhail Saakashvili, a former president of the country. Let us remind you that after returning home on October 1, Mikhail Saakashvili was arrested and imprisoned in Rustavi, as he was convicted in absentia in several criminal cases. The former president of Georgia does not consider himself guilty. He went on a hunger strike in prison. Supporters of Mikhail Saakashvili hold protests demanding his release. The most massive action took place in Tbilisi on October 14. The organizers of the protests, the “United National Movement” (UNM) Party, founded by Mikhail Saakashvili, announced about 50,000 participants in the action. Meanwhile, three opposition parties at once refused to participate in the protest. According to analysts, the Georgian opposition is not willing to see Mikhail Saakashvili as its leader. On October 16, several hundred of Mikhail Saakashvili’s opponents gathered in Rustavi, where the former Georgian president is being kept. They demanded not to recognize Mikhail Saakashvili as a political prisoner. Several hours later, Mikhail Saakashvili’s supporters also gathered there and demanded to release the former president.

Communication by ECtHR of case on murder of Akhmednabiev

On October 14, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) communicated complaints filed by relatives of killed Dagestani journalists Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev and Khadjimurad Kamalov and combined the two cases into one proceeding. The Strasbourg Court suggests that the parties consider the issue of a peace agreement before January 14. Let us remind you that Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev, a correspondent of the “Caucasian Knot”, was shot dead in Dagestan on July 9, 2013. In 2016, his relatives filed a complaint to the ECtHR about the ineffective investigation into the crime. On the occasion of the anniversary of the Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev’s death, the journalist’s relatives claimed that during eight years, investigators did not identify either the executor or the person who ordered the murder. Khadjimurad Kamalov, the general director of the “Svoboda Slova” Company, the founder of the weekly newspaper “Chernovik” (Rough Draft), was killed near the newspaper’s office in Makhachkala on December 15, 2011. The case on the Khadjimurad Kamalov’s murder has been pending in court in Rostov-on-Don since January. Colleagues of the murdered journalist interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” considered the evidence base in the case unconvincing. According to advocate Tumas Misakyan, involved in the case by the “Caucasian Knot”, the decision of the European Court to unite the cases of Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev and Khadjimurad Kamalov will not affect the terms of consideration of the complaints and the amount of compensation. The two cases were brought together to draw attention to the Court’s decision and point out trends in the state, human rights defender Galina Arapova* suggested.

* On October 8, 2021, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) of Russia put Galina Arapova on the register of foreign mass media performing the functions of a foreign agent.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on October 18, 2021 at 09:26 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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