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Kokoity Resigns in Bid to End Continuing Stand Off in South Ossetia

By Ernest Petrosyan
Monday, December 12
South Ossetia continues its ‘democratic progress’. After a fortnight of street rallies, several armed provocations, negotiations and consultations with the South Ossetian opposition and Kremlin representatives, the regime leader Eduard Kokoity, who had ruled since late 2001 resigned as a result of an agreement signed, in the presence of a Kremlin official, with Alla Jioeva the winner of the annulled elections two weeks ago. The agreement purports to put an end to the post-election crisis.

According to the compromised agreement, Kokoity’s resignation should be followed by the ceasing of opposition rallies on the main square in Tskhinvali. Some of Kokoity’s key allies, including the chief prosecutor, his deputy and chairman of the Supreme Court - Kokoity’s cousin - have also resigned as part of the deal. The agreement also envisages Jioeva’s participation in the March repeat presidential runoff.

Kokoity says he has no plans to leave South Ossetia. “I will stay in the republic, regardless of the post I have and will continue to serve my people,” Kokoity told Interfax. The news of Kokoity’s resignation however was not received enthusiastically by the protesters outside the governmental building in Tskhinvali.

Meanwhile, the current PM Vadim Brovtsev, not a native of South Ossetia who was sent into the breakaway region from Russia to lead its government in summer, 2009, will assume the duties of interim leader until the inauguration of a new leader in March. An opposition representative will be appointed as deputy prime minister, according to the deal.

Jioeva however claims that Kokoity has neglected some points of the agreement. “Not all points of the agreement have been implemented. Kokoity has created a Constitutional Court within 10 seconds, which did not exist for 10 years, and, breaching the agreement we reached, has given a number of orders,” Jioeva told her supporters outside. “If all points of the agreement are not implemented, I have a right to annul my signature,” Jioeva said.

Jioeva’s supporters have been protesting in the main square of Tskhinvali after the Supreme Court annulled the November 27 presidential elections results, in which Jioeva defeated Kokoity’s protege Anataly Bibilov. She was also barred from running on the grounds of her allegedly illegal actions in the second round, which caused the annulment of the runoff results.

Initially, Kokoity refused to resign, and was planning to stay in power till repeat elections in March, 2012. However, the protests and talks with Kremlin official Sergey Vinokurov has brought a different result.

“I privately was not surprised with the declaration of Kokoity's resignation. Seems like he will go, and looks like he got guarantees form Moscow that will be secure with his money,” Mamuka Areshidze analyst on Caucasian issues stated. He mentioned that Kokoity has wanted to go to Moscow for a long time but could not do it without strong guarantees. “He showed to Moscow that he is an influential politician and Moscow can appoint him again when it will be needed. He played for time after the elections and heightened the tension. It's quite possible that Kokoity will return to politics as a regional leader later.”