The past week saw several notable developments related to Chechnya and the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov.
In July, law enforcers from the Moscow Region checked passports of visitors to a mosque in Kotelniki. The raid held during a namaz (prayer) outraged the leader of Chechnya, and on July 15, Ramzan Kadyrov demanded to bring to responsibility the law enforcers involved in the raid. Russian State Duma member Adam Delimkhanov met on that occasion the Governor of the Moscow Region and promised to punish those responsible.
However, neither the law enforcement bodies of the Moscow Region, nor the Governor publicly responded to the above demands. A political analyst and human rights defenders interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” considered that the lack of the Moscow’s reaction to the demands voiced by Ramzan Kadyrov indicates a decrease in his influence and became a signal that the leader of Chechnya should not interfere in the events in other regions.
Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma passed a law providing the “Rosgvardiya” (National Guard of Russia) with the right to be armed with military equipment, including heavy equipment, i.e., tanks and artillery.
On July 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree by which the shares of the “Danone Russia” JSC (Joint Stock Company), owned by a foreign company, were transferred to the temporary administration of the “Rosimuschestvo” (Federal Property Management Agency). At the same time, Yakub Zakriev, a Ramzan Kadyrov’s nephew, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture of Chechnya, has been appointed the head of the “Danone Russia” JSC.
Ingush activists’ case
Since January 13, in the Stavropol Territory, a court has been considering complaints filed against the verdict in the case against seven protest leaders in Magas. In July, advocate Magomed Abubakarov analysed and criticized the verdict in detail. In particular, the advocate pointed to the ignored facts proving that the oppositionists were not guilty and to the contradictions in the version voiced by public prosecutors. Magomed Abubakarov’s client Barakh Chemurziev claimed there were factual errors in the verdict. On July 20, activists Bagaudin Khautiev, Musa Malsagov, and Malsag Uzhakhov stated that the charge was refuted by the case materials, but the court ignored some of those data and deliberately excluded some of them.
A public prosecutor called the verdict of the lower instance court justified and the evidence of the guilt of the leaders of the Ingush protest proven.
Persecution of pacifists and activists in Southern Russia
The Pervomaisky District Court of Krasnodar found Alexander Somryakov guilty of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and sentenced him to six years of imprisonment in a penal colony. The Judicial Collegium for Criminal Cases of the Krasnodar Territorial Court upheld the verdict.
The Zelezhnodorozhny District Court of Rostov-on-Don fined local resident Alexandra Shashkova for posting two videos on TikTok. On one of her videos, the woman sings a pro-Ukrainian song, on the other, she insults Russian soldiers and officers involved in the special military operation.
In Adler, a court fined Andrei Klychnikov, a local resident, for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and arrested him for 15 days. According to the police, the local resident tried to destroy an object bearing the letters “Z” and “V”, and when policemen noticed him, he tried to escape and used foul language.
Military aircraft crash in Yeysk
On July 17, a Su-25 aircraft crashed into the Sea of Azov near Yeysk. According to the press service of the Southern Military District, the attack aircraft crashed during a training flight, the preliminary reason being an engine failure. The pilot of the aircraft perished, reports Roman Bublik, the head of the Yeysk District. The incident was the third in the city after the fall of the bomber in October 2022 and fuel tanks of a fighter aircraft in December 2018.
Blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh
A group of women from Nagorno-Karabakh tried to pass through the Lachin Corridor to return home. However, they did not succeed, as Russian peacekeepers did not respond to a request to escort the Karabakh people to the Azerbaijani border checkpoint.
The Lachin Corridor has been blocked since December 12, 2022 by Azerbaijani picketers. On April 23, an Azerbaijani border checkpoint was installed at the entrance to the Lachin Corridor. Stepanakert considers the new border checkpoint an integral part of the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The meeting with the President of the European Council Charles Michel and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev in Brussels has not produced any result in overcoming the blockade of the Lachin Corridor and the humanitarian crisis, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan states.
On July 17, Nagorno-Karabakh President Araik Arutyunyan declared a sit-in strike with the demand to unblock the Lachin Corridor. The president of the unrecognized republic began his protest action in a tent in front of the presidential building and promised that his sit-in strike would last a week. Parliament speaker Arthur Tovmasyan joined a similar protest action in Stepanakert.
Persecution of opposition in Azerbaijan
In March, in its annual report on the situation with human rights in the world, the US Department of State noted cases of political repression in Azerbaijan, the absence of independent courts, restrictions on freedom of speech, and other violations. On July 18, Co-Chairs of the European Parliament’s Media Working Group David Casa and Ramona Strugariu condemned the persecution of journalists in Azerbaijan. They pointed out that President Ilham Aliev “threatened journalists, bloggers, and activists who criticized his authoritarian regime.”
On July 23, Gubad Ibadoglu, the leader of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (DWP), was detained in Baku. On July 21, the trial on the case against Heydar Oguz, the editor-in-chief of the “ovqat.com” website, was completed in the Surakhani District Court. The case was based on a complaint filed by Sara Azimova, a member of the Television and Radio Council of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. The court sentenced the journalist to six months of corrective labour.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg has published decisions on the complaints filed by 14 Azerbaijani citizens. The country’s authorities acknowledged the violation of their rights and agreed to pay compensation to Azad Gasanov, Abulfaz Sadygov, and 12 other oppositionists.
On July 22, in Baku, a court extended the arrest of opposition leader Bakhtiyar Gadjiev by two months and 10 days, until October 8.
Official data on natives of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine
By July 23, the authorities and the law enforcement bodies reported about at least 2299 residents of Southern Russia perished in Ukraine, including 1207 residents of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and 1092 residents of the Southern Federal District (SFD).
In Dagestan, the authorities reported about 575 local residents perished in Ukraine, in the Rostov Region – 251, in the Volgograd Region – 449, in North Ossetia – 199, in the Krasnodar Territory – 170, in the Stavropol Territory – 159, in the Astrakhan Region – 164, in Chechnya – 117, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 97, in Ingushetia – 39, in Adygea – 33, in Kalmykia – 25, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 21.
Source: Caucasian Knot