Well-known Ossetian journalist and blogger Maria Plieva is currently in Hamburg, Germany. Through nomination from the Reports without Boarders she has received a scholarship from the Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People. She will be living and studying in Germany during one year.
Plieva denies Russian media reports that she is seeking political shelter and states that despite all the complications she still plans to return to homeland after one year. Maria has faced many problems both in Tskhinvali and Vladikavkaz, where she lived lately. She criticized Kokoiti’s government and fought for protecting human rights. Criminal proceedings against her (Plieva has been accused of hooliganism) are now continuing in Vladikavkaz court. Media.ge contacted Plieva in Germany:
Media.Ge – Maria, why did you decide to approach the Reporters without Borders?
Maria Plieva – I have always been facing problems and oppression during my professional activity. Along with that my court trial in Vladikavkaz is still underway; they are having hearings of the same case for the fourth time. They are accusing me of hooliganism, claiming that I verbally insulted policemen. They can imprison me for this. Their want me to attend court hearings and as I know the intension is to put me in jail. They are trying me for three administrative violations, but as the Judge hinted to me they wish to sentence me for hooliganism. They Court hearings are being postponed now and I don’t know how long it will continue. I will not go back to Russia to attend the hearings now. When such oppression started against me I appealed to the Reporters without Borders and they found the one-year scholarship for me. This is not emigration, as my opponents claim; this is just a scholarship.
Media.Ge – You said you have been oppressed. Who was the initiator?
Maria Plieva – I have written in my blog about this many times. I will not say the names, but those were high-ranking authorities and MPs. They have threatened me many times and have threatened to kill my parents. Along with that I have not been able to return home for a long time as I would be detained as soon as I would cross Russian-Ossetian border. My relative, working for a local State body, told me I’m in the list of those who will be detained at the moment of crossing the border. I’ve also received threatening phone calls. To be honest, real journalistic work in South Ossetia is very dangerous.
Media.Ge - How do other journalists work than?
Maria Plieva – None of the local journalists work freely now. Two months ago they prohibited well-known blogger Alan Parastaev to enter South Ossetia from Russia. This confirms a lot of facts. There is no independent media organization in Tskhinvali. Without any explanation they took out from press kiosks the only independent newspaper XXI Century last October. Temur Tskhovrebov, Chief Editor of the newspaper has not been able to get the answer why that happened. All this shows that nothing can be said about free media there.
Media.Ge - How do you explain the oppression of the XXI Century?
Maria Plieva – Temur was told by State authorities that they did not like an article about the cellphone operator Megafon Company. The article explained how those who own the given Company in South Ossetia make money from roaming services. The article meant former Minister of Information and Communication Giorgi Kabisov, who was one the candidates at presidential elections also. The newspaper also published Ingushetia opposition politician, Magomed Khazbiev’s anti-Russian interview, which local authorities did not like either. XXI Century permanently critized local and Russian Federation governments, as the funds transferred from Russia have been permanently laundered and misappropriated.
Media.Ge - What are you doing in Hamburg now?
Maria Plieva – I’m learning German language; will also have meetings with those interested in political situation in South Ossetia and Northern Caucasus in whole. I have lived in North Ossetia lately, so I am aware with the situation there. I’m still writing blogs, but cannot report the news as I’m not there for the moment.
Russian publication Inosmi circulated misinformation about my departure for Hamburg. I gave an interview to Germany Die Welt and Inosmi incorrectly translated it; they wrote I mentioned Ossetia as a Georgian region, while it was author’s words. I’m beign criticized in social networks that I have allegedly been assisted by Georgian members of the Georgian-Ossetian Civil Forum in getting the scholarship, but this is misinformation too. I contacted the journalistic organization myself. Many analysts say that Inosmi is Kremlin-controlled and the given propagandist website aimed at discredited me. Many people in my situation do appeal for political shelter, but I’m not one of them. I’m not sure what will happen after the one-year scholarship expires; I just know that I am currently facing serious problems in South and North Ossetias.
Maria now lives in a suburb of Hamburg and is getting acquainted with local situation. After going through many problems and troubles she feels like being on another planet, as she is not being threatened, chased. She wants to see Rammstain concert. Maria is a rock music fan. Her blog at livejournal confirms it too; name of her blog at the portal is rocks-alana.