(Note: This post was updated with links to video and photos on February 15, 2012.)
“I was dragged like an overripe watermelon,” said South Ossetia’s self-proclaimed leader, Alla Joiyeva, in what appears to be her first interview about the de-facto government-ordered raid five days ago that left her hospitalized.
“People with guns and in masks barged in, destroying the doors, furniture …and tried to take me away by force,” said Jioyeva describing to Russian Reporter how riot police (OMON) allegedly stormed her office on February 9, the eve of her planned inauguration as de-facto president of the tiny, breakaway region.
In a phone interview published on the independent Russian Reporter news website on February 13, Jioyeva denied the official story that she simply had felt poorly after a state investigator came to deliver a summons for questioning about an alleged attempt to seize power.
“One grabbed me by the hands; others by the feet. They picked me up and dragged me like an old watermelon,” she told the website. Those in her office who tried to resist the OMON were beaten with rifle butts; some were arrested, she alleged. “I started to feel bad, from the humiliation… from everything that I saw, from the screams. I lost consciousness,” she said.
Footage of the incident posted on YouTube conveys a chaotic scene; photos of Jioyeva in the hospital, published by a South Ossetian site, show what are alleged to be the injuries to Jioyeva that resulted.
The OMON remain on vigil at the hospital in Tskhinvali where she is located, Russian Reporter claimed, and do not let independent journalists in. Jioyeva denied that she had suffered from a stroke or a heart attack during the onslaught; extremely high blood pressure led to her hospital stay, she said.
Counter to what Russia’s state-controlled news sources say, Jioyeva also asserts she’s not going to give up her fight for South Ossetia’s presidency, and voiced her disappointment with the Kremlin, which seems to be betting on the status quo in this power struggle
“For some reason, I thought that after recognizing the independence of the South Ossetian Republic, Russia would make sure that the republic has a decent face,” Jioyeva said.
She said that the Kremlin envoy had told her that her “presidential ambitions are not matched by your political standing.”
“All of this is a very bad policy not only for South Ossetia, but for the entire post-Soviet space,” she said. “Abkhazia, Transnistria and Nagorno Karabakh, and many others are watching us now.”
Jioyeva has sent a written demand for an explanation to South Ossetia's de-facto provisional president, Vadim Brovtsyev, Ekho Kavkaza reported, and does not rule out the possibility of filing a case with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.