On July 20, the supreme court of Moscow-backed Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia sentenced “a former advisor to the president” Sergey Lipin and his ethnic Georgian wife 16 and 13 years in prison, respectively, for committing “treason.”
The two were detained in July 2019 on suspicion of passing “state secrets” to Georgia’s central government, shortly after Anatoly Bibilov, leader of the occupied region dismissed Lipin as his advisor.
U.S.-based rights watchdog Freedom House stressed in its Freedom in the World 2020 report that “South Ossetia’s judiciary is not independent” and that “the justice system is manipulated to punish perceived opponents of the separatist leadership.”
In this context, the watchdog spoke of “a closed-door investigation” into the case of Sergey Lipin and his wife. “Local observers spoke about a possible “witch hunt” sponsored by leadership in an attempt to prevent protests after the 2019 parliamentary elections,” Freedom House said.