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Jioeva: Against Kokoity, For Putin

By Ernest Petrosyan
Tuesday, December 6
Supporters of the winning presidential candidate in the South Ossetian elections, Alla Jioeva, went into their sixth consecutive day of protests on Monday on the central square in Tskhinvali as another day of negotiation between Jioeva’s allies and a Russian diplomatic envoy failed to bring about any breakthrough.

Sergey Vinokurov, the negotiator from the Russian president's administration who came to smooth the post-election crisis, described his role as "a mediator" between the opposition and the authorities. "My role as a mediator is to defuse tensions and facilitate the sides sitting down at the negotiating table; so far we are succeeding in this," Interfax news agency reported Vinokurov as saying after a meeting Sunday.

According to Jioeva’s allies, the Russian official told them to wait for the Supreme Court's decision into the appeal by Jioeva, who is requesting an annulment of the court's earlier decision by which results of the November 27 presidential runoff, won by Jioeva, were invalidated. The opposition, however, fears that the court will try to drag out the hearings, which have yet to be launched.

In the meantime, the regime of acting president Eduard Kokoity remains in charge and is not going anywhere. According to the general prosecutor of South Ossetia Eldar Kokoev, the prosecutor’s office will consider all the election related events in terms of the law of the unrecognized republic, and give a legal assessment.

Kokoity called the ongoing processes in Tskhinvali an “Orange Revolution” though this term to him has extremely negative connotations. “Whatever is happening in South Ossetia - it is one form of Orange Revolution and they will not get away with this”, said Kokoity at a meeting with civil society representatives. Yet, he added that he is not trying to maintain power, but wants to transfer authority in accordance with the “constitution”.

Disappointed in “Kremlin democracy” Jioeva’s supporters have addressed a statement to the international community urging the UN and European parliament to intervene in the situation. “Given that the political crisis in the republic may destabilize the situation in the Caucasus, the republic’s people urge you to immediately intervene in these developments in South Ossetia in order to stabilize the situation and restore the constitutional order,” the address says.

“In case of a delay of the international community's reaction one more tragedy may take place. The right of the free choice of the entire people and of an individual represents an invariable value, which cannot be subjected to manipulation," the local and Russian news agencies reported the text of appeal as saying. It also says that the post-election crisis "can provoke the destabilization of the entire Caucasus”.

In a further twist, the South Ossetian population had to return to the polls again on Sunday, this time to elect a government to represent them in Russia. Voters in the breakaway region, the majority of whom hold Russian citizenship, cast their ballots in the elections for the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament. A day earlier, Jioeva's supporters were called on to turn out at the polling stations and to vote for Russia's ruling party United Russia in order to demonstrate that the protesters "stand beside Russia." On the eve of the Duma elections, Anatoly Barankevich, former defense minister of South Ossetia, and now one of the opposition leaders to Kokoity, called on Jioeva's supporters to vote for United Russia and thereby try to win Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s sympathy. Barankevich’s strategic call was opportunistic but so far fruitless.

The rallies in South Ossetia have lasted surprisingly long given in autocratic nature of the political regime there. Apparently, the Kremlin has been preoccupied with its own election processes. But with the Duma elections out of the way, it is not clear in what ways the Kremlin might now end the Tskhinvali stand off and continue what it believes are “democratic reforms” in the unrecognized state of South Ossetia.