Op-ed: S. Ossetia protests – punishing the guilty isn’t enough. The system has to be changed
Protests continue in South Ossetia over the death in prison of a 28-year-old man, which likely was the result of torture.
These protests have quickly took on a political nature.
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets, President Anatoly Bibilov has dismissed the entire government and promised to punish those responsible.
However, the demonstrators and the opposition are demanding the resignation of the prosecutor general and the president himself. Former President Eduard Kokoity also called on Bibilov to resign.
Zarina Sanakoeva, a journalist from South Ossetia, believes that the crisis in South Ossetia has been brewing for a long time and will not be resolved by resignations.
The protests in South Ossetia were not caused by the death of Inal Dzhabiev, not by problems at customs, as a result of which there are again interruptions in the delivery of goods to South Ossetia – most importantly of medicines.
They are not caused either by the five-month closure of borders or the disappearance of an income of the segment of the population that does not receive a salary from the state.
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The people in South Ossetia aren’t partial to demonstrations. So if they have gone to rallies, then the point of no return has already been passed.
It’s all about the unprecedented responsibility that President Anatoly Bibilov has assumed. He moved to the presidency from the chairmanship of the parliament, where he has took up control of the party with an absolute majority of mandates. And his party behaved with opponents like an overgrown schoolboy with a sandbox with preschool children.
After Bibilov’s victory in the 2017 presidential elections, many experts predicted a difficult presidency for him, given that he personally controls all branches of government. In this case, there is no one on whom to shift responsibility. Bibilov either did not hear these warnings, or ignored them.
It is this behavior that has led to today’s protests in the square. Last year, after the beatings of prisoners in the prison made its way onto the internet, MPs demanded the resignation of the ministers of justice and internal affairs.
Bibilov and his party did everything to prevent this.
As a result, Bibilov kept his proteges in place, but at the cost of considerable reputational damage. As time has shown, the price turned out to be much higher – human life. This is what Bibilov is known for today, and the resignation of the government does not solve or change absolutely anything.
Ironically, it was during the presidency of Bibilov [ed. whose main promise was unification with Russia] that customs problems between South Ossetia and Russia escalated when entrepreneurs were required to comply with laws that they physically cannot comply with.
Politicians in South Ossetia, as in many countries, are also not averse to gaining votes by using the image of an external enemy and foreign policy issues in general. But if before 2008 it was really relevant, then after the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia by Russia and the resolution of the security issue, attempts to return foreign policy issues to the main ones speaks only of the politician’s shortsightedness.
The pandemic caused considerable damage to the slogan with which Bibilov came to power – joining the Russian Federation. Until the beginning of August, most people really were in favor of keeping the borders closed, especially since it brought results. The coronavirus in South Ossetia has not gone beyond the quarantine zones.
The mood began to radicalize with the interruptions in the supply of goods to South Ossetia. From time to time these problems arose before, but if then anyone could go to North Ossetia and buy everything necessary there, now this opportunity no longer exists.
Of course, the death of Inal Dzhabiev is not even the last straw, but the last bucket.
Bibilov said that he himself has taken over control of the investigation into Dzhabiev’s murder.
But no one believes that this system can punish itself. So, the people are waiting not only for punishment, but for changes in the entire system.
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