08 November 2021, 21:15

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of November 1-7, 2021

Rallies in Georgia demanding fair elections and the release of Saakashvili; public outcry over the victory of Kadyrov’s son in a boxing tournament; amnesty in Azerbaijan timed to the Day of Victory in the Karabakh war, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of November 1-7, 2021, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Celebration of National Unity Day in Southern Russia and actions dedicated to anniversary of October Revolution

In Southern Russia, the celebration of National Unity Day on November 4 was mainly held online because of the coronavirus restrictions. In Pyatigorsk, ethnic costumes and performances of musicians were presented within the online festival of crafts of the peoples of Russia. However, offline actions were also held. The Ministry of Culture of Kabardino-Balkaria announced concerts and a chess tournament in houses of culture and libraries. In Magas, more than 20 residents of Ingushetia wrote an ethnographic dictation, which, according to organizers, was designed to “improve knowledge about the traditions of the peoples of Russia.”

Mass events held from October 30 to November 7 can result in heavy fines, notes Vladimir Novitsky, the president of the Russian section of the International Society for Human Rights. Despite the above, on the National Unity Day, in Sochi, activists were collecting signatures against the authorities’ requirement for QR codes to visit public places. In Rostov-on-Don, MPs from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) held a meeting with city resident, at which they criticized the requirement of the QR codes.

Rallies in Georgia demanding fair elections and release of Saakashvili

Several rallies were held in Georgia, at which protesters claimed the falsification of the results of municipal elections and demanded to release former president Mikhail Saakashvili. On November 2, in Batumi, oppositionists threatened to hold rallies until they achieved their demands. On November 3, in Zugdidi, protesters demanded to hold early parliamentary elections and release Mikhail Saakashvili. On November 5, participants of a rally in Kutaisi claimed electoral fraud and warned of large-scale rallies throughout Georgia. On November 6, thousands of protesters gathered in Rustavi with the demand to cancel the election results. The protestors also gave the authorities 24 hours to transfer Mikhail Saakashvili, who was on hunger strike in the prison, to a private hospital and threatened to hold mass protests in Tbilisi. The Georgian State Security Service claims that activists are planning to kill one of the opposition leaders and block government buildings for the sake of wide public outcry.

On November 7, a personal doctor of Mikhail Saakashvili reported that the politician’s health state worsened in prison due to the prolonged hunger strike. According to the doctor, the former president of Georgia is close to severe condition. Gigla Tumanishvili, a correspondent of the “Mtavari Arkhi” TV Channel, and Elene Khoshtariya, the leader of the opposition “Droa” (It’s Time) Party, went on hunger strike in solidarity with Mikhail Saakashvili. Other 11 people are on hunger strike near the prison in Rustavi, where the former president is being kept.

Public outcry over victory of Kadyrov’s son in a boxing tournament

On November 4, Ramzan Kadyrov’s son Eli won at the “Time of Legends-7” boxing tournament in Grozny. His opponent surrendered the fight by avoiding attacking the rival, social media users noted. In their comments, users wrote that the victory of the son of the leader of Chechnya could be predicted. Four of Kadyrov’s sons, including Eli (Zelimkhan), Adam, Akhmad, and Abubakar, are engaged in boxing, and the fights with their participation have already raised doubts among the fans. For example, at the MMA Grand Prix Akhmat 2016 tournament in Grozny, three of the Kadyrov’s sons won the fights, one of which ended with a knockout. The coach and the father of the knocked-out child said the fights were staged. Chechen human rights defenders Oyub Titiev and Ruslan Kutaev suggest that the victories of the Ramzan Kadyrov’s sons are often arranged by coaches and tournament organizers, since, being associates of the leader of Chechnya, they do not want to upset him. While commenting on the recent victory of Eli Kadyrov, analysts have noted that the Kadyrov’s sons took part in fights in tournaments, since the leader of Chechnya wants to demonstrate his power, and his children will win regardless of the event and despite the fact that their victories bring Ramzan Kadyrov more criticism than a PR effect.

Amnesty in Azerbaijan timed to Day of Victory in Karabakh war

On November 2, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev presented at the National Assembly a draft resolution “On the declaration of amnesty on the occasion of November 8, the Victory Day”. At least 16,000 people will be affected by the amnesty. In total, there are about 21,000 prisoners in the country. Three thousand people will be released. The amnesty will affect participants of the combat actions in Nagorno-Karabakh in the autumn of 2020 and other military operations, liquidators of the Chernobyl accident, and relatives of dead and missing soldiers and civilians. Those who became disabled as a result of the Karabakh conflict, women, prisoners who were minors when they committed crimes, disabled people, and prisoners 60 years of age and older will be also affected by the amnesty. Human rights defenders point out that the amnesty does not solve the problem of political prisoners.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on November 8, 2021 at 09:30 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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