New parties in South Ossetia - who and why
New parties in South Ossetia
Two new political parties are set to appear in South Ossetia in addition to the already existing seven. Two supporters of the President of the Republic Alan Gagloev will have their own parties. Experts wonder if they are needed, and what exactly their orientation will be.
“Young and early” Garry Muldarov
First, a 35-year-old member of parliament and former presidential candidate Garry Muldarov announced the creation of his own party, calling on the youth to unite around him.
The public learned about young politician Muldarov, thanks to his scandalous criticism of former President Anatoly Bibilov. Muldarov helped the current president Alan Gagloev win the second round of the presidential elections in the summer of 2022.
Muldarov himself won about 10% of the vote in the first round and supported Gagloev in the second. Now he is not averse to competing with his former comrade. Will he become the leader of the opposition, or have Gagloev and Muldarov retained their alliance and are only trying to add party diversity? Local experts are still unsure.
They recall an incident that took place between Gagloev and Muldarov this summer. Allegedly, a conflict broke out in the president’s office after Muldarov announced plans to create his own party. He was elected to parliament in a single-mandate district on the lists of the former ruling United Ossetia party and, in fact, owes his deputation to Anatoly Bibilov. True, later Muldarov left its ranks and distanced himself as much as possible from his former associates. However, now Muldarov is not making any critical statements either about former presidents or about the current one. There is no information about his activities at the head of the commission for the delimitation and demarcation of the border with Georgia. And this looks very strange if we recall that at the height of the election campaign, Muldarov claimed that Bibilov ceded 200 square kilometers of South Ossetia to Georgia and called him a traitor, a topic that has no disappeared from his agendsa.
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“Former political prisoner” Georgy Kabisov
Georgy Kabisov, former chairman of the State Committee for Information, Communications and Mass Communications, also wants to create his own party.
In 2017 Kabisov was arrested on charges of committing economic crimes, abuse of office, and illegal acquisition and possession of weapons; he was sentenced to eight years. According to the official version, he was engaged in unauthorized wiretapping of senior government officials and collected compromising evidence for blackmail. Kabisov himself called his arrest politically motivated and claimed that it was the “doing” of Anatoly Bibilov.
Influential relatives of Kabisov actively supported Alan Gagloev in the presidential elections, and after the change of power, the former official was released in June of this year.
“The former political prisoner sees his future in politics, so he is also going to acquire his own political association. It is not yet clear whether Kabisov will become a politician in opposition to Gagloev or will he be loyal? After all, it was thanks to the current president that he left the prison cell. At the same time, Georgy was counting on rehabilitation which has not yet happened,” one of Kabisov’s supporters says.
Kabisov himself has not yet commented on his plans in any way, but doesn’t miss an opportunity to participate in high-profile events and make loud appeals. So, for example, he recently went to a protest of Tskhinvali residents against the demolition of the Old Bridge, a historical site that Gagloev and his team had already partially destroyed with heavy equipment, suspended after public outcry.
Are new parties needed in South Ossetia?
Presumably the party created by Kabisov will be called Iron. Although local public activists tried to register a party under that name in 2010, they were denied registration.
“This happened in those years when Kabisov was a close associate of the then President Eduard Kokoity. In those years, Kokoity’s team had unlimited power and could, with the stroke of a pen, both create controlled parties and abolish those that got out of control, ” recalls one expert.
In this expert’s opinion, “Gagloev is not much different from his predecessors by recruiting his relatives and friends into the government.”
“For example, he appointed his relative Oleg Gagloev as Minister of Justice, who was a defendant in a criminal case on abuse of power and damage to the state budget. He now oversees registration of new parties. So let’s see what happens. Will the Gagloev clan allow the emergence of new political players or will it put pressure on both Muldarov and Kabisov?”
The fact that new parties have begun to appear in South Ossetia is far from an accident, but rather preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for 2024 and presidential election beyond that. According to the legislation of South Ossetia, only political parties and initiative groups of voters have the right to nominate candidates for the presidency. Parties are also allowed to nominate someone who is not a member.
Many experts doubt whether there is a need for new parties in South Ossetia given that out of the seven that already exist, around five are actually in operation. The rest exist on paper, reminding people about them only during elections. And the emergence of two more new parties is unlikely to significantly improve the socio-political situation or contribute to the solution of socio-economic problems, political scientist Alan Mamiev believes:
“Any such political activity in South Ossetia is always a way to find your place near budgetary flows and screw your tap into this pipe. I see no other point in creating new parties. And I would very much like the brothers from South Ossetia to attend now not to new parties, but to the creation of territorial defense battalions in view of events in Ukraine and the Transcaucasus.”
The Minister of Justice Oleg Gagloev also commented on the situation in stating that the agency received four applications from the organizing committees of new political parties in six months. According to him, the organizing committees must provide a package of relevant documents, but “so far not a single party has submitted them.” However, the minister did not specify which politicians came up with the initiative to create new parties in South Ossetia.
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