Tag: Abkhazia

South Ossetia

If you’re that rare sort of person who doesn’t avidly follows political machinations in South Caucasus breakaway republics, then you’re missing some surprising developments in South Ossetia. RFE provides some good background:

Tensions are rising in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia following a clumsy attempt by de facto President Eduard Kokoity to thwart Moscow’s attempt to install its preferred candidate to succeed him and simultaneously prolong his term in office by having the republic’s Supreme Court annul the outcome of the November 27 presidential election runoff.

But the apparent winner of that runoff vote, opposition candidate Alla Dzhioyeva, refuses to accept the Supreme Court ruling. She has set about forming a government, and met earlier on November 30 with Kokoity to try to persuade him to acknowledge her as president and cede power. When he refused, she released an appeal to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to intervene to restore “constitutional order and stability.”

In the first round of voting on November 13, the three candidates backed by Kokoity each polled less than 10 percent of the vote. South Ossetian Emergency Situations Minister Anatoly Bibilov, who is backed by Moscow, and former Education Minister Dzhioyeva finished neck and neck with between 24-25 percent of the vote.

Incomplete results made public the morning after the runoff from 74 of the total 85 polling stations gave Dzhioyeva 56.74 percent of the vote compared with 40 percent for Bibilov. Bibilov responded by publicly alleging that Dzhioyeva’s supporters engaged in intimidating and bribing voters to cast their ballots for her.

Acting on those allegations, the Unity party that backed Bibilov’s candidacy appealed to the Supreme Court to annul the outcome of the vote, which it duly did.

The Supreme Court also ruled that because the final election results were invalid, they should not be made public, and that in light of the purported “violations” by her supporters Dzhioyeva is not eligible to participate in the repeat ballot. It did not specify which article of the election law that latter ruling was based on. Meeting in emergency session later on November 29, the South Ossetian parliament, in which only four pro-Kokoity parties are represented, scheduled that vote for March 25, 2012.

The crisis has only deepened:

Alla Dzhioyeva, the disqualified South Ossetian presidential candidate, says she does not see any reason to hold talks with a Kremlin representative who arrived in the breakaway Georgian province on December 2.

Dzhioyeva said she saw no point in meeting Sergei Vinokurov, a representative of Russia’s presidential administration, accusing Russian officials of siding with her political opponents….

Parliament later set a new date for presidential elections and barred Dzhioyeva from taking part.

Dzhioyeva said her supporters would “disrupt” that March poll if she is not allowed to participate.

On December 2, Dzhioyeva said her supporters would not cast ballots in Russian parliamentary elections on December 4 in protest.

These events lend some support to Cooley’s and Mitchell’s recommendations for how western powers should deal with Abkhazia and South Ossetia (PDF). Rather than simply ignoring them, the west should engage “without recognition” in order to reduce their dependence on Russia. Not that I’m convinced that Moscow would allow relations to develop that far. But it is better than nothing.   

United Ossetia?

Rob Farley points to a Times article reporting that Russia will soon annex South Ossetia. The source for the report? The South Ossetian president. So, as Rob notes, caveat emptor.

Indeed, I can’t find anything about this on an (admittedly quick) look through the English-language Russian press. I do see a word of a military cooperation agreement and mutual recognition between South Ossetia and Abkhazia. More griping about lack of adequate support (background) from Russia from the SCO. A report on South Ossetia’s decision to form a new government….

So, yeah, I tend to agree. Given the paucity of other states recognizing the two enclaves so far, and the lack of any clear gains for Moscow from annexing either of them–they can just continue to do it de facto–I wouldn’t hold my breath. But I also wouldn’t bet against it happening at some point.


Russia recognizes Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence

That was quick. So much for the resolution simply serving as “leverage” for Putin and Medvedev in negotiations with the US and NATO.

As predicted, Moscow’s rationale borrows directly from the west’s argument in favor of Kosovo independence.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a televised broadcast Tuesday he had signed decrees to recognize the independence of Georgia’s breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“This is not an easy choice but this is the only way to save human lives,” he said.

Medvedev said he believed Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia earlier this month gave the breakaway republics a right to independence.

“(Georgian President Mikhail) Saakashvili chose genocide to achieve his political objectives,” Medvedev said. “Thus he dashed all hopes for peaceful coexistence of Ossetians, Abkhazians and Georgians in one state. The South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples have repeatedly voted for their republics’ independence in referendums. We understand that, after what happened in Tskhinvali (South Ossetia’s capital) and what was being planned for Abkhazia, they have a right to be in charge of their own destiny.”

Medvedev also accused Georgia of thwarting negotiations on the breakaway republics’ status, ignoring agreements and carrying out provocations.

This comes after a day of “tense standoffs” in Georgia and Moscow’s decision to halt the WTO-membership process.

One odd thing: this also comes not long after the Russians downgraded the number of civilian causalities among the South Ossetians by around ninety percent. Although “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” are matters of intent, not magnitude, that does take away some of the force behind their accusations against Georgia.

More Analysis to come.


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