First meeting between Alan Gagloev and Putin, and why are they dissatisfied in South Ossetia
The first meeting between Alan Gagloev and Putin has taken place. The President of South Ossetia managed to meet with the Russian President only ten months after taking office.
Many in South Ossetia drew attention to the fact that Gagloev’s first meeting with Putin “was held on the anniversary of the Crimean referendum, following which the peninsula became part of Russia.” It is believed that this was not a coincidence, but a “subtle hint” to Gagloev, who canceled the referendum on the accession of South Ossetia to Russia planned by his predecessor, Anatoly Bibilov.
It also did not go unnoticed that the meeting was not arranged according to protocol: neither in the representative office of the Kremlin nor on the table between the two presidents were there Russian or South Ossetian flags.
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The “conversation,” as Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the meeting, began with Putin’s statement that “relations between Russia and South Ossetia are of a special nature.”
“It’s nice to meet you. I will not characterize the relations between South Ossetia and Russia, they are of a special nature. Our relations are developing in all directions. The trade turnover between the countries increased by 12%. This is a good indicator. We are developing all programs – investment, socio-economic, financial assistance, credit programs to help and support South Ossetia,” Putin said.
He also recalled that, in addition to the financial and economic sphere, they are also cooperating in the field of defense and security, and that four Russian military bases are stationed in South Ossetia.
Gagloev expressed gratitude for all of the above:
“We remember that in the most difficult times you were always there, supporting and providing invaluable assistance to South Ossetia.”
He also mentioned the participation of citizens of South Ossetia in military operations in Ukraine on the side of Russia:
“We show our duty and our gratitude not only in words, but also in deeds. Ossetian soldiers, together with their Russian brothers, are defending our common history, common values, and common faith.”
Gagloev invited Putin to the celebrations of the 15th anniversary of Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia.
Russia recognized the sovereignty of South Ossetia on August 26, 2008. On September 9 of the same year diplomatic relations were established, and on September 17, 2008 a bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance was signed. On April 27, 2009 the Embassy of the Russian Federation was opened in Tskhinvali.
“Gasification won’t help”
After an official exchange of pleasantries, Gagloev raised the issue of gasification of South Ossetia. He said that if Russia laid a gas pipeline to depopulated and sparsely populated villages, this would return South Ossetians to abandoned settlements, agriculture would be revived, and Gagloev would be able to attract investors to the economy.
According to South Ossetian experts, Alan Gagloev is looking after the interests of his relative Arsen Gagloev, a former top manager of Gazprom. Experts agree that:
Alan Gagloev is the creation of Arsen Gagloev and the beneficiaries behind him, who are not averse to lobbying for a large-scale infrastructure project for the gasification of South Ossetia and making good money on it.
Why Gagloev did not satisfy Russia
Russia reacted reservedly, if not coldly, to Alan Gagloev’s election as president in May 2022. Gagloev received official congratulations from Putin only on the third day after the announcement of the election result. With his predecessors Leonid Tibilov and Anatoly Bibilov the Kremlin was much more affectionate.
This circumstance initially alerted the inhabitants of South Ossetia. On the sidelines, local politicians began to claim that Moscow had cut funding precisely because of dissatisfaction with Gagloev, who was associated with a high-profile criminal story. Gagloev’s brother was accused of preparing a terrorist attack in Tskhinvali in 2007 and, according to some reports, was also involved in the murder of three Russian citizens many years ago.
In addition, Gagloev has not yet been able to show himself as a skilled manager and, for almost a year in the presidency, has not been able to fully staff the government, appoint a new prosecutor general, finance minister, and chief of the general staff of the defense ministry, having dismissed the previous office-holders. Friends and relatives of Gagloev were appointed to many other key posts. This, needles to say, has not improved liofe in the territory.
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