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Group Announces ‘Alternative Polls’ in S.Ossetia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 24 Oct.'06 / 18:36

The Salvation Union of Ossetians, a newly established organization, announced on October 24 its plans to hold “alternative presidential elections and referendum” in breakaway South Ossetia on November 12.

Secessionist authorities of the breakaway region plan to hold an independence referendum and presidential elections on the same day.

The organization’s activists held a news conference in the Georgian village of Eredvi in the South Ossetian conflict zone on October 24.

One of the leaders of the Salvation Union of Ossetians is Vladimir Sanakoev, an outspoken critic of the South Ossetian secessionist authorities and an anchor of a political program on Tbilisi-based Alania television. The television station, which started to broadcast in South Ossetia in the Russian language last November, is believed to be backed by officials in Tbilisi.

“The aim of our initiative is to show the Ossetians, as well as the international community, that there is an alternative to Eduard Kokoity [current leader of South Ossetia],” Maia Chigoeva-Tsaboshvili, one of the founders of the organization, told Civil Georgia on October 24.

The group has also set up so called alternative Central Election Commission, chaired by Uzugbar Karkusov.

There are no candidates registered by the alternative Central Election Commission so far, Maia Chigoeva-Tsaboshvili said. 

But Georgian media sources speculate that there will be at least two presidential candidates running in these ‘alternative polls’ - Maia Chigoeva-Tsaboshvili and Jemal Karkusov.

Maia Chigoeva-Tsaboshvili, who is the head of the Tbilisi-based non-governmental organization Iber-Ironi Georgian-Ossetian Union, wanted to enter the presidential race through the secessionist South Ossetian Central Election Commission but authorities in Tskhinvali rejected her application.

Jemal Karkusov is a former Interior Minister and ex-Secretary of National Security Council of breakaway South Ossetia. But after disagreements with South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity he was arrested in April, 2005 by South Ossetian law enforcers for alleged illegal possession of arms. Karkusov escaped from a Tskhinvali jail in November, 2005.

The chairman of the so-called alternative Central Election Commission, Uzugbar Karkusov, is Jemal Karkusov’s brother.

Meanwhile, the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee reported on October 24 that the Georgian special services are planning provocations in the region in an attempt to thwart presidential elections and independence referendum.

Four candidates are running in the presidential polls of the unrecognized republic: Eduard Kokoity, Oleg Gabodze, Inal Pukhaev and Leonid Tibilov. The latter two are officials in Kokoity’s government, while no information is available about Gabodze. Officials in Tbilisi say that the other candidates were nominated with the approval of Kokoity himself to give the race a contested nature.

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