Independence or joining Russia – major issue discussed in the republic nowadays" />

Dependent independent South Ossetia

Independence or joining Russia – major issue discussed in the republic nowadays

This dilemma itself causes inapprehension of South Ossetia’s close and remote neighbors. To answer the question how it has emerged, it is necessary to refer to the backgrounds of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict.

At the beginning of 90s, when the conflict grew into an armed stage, leaders of then newly established Ossetian national movement “Adamon Nikhas, that immediately became a political dominant, initially considered the armed confrontation futile. Needless to say that the official authorities simply were at a loss and betrayed the nation.

Therefore, it may be said that the armed counteraction broke out spontaneously, it was the people’s response as most field commanders, who appeared “from nowhere, had not participated in the political life earlier.

The following many-year war exhausted South Ossetia’s physical and mainly intellectual resource. The most charismatic field commanders gradually vanished from the republic’s political life in view of different circumstances.

2008 August war broke out against that background.

Further developments are quite well-known. Russia interfered; Georgian Army left South Ossetia and the population of the republic’s Georgian villages fled together with the army. Besides, South Ossetia established control over Leningori district, that before those developments had been under Tbilisi’s control.

Ossetians signed with relief, but at that moment they did not expect speedy political resolution of their issue. Russia’s recognition of the Republic of South Ossetia came as a surprise for many. At that time the society more counted on joining Russia, as they had said “yes at the referendum on preservation of the USSR in March 1991 and looked up to the USSR’s successor – Russia.

It was expected that South Ossetia’s then incumbent President, Eduard Kokoity, who had returned to Tskhinval on the Russian Army’s “shoulders, would become a hero-liberator for the republic. That should have been followed by his new term of presidency in a status of the head of the recognized state, and then followed by another term.

Two factors hampered such developments. Firstly, the city was liberated without his participation. Secondly, it became clear that Eduard Kokoity could easily find a common language with Russian corrupted officials. Huge funds, allocated to the republic, were safely deposited in private pockets.

Then there was November 2011 – the first presidential elections after Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia. Hurry-scurry knocked with the help of the administrative resource, the “Unity party, led by Zurab Kokoyev – a clone of the pro-governmental United Russia, demonstrated its inconsistency. Russia started hastily searching for a new person, capable of heading the republic. That person turned out to be Anatoly Bibilov.

Those elections demonstrated that Russia needed only blind subordination and right voting. Moscow wanted to create in South Ossetia a “vertical similar to its own. However, despite the support of then Russian President, Medvedev, Anatoly Bibilov lost the elections. The society voted for “its candidate – Alla Jioeva. Moscow tried to press on Tskhinval, the bloodshed was avoided only by the skin of the teeth.

In the end, the elections were recognized invalid and new President. Leonid Tibilov headed South Ossetia. He suited both, Moscow and South Ossetian electorate. Those developments proved that Moscow intended to further ignore a choice and place a stake on devoted officials, lacking the initiative.

Meanwhile, Anatoly Bibilov and his “United Ossetia party continued to pursue their policy. They put forward a slogan about membership in Russia, making use of the fact that it was equivalent to stability to the majority of the population. At the same time, Russia’s opinion was not taken into account, while the South Ossetian people were simply deceived by those, who wanted to come to power.

Then 2014 parliamentary elections were held. The electorate’s conscientious part ignored those elections and became a hostage of the event. The United Ossetia party got the majority of votes. Having assumed the speaker’s office, Bibilov declared himself “a voice of the nation, aspiring to Russia.

However, after coming into power, the United Ossetia, naturally, failed to join Russia and now it is “looking for the enemies, preventing the fulfillment of the Ossetian people’s “age-long dream.

Georgian politicians also work in its favor. Having ignored that twenty-year confrontation between South Ossetia and Georgia, they are narrowing down the situation to Russia’s “aggression, portraying Ossetians as almost Georgia’s allies.

Meanwhile, President Leonid Tibilov started preparing for the presidential election, scheduled for 2017. He decided to steal Bibilov’s popular slogan of accession to Russia. Moreover, Tibilov outstripped Bibilov and suggested conducting a referendum on that issue. This idea has not been further developed as Moscow apparently did not support it.

Meantime, the number of supporters of independence is increasing in South Ossetia. Their ranks are joined, first of all, by the graduates of Russian higher education institutions, who have personally familiarized with the Russian realities and who have better understanding of the privileges of independence than the older generation.

The fact that there are many rather strong supporters of independence was, first of all, confirmed during preparation of a new Treaty on Alliance and Integration between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia, that was in June last year.

The initial version of the treaty, the authors of which are unknown, deprived South Ossetia of all privileges of independence. It envisaged complete merge of South Ossetian defence and law-enforcement structures with the Russian ones, delegating Russia with a right to make decisions on ensuring the republic’s security, but, at the same time, it did not make it a part of Russia. In response to that, the Coordination Council of the out-parliamentary parties and public organizations was set up, which managed to sustain some positions thanks to the efforts of the young people, comprising it. The clause on accession to Russia was removed from the final version and the level of integration with Russia turned to be lower.

There are still fewer supporters of independence in the South Ossetian society. The majority of the electorate in South Ossetia have no access to Internet and it plays in favor of the authorities. Political intrigues and rumors spoil the public climate and, as a result, more and more people become disillusioned with the idea of independence.

However, the power of independence supporters is not in their number. They are the most thoughtful part of the population and the majority of highly educated youth. Their access to media is hampered, but their support in the society increases due to social networks.

What about Russia?

In view of the international sanctions that followed Russia’s recognition of the Crimea, it is very inconvenient for Russia to access South Ossetia, This will make it a subject to more criticism on part of the the world community and will lead to toughening the sanctions, it is so much trying to get rid of. Therefore, Russia directly and by hints expressed its negative attitude to South Ossetia’s attempts to integrate into it.

It may be assumed that Russia does not need dependents. Russia actually has no active contacts with the supporters of independence – South Ossetia’s progressive, but still poorly organized, political power. Under such circumstances, Russia is more likely to place a stake on stability, i.e. to support the incumbent President, Leonid Tibilov, who will continue to be devious between contradictory ideas of strengthening the independence and its complete loss.

The opinions, expressed in this article convey the author’s views and terminology do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editorial staff


More on JAMnews