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The Caucasus Digest

English, News, 1 season, 81 episodes, 1 day, 13 hours, 6 minutes
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Your weekly view into the Caucasus region with the OC Media team.
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Georgia’s foreign agent law passes — what’s next?

The foreign agent law has passed its third and final reading in the Georgian parliament despite mass protests against the law throughout the country. This week, OC Media’s Robin Fabbro, Mariam Nikuradze, and Shota Kincha talk about President Salome Zourabichvili’s expected veto of the law, the possibility of Western sanctions against members of the ruling Georgian Dream party, and the future of the protest movement against the law. Read more: Georgian parliament adopts foreign agent law Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us
5/16/202430 minutes, 16 seconds
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A week of protests against Georgia’s foreign agent law

Georgians have once again come out to protest the foreign agents bill after the ruling Georgian Dream party reintroduced the draft law a year after aborting it. This week, we spoke with OC Media’s Mariam Nikuradze and Shota Kincha about the daily mass protests against the bill, the government’s reactions, and how the coming weeks might unfold. Read more: Georgian foreign agent bill passes first reading in parliament amidst massive protests Georgian Dream eliminates taxes on offshore assets brought to Georgia Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
4/19/202422 minutes, 24 seconds
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Is Chechnya banning lezginka?

Chechnya’s Culture Ministry said earlier this month that the Russian republic would issue restrictions on music slower than 80 bpm and faster than 116 bpm. At the time, the ministry stated that the Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov had instructed them to introduce the restrictions, however, last week, Kadyrov said that the restrictions were meant to be ‘recommendations’ for performers and composers of folk music in Chechnya. This week, OC Media’s Luiza Mchedlishvili talks about Chechnya’s repression of musicians and culture, and musicologist Ben Wheeler breaks down the apparent contradictions of the new restrictions. Read more: Chechnya bans ‘fast and slow’ music Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
4/15/202432 minutes, 52 seconds
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The ‘Russian Law’ returns to Georgia

The ruling Georgian Dream party has reintroduced its controversial foreign agents law, a bill that the party was forced to abort after two nights of mass protests in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. The ruling party’s reintroduction of the bill was met with wide condemnation both domestically and internationally due to its similarity to legislation that was used to crush civil society and media in Russia. This week, OC Media’s Robin Fabbro, Mariam Nikuradze, and Shota Kincha talk about why Georgian Dream brought the law back and the potential response to the law in Georgia. Read more: Why is Georgian Dream reviving the foreign agent law? Georgia’s foreign agents bill faces international condemnation Georgian Government to bring back aborted foreign agent law Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
4/5/202438 minutes, 6 seconds
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NATO’s stakes in the South Caucasus

Last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg toured the South Caucasus to visit the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. This week, we speak to political analyst and head of the Regional Center for Democracy Tigran Grigoryan about the significance of a new partnership agreement between Armenia and NATO, to independent researcher Shujaat Ahmadzada about the importance of Azerbaijani gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and to Giorgi Shaishmelashvili about the latest developments surrounding Georgia’s protracted bid for NATO membership. Read more: NATO and Armenia to finalise new agreement as Stoltenberg tours South Caucasus Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/28/202433 minutes, 4 seconds
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Azerbaijan’s media crackdown continues

In early March, Azerbaijani police raided the offices of Toplum TV and arrested several of their journalists on charges of smuggling. The targeting of the independent outlet was the latest in Azerbaijan’s ongoing crackdown on media in the country. This week, we speak to Toplum TV journalist Alya Aghayeva about Azerbaijan’s crackdown on their outlet, and to Leyla Mustafayeva, who became the interim editor-in-chief of AbzasMedia in exile. AbzasMedia was the first outlet to be targeted by the authorities in November. Read more: Azerbaijan charges journalists and activists following Toplum TV raid Editorial | Ilham Aliyev’s attempt to eradicate the free press cannot succeed Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/21/202420 minutes, 40 seconds
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Is Armenia going to join the European Union?

In recent weeks, senior Armenian officials have expressed an intent and interest in the country growing closer to Europe, and perhaps even joining the European Union, particularly in light of recent security concerns and a move away from Moscow. In this week’s episode, we speak to MEP Viola von Cramon about Armenia’s EU prospects, and to Babken DerGrigorian, a former official in the post-revolutionary government about Armenia’s ties with Rusia and its readiness to potentially apply for EU membership. Read more: Armenia’s parliamentary speaker: Armenia should seek EU candidacy Pashinyan: Armenia has ‘frozen’ its participation in the CSTO Opinion | The EU should step up its support for Armenia Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/7/202422 minutes, 56 seconds
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Surviving on $8 a month: is Georgia on track for a real living wage?

Georgia’s minimum wage has been stuck at $8 a month since 1999, with unions and civil society organisations calling on the government to raise the mimum wage for the country to match today’s standards of decent living in Georgia. This week in the Caucasus Digest, we speak to Jeff Vize from Human Rights Watch about the background of the current minimum wage, and Raisa Liparteliani from the Georgian Trade Union Confederation, about a new draft law that could potentially institute a minimum wage that allows. Read more: Opinion | Georgia’s minimum wage is stuck in the 90s Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/1/202434 minutes, 3 seconds
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Are Armenia and Azerbaijan heading towards war?

Last week, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned that Azerbaijan might be preparing to launch a full-scale war. His warning came amidst peace negotiations between the two countries that have been ongoing since the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War of 2020. This week, we speak to Crisis Group’s Olesya Vartanyan, to independent researcher Shujaat Ahmadzada, and to writer and Carnegie Senior Fellow Thomas de Waal about the likelihood of a war breaking out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the current status of the peace talks. Read more: Pashinyan warns Azerbaijan seeks ‘full-scale war’ Russian border guards obstructed EU mission in Armenia Pashinyan and Aliyev meet at Munich Security Conference Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
2/23/202454 minutes, 33 seconds
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Against shame culture: virginity tests and sex education in Armenia

Last week, a bill on domestic violence passed its first hearing in Armenia’s parliament. The changes would classify virginity tests, a controversial practice meant to determine whether a person’s hymen is intact, as a form of domestic violence. This week, we speak to Ani Jilosian of the Women’s Support Centre about what these amendments could mean and to Tereza Panchoyan, or Girlunmuted an Instagram blogger, about attitudes towards sex in Armenia and the importance of better sex education. Read more: Talking about sex: an unspoken topic in Armenia Imprisoned in their own homes: the Armenian women escaping psychological abuse Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
2/16/202422 minutes, 54 seconds
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Podcast | The elections that had no one on the edge of their seat

President Ilham Aliyev has prolonged his decades-long rule of Azerbaijan, securing a fifth term after winning the presidential elections this week — elections that were marred by the absence of any real opposition and blatant electoral fraud. On this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, we speak to Meydan TV editor Orkhan Mammad about the role of media in covering the elections, to political analyst and PhD candidate Bahruz Samadov about the mainstream opposition’s boycott of the vote, and to Javid Agha, a journalist and social media researcher, about his previous experience observing Azerbaijani elections. Read more: Aliyev receives 92% in snap presidential election Editorial | Ilham Aliyev’s attempt to eradicate the free press cannot succeed Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
2/9/202443 minutes, 34 seconds
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Georgians take on predatory lending

The eviction of the Khatiashvili family from their home in Tbilisi last week has led to outrage in Georgia and accusations that the government is taking an ‘inhumane’ approach towards debt and housing.  This week, we hear from Marina Khatiashvili, who was evicted alongside her family, and we speak to OC Media journalist and co-director Mariam Nikuradze about the protests surrounding the eviction, and to the Social Justice Centre’s Salome Shubladze about predatory lending and the government’s handling of the situation. Read more: Second family saved from eviction in Tbilisi as protests continue Police clash with protesters attempting to block Tbilisi eviction Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
2/1/202431 minutes, 8 seconds
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The Amulsar mine returns

After over a decade of controversy over environmental, labour, and economic concerns, the Armenian government has finally greenlit the operation of the Amulsar gold mine in Jermuk. Since the project’s announcement, local communities in and around Jermuk have expressed concern about the mine’s potential impact on their lives and livelihoods, while environmental activists have warned about the catastrophic environmental effects the mines could have on the region. This week, we spoke to Knar Khudoyan, a journalist who has been closely following the protests surrounding the mine, to Anna Shahnazaryan, an environmental activist who has been campaigning against the mine, and to Hovhannes Avetisyan, an economist and public policy analyst, about the viability of the project. Read more: Armenia greenlights controversial Amulsar gold mine Anti-mining activists put New Armenia’s ‘people power’ to the test Rural communities in Armenia give mining companies the boot Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
1/29/202457 minutes, 2 seconds
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What's next for Georgia on its path to Europe?

Georgia may finally have secured EU candidate status, but some in Georgia still question just how committed the ruling Georgian Dream party is to taking the country’s EU integration to the next stage. This week, we spoke to OC Media journalist and co-director Mariam Nikuradze about Georgian Dream’s apparent change of heart towards the EU and to the Social Justice Centre’s director of the democracy and justice programme, Guram Imnadze, about the remaining reforms Georgia must undertake in its path to becoming a member of the bloc. Read more: EU grants Georgia candidate status Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
12/22/202331 minutes, 1 second
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Mandatory military service and ‘fictional’ priests in Georgia

Georgia’s defence code is stamping out loopholes that young Georgians use to get out of military service, as rights activists in the country warn that new amendments to the code could lead to discrimination against religious minorities. This week, we spoke to a Georgian student about why he chose to evade conscription, to Ioseb Edisherashvili from the Georgian Young Lawyers Association about the controversy surrounding the defence code, and to Giorgi Shaishmelashvili,  the Head of Research at Civic IDEA, about what the code was intended to achieve, and what it has done instead. Read more: Georgia closes loopholes to defer military service Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
12/15/202341 minutes, 50 seconds
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Azerbaijan cracks down on the media

Last week, Azerbaijani authorities raided the offices of AbzasMedia, an independent news outlet covering corruption in the country. They arrested four of its employees, including its director, Ulvi Hasanli, and editor-in-chief, Sevinj Vagifgizi, on charges of smuggling foreign currency into the country. They denied the charges and accused the government of falsifying evidence against them by planting €40,000 ($44,000) in their offices to disrupt their work. This week, the police also arrested Aziz Orujov, the founder of Kanal 13, an independent online TV, for allegedly illegally constructing a house. These arrests have led many in Azerbaijan to fear that a wave of repression is beginning, similar to other such periods of pressure against journalists, activists, and politicians in Azerbaijan. This week, Islam Shikhali talks about working as a journalist in Azerbaijan in light of the crackdown on AbzasMedia, Anar Mammadli, the head of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center, talks about his own arrest in a previous crackdown on civil society almost a decade ago, and Bahruz Samadov, a PhD candidate at Charles University, talks about how Azerbaijan’s relationship with the West influenced its authoritarian crackdown on AbzasMedia. Read more: Editorial | Ilham Aliyev’s attempt to eradicate the free press cannot succeed Azerbaijan detains fourth AbzasMedia employee in ongoing crackdown Azerbaijan arrests founder of Kanal 13 a week after AbzasMedia raid Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
12/1/202333 minutes, 16 seconds
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Are the rights of queer Armenians being forgotten?

The recent suicide of a queer Armenian teenager shook many in Armenia, with activists accusing the authorities of lacking the sensitivity or willingness to help queer victims of abuse or bullying. In the absence of any legislation to protect them, queer people in Armenia are frequently subjected to discrimination and violence in Armenia, including in their own homes. This week on the Caucasus Digest, a queer Armenian student talks about the challenges of being queer in Armenia, Mamikon Hovsepyan of Pink Armenia discusses the role of queer rights activism and organisation in the country, and Freedom House’s Andranik Shirinyan about what the authorities should do to protect queer Armenians. Read more: Teenager takes own life in Armenia after being outed online What killed Tigran and Arsen? ‘You learn to hide your identity’: being queer in the Armenian army Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/23/202336 minutes, 39 seconds
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Going against the flow: Georgia’s controversial hydropower plants

Georgia generates a staggering 85% of its electricity through hydropower plants; however, while further exploitation of Georgia’s hydropower potential sounds promising on paper, local activists and researchers say that a lack of feasibility and safety research before the construction of hydropower plants could pose significant risks. This week on the Caucasus Digest, Hannah O’Sullivan, an energy researcher, talks about the present and future role of hydropower in Georgia. Salome Shubladze of the Social Justice Centre explains the implications of the plants’ construction for people’s rights, and Kakha Asatiani of the Saving Rioni Valley movement provides an insight into the campaigns opposing the HPPs. Read more: Georgia’s ‘zombie’ hydropower projects Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/17/202334 minutes, 27 seconds
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How the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War has reshaped the region

The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War has had a lasting impact on the South Caucasus, leading to a massive geopolitical shift. Azerbaijan emerged victorious, taking control of large swathes of territory in 2020, and eventually what remained of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023. Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population was forced to flee the region into Armenia, which since the war, has been forced to reassess its traditional alliance with Russia and to turn West for assistance. This episode, we spoke to Marut Vanyan, a journalist from Nagorno-Karabakh, about the exodus of the region’s Armenian population and the challenges they face in Armenia. We also spoke to Civilnet’s editor-in-chief, Karen Harutyunyan, about how Armenia changed since the war and its partnership with Russia, to Bahruz Samadov, a PhD candidate at Charles University in Prague, about how the conflict has helped further legitimise President Ilham Aliyev’s rule. Read more: Opinion | Fourteen years on Rustaveli Avenue — documenting Georgia’s descent into authoritarianism Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/9/202347 minutes, 8 seconds
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Is Georgia getting EU candidate status?

The EU Commission is expected to deliver its recommendation on whether or not the European Union should now grant Georgia candidate status on 8 November. The decision to grant Georgia candidate status hinges on 12 priorities set out by the EU for the country to fulfil before its status could be reconsidered. While the Georgian Dream-led government insists that it has made real progress on those 12 priorities, many in Georgia remain sceptical about their commitment to the country’s EU aspirations. This week on the Caucasus Digest, Mariam Nikuradze, OC Media’s journalist and co-director, Kakha Gogolashvili from the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, and Politiko’s Gabriel Gavin about what to expect on 8 November. Read more: Opinion | Fourteen years on Rustaveli Avenue — documenting Georgia’s descent into authoritarianism EU praises ‘dangerous’ amendments to Georgia’s broadcasting law Georgian Dream rushes through controversial amendments outlawing ‘obscenity’ Georgian Dream fails to impeach President Zurabishvili Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/2/202340 minutes, 47 seconds
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Chechens trying to find their place in Europe

The Kadyrov regime, installed by Moscow in Grozny after the fall of Ichkeria, a short-lived independent Chechen state that existed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has led to a severe deterioration of human rights in Chechnya, as reports of police brutality, disappearances, torture, and the persecution of people formerly associated with Ichkeria became all too common. Tens of thousands have since fled Chechnya and settled in Europe, with more attempting to seek asylum after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, some of the new arrivals have found a less than warm reception as the Chechen diaspora grapples with Islamaphobia and stereotypes in their host countries. This week, Chamil Albakov, a representative of a group that claims to uphold the legacy of Ichkeria, with a government in exile, in France and Marat Ilyasov, a visiting scholar at George Washington University, talk about the challenges and stereotypes the Chechens of Europe face, and Europe’s denial of asylum to Chechens fleeing Kadyrov’s Chechnya and mobilisation in Russia. Read more: Chechen denied asylum in Switzerland as authorities deem Chechnya ‘safe’ for his return Chechen detainee reportedly granted refugee status in Croatia French Interior Minister under investigation over deportation of Chechen refugee Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
10/26/202321 minutes, 9 seconds
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Tackling child marriages in Georgia

In early October, Aitaj Shakhmarova, 14, was murdered by a man who kidnapped her and forced her into marriage as she was trying to flee his home. The crime shook Georgia, where child marriage rates are relatively high. This week, we spoke to Samira Bayramova, a human rights activist from Kvemo Kartli, about the murder and prevalence of early marriage in Georgia and the importance of raising awareness of child marriage and the development of rural communities. Baia Pataraia, the executive director of Sapari, a women’s rights organisation, stresses the importance of implementing already-existing legislation to prevent early marriage in Georgia. Read more: Family of 14-year-old murdered in Georgia charged with complicity in her early marriage Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
10/19/202325 minutes, 11 seconds
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No tents, no stages, no signs: Georgian Dream’s war on protest

Georgia’s Parliament adopted on Thursday evening amendments to the law on protests that would ban the erection of temporary structures – tents and stages included. Critics of the amendments have argued that the new regulations would stifle freedom of assembly in the country and have already begun dubbing it the ‘new Russian law’ in reference to the foreign agents law, which triggered a wave of massive protests that forced the ruling Georgian Dream party to drop it. This week, we spoke to OC Media journalist and co-director Mariam Nikuradze about the conviction of peaceful protesters holding signs deemed offensive by the police, including a blank sheet of paper, and how the Georgian police deal with protests in the country. Dachi Imedadze, the head of strategy at the liberal activist Shame movement, talks about how these amendments could affect future demonstrations in Georgia. Guram Imnadze, a lawyer and programme director at the Social Justice Centre, a local human rights group, sheds light on the amendments and how they came to be. Read more: Georgian Dream pass new anti-protest amendments Georgia’s ruling party accuse USAID of preparing activists for revolution Tbilisi court convicts protester ‘for holding blank sheet of paper’ Lazare Grigoriadis jailed on two-year-old charges, as pretrial detention term approaches end We’re currently collecting feedback from our listeners and readers. We really value your opinions and want to make sure we’re providing information and content that you find useful and interesting, so we would love it if you could fill out this anonymous survey that will take approximately 10–15 minutes of your time. Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
10/5/202344 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Nagorno-Karabakh Exodus

More than half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population have already sought refuge in Armenia less than a week after Stepanakert’s surrender to Azerbaijan. This week on the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Armenian staff writer Arshaluys Barseghyan talks about Armenia’s reception of Nagorno-Karabakh refugees and anti-government protests in Armenia. Laurence Broers, an associate fellow at the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatam House, phones in to talk about the international community’s role in the conflict, and whether more could have been done to avoid the latest fighting and displacement of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. Bahruz Samadov, a PhD candidate at Charles University in Prague, talks about Baku’s plans to ‘integrate’ the region and the future of the Armenia–Azerbaijan conflict. Read more: Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to dissolve by January 2024 US calls for international observers as population of Nagorno-Karabakh flees Former Nagorno-Karabakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan detained by Azerbaijan Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
9/28/202332 minutes, 6 seconds
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The end of Nagorno-Karabakh?

On Tuesday, Azerbaijan launched a massive offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh. The aim was to ‘restore constitutional order’ and force the dissolution of the government in Stepanakert. Nagorno-Karabakh surrendered 24 hours later. This week on the Caucasus Digest, Thomas De Waal, a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe, talks about the short-lived fighting seen in Nagorno-Karabakh and what outcomes it might have had on the conflict. Knar Khudoyan, a journalist based in Yerevan, talks about reactions to the war in Yerevan. Lala Darchinova and Sevinj Samadzade, peace activists from Azerbaijan, talk about the role of peace activism in the conflict and how the Azerbaijani society reacted to the war. Read more: Nagorno-Karabakh surrenders to Azerbaijan Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
9/20/202354 minutes, 33 seconds
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Fighting Russia’s colonial legacy in the North Caucasus

Since its conquest by Russia in the 19th century, the North Caucasus has been the scene of genocides, forced deportations, wars for independence, and insurgency. The dozens of nations indigenous to the region continue to be repressed socially and culturally by the Russian Federation. However, Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has once again raised the imperial nature of the Russian state and has shone a light on how this imperialism extends to the North Caucasus, as several organisations led by North Caucasian natives and diaspora members call for the independence of their nations. On this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media co-director Dominik Cagara talks about the colonial legacy of the Caucasus conquest and its lingering effects on the region. Magomed Torijev, a journalist and representative of the Ingush Independence Committee, talks about the committee’s aim of securing independence for Ingushetia. Harold Chambers, a North Caucasus analyst, breaks down the current situation in the North Caucasus and talks about the challenges faced by these organisations. Read more: ‘We have only one enemy — this is Russia’: the Chechens taking up arms for Ukraine Opinion | The Ingush are leaving Russia Opinion | Russia’s death train rolls through Chechnya and Ingushetia Opinion | The world has woken up to the Russian terror that the Chechens know only too well Opinion | In Russia, calling yourself a Circassian is always a political stance Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
9/6/202336 minutes, 11 seconds
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Tea Tsulukiani’s chokehold on Georgian culture

Georgia’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth has seen a lot of changes since Tea Tsulukiani’s appointment as minister, with Tsulukiani, a veteran member of the ruling Georgian Dream party, overseeing the ‘reorganisation’ of the ministry and its agencies. This week on the Caucasus Digest, we spoke to Lika Zakashvili, editor-in-chief of Publika, about Tsulukiani’s tenure as minister and her reorganisation efforts. Luka Beradze, director of Smiling Georgia, talks about why Georgia’s film community is protesting Tsulukiani’s dismissal of the National Film Centre’s director and other employees. Khatuna Tskhadadze, a literary translator and teacher, talks about Tsulukiani’s appointment of a ruling party MP to head the Writer’s House. Read more: Ruling party member to head Georgia’s Writers’ House Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
8/18/202340 minutes, 5 seconds
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Shovi: an avoidable tragedy?

On 3 August, a fatal mudslide hit Shovi, a resort in the northwest of Georgia. At least 21 people were confirmed to have been killed as a result of the mudslide. This week on the Caucasus Digest, OC Media journalist and co-director Mariam Nikuradze talks about the mudslide and its aftermath. Aleko Sardanashvili, an activist and winemaker from Racha, talks about the impact of the disaster on the region, while Lasha Sukhishvili, a professor at Ilia State University and the deputy head of of the Institute of Earth Sciences, talks about what needs to be done to avoid such tragedies in the future. Read more: Death toll continues to rise in mudslide in Georgia’s Racha Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
8/10/202326 minutes, 39 seconds
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The arrest of Gubad Ibadoghlu

On 23 July, Azerbaijani police detained Gubad Ibadoghlu, a prominent critic of the Azerbaijani Government and chair of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party. Ibadoghlu was detained while visiting Azerbaijan from his home in London, and was charged with making, acquiring, or selling counterfeit money. On this week’s episode, we spoke to Ibadoghlu’s daughter, Jala Bayramova, a human rights lawyer and activist, about her father’s current condition and efforts being made to secure his release. Rachel Denber, Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division’s deputy director, talks about the significance of his detention and the importance of international pressure in securing his release. Read more: Azerbaijani opposition party chair detained for ‘collusion with a terrorist organisation’ Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
8/3/202327 minutes, 53 seconds
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North Caucasian art and activism in Tbilisi

Last week, a group of North Caucasian immigrants in Tbilisi gathered at the Centre for Contemporary Art to celebrate their culture and discuss the experience of North Caucasians in Georgia. On this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, we are joined by the organisers of the event: the founders of Ored Recordings, Bulat Khalilov and Timur Kodzoko, and Zemfira Gogui, a human rights consultant from Karachay-Cherkessia. Khalilov and Kodzoko broke down the cultural significance of the event and talked about efforts aimed at decolonising the politics of the North Caucasus, while Gogui talked about the stereotypes North Caucasians are subjected to in Russia and the challenges they face in Georgia. Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
7/28/202336 minutes, 58 seconds
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Blockade fatigue in Nagorno-Karabakh

Nagorno-Karabakh has been under various degrees of blockade for over seven months now as Azerbaijan continues to prevent the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh from leaving or entering the region. Russian peacekeepers stationed there have been barred from accessing the region since mid-June, while the International Committee of the Red Cross was blocked from accessing Nagorno-Karabakh after being accused of smuggling in phones, cigarettes, and fuel. This week, Marut Vanyan, a journalist based in Stepanakert, talks about the dire humanitarian situation and the sense of isolation felt in Nagorno-Karabakh, while Armenian multimedia journalist Arpi Bekaryan talks about the growing apathy towards the crisis in Armenia. Read more: Backlash in Armenia as EU backs Nagorno-Karabakh aid via Azerbaijan Thousands rally in Stepanakert against blockade Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
7/21/202314 minutes, 58 seconds
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A history of homophobic violence

This week, Tbilisi is celebrating Pride Week. But unlike most Prides, this one is being held behind closed doors. The fight for the right to be queer in public in Georgia is not new. This week, we spoke to Natia Ghvianishvili, one of a handful of activists who gathered on 17 May 2013 only to be attacked by thousands of people led by priests. We spoke to Mariam Kvaratskhelia, co-founder and co-director of Tbilisi Pride, about their activism. And OC Media’s Mariam Nikuradze spoke about the changing face of Georgia’s anti-queer movement. Read more: Georgian Dream ramps up homophobic rhetoric as Pride Week approaches 16–18 May 2013: the days of human tragedies  Why the far right is trying to infiltrate a miners’ strike in Georgia  Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.    
7/6/202352 minutes, 22 seconds
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Roadblocks and acid lakes: an Azerbaijani village under siege

The village of Soyudlu in western Azerbaijan was locked down by the police in late June after its residents protested environmental damage caused by a goldmine. The police’s response to the protests provoked outrage in Azerbaijan, with many activists criticising for being disproportionate. This week, we spoke to Roya Malikzada a lawyer at Ecobill, an Azerbaijani environmental group that has been providing legal aid to people in Soyudlu, Elmaddin Shamilzadeh, a journalist who was detained for his coverage of the protests, and Bahruz Samadov, a political scientist and PhD candidate at Charles University in Prague, about the protests, the police’s response, and the repercussions the incident might have on Azerbaijan. Read more: Azerbaijani activists and journalist detained over mine protests Azerbaijani police lock down village after environmental protests Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
6/28/202330 minutes, 18 seconds
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Police brutality in Armenia

OC Media staff writer Ani Avetisyan and Daniel Ioannisyan, the programmes director of the Union of Informed Citizens, talk about the latest cases of police brutality and violence in Armenia and the progress made to reform the police since the 2018 revolution. Read more: Backlash after Pashinyan appoints ‘childhood friend’ as Armenia’s Interior Minister ‘An attack on the clubbing community’: popular Yerevan club raided by police Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
6/22/202321 minutes, 44 seconds
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Chiatura goes on strike

‘Thousands’ of miners employed by Georgian Manganese in the mining town of Chiatura went on strike to protest working conditions in the mines. The miners demanded better pay, paid holiday and sick leaves, and the full resumption of production of mines after it had been put on hold for months. On this week’s episode, Robin Fabbro speaks to Mariam Nikuradze about the situation on the ground, and to the Social Justice Center’s Salome Shubladze about the legal challenges faced by the striking miners. Read more: ‘Thousands’ of miners go on strike in Chiatura Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
6/16/202323 minutes
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Blank posters and phallic puns: how to get arrested in Georgia

Last week, seven protesters were detained outside the Georgian Parliament for holding signs and posters the police deemed ‘offensive’. Three of those detained are being charged with petty hooliganism and disobeying police, as civil society groups questioned the legality of their detention and warned of a worrying deterioration of the state of democracy in Georgia. This week on the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Mariam Nikuradze talks about the protest and how the authorities in Georgia detained activists and journalists in previous protests this year, while Guram Imnadze of the Social Justice Centre discusses the legality of the detentions and charges. Read more: Georgian activist on trial after holding blank sheet of paper at protest Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
6/7/202326 minutes, 20 seconds
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Where are the Armenia–Azerbaijan peace talks going?

Armenia and Azerbaijan have recently been engaged in a series of frequent meetings between the country’s leaders and foreign ministers in an attempt to reach a peace agreement. Despite hopes that the two countries would sign new agreements in at least one of Moscow on 26 June or Chisinau on 1 June, neither meeting broke new ground. This week in the Caucasus Digest, we spoke to Bahruz Samadov, a PhD candidate at Charles University in Prague, and Tigran Grigoryan, a political analyst and head of the Regional Centre for Democracy and Security, about the Armenia–Azerbaijan peace talks. Read more: Aliyev offers ‘amnesty’ to Stepanakert authorities if they dissolve government and parliament No new agreements after Pashinyan and Aliyev argue in Moscow
6/2/202325 minutes, 52 seconds
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Podcast | North Caucasians fighting in Ukraine and remembering the Circassian Genocide

Elizaveta Chukahrova, an independent journalist from the North Caucasus, phones in to talk about the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the North Caucasus and how Russian authorities attempt to hide the number of dead. Read more: Coffins from Ukraine in the North Caucasus OC Media editor Yousef Bardouka talks about the commemoration of the Circassian Genocide in Nalchik and the state of Circassian activism in the diaspora. Read more: Activists commemorate Circassian Genocide in Nalchik despite event ban Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
5/25/202317 minutes, 24 seconds
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A view of the Turkish elections from Azerbaijan and Armenia

As Turkey holds a runoff presidential election after Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to gather 50% of the vote, many inside and outside of Turkey are left wondering what the future might hold for them. This week on the Caucasus Digest, we spoke to Ahmad Alili, director of the Caucasus Policy Analysis Center, and Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center to shed light how the outcome of the elections might affect Azerbaijan and Armenia respectively. Read more: What an opposition win in Turkey could mean for the Caucasus Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
5/18/202320 minutes, 33 seconds
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Does a free press exist in Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan has ranked 151st on this year’s World Press Freedom Index — the 29th worst in the world. On this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media speaks to Arzu Geybulla, a journalist and media expert, and Orkhan Mammad, an editor at Meydan TV, about how Baku’s policies serve to constrict media freedom in Azerbaijan or even force journalists into exile. Read more: Aliyev signs law to muzzle press Censorship and violence: the challenges to press freedom in the Caucasus in 2022 Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
5/10/202333 minutes, 11 seconds
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The future of Nagorno-Karabakh

Tigran Grigoryan, a political analyst and head of the Regional Centre for Democracy and Security, joins Robin Fabbro to talk about the establishment of an Azerbaijani checkpoint at the start of the Lachin Corridor and what it might mean for the future of Nagorno-Karabakh. Lala Darchinova from the Imagine Centre for Conflict Transformation discusses Azerbaijani narratives around the conflict and the role of peacebuilding in achieving reconciliation between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Read more: Azerbaijan closes Lachin Corridor to install checkpoint PACE rapporteur seeks to visit Lachin corridor Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
4/27/202324 minutes, 31 seconds
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Tumso fakes his death and Shukhuti plays leloburti

Luiza Mchedlishvili talks about how Tumso Abdurakhmanov, a popular Chechen opposition blogger, reportedly his own death to fool Chechnya Head Ramzan Kadyrov. Read more: Chechen blogger claims he ‘staged own death’ to fool Kadyrov Mariam Nikuradze talks about this year’s leloburti game — a rugby-like sport played on Easter in the western Georgian community of Shukhuti. Read more: In pictures | Rugby with no rules — Easter in Guria Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
4/19/202319 minutes, 28 seconds
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Insurgency in the North Caucasus and Azerbaijanis grow weary of conflict

Mark Youngman, the executive director of Threatologist and a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, sheds light on the latest insurgent attacks in Ingushetia and Chechnya.  Read more: Three police officers killed in latest battle with gunmen in Ingushetia Ismi Aghayev talks about the latest clashes between on the Azerbaijan–Armenia border and the reactions to the Tuesday’s clash and the conflict among Azerbaijanis. Read more: Deadly clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan near Lachin Corridor Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
4/12/202326 minutes, 19 seconds
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Senior Georgian judges sanctioned by US and Russia’s ban on Armenian dairy products

Mariam Nikuradze talks about the US sanctions against four senior Georgian judges for ‘undermining the rule of law’ in the country. She breaks down the judges’ ties to an alleged ‘clan’ in Georgia’s judicial system that is associated with the ruling Georgian Dream party. Read more: US sanctions senior Georgian judges for ‘undermining rule of law’ Ani Avetisyan talks about the recent Russian ban on Armenian dairy products, its effect on Armenia’s dairy industry, and whether the decision was politically motivated. Read more: Russia bans Armenian dairy imports Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
4/6/202314 minutes, 41 seconds
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Exclusionary nationalism in Azerbaijan and getting away with sexual harassment in Georgia

Bahruz Samadov, a researcher at Charles University in Prague, talks about nationalism in Azerbaijan and the reactions to his opinion piece about the Azerbaijani regime’s exclusionary and militant nationalism. Read more: Opinion | Azerbaijan needs an alternative to nationalist militarism Mariam Nikuradze shares the latest on the sexual harassment accusations levelled against POSTV co-owner Shalva Ramishvili. Read more: Pro-government Georgian TV station attacks woman who was harassed by its founder Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/30/202324 minutes, 13 seconds
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A looming conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and newborn trafficking in Georgia

Tigran Grigoryan, a political analyst and the head of the Regional Centre for Democracy and Security, phones in to talk about the growing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan as fears grow of a new war between the two countries. Read more: Week of ceasefire violations in Nagorno-Karabakh as tensions mount Tata Shoshiashvili talks about a newborn trafficking scheme that allegedly kidnapping of dozens of thousands of victims between the 1950s and the early 2000s. Read more: Georgia’s lost parents and sold children Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/22/202320 minutes, 30 seconds
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Gen Z shaking up Georgian politics and the greenwashing of the Lachin blockade

Nodar Rukhadze, the co-founder of the liberal activist Shame movement, discusses the participation of millennials and Gen Z in the foreign agent protests of 7–8 March in Tbilisi, and the future political prospects of Georgia’s youth. Read more: In pictures | Tear gas and water cannons: Georgia’s foreign agent protests In pictures | Georgians defeat the foreign agent law Bashir Kitachayev, an independent journalist from Azerbaijan, phones in to discuss his opinion piece about the closure of the Lachin Corridor by Azerbaijanis claiming to be eco-activists. Read more: Opinion | Greenwashing a blockade Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/15/202323 minutes, 27 seconds
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Inside Georgia’s foreign agent law protests

Robin Fabbro and Mariam Nikuradze break down the 7–8 March protests against the Georgian foreign agent law, from the moments leading up to the massive demonstrations to Georgian Dream’s announcement to drop the controversial bill. Tens of thousands gathered outside parliament to protest the law but were dispersed by riot police equipped with teargas and pepper spray and backed by water cannons and sonic weapons on both nights. Read more: Georgian foreign agent law to be dropped after second night of protests rock Tbilisi In pictures | Tear gas and water cannons: Georgia’s foreign agent protests In pictures | Georgians defeat the foreign agent law Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/10/202333 minutes, 25 seconds
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Boycotting the foreign agent law and sex as a weapon in Azerbaijan

Chai Khana’s Executive Director, Lika Antadze, talks about her outlet’s decision to boycott the foreign agent bill in Georgia, and what the bill could mean for independent media and civil society organisations. Both Chai Khana, OC Media, and over 60 other media organisations signed a petition vowing to disobey the draft law if it is adopted by parliament. Read more: OC Media joins over 60 media groups in vow to disobey Georgian foreign agent law Editorial | Only decisive action can save Georgia’s democracy Narmin Shahmarzade, a psychologist and feminist activist, phones in to talk about how critics of the Azerbaijani government are intimidated into silence through the leaking of their private and intimate images and videos. Read more: Opinion | In Azerbaijan sex is a weapon Intimate footage of imprisoned Azerbaijani activist leaked Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
3/2/202314 minutes, 45 seconds
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A year into the war in Ukraine — how Russia’s invasion impacted the Caucasus

OC Media’s staff get together to discuss the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the South Caucasus. Mariam Nikuradze talks about how the war became a catalyst for the growing rift between Georgia and the west. Read more: Georgian Dream hits out at ‘spies’ and Western-funded ‘extremism’ Georgia’s (in)human rights strategy Russia’s top diplomat compliments Georgia for not ‘irritating’ them Ani Avetisyan talks about Armenia’s shaky relationship with Russia and the latter’s role as a major player in the region. Read more: ‘Every day I fear the war will return’ — the displaced Armenians returning to the border regions Russia slams EU monitoring mission in Armenia Ismi Aghayev breaks down the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s attempt at balancing his relations between Moscow and the West, as Europe scrambles to find alternatives to Russian gas. Read more: Ilham Aliyev looks West Analysis | How Azerbaijan’s youth feels towards different countries and the conflict Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
2/24/202319 minutes, 32 seconds
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A foreign agent law in Georgia and how Azerbaijan’s youth view neighbouring countries

Mariam Nikuradze discusses the foreign agent bill that is about to be submitted to parliament by the People’s Power — a group of MPs who formally left the ruling Georgian Dream party to ‘speak openly’ about a supposed Western conspiracy to drag Georgia into war with Russia. She talks about what the bill could mean for OC Media and other media and civil society organisations. Read more: Foreign agent law to be submitted to Georgian Parliament Najmin Kamilsoy, co-founder of Agora, an Azerbaijani thinktank, phones in to breakdown an Agora survey of how Azerbaijan’s youth feel about their place in the world, their neighbouring countries, and who they believe poses a security risk to their country. Read more: Analysis | How Azerbaijan’s youth feels towards different countries and the conflict Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
2/16/202325 minutes, 28 seconds
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Earthquake diplomacy and a new ‘code of conduct’ for journalists in Georgia’s parliament

Ani Avetisyan discusses how the South Caucasus responded to the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria. She breaks down how Armenia’s offer of assistance to Turkey could reflect on the normalisation of relations between the two countries. Read more: The South Caucasus sends aid following deadly quake Tata Shoshiashvili discusses reactions to the Georgian Parliament’s newly introduced ‘code of ethics’ which would allow the authorities to ban journalists for questioning MPs. Read more: New accreditation rules threaten to ban media outlets from parliament Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
2/8/202312 minutes, 10 seconds
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The UNM’s political stunt and mounting tensions between Baku and Tehran

Mariam Nikuradze talks about Levan Khabeishvili’s election as the United National Movement’s chair and recent statements about pulling the party out of the parliament in exchange for Mikheil Saakashvili’s release from prison. Read more: New UNM leader vows party will leave parliament if Saakashvili is freed Ismi Aghayev discusses the fatal 27 January attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran and its effects on the already strained Baku–Tehran relations. Read more: One dead in attack on Azerbaijani Embassy in Iran Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
2/1/202312 minutes, 42 seconds
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Sports and ‘the Path of Akhmat’ and the political activists imprisoned in Azerbaijan

Loujaine Laamal, an MA student in geopolitics at the French Institute of Geopolitics, discusses Ramzan Kadyrov’s politicisation of sports in Chechnya, and his attempts to construct a national identity focused on sportsmanship to help secure the future of his regime. Read more: Analysis | How Kadyrov uses ‘the Path of Akhmat’ in sports to cement his rule in Chechnya Ismi Aghayev talks about imprisoned political activists and figures in Azerbaijan who claim they have been arrested on falsified charges. Read more: Court denies bail to Azerbaijani activist despite ‘deteriorating health’ Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
1/26/202316 minutes, 31 seconds
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A power struggle in Stepanakert and Alt Info’s busy week

More than a month into the closure of the Lachin corridor, Tigran Grigoryan, a political analyst and the head of the Regional Centre for Democracy and Security, phones in to discuss rumours surrounding the potential resignation of State Minister Ruben Vardanyan. Read more: Nagorno-Karabakh reports gas cut for second time since start of blockade Mariam Nikuradze breaks down the extremist far-right group Alt Info’s activities this week after a Georgian court reduced the sentences of six men involved in the violent group’s anti-pride riots of 2021, in addition to the group preventing Levan Berdzenishvili, a philologist and political activist, from holding a lecture in Eastern Georgia. Read more: Tbilisi court reduces sentences for 2021 anti-Pride rioters Georgian extremist group Alt Info thwart lecture by government critic Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
1/18/202320 minutes, 14 seconds
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How did the Caucasus fare in 2022?

Former senior editor Peter Liakhov joins Robin Fabbro and Mariam Nikuradze to discuss the OC Media team’s predictions for the past year and how they had panned out. The three share their own hot takes for 2023. Read the full list of predictions made by OC Media’s staff members here: What can the Caucasus expect in 2022? Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
1/11/202334 minutes, 51 seconds
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Saakashvili’s deteriorating health and Nagorno-Karabakh cut off

Tata Shoshiashvili discusses the recently released security footage of imprisoned former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in his hospital room. Georgian authorities released the footage citing ‘high public interest’ and accused Saakashvili of feigning his illness. Read more: Government releases hospital footage of Saakashvili, citing ‘high public interest’ Marut Vanyan, a freelance journalist from Stepanakert, talks about the situation inside Nagorno-Karabakh 10 days into the closure of the Lachin corridor — the only route connecting the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Read more: Nagorno-Karabakh under siege Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
12/21/202211 minutes, 44 seconds
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Lachin corridor closure and Georgia–Ukraine tensions

Arman Grigoryan, an associate professor of International Relations at Lehigh University, discusses the closure of the Lachin corridor and its implications for Nagorno-Karabakh. Read more: Lachin corridor blocked by Azerbaijani ‘eco-activists’ Mariam Nikuradze discusses the latest updates on Georgia–Ukraine relations, as the ruling Georgian Dream party threatens to strip Georgian volunteers in Ukraine of their citizenship. Read more: Georgian Government threatens to strip Ukraine fighters of citizenship Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
12/14/202225 minutes, 14 seconds
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Georgia’s ‘vague’ gender recognition laws and a Russian customs checkpoint on Lachin corridor

Keti Bakhtadze, a strategic litigation lawyer at WISG, discusses last week’s European Court of Human Rights ruling that deemed Georgia’s gender recognition legislation to be vague. The complaint was submitted to the court by three Georgian trans men to whom the Georgian authorities had refused to issue documents with gender markers matching their gender identities. Read more: Three Georgian trans men win gender recognition case at European Court Ani Avetisyan and Ismi Aghayev discuss the latest Lachin corridor and other incidents that have taken place in Nagorno-Karabakh over the past week, including the establishment of a Russian-run customs checkpoint on the corridor. Read more: Russia to open ‘mini customs checkpoint’ on Lachin Corridor Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
12/9/202223 minutes, 30 seconds
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HIV in Georgia and Nakhchivan’s diminishing autonomy

Dustin Gilbreath, a non-resident senior fellow at CRRC Georgia, talks about the prevalence of HIV in Georgia and the stigma surrounding it, and a CRRC Georgia study that suggested that incentivising people to test for HIV and making tests more accessible can encourage more young people to self-test. Read more: Datablog | Nudging Georgians to self-test for HIV Bahruz Samadov, a researcher at Charles University in Prague, discusses the future of the Nakhchivan exclave’s autonomous status within Azerbaijan following the arrest of several senior officials in the autonomous republic on charges of embezzlement.  Read more: Senior Nakhchivan official arrested by Azerbaijan’s State Security Service Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/30/202222 minutes, 51 seconds
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Ivanishvili's baobab trees and the CSTO in Yerevan

After Kenya blocked the uprooting and transportation of eight baobab trees to former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's Shekvetili Dendrological Park, the Guardian’s East Africa global development correspondent Caroline Kimeu talks about the significance of the trees and how Ivanishvili’s contractor secured the license to uproot them. Read more: Kenya blocks export of baobab trees to Georgia citing ‘irregularities’ Yerevan-based political analyst talks about the significance and the outcomes of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation’s meeting in Yerevan. Read more: CSTO summit welcomed with protests in Yerevan Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/24/202220 minutes, 26 seconds
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The fight for democracy in Azerbaijan and revisiting Chiatura

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Samir Sultanov, the general secretary of the Azerbaijani Democracy 1918 movement, talks about the arrest of several members of his group and labour movements in Azerbaijan. Read more: Azerbaijani pro-democracy activist arrested Chair of Azerbaijani democracy group given prison sentence following anti-government posts Voices of dissent: Azerbaijan reacts to war Mariam Nikuradze revisits the village of Itkhvisi in Chiatura seven months after the settlement began to collapse due to mining operations in a nearby area. Read more: A Georgian village falls through the cracks In pictures | Lips sewn shut in Chiatura’s sinking village Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/16/202222 minutes, 38 seconds
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Ukraine recognises Chechnya's independence and Nagorno-Karabakh gets a new State Minister

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Tor, a fighter from the Chechen Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion fighting in Ukraine, phones in to talk about the significance of Ukraine's recognition of Ichkeria as an independent state temporarily occupied by Russia. Read more: Ukrainian Parliament recognises independence of Chechnya Yerevan-based political analyst talks about Nagorno-Karabakh's internal politics and the appointment of Russian–Armenian billionaire Ruben Vardanyan as State Minister of the region. Read more: Billionaire Ruben Vardanyan to serve as Nagorno-Karabakh’s State Minister Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/9/202220 minutes, 27 seconds
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Domestic abuse in the North Caucasus and Stepanakert's mass protest

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Anna Edgar talks to Svetlana Anokhina, a women's right activist from Daghestan, about the recent escape of four young Daghestani women from a life of domestic abuse in their home republic. Read more: Four Daghestani women flee to Georgia citing domestic abuse Ani Avetisyan talks about the tripartite meeting between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia in Sochi, and the mass demonstration that took place in Stepanakert over the weekend. Read more: Thousands rally in Nagorno-Karabakh over fears for region’s future Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
11/2/202220 minutes, 18 seconds
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A deadly case of homophobia in Armenia and Basilashvili’s acquittal

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Anna Edgar talks to Pink Armenia's communications director, Mamikon Hovsepyan, about the suicide of a young queer couple in Armenia. Mariam Nikuradze talks about the high-profile domestic abuse case that saw star Georgian tennis player Nikoloz Basilashvili acquitted of charges of violence against his wife and the precedent it might set for similar cases in the future. Read more: Georgian tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili cleared of abusing ex-wife Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
10/26/202220 minutes, 24 seconds
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Armenia's future in CSTO and Kaladze under fire

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Robin Fabbro talks to Yerevan-based political analyst Tigran Grigoryan about Armenia's relations with the CSTO after the two-day war with Azerbaijan in September. Read more: Opinion | Russia’s shifting interests are leaving Armenia out to dry Opinion | Armenia’s old allies have failed it, new ones have yet to appear Tata Shoshiashvili talks about an accident that took the life of a 13-year-old girl and injured two other children following the reopening of Tbilisi's Vake Park, and the backlash against Mayor Kakha Kaladze for his handling of the incident. Read more: Embattled Tbilisi mayor lashes out at critics after death of 13-year-old Calls for Tbilisi mayor to resign after 13-year-old dies in newly re-opened park Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
10/19/202220 minutes, 2 seconds
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North Caucasians face discrimination at the Georgian border and femicide in Georgia

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Robin Fabbro talks to Bulat Khalilov and Timur Kodzoko, independent researchers from Nalchik and the founders of Ored Recordings, about the discrimination North Caucasians have experienced attempting to cross the Georgian border. Read More: ‘A humiliating experience’: 4 days in limbo on the Georgian–Russian border Violence and arrests as anti-war protests hit Russia’s North Caucasus Salome Khvedelidze talks about femicide in Georgia, and what the country should be doing to curb violence against women. Read More: Consent not required: how Georgian legislation allows rapists to walk free Tbilisi clinic defends nurse over ‘joke’ advocating date rape Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
10/12/202220 minutes, 31 seconds
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Evidence of Azerbaijani war crimes and the SSG's involvement in the abduction of Mukhtarli

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Robin Fabbro talks to Ani Avetisyan and Ismi Aghayev about the latest accusations of war crimes levelled against Azerbaijan. Read More: Western countries express horror at Azerbaijan POW execution video Azerbaijan ‘investigating’ new POW execution footage Footage appears to show desecration of female Armenian soldier OC Media co-director Mariam Nikuradze discusses the Georgian State Security Service's involvement in the abduction of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli in 2017, as well as other controversies surrounding the agency. Read More: Mukhtarli identifies top Georgian security official as one of his kidnappers Kidnap, smuggling, and rigged elections: 5 allegations by Georgia’s former security chief Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
10/5/202225 minutes, 11 seconds
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What does Russia's partial mobilisation mean for the Caucasus?

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Anna Edgar talks to Luiza Mchedlishvili about the anti-war protests that have taken place in the North Caucasus throughout the past week, and Tata Shoshiashvili talks about the arrival of thousands of Russians after the partial-mobilisation announcement. Read More: Violence and arrests as anti-war protests hit Russia’s North Caucasus Anti-war protest held in Grozny Kadyrov holds pro-war rally in Grozny Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
9/28/202215 minutes, 46 seconds
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Covering conflict in Armenia and Azerbaijan and forests for sale in Racha

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Anna Edgar talks to Dominik Cagara about the international media’s coverage of the 13-14 September war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Read More: Explainer | What happened in Armenia and Azerbaijan on 13–14 September? Salome Kobalava joins OC Media to discuss the sale of up to 1,000 square kilometres of forests in Racha to a private company and the implications it might have on local residents. Read more: Opinion | Local voices were ignored in the auctioning of Racha's forests Georgian Government auctions off massive swath of land for hunting Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
9/21/202229 minutes, 27 seconds
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War on the Armenia–Azerbaijan border

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Anna Edgar talks to Ani Avetisyan and Ismi Aghayev about the Azerbaijani attack on Armenian military positions along their shared border and what it could mean for future peace talks between the two countries. Read More: Live updates: shelling along Armenian border continues for second day Opinion | The war never ended; the peace process never existed Azerbaijan launches attacks along Armenian border Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
9/14/202226 minutes, 6 seconds
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Kadyrov's cancelled sabbatical & Starmus in Yerevan

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, Anna Edgar talks to Luiza Mchedlishvili about Ramzan Kadyrov hinting at taking an 'indefinite break', and then changing his mind a few days later to continue fighting 'global satanism' in Eastern Ukraine. Tata Shoshiashvili talks about the recent waves of dismissals from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth Affairs as part of Minister Tea Tsulukiani's 'reorganisation efforts'. Read More: Georgian Culture Ministry loses wrongful dismissal lawsuits Georgian Culture Minister accused of purging critics from National Museum Ani Avetisyan talks about the Starmus International Scientific Festival in Yerevan — a convention that brings together scientists and musicians — and Armenia's efforts to encourage young people to engage in science, research, and technology. Read More: Armenia’s ageing sciences: can the demographic decline be reversed? Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
9/7/202221 minutes, 39 seconds
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Georgia's vanishing suburban trains and Armenia's pricey early military discharge

In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Editor-in-Chief, Robin Fabbro, talks to Mariam Nikuradze about her latest photostory about elektrichkas, or suburban trains, in Georgia. Read More: In Pictures | Georgia’s shrinking train lines Ani Avetisyan talks about a new bill pushed by the Armenian Ministry of Defense to allow conscripts to avoid military service in exchange for a fee of $61,000. Read More: Armenian MoD proposes $61,000 fee to avoid conscription Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
8/31/202220 minutes, 55 seconds
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Six months on — the impact of the war in Ukraine on the Caucasus

In this week’s episode, Robin Fabbro speaks to OC Media's staff about the lasting impact Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had on the South Caucasus six months into the war. Read More: Ilham Aliyev looks West Russians change Gyumri’s rhythm   Russian émigrés face chilly reception in Georgia A strong dram and rising inflation leave Armenians in a bind  Evictions surge as rents skyrocket in Yerevan and Tbilisi  Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.  
8/24/202224 minutes, 12 seconds
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Georgian Dream's Departed and sex tapes as weapons in Azerbaijan

  In this week’s episode of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Editor-in-Chief, Robin Fabbro, talks to Ismi Aghayev about the latest sex tape scandal in the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the history of sexual intimidation in the country. Read More: Azerbaijani colonel’s sex tapes latest in culture of sexual intimidation Opinion | In Azerbaijan sex is a weapon  Mariam Nikuradze talks about the four ex-members of Georgian Dream who have left the ruling party in order to 'speak more freely'. Read More: Ivanishvili supporters accuse the US of attempting coup in Georgia Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
8/17/202219 minutes, 5 seconds
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Aliyev’s turn West, Chechens ‘de-Nazifying’ Russia, and the evacuation of Lachin

In this week's episode, OC Media’s Editor-in-Chief, Robin Fabbro, talks to Ismi Aghayev about Aliyev’s overtures to the West. Read More: Ilham Aliyev looks West Luiza Mchedlishvili speaks about Chechen dissidents’ vow to ‘de-Nazify’ Russia. Read More: Is a new armed uprising on the horizon in Chechnya? ‘We have only one enemy — this is Russia’: the Chechens taking up arms for Ukraine  Opinion | The world has woken up to the Russian terror that the Chechens know only too well  And Ani Avetisyan talks about the sudden announcement of an evacuation of Lachin (Berdzor). Read more: Lachin residents given 20 days to leave homes ahead of Azerbaijan handover Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.  
8/10/202225 minutes, 14 seconds
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Kobakhidze's anti-Western rhetoric and the Nagorno-Karabakh clashes

In this week's episode of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Editor-in-Chief, Robin Fabbro, talks to Shota Kincha about the ruling Georgian Dream's series of anti-Western remarks. More: Irakli Kobakhidze: The face of Georgia’s turn from the West Georgian Dream defends Kobakhidze’s record following OC Media report And Ismi Aghayev and Ani Avetisyan talk about the most recent escalations and clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh. More: Deadly clashes continue in Nagorno-Karabakh Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
8/3/202226 minutes, 24 seconds
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Why is Yerevan setting up a morning musical alarm?

In this week's episode of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Editor-in-Chief, Robin Fabbro, talks to Luiza Mchedlishvili about the Chechen volunteers fighting against Russia in Ukraine. More: ‘We have only one enemy — this is Russia’: the Chechens taking up arms for Ukraine Ismi Aghayev talks about the ongoing Avaz Hafizli murder trial. More: Prominent queer Azerbaijani journalist brutally murdered Obituary | Avaz Hafizli And Ani Avetisyan talks about the recently introduced Yerevan-wide musical alarm. More: Yerevan City Hall to blast musical alarm every morning The National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia's rendition of Erebuni-Yerevan, as conducted by Tigran Hekekian, was used in this episode. Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
7/27/202218 minutes, 50 seconds
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What is Azerbaijan doing to rehabilitate war veterans?

In this week's episode of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Editor in Chief, Robin Fabbro, talks to Ismi Aghayev about Azerbaijan's efforts to rehabilitate war veterans of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. Ani Avetisyan talks about Armenia's skyrocketing inflation and its economic ties to Russia. More: A strong dram and rising inflation leave Armenians in a bind And Mariam Nikuradze talks about the viral TikTok posted by an assistant nurse at a Tbilisi clinic condoning rape, and the mismanagement of PR in Georgia. Tbilisi clinic defends nurse over ‘joke’ advocating date rape Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
7/20/202227 minutes, 48 seconds
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Why is a massive statue of Christ being built in Armenia?

In the second edition of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Editor in Chief, Robin Fabbro, talks to Ani Avetisyan about Gagik Tsarukyan's proposal to build a massive statue of Christ on Mount Hatis. More: Ground broken for massive Christ statue in Armenia Shota Kincha talks about the departure of several figures from the ruling Georgian Dream party. More: Prominent Georgian Dream MPs ‘leave party’ to float EU conspiracy And Ismi Aghayev talks about the transparency of Azerbaijan's justice system, and how courts block journalists from attending certain court hearings. Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
7/13/202227 minutes, 1 second
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Did Georgia’s pro-EU protests fail?

In the very first edition of the Caucasus Digest, OC Media’s Editor in Chief, Robin Fabbro, talks to Mariam Nikuradze about Georgia’s stalled pro-EU protests.  More: Home to Europe deadline passes as protests appear to stall Prominent Georgian Dream MPs 'leave party' to float EU conspiracy   Tata Shoshiashvili and Mariam Nikuradze discuss Georgia’s Pride Week. More: Tbilisi Pride week concludes with festival as far-right fails to disrupt event  Tbilisi Pride's leading women  And Ani Avetisyan speaks about the partial reopening of borders between Turkey and Armenia, and what that might mean for Armenia and the normalisation process with Turkey. Become a supporter at oc-media.org/support_us, or on Patreon.
7/6/202229 minutes, 2 seconds