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  Russia’s image in South Ossetia

Vadim Volovoj, Doctor in Political Sciences
2012 01 16

Presidential elections in South Ossetia in November 2011 brought shame on local authorities and Russia. Initially it was assumed that the incumbent President Eduard Kokoity would stay for a third term, but Moscow didn’t show any interest in his further services and during the election process the Kremlin backed South Ossetian Emergencies Minister Anatoly Babilov.

The opposition candidate, former minister of education Alla Jioyeva was qualified for the second election round together with Anatoly Babilov. According to the data of the Central Electoral Commission, during the second round Alla Jioyeva received over 56 percent of votes, and Anatoly Babilov scored only 40 percent. Babilov appealed to the South Ossetian Supreme Court concerning the alleged law violations on Jioyeva side. The Court prohibited her participation in the coming polls.

The apparent winner of the election and her supporters tried to fight for their rights, but South Ossetian Prosecution Service accused Jioyeva of the attempts to stage a “colored revolution” and of a pro-Georgian position. She denied the charges and said that Eduard Kokoity and his clique should be responsible for the consequences.

What is Russia’s position? According to political commentator Alan Parastayev (South Ossetia), the actual electoral race takes place not in Tskhinvali, but in Moscow where Anatoly Babilov’s supporters fight to save their reputation. The Kremlin accepted decision of South Ossetian Supreme Court but Ala Jioyeva required to recognize her as elected new leader and called for resignation of Eduard Kokoity. In response Kokoity said that he would not accept any ultimatums. Russia had urgently sent Sergey Vinokurov, a representative of the presidential administration, to South Ossetia. Tripartite negotiations began…

At the beginning Alla Jioyeva informed that she was not going to talk with Sergey Vinokurov. The Supreme Court of South Ossetia rejected Alla Jioyeva’s requirement to acknowledge her victory. Finally, Eduard Kokoity said that political ambitions of Alla Jioyeva cannot justify destabilization in the country, and this meant that Alla Jioyeva had no chances. But she did achieve resignation of Kokoity. Besides, Jioyeva was allowed to participate in the new elections.

This sad and unattractive situation reminds the analogous events in Abkhazia (In the 2004 presidential elections, Moscow openly backed Raul Khadjimba who then lost the vote to Sergey Bagapsh). Even the ones who nourish fellow-feelings toward South Ossetia should acknowledge that its authorities remind a clique of criminals and that “fighters for freedom” don’t behave properly.

The most interesting thing is that Alla Jioyeva is as pro-Russian as her opponent. For Russia there is no difference who will execute its command in South Ossetia. But the Kremlin’s interest groups develop their own corruption schemes related to distribution of the humanitarian aid for South Ossetia to the “right” hands. During the term of Eduard Kokoity this mechanism worked rather smoothly, but now it is necessary to show that a young “independent” republic is a “mature democracy”. Most likely that was Anatoly Babilov’s  task, but he didn’t meet expectations, and this could lead to financial losses of his supporters.

New presidential elections (an outrange against South Ossetian society) will take place on 25 March 2012. Russia demonstrated its helpless indetermination, i.e. Moscow is not aware of the situation in South Ossetia (this is evidenced by the recognition of the decision of South Ossetian Supreme Council concerning Alla Jioyeva and ineffective mission of Sergey Vinokurov). Most likely the situation in the country is controlled by the interest groups “making business” with Eduard Kokoity. Alla Jioyeva simply didn’t suit their interests.

Maybe the only positive thing about this shame is that people of South Ossetia will not tolerate the deceit for the second time and that the Kremlin will be forced to address the situation in South Ossetia.

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