Putin meets with leaders of S. Ossetia, Abkhazia
By Ernest Petrosyan
Monday, May 14
Newly-inaugurated Russian President Vladimir Putin held meetings with the also newly-elected South Ossetian leader Leonid Tibilov, a day before hosting Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab in Sochi on May 11.
“We all know what has preceded your election. I very much hope that the situation will improve,” Putin told Tibilov, referring to the annulled fall election and subsequent street rallies in Tskhinvali.
“There are too many economic and social problems in the republic,” continued Putin in his remarks to the press. “Russia has been beside the Ossetian people during the most difficult times in the recent history of South Ossetia. We will be standing beside them in peacetime too, when there is a need for rapid economic and social recovery".
Tibilov thanked Putin for his personal and political support, as well as that of Russia as a whole, and mentioned that in Russia’s presidential elections 90% of South Ossetian voters cast their ballot for Putin. Many residents of Georgia's breakaway regions hold Russian passports and Moscow made them eligible to vote in Russia's elections.
“Thank you for what you are doing, for what the great Russia is doing for South Ossetia,” Tibilov told Putin, proudly adding, “We will stick to the principle that has been historically chosen by our people: forever with Russia".
Tibilov, former head of the breakaway region's KGB service, succeeded Eduard Kokoity as President after two rounds of repeat elections in March and April. Spring elections were held after the results of a November poll, in which opposition candidate Alla Jioyeva won, were annulled.
In his meeting with Abkhaz President Alexander Ankvab, Putin signed a new decree on “measures of carrying out the foreign policy course of the Russian Federation," which orders the Foreign Ministry and other state agencies “to actively facilitate the establishment of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia as modern democratic states, enhancing their international positions, providing reliable security, and social-economic rehabilitation of these republics".