DRI: Critical Thinkers are Oppressed in Tskhinvali

According to the information Democracy Research Institute was provided with, de facto authorities continue to oppress local journalists and civil activists. According to media reports, currently, the court is discussing a "libel case" against journalist Irina Kelekhsaeva[1]. Kelekhsaeva is a freelance journalist at “Ekhokavkaza” and a lecturer at the university. The journalist is accused because of the material she published on “Ekhokavkaza”

In autumn 2019, prisoners in Tskhinvali prison complained of inhumane treatment. Even though the prison conditions have improved after the involvement of the so-called parliament members, according to media reports, six people who wrote the complaint were severely beaten in prison.[2] In an article published on the “Ekhokavkaza” on November 22, 2019, Kelekhsaeva wrote that the Minister of Justice also attended the beating. She didn’t indicate the Minister’s surname.[3] In response, Lalieva filed a lawsuit seeking initiation of a criminal case against the journalist. In addition, the de-facto Minister of Justice is asking Kelekhsaeva to pay 500,000 Russian rubles for "defamation".

The Democracy Research Institute believes that the investigation against Kelekhsaeva might be linked to the “Ekhokavkaza”, which is the main source of dissemination of impartial information in the region.

It is noteworthy that last year Irina Kelekhsaeva was fired from the local radio for criticizing the de facto authorities. At the time, the matter was about the confrontation between Anatoly Bibilov and one of the businessmen. Kelekhsaeva spoke openly about it.[4] Thereafter, threats against her increased. There is information, that several people witnessed how a journalist was threatened with death.

The Democracy Research Institute calls on the international organizations to follow up on the case of Irina Kelekhsaeva, because with its real motive, it may be similar to the case of Akhalgori activist and human rights defender Tamar Merakishvili, who is being oppressed for spreading critical opinions.



[1] Trial in South Ossetia: Minister of Justice v. journalist,, 20.02.2020

[2] Trial in South Ossetia: Minister of Justice v. journalist,, 20.02.2020

[3] Irina Kelekhsaeva, „Speaker under parliamentary investigation,“, November 22, 2019, available at:

[4] Bibilov's Pressure on Ossetian Journalist of Radio Liberty's “Ekhokavkaza”, 21.02.2018