Last week, Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky District Court rejected an appeal from Oyub Titiyev’s lawyer, Pyotr Zaikin, to have his case transferred to another region of the North Caucasus. Titiyev, the head of Russian rights group Memorial’s Chechen branch, is the latest government critic to be prosecuted on drug charges in the republic. Zaikin says the drugs were planted by police and insists Titiyev will not receive a fair trial in Chechnya, he also accused the Russian Investigative Committee of being unwilling to get to the truth of the matter.
Faced with bullying, discrimination, and violence queer people in the South Caucasus are frequently forced to flee their homes. [Read more…]
Magomed Khazbiyev, a well-known Ingush opposition figure and public activist, has been in a detention facility in the town of Karabulak since 11 January. He is being accused of illegal possession of weapons. He claims that the charges have been fabricated. His lawyers insist upon his release. Khazbiyev suffers from ulcers and skin disease. A suspect under investigation with such diseases should be released for treatment.
While official statistics may say otherwise, many see unemployment in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay–Cherkessia as among the worst in Russia. Deindustrialisation, social alienation, and local corruption have all played a part in the region’s stagnation.
Since exiled Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli disappeared from Tbilisi, reappearing a day later in an Azerbaijani jail, suspicions of Georgian involvement in his kidnapping have remained. Mukhtarli himself has accused the Georgian government of complicity, and while this is a charge they deny, local rights groups are becoming impatient with the pace and transparency of the official investigation into his disappearance.
The Georgian government has an ambitious plan to construct a road connecting the mountainous regions of northeast Georgia, from Khevsureti to Tusheti. It’s stated goal — to develop tourism and help locals travel between difficult-to-reach areas. But many, both locals and others, are against the project. They say it will wreck the environment, damaging the region’s unique natural appeal, and taking with it their hopes of developing ecotourism.
Low pay and high unemployment have led many Armenian women to seek work beyond the country’s borders. Despite fears of trafficking, often abusive working conditions, and a closed border with Turkey, the allure of higher salaries have led thousands to leave Armenia, mainly to Russia and even Turkey — a country many consider an ‘enemy land’.
For better or worse, Turkish culture exerts a considerable influence on modern Azerbaijani youth culture. While for many films, television, music, and literature from Turkey offer a window into the wider world, some worry it is supplanting Azerbaijan’s own culture. [Read more…]