Thursday selection of headlines from the Caucasus, December 3
● Azerbaijan’s troops have entered the Lachin district, taking over the last of the three regions around Karabakh handed over by the Armenian side under the November 10 Russia-brokered truce. Only the Lachin corridor, a route through the district that connects Karabakh to Armenia, will remain under the control of the Russian peacekeepers.
● “There’s no such thing as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict anymore,” president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said as he congratulated his people on reclaiming the control of Lachin. “The people living in Nagorno-Karabakh today are citizens of Azerbaijan… The day will come when the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh today and the Azerbaijanis who will surely return there will again live together as good neighbors.”
● In Armenia, street protests continue, demanding the resignation of PM Nikol Pashinyan who the protesters say betrayed Karabakh by signing the ceasefire agreement. He has also been criticized by the country’s ex-presidents. Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the first president of Armenia, has called Pashinyan a “national disaster”.
● Meanwhile, Russian president Putin has called on the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization to support the Armenian prime minister in the implementation of the truce in Karabakh. Pashinyan made a decision “that was very painful, but necessary for the Armenian people”, a decision that took him “a lot of personal courage” to make, Putin said.
More on Karabakh
● It is now over a month since Georgia held its controversial parliamentary election, and the standoff between the opposition and government here continues. On December 11, the day the newly elected parliament is due to come together for its inaugural meeting, the 60 representatives of the opposition who formally entered the new parliament will renounce their MP mandates in a joint signing ceremony in the historic Metekhi Cathedral in Tbilisi.
At the same time, they have signalled they are ready to go back to the bargaining table with the authorities.
● Georgia’s economy shrank 3.9% in October, while growth was down a total of 5.1% in the first ten months of 2020, Geostat reports. The recession is expected to exacerbate even more as a result of additional lockdown measures announced by the government on November 26.
On life and death in Covid clinics
Over 4,000 new cases of the coronavirus infection have been registered in Georgia daily, putting great strain on the country’s healthcare system. Medical staff have found themselves in the most challenging of situations. JAMnews asked some of them to tell their stories.
On when the power’s out
When Eleanor called the management of the power grids for the nth time, she was told that there would be no electricity, because all the electricity was being “taken away” by a nearby cryptocurrency farm. “So turn it off!” she shouted into the phone. And the answer she got was: “If only we could.” Stories from Abkhazia struggling against a severe energy crisis.
And, finally, Covid-19 tally
Georgia: 143,376 confirmed cases, including 1,342 fatalities, and 121,621 recoveries
Armenia: 137,231 confirmed cases, including 2,228 deaths and 111,795 recoveries
Azerbaijan: 129,544 cases. 1,470 people have died, 79,162 others recovered