1,500 turn out for protest in Vladikavkaz, demanding resignation of gov’t, proof of coronavirus’ existence
Up to 1,500 people in Vladikavkaz came out on April 20 to protest the actions of the North Ossetian authorities in the context of the coronavirus epidemic, local media report.
Protesters do not believe the coronavirus epidemic is real, and demand that isolation measures be cancelled, that businesses and schools be reopened, their informal leader be released and that the head of North Ossetia, Vyacheslav Bitarov, resign.
As a new leader, the protesters are proposing MP Kaloev, who is famous for having killed a Swiss air traffic controller and avenged his wife and children’s death in a plane crash.
All the details below.
Shots from the protest in Vladikavkaz:
The unofficial leader of the protesters is local opera singer Vadim Cheldiev, who categorically does not believe in the existence of the coronavirus or a pandemic.
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Cheldiev was detained two days ago on charges of disseminating false information. He is also charged with “using violence against a government official” which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to official data, as of April 20 in North Ossetia 145 people were infected with coronavirus, two people have died. 47,121 people have been infected in Russia, 405 of which have died. Over the past few days, more than four thousand fell ill.
Others who came to the rally claim that they are not sufficiently informed about the situation with the epidemic.
Slogans against self-isolation, because of which many have lost their jobs, were heard at the rally. Many complained that the Bavaria brewing company, which belongs to the family of the head of the republic, continues to work.
Many also shouted out the slogan: “Open schools!”.
But, apparently, everyone agrees on the main demand – the resignation of the head of North Ossetia, Vyacheslav Bitarov.
Bitarov addresses protesters without result
The protest was not coordinated with the authorities, and several arrests have already been made. The head of the republic, Bitarov, assured the population that those detained would be released soon.
Vyacheslav Bitarov went to the protesters and urged everyone to return home and stay there until the end of the isolation regulations. To the indignant claims of citizens that the virus is ‘fictitious’, he replied:
“If someone proves to me that there is no coronavirus, I will open everything again.”
He was booed and prevented from speaking.
Both the head of the republic and most of the protesters did not wear masks, no one has any personal protective equipment.
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Proposed replacement leader: Kaloev, who killed a Swiss air traffic controller, avenging the death of his family
Protesters said they want to see Vitaliy Kaloev take over the reigns of the republic. He is widely known in North Ossetia after he killed a Swiss air traffic controller, who caused his wife and two children to die in a plane crash.
It all happened in 2004. The Kaloev family was travelling from Russia to Spain. Due to a mistake by Swiss dispatcher Peter Nielsen, a Russian plane collided with a DHL cargo plane over Lake Constance, killing all 60 passengers and 9 crew members.
In October 2005, Vitaliy Kaloev arrived in Switzerland and killed this dispatcher. He received eight years in prison.
In December 2007, a court in Switzerland released him for exemplary conduct, and immediately after that Vitaliy Kaloev returned to Russia.
In 2019, Vitaliy Kaloev became a candidate for deputy of the city assembly of Vladikavkaz from the ruling United Russia party.
Vitaliy Kaloev himself did not comment on the situation and did not participate in the protest until then.
In 2017, Hollywood released, based on the story of Kaloev, a film called Aftermath. The main role in the film was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Alan Tskhurbayev, from blog on the site of the Caucasian Knot:
“What Cheldiev wanted, I did not understand.
“I understand that people are tired of sitting without work, that this is a nerve-wracking situation, but why did they go out?
“I read Cheldiev’s channel for several days, this is what I understood:
- There is no virus, they want to chip us
- The gpv\t in Russia is fascist
- Stalin is good, he died in poverty
- Ossetians are not the same people they were
- Ossetians are sometimes the same people they once were
- The USSR is alive
- Everyone needs to wake up.
All this, to put it mildly, is rather irresponsible behavior.”