07 March 2022, 13:34

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of February 28-March 6, 2022

Negotiation process on the situation in Ukraine and its echo in Southern Russia; liquidation of the “International Memorial”* and searches in its offices; election of the President of Armenia; Georgia’s application for membership in the European Union, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of February 28-March 6, 2022, prepared by the “Caucasian Knot”.

Negotiation process on situation in Ukraine and its echo in Southern Russia

The Russian special military operation in Ukraine continues, despite the start of the negotiation process. On February 28, the first round of the negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations took place in the Gomel Region of Belarus near the Ukrainian border not far from the Pripyat River. The parties stated that some common points for discussion were found. As a result of the second round of the negotiations, held on March 3, the parties succeeded to agree on security measures for the evacuation of civilians and the supply of medicines and food to the cities. However, no mass evacuation of the civilian population from the combat zone took place. On March 5, the Russian side declared that it had opened humanitarian corridors and announced the introduction of a ceasefire regime for the evacuation of residents of Mariupol and Volnovakha. On the evening of the same day, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the resumption of offensive operations and accused the Ukrainian authorities of unwillingness to “influence the nationalists or extend the regime of ceasefire.” On March 6, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced the second failed attempt to start the evacuation of the residents of Mariupol, whose number was estimated at 200,000 people. The ICRC drew attention to the lack of a detailed and realistic agreement between the parties to the conflict and called on the negotiators to work out all the details of the evacuation of the civilian population.

According to the UN, by March 4, at least 1058 civilians had fallen victims to the conflict in Ukraine. Of them, 351 people were killed and 707 were injured. On March 2, the speaker for the Russian Ministry of Defence announced the information about casualties, reporting about 498 killed military personnel and 1597 wounded people. The number includes natives of Southern Russia. The deaths of militaries were reported by the leaders of Dagestan, Kalmykia, Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, the Krasnodar Territory, and the Astrakhan Region. On March 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Officer Nurmagomed Gadjimagomedov, a native of Dagestan, the title of Hero of Russia posthumously for his heroic deed during the special military operation in Ukraine.

Refugees from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics continue to arrive in Russia, including its southern regions. Most refugees are received by the Rostov Region. According to the information from the FSB Border Guard Service Department for the Rostov Region, in just one day of March 4, more than 5000 people arrived in the region.

Residents of Southern Russia take part in protest actions calling for an end to the special military operation in Ukraine. Activists hold solo pickets in various cities. On March 6, in the centre of Volgograd, several dozen people, including both young people and the elderly, gathered for a protest action. The police have detained many activists, and the courts have already begun pronouncing decisions on fines and arrests on the charge of violating the procedure for holding a public event. On the same day, mass detentions during the protest action took place in Krasnodar and Rostov-on-Don. Let us remind you that in Russia, scientists, journalists, and artists spoke out against the special military operation in Ukraine. The Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) threatens criminal prosecution for unsanctioned protest actions. On March 4, State Duma members adopted a law on amendments to the Criminal Code, providing for imprisonment for spreading fakes about the actions of the Russian military, discrediting the army, and calling for sanctions against Russia. The law has already been signed by President Putin.

Liquidation of “International Memorial”* and searches in its offices

On February 28, the Board of Appeal of the Supreme Court (SC) of Russia upheld the decision of the Supreme Court to grant the claim filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office for the liquidation of the “International Memorial”* (the International Historical, Educational, Charity and Human Rights Society “Memorial”) because of the lack of labelling on the status of a foreign agent. The heads of the “International Memorial”* began the procedure for the liquidation of the organization, but requested the Supreme Court to postpone the execution of the decision until the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concerning the complaint filed about the law on foreign agents. The court dismissed the appeal filed by the defence of the “International Memorial”* on formal grounds, the court’s decision was politically motivated, said Yan Rachinsky, the head of the “International Memorial”* board.

On March 4, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Memorial”* reported about searches in the offices of the “International Memorial”* and the “Civic Assistance” Committee* in Moscow. Law enforcers did not disclose the reason for the searches and did not let advocates in. The lawyers of the HRC “Memorial”* requested the ECtHR to oblige the Russian authorities to stop the searches. French President Emmanuel Macron promised to support the human rights defenders. After more than 12 hours of search, the law enforcers left the office of the HRC “Memorial”*.

Election of President of Armenia

On March 2, the National Assembly of Armenia held the voting to elect the country’s president. 69 MPs voted for Vaagn Khachaturyan nominated by the ruling “Civil Contract” Party. The opposition boycotted the voting, and the second round of the voting was scheduled in the parliament, because the president was not elected in the first round. The second round took place on March 3. The Armenian MPs voted unanimously for Vaagn Khachaturyan again. The entire composition of the parliamentary faction of the ruling “Civil Contract” Party – 71 MPs – participated in the voting.

Georgia’s application for membership in European Union

On March 3, it became known that Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili signed an application for the country’s accession to the European Union (EU). The “Lelo” Party called on the President of Georgia to personally lead the process of Georgia’s accession to the EU. According to the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), the Russian special military operation in Ukraine completely changed the international agenda and gave a window of opportunity for the recognition of both Georgia and Ukraine, which had earlier made an application to join the EU. Analysts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot’ note that Georgia does not meet the conditions for obtaining the status of a candidate member of the European Union because of a number of unresolved problems in the country, but new geopolitical realities may contribute to the adoption of the decision.

* The organization is included by the Russian Ministry of Justice (MoJ) 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 March 7, 2022 at 09:40 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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    While interrogating relatives of Isabella Evloeva, the editor-in-chief of the "Fortanga" oppositional Ingush outlet, law enforcers tried to find out the whereabouts of Isabella, who is accused within the case of spreading fakes about the Russian Army. Law enforcers intend to constantly question her relatives, while she was engaged in journalism, Ms Evloeva herself has stated.

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