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First Female President in Region Elected in South Ossetia in Disputed Election

By Ernest Petrosyan
Tuesday, November 29
Unrecognized elections in the occupied regions continue to surprise in terms of their competitiveness. The breakaway South Ossetian presidential runoff ended up with Alla Jioeva’s victory in the presidential race beating Kremlin backed candidate Anatoly Bibilov. According to Bela Plieva, a chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC), the opposition leader Jioeva, the wrestler Jambulat Tedeev’s protege, won the race with 56.74% (14,828 votes) against Bibilov's 40% (10,462 votes). According to the CEC information, a total of about 27,956 voters cast their ballot in 85 polling stations in the Sunday runoff.

Jioeva called on Bibilov to admit the defeat with dignity. She also appealed to Russia’s leadership mentioning the intention of certain forces to destabilize the situation. “It is not Alla Alekseevna [Jioeva] who won the elections it is the verdict of South Ossetian society. I never doubted for a moment that healthy forces would succeed in these elections”, said Jioeva.

Meanwhile, according to the Russian-language news service, Ekho Kavkaza, Bibilov himself and his supporters in his campaign headquarters "were very upset" with the results from the polling stations, as it was in stark contrast from what they were expecting before the runoff.

“We have absolutely different information about the voting. We will submit all the information we have, as well as those violations which we have observed during the elections, to court,” Bibilov said on Monday. “We will accept any ruling by the Supreme Court even if [the verdict] is against us”, said the Emergency Minister and presidential candidate Bibilov disputing the announced results.

On Monday morning the breakaway region’s Supreme Court said that a complaint had been filed from the Unity party, which backs Bibilov, about the alleged electoral violations. According to the court chairman, Atsamaz Bichenov, the allegations involve bribing and pressuring voters from Jioeva’s campaign team. He called on the CEC not to announce any results of the runoff pending a court hearing, which was due to start by noon on Monday.

The CEC chairperson Plieva, however, said that no complaint had been filed to the electoral commission about alleged violations and she had learnt about the complaint filed to the Supreme Court from media sources.

The position of the Georgian government remains unchanged. Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze assessed the elections as “an event planned by the Kremlin, rather than elections." “What is happening there are not considered elections; that’s an event, which is planned by the Kremlin and which is led by Moscow and Moscow is responsible for its results,” said Kalandadze at the regular Monday briefing.

"Events not agreed with Tbilisi are taking place in Georgia’s occupied territories. Unfortunately, human rights violations are also taking place and Moscow, which is in charge of situation there, must take responsibility for that. We hope that the international community will react adequately. There was a very prompt and adequate reaction from the international community when the so called first round of [election on November 13] was condemned by the US, and the European Union,” she added.

Political analyst Paata Zakareishvili believes that the outcome of the elections responds to the political moods of Tskhinvali region residents. “Not all Moscow plans succeed, as many think in Georgia. It is however, too early to talk about final results”, he said. As for the new so called South Ossetian government's approach towards Tbilisi, he said that no changes can be anticipated.

It is noteworthy that the first ever female candidate has succeeded in the elections in the entire South Caucasus region, breaking Eduard Kokoity’s, the leader of the current South Ossetian regime, stereotypes regarding women’s compatibility with politics given the "Caucasian mentality".