Friday, December 02, 2011

South Ossetia's Struggle For Independence... From Russia

In 2008 Georgian forces were pushed out of South Ossetia by Ossetian militia and the Russian army.  Since then only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and a few small Pacific islands have recognized the independence of South Ossetia and the other breakaway republic, Abkhazia.  One of the primary reasons for the lack of international recognition is the thought that these two states are merely Russian satellite-puppet states.  In reality, Abkhazia has been struggling to maintain its own identity while South Ossetia has been viewed as merely awaiting formal annexation into Russia.

However, earlier this week the people of South Ossetia demonstrated their desire for their own course not necessarily matching that of Russia's.  A presidential runoff election was held in which the  former Education Secretary Alla Dzhioyeva dominated with fifty-nine percent of the vote compared to the "Emergencies Minister" Anatoliy Bibilov's vote of slightly less than forty percent. This is despite the fact Bibilov was publicly endorsed by Russian Primer Vladimir Putin, President Dmitry Medvedev, and the ruling United Russia party.  Dzhioyeva, who still supports closer ties to Russia, won primarily because she campaigned against the corruption of the current Russian-backed regime in South Ossetia.  The people of South Ossetia demonstrated that while they value Russia as an ally they will not be dictated to by Moscow if Moscow's interests collide with that of the people.

Sadly though for those who want democratic rule in South Ossetia, the whole government-bureaucratic complex in the country was established and still is controlled by Russia.  The supreme court annulled the results due to "election tampering" and the parliament has stated there will be a new election in which Dzhioyeva will be banned from running.  The South Ossetians are not happy with these pro-Moscow moves however.  Dzhioyeva has declared herself the winner and her supporters are calling on parliament's complete resignation.

This is not the first time a power struggle has erupted over South Ossetia and control from Moscow.  The Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia, a pro-Georgia government in exile, is led by a former prime minister of the breakaway republic, Dmitry Sanakoyev, who left due to conflicts with the current government of South Ossetia.

The next few months could be critical for South Ossetia.  If Moscow has its way then many people will become disgruntled with the way their republic is heading and may start to look for alternatives with their opposite, Georgia.  If Dzhioyeva's victory is recognized then a cleaning house of the pro-Russian corrupt government apprartus will begin while Dzhioyeva purses a friendly yet cautiously aware relationship with Moscow.

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