Caucasus Theater

Russia guilty of rights violations in Georgia conflict

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled April 9 that Russia's occupation of two breakaway regions in Georgia systematically violated human rights. The ECHR found that Russia violated multiple sections of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to life under Article Two, the prohibition of torture under Article Three, the right to liberty under Article Five, and the right to respect for private and family life under Article Eight

Anti-Semitic riots, attacks in Russian Caucasus

An angry mob in Russia's Caucasus republic of Dagestan stormed the airport of regional capital Makhachkala Oct. 29, seking to confront passengers arriving on a flight from Israel. Some held signs reading "Child killers have no place in Dagestan" and "We are against Jewish refugees." The National Guard only showed up hours after rioters had overrun all areas of the airport, including the runway. Clashes then ensued, with several arrested. There was a similar scene in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt, after reports on social media claimed that "refugees from Israel" were being accommodated at a local hotel. Another such rally was reported from Cherkessk, capital of the repubic of Karachay-Cherkessia. And in Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria republic, an under-construction Jewish cultural center was set ablaze, with "Death to the Yahudi" written in Russian on one wall.

Refugee exodus mounts from Nagorno-Karabakh

The separatist government of Nagorno-Karabakh, which controlled the disputed territory for more than three decades, announced on Sept. 28 that it will disband by the end of the year. Azerbaijan took full control of Nagorno-Karabakh following a swift military offensive last week. The region, an enclave within the borders of Azerbaijan, is home to around 120,000 ethnic Armenians who have considered it a de facto independent state, the Republic of Artsakh, since 1991. Most of that population—almost 90,000 people—has fled to Armenia in the past week due to fears of persecution and ethnic cleansing by the Azerbaijani forces that are now in control. At least 170 people died in a massive fuel depot explosion amid the scramble to leave. Authorities in Armenia are struggling to register and provide for the needs of the tens of thousands of people arriving from the enclave, and concerns are growing about a nascent humanitarian crisis.

Podcast: the fall of Artsakh & the fate of the Armenians

With a mass exodus of ethnic Armenians underway from the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh following its fall to Azerbaijani forces, the threat of "ethnic cleansing" looms. The enclave had maintained a de facto independence as the Republic of Artsakh since 1991, but the war in Ukraine has pushed the stand-off out of the headlines, and ironically given Azerbaijan a free hand to finally re-take the territory. In Episode 193 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the historical roots of the conflict, and demonstrates how the Armenians of Artsakh have been betrayed by all the Great Powers—including both Russia and the United States. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Republic of Artsakh falls to Azerbaijan

Through the mediation of the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in the breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and leaders of the self-declared Republic of Artsakh reached an agreement on a cessation of hostilities Sept. 20. The ceasefire went into effect 24 hours after Azerbaijan launched an assault on Artsakh, taking the territory that had been held by ethnic Armenian separatists since 1991. The agreement calls for the disbanding of the Artsakh Defense Army, and the removal of Armenian military forces from the peacekeeping zone that has linked the enclave to Armenia. The military operation claimed some 30 lives, including at least seven ethnic Armenian civilians. (Armenian Weekly)

UN: Russia must investigate Chechnya attack

A group of United Nations human rights experts called on the Russian Federation July 7 to investigate a violent attack against journalist Yelena Milashina and human rights lawyer Alexander Nemov, and bring to justice the perpetrators. The incident occurred on July 4 in the Russian Republic of Chechnya. Milashina was covering, and Nemov participating in, the trial of Zarema Musaeva, the mother of exiled opposition activists who challenged the leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Russia ordered to pay damages for Georgia conflict

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on April 28 ordered Russia to pay 130 million euros ($143 million) in compensation to Georgia, almost 15 years after the war in the South Caucasus nation. The case concerned allegations by the Georgian government that actions by the Russian Federation during the 2008 conflict amounted to breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). The ECHR can award damages for harmful consequences of a violation under the Convention's Article 41. The court found that there was still a basis to make an award under Article 41, despite the fact that Russia had ceased its membership in the Council of Europe, and failed to cooperate with the proceedings.

Georgia drops 'foreign agent' bill after protests

Georgia's ruling coalition March 9 agreed to withdraw a controversial "foreign agent" bill after two days of angry protests in the capital Tbilisi. The bill "On Transparency of Foreign Influence," introduced in Parliament in February, would have required non-governmental organizations and media outlets that receive 20% or more of their annual revenue from a "foreign power" to register as "agents of foreign influence" with the Justice Ministry.

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