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Coronavirus live updates | Chechnya on lockdown

29 March 2020
The Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov Mosque in Grozny. Photo: Dominik K Cagara/OC Media.

The latest stories:

How have you been affected by the coronavirus crisis? We would like to hear from you. Get in touch via Facebook, Twitter, or email at [email protected].

29 Mar 2020, 21:18

That’s it for today, join us again tomorrow for more Coronavirus live updates.

29 Mar 2020, 21:09

Indian students stuck in Nalchik

A number of Indian medical students studying in Kabardino-Balkaria have appealed to the Indian authorities to evacuate them after India cancelled all international flights on 22 March.

They are studying at the Berbekov State University of Kabardino-Balkaria in the capital Nalchik.

One of the students told OC Media that there are more than 400 of them studying in Nalchik and that the Indian Embassy in Russia ‘are not doing anything’ to help them.

The student said the authorities had placed two of them in isolation in an international hotel. 

OC Media have also reached out to the Indian Embassy for comment.

29 Mar 2020, 21:03

Russian senator for Kabardino-Balkaria offers hotel to the Ministry of Health 

Russian senator Arsen Kanokov, a former president of Kabardino-Balkaria, has offered on Instagram to transfer a hotel he owns to the republic’s Ministry of Health to accommodate patients. 

The Sindika Hotel and Wellness Complex reportedly has 160 beds. 

According to Kanokov, negotiations are also underway with a Chinese company to purchase medical equipment. He promised that 100,000 masks would be delivered by the end of the week which would be distributed to residents free of charge.

29 Mar 2020, 20:00

Azerbaijani students ‘beaten’ after complaining about quarantine conditions

Several Azerbaijani students have allegedly been beaten after complaining about the conditions they were being quarantined in.

The barracks where some of the students are being held. Photo: Meydan TV.

Around 150 students were evacuated from Turkey to the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan on 24 March. Some were placed in the Duzdag Sanatorium, located in a cave, with the rest placed in a barracks of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. 

The students in the Duzdag Sanatorium held a protest on 25 March against the conditions they were being held in and released a video of their protest online.

Read the full story: Azerbaijani students ‘beaten’ after complaining about quarantine conditions.

29 Mar 2020, 19:22

Chechen mosques cancel Friday prayers 

Salakh Mezhiyev, the head of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Chechnya, announced in a live broadcast on Instagram today that due to the coronavirus crisis, mosques throughout the republic would not host traditional prayers next Friday.

The Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov Mosque in Grozny. Photo: Dominik K Cagara/OC Media.

Mezhiyev cited the indefinite closure of mosques in Mecca and Medina, religious centres in Saudi Arabia, as examples. 

He also called on Chechens to involve only close relatives in funerals.

According to the Chechen authorities, one of the 10 Chechens infected with the virus, an 83-year-old woman, remains in ‘critical condition’.

29 Mar 2020, 19:12

Ninety-six Georgians fined for violating state of emergency 

The Georgian Interior Ministry has announced they have fined 96 people for violating a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people in the last 24 hours.

Violators face fines of ₾3,000 ($905) for a first offence while repeat offenders can face up to 3 years in prison. 

Some Georgians have criticised the authorities for not enforcing the ban on gatherings on religious services held by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Communion service on 29 March in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Andria Jagmaidze, a spokesperson for the Church, did not rule out today that the Church’s decision-making body, the Holy Synod, would reconvene ‘if there are stricter recommendations’ from the authorities. 

The Interior Ministry said they had also fined 13 people for violating self-isolation or quarantine rules. According to official numbers, there are 4,717 people currently in quarantine. 

29 Mar 2020, 19:05

Bridge to Sochi closed

The entrance to Sochi through the Magri Automobile Bridge have been closed for 24 hours to reduce the number of visitors to the Black Sea resort. 

Traffic inspectors and employees of the Rostransnadzor are guarding the bridge,  Region Online reports. 

The bridge to Sochi. Photo: Regions Online.

The head of Krasnodar Krai, Veniamin Kondratyev, has closed 35 bus stations throughout the region, including in Sochi. Rideshare service BlaBlaCar has also suspended its activities. 

29 Mar 2020, 18:44

Gali District in Abkhazia under curfew

The authorities in Abkhazia have put the eastern Gali (Gal) District under curfew, in force from midnight to 06:00 in the morning. The district, which borders Georgia’s Samegrelo Region, is predominantly populated by ethnic Georgians, 

Georgian authorities have said they have prepared a hospital in the village of Rukhi, a couple of kilometres from Abkhazia, for potential coronavirus patients from Abkhazia.

The move comes a day after Abkhazia entered a state of emergency.

‘Self-isolation is not characteristic for us, but today, it is the case when we have to think about our dear ones’, Abkhazia’s president-elect, Aslan Bzhaniya, appealed to residents on Saturday.

Aslan Bzhaniya addressing Abkhazians on 28 March.

Earlier on Saturday, Alkhas Kondzhariya, deputy health minister of Abkhazia, said that six people had tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday, confirming no case of infection so far. 

The state of emergency is set to last until 20 April, several days before the inauguration of Aslan Bzhaniya.

Read more: Aslan Bzhaniya elected president of Abkhazia.

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

29 Mar 2020, 18:29

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29 Mar 2020, 18:26

Chechnya on lockdown

Residents of Chechnya have been forbidden from leaving their homes from today except for essential tasks like grocery shopping or if they have medical needs.

Police in Grozny urging people to stay at home. Video: Eldit Net

Chechen Parliamentary Speaker Magomed Daudov announced the lockdown in a video on Instagram.

‘This is the law. For violating this law, [there will be] a huge fine if its first time, the second time they violate — 300,000 [rubles, $3,800], [the third time] a million [roubles $12,000]. These are fines to protect people’, he said.

‘Anyone entering Chechnya, no matter where they come from, and not only them, but their family and home, will be quarantined’, Daudov said.

29 Mar 2020, 17:03

Daghestan’s Tangim Mosque closes

The Tangim Mosque in the Daghestani capital, Makhachkala, has said they have made the ‘uneasy decision’ to temporarily close and stop religious services. The mosque is the most significant Salafi mosque in the republic.

Tangim Mosque. Official photo.

According to the latest official numbers updated late on Friday, there is one confirmed case of infection in Daghestan, with another 19 people, including a minor, hospitalised with suspicious symptoms. Daghestan has 903 people who recently returned to the republic in quarantine. 

29 Mar 2020, 14:52

Azerbaijan opens new clinic in Baku 

The Yeni Klinika (‘new clinic’) opened today in Baku to temporarily treat patients with COVID-19. 

The clinic reportedly has 575 beds and 1,500 medical staff. It was anyway due to open soon but will now be dedicated to treating patients with severe symptoms of the coronavirus.

29 Mar 2020, 14:49

Metropolitan Shio Mujiri blames ‘abortions and sodomy’ for coronavirus

Metropolitan Shio Mujiri suggested during today’s sermon at the Sameba Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi that the coronavirus pandemic could be a ‘bitter pill’ in response to the normalisation of abortions and ‘sodomy’. 

Mujiri is the incumbent to 87-year-old Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II.

‘We are seeing now that non-Orthodox Christians, also politicians in many countries, come out talking about repentance, thinking about what the reason for this calamity could be’, Mujiri said.

‘These are the sins of the nation — killing the unborn, abortions, normalising sodomy, and so on. Maybe it’s time we think that this is the reason for the total spread of the virus?’

29 Mar 2020, 14:44

Initiative in Daghestan hands out free food

A local initiative has sprung up in Khasavyurt, western Daghestan, handing out free food for those in need, Region Online reports. Food prices have risen across Russia due to the coronavirus crisis. 

The initiative has been set up in a construction materials store. Photo: Khasavyurt Today.

Similar initiatives have been organised elsewhere, including in a shopping centre in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria, which is distributing bread free of charge.

29 Mar 2020, 14:26

Police in Baku fining drivers on the road unnecessarily

Vagif Asadov, the head of the Baku Police Department, has told Trend that from today, police in Baku have begun stopping drivers who are out unnecessarily. 

He said such drivers would be subject to administrative sanctions. Asadov noted that on 28 March, the Baku Police urged people not to use their cars when not necessary.

29 Mar 2020, 14:21

Armenia calls for people to donate computers for teachers and students

Armenia’s Education Ministry has called for people to donate used computers for students and teachers across the country who do not own or have access to them. 

The Ministry published what conditions used computers should be in for people who want to donate.

According to the Ministry, 10% of teachers and students do not have computer access to take part in distance learning programmes being initiated throughout the country. There is a need for approximately 21,000 computers in the regions outside of Yerevan, they said.

29 Mar 2020, 14:14

Armenia creates online forms for leaving home

Armenia’s State Commission on the State of Emergency has announced that there is now an online version of the standardised form people are required to fill out before leaving their homes. 

The stricter measures on freedom of movement were introduced on 24 March. After people fill in the required information, an electronic document is generated which will not be possible to edit later.

29 Mar 2020, 13:02

Communion goes ahead throughout Georgia

Holy Communion is being held in Georgian Orthodox Churches today throughout the country. 

In the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi, some social distancing measures were enforced, with circles placed on the floor a metre apart for people to stand on.

White dots on the ground on 28 March outside the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

The ritual of drinking wine was still carried out with a single, shared spoon.

The practice has proved controversial and Georgian health authorities have recommended the Church switch to using single-use disposable spoons to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Correction: the Communion spoon was not washed between uses, as originally stated.

29 Mar 2020, 12:47

Armenia registers 52 more cases and two more deaths

Armenia has confirmed 52 new cases, bringing the total number to 424.

Late last night, the Health Ministry also confirmed two more deaths, a 55-year-old woman and 72-year-old man. 

Both were also suffering from chronic illnesses besides being infected with the virus. This brings the total number of deaths to three. To date, there have been 30 recoveries.

29 Mar 2020, 12:17

Stricter measures introduced in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti

The Georgian government has introduced stricter measures in the western region of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti.

All Public transport has been halted from today. 

The military has been deployed alongside the police and healthcare workers to ensure people are fulfilling safety recommendations. 

The governor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Alexandre Motserelia, said on Saturday evening that people were prohibited from moving around in cities and towns except when absolutely necessary. 

Check-points are to be set up at the borders between municipalities and anyone travelling by car should wear masks. 

The reason for the measures, Motserelia said, was that a case of coronavirus was confirmed in Zugdidi and the government is expecting this number to grow. 

‘There are threats and they are big. At the same time, let's not forget that we are very close to the occupation line and unfortunately, information that we receive from there is not good. We expect our fellow citizens who live in Abkhazia to come here for treatment. They will all receive the necessary care’, Motserelia added.

Yesterday Georgia announced it had set aside a hospital in the village of Rukhi, a couple of kilometres from Abkhazia, with 25 beds and 11 ventilators for potential coronavirus patients from Abkhazia. Image via 1tv.ge.

29 Mar 2020, 09:30


Welcome to OC Media’s coronavirus live updates for Sunday, 29 March. We will be bringing you the latest news on the Covid-19 pandemic from around the Caucasus.

The biggest developments from yesterday:

In Georgia, health officials fear that ‘domestic transmission’ has begun, as they have said there is a chance they will not be able to identify the source of two recent infections in the country.  

Meanwhile, a Facebook campaign has begun to crowdfund money to help pay the utility bills of socially vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.  Georgian police have also fined the driver of a minibus ₾3,000 ($900) for transporting people from Tbilisi to Kakheti. 

Azerbaijan toughened its special quarantine regime, banning inter-region and inter-city travel, and closing all stores except for grocery shops and pharmacies. Restaurants may still operate through delivery services.

Karachay-Cherkessia, Adygea, and Daghestan have begun to implement stricter anti-coronavirus measures including closing stores, restaurants, and public parks. Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open. 

South Ossetia has announced a ‘quarantine’ to fight the spread of the coronavirus. The quarantine was announced on 27 March and is due to last until 12 April. 

The measures being enacted include closing all places of business and sports establishments, except for grocery stores and pharmacies.

All foreign citizens, including Russians, have been banned from entering.

Read more from yesterday as well as the latest stories:

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