South Ossetian authorities trying to shut down only opposition party
Opposition in South Ossetia
The Minister of Justice of South Ossetia, Oleg Gagloev, on his personal Telegram channel threatened to suspend the activities of the United Ossetia opposition party, led by former President Anatoly Bibilov, via the court over an untimely submission of the party’s annual financial report for 2022.
“The Ministry of Justice sent warnings to political parties in connection with the violation of the requirements of the current legislation. The deadlines have passed, but by now only one political party has not fulfilled either the duty established by law or the legal requirements of the Ministry of Justice – this is the United Ossetia party, ” Gagloev writes.
He also anticipated the “hysteria” of the supporters of United Ossetia:
“I understand that some citizens and bloggers may become hysterical now, but starting today the Ministry of Justice is starting to work on the issue of applying to the Supreme Court to suspend the activities of the United Ossetia party over the latter’s violation of the law.”
But United Ossetia did not react at all to these threats.
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On May 3, Gagloev said that the party had submitted all the documents and he no longer intended to file a lawsuit to suspend it:
“This is how we have to accustom public organizations to law-abiding behavior.
It is sad that such elementary things as a consolidated financial report have to be pulled from some of our political parties literally with pliers. But during elections, the parties lecture us about the rule of law and the need to comply with the law.
I understand that many public organizations are accustomed to living without accountability and other things. But I never get tired of repeating to them all: the Ministry of Justice has one requirement for everyone – strict observance of the law.”
Gagloev again threatened United Ossetia with interference, saying that administrative measures would be taken against it:
“Be that as it may, political parties that submitted reports in violation of the requirements of the law (in terms of timing and completeness) will incur appropriate administrative responsibility.”
In South Ossetia few believe in the impartiality of Gagloev’s claims. It is known that he is in a difficult, or rather, frankly bad relationship with Bibilov.
On December 30, 2020, while still being president, Bibilov fired Gagloev from the post of head of the government administration. Soslan Dzhusoev also lost his post of state adviser to the president. The official reason for the dismissal of both officials was unprofessional and inefficient activities, but behind the scenes they said that they leaked inside information to bloggers critical of Bibilov.
In the fall of 2021, the Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal case against Oleg Gagloev on charges of misappropriation of budget funds and causing damage to the state budget. He did not appear for interrogations and was put on the wanted list. Gagloev himself called the criminal prosecution “political” and, after making a Telegram channel, began to criticize President Bibilov over cooperation with his relative, then chairman of the Nykhas party, Alan Gagloev.
In the spring of 2022, during the period of the presidential elections, the court refused to satisfy the claim of the Prosecutor General’s Office and dropped the criminal case against Oleg Gagloev.
After Alan Gagloev won the election and became president, Oleg Gagloev was appointed Minister of Justice of South Ossetia.
The exiled Dzhusoev, by the way, also returned to power.
Anatoly Bibilov, who lost the election, went into opposition with his United Ossetia party. Officially announcing this in January of this year, Bibilov stressed that he and his associates refrain from harsh, unconstructive criticism of President Alan Gagloev and his team, but the changes that have taken place turn the former ruling party into an opposition party, while the Nykhas party, previously opposed to Bibilov became the ruling party.
The reason for the pressure: cooperation with Russia?
Commenting on the current situation around the party for JAMnews, the chairman of United Ossetia, ex-speaker of parliament Alan Tadtaev, called the claims of the Minister of Justice a “planned provocation.” According to him, the authorities are trying to put pressure on the opposition — in violation of the law, United Ossetia was required to submit a thorough report on its activities for four years, instead of the three prescribed by law. Due to the huge amount of work that the party had to do in a short time, they were a couple of days late with the submission of another annual report for 2022, which was already being prepared.
According to Tadtaev, there is no more powerful political force in South Ossetia, a party more attached to its people than United Ossetia. And he considers the party’s cooperation with the leading Russian political forces and the political course towards the unification of the south and north of Ossetia within Russia as the reason for pressure from the authorities:
“Given the current situation, this probably does not suit some people. But United Ossetia will always, no matter what, stand for a united Ossetia within the Russian Federation.”
As for Oleg Gagloev’s statement that, despite the submitted reports, United Ossetia will be subject to administrative punishment for overdue terms, Tadtaev called this statement stupid.
“It is stupid to speak out [in this way] against a parliamentary party that holds the majority of parliamentary mandates. If the authorities make any attempts to suspend the activities of United Ossetia or close the party, the parliament will cease to exist for the pre-election year. Because people who have received a mandate from United Ossetia will, of course, react to the actions of the authorities. During these two days, we received thousands of calls where our voters asked us to express their dissatisfaction within the framework of the legal field and within the framework of the protest. However, United Ossetia is aware of its responsibility to its people, and the last thing we want is to destabilize the situation in South Ossetia.”
Tadtaev says that, instead of “arranging petty squabbles,” the Ministry of Justice should have given a legal assessment of the cancellation of the referendum on the entry of South Ossetia into the Russian Federation, scheduled by Bibilov for July 17, 2022.
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