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What is Moscow planning in the Tskhinvali region?

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Monday, May 23, 2022
Russia involved in the protracted war in Ukraine is leaving for Georgia. In the occupied Tskhinvali region, the de-facto president has been replaced, actively continuing to expand the occupied territories ‘borderization’ and holding a referendum on ‘unification with Russia’ on July 17, the ‘result’ of which is known in advance - the inhabitants of the occupied territories will support ‘unification’ with Russia.

The response of the current government of Georgia to all this is short and quiet - “we do not know anything about this”.

In the Tskhinvali region occupied by Moscow, Moscow played a farce of democracy - the so-called. ‘Presidential Elections’ was held in two rounds (April 10, 2022, and May 8, 2022) and through elections. the president has been replaced.

The current ‘president’, Anatoly Bibilov, who is also a general in the Russian army, was replaced by Alan Gagloev, the leader of the opposition party Nikhas. In the first election, it turns out, he received 11,099 votes, while the candidate who was declared the winner received 14,505 votes. This is the ‘electorate’ of the occupied region.

In this region, Russia organized the ethnic cleansing of Georgians by the local "Ossetian" administration, completely destroying many Georgian villages and the small number of Georgians left in Akhalgori. They do not have an "Ossetian" passport and neither do "they participate in the elections.”

In a word, it was an imitation of elections and the word "democracy" should not be mentioned in mentioning these elections. We must say this because Bibilov used to say in a big story: "More democratically than in South Ossetia, elections are not held anywhere."

In this e. As a result of the elections, Moscow replaced one of its officials, Bibilov, with another, Gagloev. Gagloev is not a new and random ‘someone’. He also participated in the ‘presidential elections’ in 2017 and then won third place. Gagloev admires Putin and considers him "the most exemplary world politician." Changing the ruler of the occupied Tskhinvali region will not change anything for either Moscow or Tbilisi. But in this additional intrigue was put in the ‘elections’.

Bibilov in his e. ?. Suddenly, before the presidential election, there was talk of joining Russia, and for that, he was talking about holding a "referendum" and two referendums - one referendum on "joining Russia" and the other on joining "Ossetia-Alania" in the Russian Federation.

Bibilov made the referendum the main topic of his "election campaign", but judging by the results of this so-called election, he did not cause much excitement among the "voters" and lost the election, but before the transfer of power to the "new president", which should take place on May 24. Reunification with Russia "referendum on July 17.

The question raised in this referendum should also be mentioned separately: "Do you support the unification of the Republic of South Ossetia and Russia?". Yes, "union" and not "union".

Whatever the so-called scheduling of the referendum threatens Moscow with the direct annexation of Georgian territory and puts the current Georgian government in an "uncomfortable" position, which has officially shifted from the officially declared "non-irritating Russia" policy to the "Russian support" policy.

Both the new ‘president’ of Tskhinvali and Russian politicians, who commented on the referendum, was "hesitant" about the "unifying" referendum with Russia. Gagloev, of course, supports the "unification" of the occupied Tskhinvali region with Russia, but Bibilov criticized the date of the referendum.

According to Gagloev, Bibilov did not agree with him on the referendum, but the referendum is to be held by Gagloev. Gagloev also does not know whether Bibilov agreed on the issue of "unification" with the Russian leadership.

A statement on the referendum was made by Leonid Kalashnikov, the head of the Russian State Duma's CIS Committee, who said that Alan Gagloev was "not in a hurry to hold a referendum."

According to Kalashnikov, the unification of the occupied Tskhinvali region with Russia is Russia's decision - "it depends not on them, but on Russia and whether Russia and Belarus are ready to expand the allied state."

Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian president, responded to the referendum, saying that "Moscow is not doing any work on this issue at the moment" and that the referendum would only reflect "the attitude of the people of South Ossetia and its predecessor."

Following such comments, there are several options for the development of events: according to one option, Gagloev will cancel or postpone the referendum indefinitely, which the current Georgian government considers a result of its policy - "Moscow does not irritate." According to the second option, which is probably more realistic, a referendum will be held and the result will be known in advance.

Moscow will "not react" and thus create a new threat to Georgia. The Georgian Dream will also be given a new argument for not irritating Moscow. The third option is the annexation of the Moscow-occupied region of Tskhinvali, which, according to a number of experts, may be seen as an attempt to "cover-up" the failures in Ukraine. However, this option will completely destroy the current relations built by the Georgian Dream with Russia.