South Ossetian de-facto opposition leader Alla Jioyeva, who planned to hold a presidential inauguration ceremony today, has been hospitalized in critical condition after receiving a summons for questioning by prosecutors about an alleged attempt to seize power in the breakaway region.
Tensions remain high, with news reports about what exactly happened to Jioyeva -- and even whether or not she is still conscious -- largely a he-said-she-said affair.
Jioyeva's spokesperson, Violetta Dasayeva, told Ekho Moskvy radio that 100 armed riot police stormed Jioyeva's headquarters late on February 9, "destroyed" it, and struck the 61-year-old opposition leader on the back with a rifle butt, knocking her to the floor. Dasayeva, who said she was an eyewitness, claimed the police were intent on killing Jioyeva.
The territory's de-facto provisional government, which has run South Ossetia after two failed attempts to elect a de-facto president, denies that any violence was used against Jioyeva. Doctors from the Tskhinvali hospital also report no sign of any trauma; the official line is that Jioyeva suffered a stroke.
The opposition leader's health "deteriorated," de-facto officials say, after investigators presented her with a summons on the evening of February 9 for questioning by prosecutors about an alleged attempt to seize power -- an apparent reference to supporters' attempt to enter the de-facto Central Election Commission late last year to protest the annulment of de-facto run-off election results that indicated Jioyeva's victory at the polls in November 2011.
The next step in this drama appears unclear. Opposition members report searches by the local FSB, while Jioyeva's relatives have refused to have her taken to Vladivlastok in neighboring Russia for further treatment -- a sign, if any, of the degree of suspicion and unease in Tskhinvali right now.
Jioyeva became a pain in the neck for both the local political powers-that-be and Moscow after the December protests, which underlined her refusal to give way to the candidate favored by the outgoing regime of Eduard Kokoity and the Kremlin. She refused to participate in yet another runoff scheduled for the end of March, and made plans instead for an inauguration -- a path that has now put her irrevocably on a collision course with the establishment.