The quality of political freedom and human rights in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia has been strictly criticized by international organizations for years. The Freedom House 2021 Report rates the degree of freedom in the occupied South Ossetia with 10 out of a maximum of 100 points. For comparison, occupied Abkhazia has 40 points, while Georgia has 60 points (Georgia’s score does not reflect the situation in the occupied territories). The reports of gross and systemic human rights abuses have been less likely to reach the broad public, which is not surprising - according to the same report, the local media is almost entirely controlled by the de facto authorities. The occupied territories cannot be accessed by international organizations or missions either.
However, there have been exceptions as well. In August last year, after several days of interrogation, 30-year-old Inal Jabiev died in the Tskhinvali pre-trial detention isolator under "unclear circumstances." According to the official statement, the young man was addicted to drugs and died of heart failure. The official statement did not sound convincing for Inal Jabiev's family and a significant part of the local population. According to them, the young man became a victim of inhuman treatment and torture in the isolator.
Despite his initial tough stance, de facto President Anatoly Bibilov was forced to dismiss the de facto Government amid the large-scale protests. However, the victim's family and protesters also demanded the dismissal of so-called Prosecutor General Uruzmag Jagaev. According to them, the case would not be investigated objectively under the mentioned prosecutor. Anatoly Bibilov did not satisfy the demand of the protesters. Since then, the political crisis in Tskhinvali has been deepening.
A significant number of members of the de facto Parliament joined the protest movement and refused to perform their duties in the Parliament before the resignation of the Prosecutor General. Despite attempts to put pressure on individual MPs (criminal proceedings were launched against several of them, one of them was threatened by criminal "authorities"), they have not changed their decision so far. As a result, to date, 14 out of 34 so-called MPs have been refusing to take part in the parliamentary work. The so-called Prosecutor's Office of Tskhinvali addressed the Parliament with a request to strip them of the parliamentary immunity. However, the Parliament, including members of the ruling United Ossetia Party, did not support the motion of the so-called Prosecutor's Office.
At the same time, rallies had been held on the main square of Tskhinvali for almost six months. Inal Jabiev's family members and their supporters were staying in tents set up in the square. As a result, Inal Jabiev's elderly parents and wife experienced health problems and a few days ago, the family decided to suspend protests. Nevertheless, the political crisis in the Tskhinvali region has not eased.
The above shows that the rights of not only ethnic Georgians but also ethnic Ossetians are violated in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and this problem is deepening from year to year. The central Government of Georgia made a statement regarding the killing of Inal Jabiev; However, it is obvious that Tbilisi needs to pay more attention in this regard. The Georgian Government should have the ambition to make the protection of human rights in the occupied territories a cornerstone of its policy.
The Democracy Research Institute calls on the Georgian authorities to make the protecton and advocacy of the rights of ethnic Georgians, Ossetians, Abkhazians, as well as all other ethnic groups living in the occupied territories of Georgia as one of the priorities of the country's domestic and foreign policies.
The Democracy Research Institute (DRI) continues to monitor the activities of the State Security Service. Among other things, the so-called “ODRs’ (from Russian: офицер действующего резерва. In English: Active Reserve Officer) are the focus of the DRI attention.
The Democracy Research Institute calls on the State Inspector’s Office to respond appropriately to the case if signs of crime are detected.