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South Ossetia: The Fourth Time's the Charm?

Voting in de-facto presidential elections is becoming a regular pastime in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. After three attempts since November 2011 -- the latest, on March 25 -- to choose a successor to longtime strongman Eduard Kokoity, residents are now being asked to vote, yes, a fourth time on April 8.

"The people are tired of the election process . . . " candidate Leonid Tibilov, a former South Ossetian KGB boss who scooped up 42.48 percent of the latest de-facto vote, according to preliminary results, commented wryly to the Russian daily Kommersant. Without a clear majority, Tibilov will now face off against David Sanakoyev, the region's de-facto human rights ombudsman, with 24.58 percent of the vote.

Haunting the polls also, though, are the ghosts of (de-facto) elections past: Kokoity and opposition leader Alla Jioyeva, who claimed election in December 2011 and now is under house arrest in Tskhinvali after having attempted to proceed with her inauguration.   


In interviews with Kommersant, both Tibilov and Sanakoyev took efforts to emphasize their distaste for or distance from Kokoity, and their fondness for the people's will; a sentiment no doubt enhanced after the large-scale public demonstrations that broke out in December in favor of Jioyeva. 

With one eye on the street, officials announced on the eve of the de-facto March 25 vote, that all "suspicions" against Jioyeva no longer exist, but plainclothesmen blocked an attempt by Kommersant to speak with her in the hospital. Apparently, a question of "security." 

Tibilov, who reportedly has former Jioyeva activists on his own campaign team, does not look to spend a similar stretch in the hospital after the fourth de-facto presidential election. (A vote not recognized by most of the international community.)  If Tskhinvali's de-facto officials don't recognize the outcome of the April 8 runoff vote, he warned, "the fate of Ossetia could change in not the best way."

South Ossetia: The Fourth Time's the Charm?

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