“Do they want to intimidate MPs?" – 200 security officers in camouflage, with arms attended parliament session in South Ossetia
200 law enforcement officers, including special forces (riot police) appeared in camouflage and weapons at a meeting of the South Ossetian parliament on June 6.
Opposition MPs in South Ossetia, supported by many in the community, claim the authorities are using security forces to impede an investigation into multiple cases of unlawful violence in a local prison.
At this particular meeting of MPs, a recent scandal was being discussed: in a local prison, more than 20 prisoners had cut their veins the day before in protest against the excesses of the prison and police.
- Stalin revived in towns in South Ossetia, Eastern Ukraine
- Around 20 prisoners cut their wrists in South Ossetian penal colony
The appearance of a huge group of security officials with weapons heated up the already difficult situation at an unscheduled session of parliament, where, in addition to MPs, the president and ministers of justice, the interior and the prosecutor general were present as well.
“The security forces were misled. These are attempts to push them against the MPs,” said opposition members of parliament.
17 out of 34 MPs signed a protest statement, including representatives of three political parties – the People’s Party, Nykhas and Unity of the People.
“The attempt to solve problems caused by the insolvency of individual ministers […] are provocative methods that exacerbate the crisis situation within the republic. The security forces were misled and therefore opposed the MPs,” the statement said.
Merab Pukhaev, the head of the public security department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, accused the MPs of protecting the prisoners one-sidedly, and called on the parliament to take into account the views of all parties, including law enforcement agencies.
“We conducted an unscheduled search, during which pressure was put on us. We need to work there to know what is really happening. Come and stay with your employees for at least a day, see what kind of work is being done there, and you will understand everything. Does a criminal have the right to beat an employee, shoot him? No,” said Pukhaev.
Merab Pukhaev accused the MPs of interfering with the work of law enforcement:
“Why is no one talking about the beaten up police officers? People should feel protected, our children should feel safe, and this is our job, and let us do it,” said Pukhaev.
President Anatoly Bibilov also made a sharp rebuke to the parliamentary opposition. He denied that they used violence against the prisoners, and said that “nobody even cut the veins, their capillaries are damaged.”
Bibilov recalled that these prisoners were convicted of serious crimes, and said:
“Stand up those who want to live in a republic where there are criminal elements. While I am the president, there will be no [following the rules of thieves in law] in the republic.”
Heated discussions between the president, heads of law enforcement agencies and MPs led to an aggravation of the situation and provoked a conflict.
MPs were directly accused of defending the interests of the criminal world.
Discussions continued in the corridor – one security official pushed an MP and grabbed his tie.
On June 7, a second statement appeared – this time signed by officials from the Ministry of Justice. They talked about the features of their service and appealed to speaker Alan Tadtaev with a request to arrange a meeting with members of parliament.
Most of the comments on social networks support opposition MPs:
“They want to intimidate the MPs. They pushed the siloviki in there, having preliminarily set them up against the MPs, specifically against those who are at least interested in what is happening in our country, why there is such a mess in prison.” This post garnered many comments of support.