Saturday, August 27, 2016


South Ossetia's Alla Dzhioyeva Comes Into Her Own

South Ossetia opposition presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva talks to the press in Tskhinvali on December 1.
South Ossetia opposition presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva talks to the press in Tskhinvali on December 1.
By Robert Coalson
Former South Ossetian Education Minister Alla Dzhioyeva is emerging as an unlikely figurehead for an unlikely public movement.

But the 61-year-old mother of two who, according to unofficial preliminary results, won the second round of the breakaway Georgian region's election to choose a de facto leader on November 27, has become the rallying point for a populace worn ragged by war and corruption.

Following early indications that Dzhioyeva defeated Emergency Situations Minister Anatoly Bibilov -- the preferred candidate of South Ossetia's Russian patrons -- in the election, the South Ossetian Supreme Court annulled the ballot, accepting Bibilov's charges that Dzhioyeva's campaign had bribed and intimidated voters.

The region's parliament quickly scheduled a new election for March 2012 and, for good measure, banned Dzhioyeva from participating in it.

All week, crowds have taken to the streets in the capital, Tskhinvali, both to express their support for Dzhioyeva and to protest what they see as a brazen effort to subvert an election that was generally regarded as fair and democratic.

A young man among the protesters this week, who identified himself only by the first name Sarmat, told RFE/RL that the movement was becoming bigger than just Dzhioyeva's campaign.

"You know, I am not so much a supporter of Alla Dzhioyeva as I am a supporter of the idea that everything should be done lawfully," Sarmat said.

"On November 27, the people chose their president, so why has a situation developed in which the newly elected president of the Republic of South Ossetia suddenly is denied recognition that she won the election? It's a complicated situation. People have gathered on Theater Square to demand their right to choose."

Irina Gagloyeva, a former government spokeswoman who now heads the IR media center in Tskhinvali, agrees. "People want the truth; they want to see the law working and their constitutional rights respected," she says. "After all, they made their choice and that choice must be recognized, even if someone doesn't like it. [At the protests] I see people who voted for Bibilov, but now they believe that the choice of the majority must be respected. If you respect the choice of the people, you respect the people."

Against Long Odds

South Ossetia is an unlikely place for such a movement to emerge. The tiny pro-Russian region declared its independence from Georgia in 1990 and fought a bloody civil war to secure a shaky de facto independence that is heavily reliant on economic, political, and military support from Moscow. Some 50,000 Georgians who fled their homes in the fighting in South Ossetia remain displaced and cannot vote in the territory's elections.

Following the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, Moscow recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia, as independent states.

However, Georgia and the overwhelming majority of the international community do not recognize the regions, their governments -- or the recent elections -- as legitimate.

Current leader Eduard Kokoity is facing pressure from the Kremlin and voters at home.Current leader Eduard Kokoity is facing pressure from the Kremlin and voters at home.
Current leader Eduard Kokoity is facing pressure from the Kremlin and voters at home.
Current leader Eduard Kokoity is facing pressure from the Kremlin and voters at home.
Even though, in South Ossetia's case, that election might yet bring to office a person openly opposed by the Kremlin and the first woman to head a political formation in the entire Caucasus region since the legendary Queen Tamar ruled Georgia in the 12th century.

Dzhioyeva does not have the fiery showmanship or charisma of, say, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She is more in the mold of former Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva -- patient, practical, tenacious, and accessible. Although corruption allegations have been thrown at her at various points in her career, none of them have stuck. Her reputation is so solid that almost no one seems to have even considered that Bibilov's allegations of electoral fraud might have merit.

Building Momentum

Dzhioyeva's road toward South Ossetia's de facto presidency had an unpromising start. But when opposition leader Dzhambolat Tedeyev -- a former wrestling champion who is currently trainer of the Russian national freestyle-wrestling team -- was barred from participating in the election, he threw his support behind her. As did former Defense Minister and war hero Anatoly Barankevich, who actively campaigned for her. The portraits of both men appear prominently on Dzhioyeva's campaign posters.

"Some people have said that Barankevich or Tedeyev will manage her," Barankevich told supporters at campaign appearances last month. "But that is not true. She manages herself."

Dzhioyeva's low-budget campaign commercials were a hodge-podge of jerky clips from various appearances in which she promised transparency and the protection of people's rights and asserted that the people of South Ossetia shouldn't have to live "a slave's life."

Dzhioyeva supporters hold up a sign saying, "We are people, not sheep."Dzhioyeva supporters hold up a sign saying, "We are people, not sheep."
Dzhioyeva supporters hold up a sign saying, "We are people, not sheep."
Dzhioyeva supporters hold up a sign saying, "We are people, not sheep."
The message resonated with the territory's tiny population of just 30,000, fed up with the rule of President Eduard Kokoity, who has presided over the region since 2001 and whose administration is widely perceived as hopelessly corrupt and authoritarian.

As her campaign gained momentum, Dzhioyeva seemed to blossom and gain confidence. Journalists noted that her hands trembled even in the run-up to last week's election. But now she seems determined and sure of herself and her cause.

"I absolutely believe that no one can steal our victory. I absolutely believe that the forces of light will defeat the forces of darkness," she told RFE/RL on November 28. "And you will have the opportunity to congratulate me on my victory."

'An Irreproachable Strategy'

Speaking to supporters on November 30 in central Tskhinvali, Dzhioyeva seemed quite transformed from the person who campaigned a few weeks back and even more determined to carry on.

"Throughout all this, we have felt enormous support from the people. Now I am asking you to ensure that no force in society can break our solidarity with you," she said.

"I also want to address the security forces, which have very meritoriously conducted themselves all this time: You are also our sons, and there is no force that can pit us against one another. I would like to thank you for professionally carrying out your duties."

The Kremlin's favored candidate, Anatoly Bibilov, seems to be on the outside looking in.The Kremlin's favored candidate, Anatoly Bibilov, seems to be on the outside looking in.
The Kremlin's favored candidate, Anatoly Bibilov, seems to be on the outside looking in.
The Kremlin's favored candidate, Anatoly Bibilov, seems to be on the outside looking in.
Since the Supreme Court ruling against her, Dzhioyeva's patience and moderation have been credited with helping keep the situation from getting out of control. But she is not backing down. She has formed an advisory council to conduct negotiations with the Kokoity regime and has organized a petition calling for the disbanding of the parliament that voted to bar her from participating in the rescheduled election next year.

She insists, clearly but with undue emotion, that she is the lawfully elected leader of South Ossetia. She has declined to meet with Sergei Vinokurov, the official that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dispatched to Tskhinvali to defuse the standoff, saying the situation is an internal matter for South Ossetia.

"I think that Alla Dzhioyeva's campaign -- and she herself -- have chosen an irreproachable strategy -- that is, peaceful demonstrations and a willingness to negotiate," says RFE/RL Echo of the Caucasus correspondent Andrei Babitsky, who has been following the situation in Tskhinvali.

"They are open to dialogue with the authorities. In the face of such a strategy, it is very difficult to provoke any sort of aggressive actions."

Written in Prague by Robert Coalson on the basis of reporting by RFE/RL's Georgian and Russian services. Liz Fuller contributed to this report
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Guest
December 02, 2011 17:19
"The Ossetians (Ossetic: ирæттæ, irættæ) are an Iranic ethnic group" what do you know?
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
December 05, 2011 04:01
Osetia is a composite country.
Since about 10 milleniums B.C. all Caucasus, South and North, was a family of the same race:
Ibero-Albano-Colho-Caucasians, with dialects that comprized from heart of Caucasus,
probably in Karlty, look:
In 5 Century A.D. tribes of Israel moved to what is now South Russia.
Two of them, coarsed Sam and Gad, attacked the
Ibero-Caucasian setlments in Northern Caucasus, but were fought-off with help of Skiffs from South Ukraine and Guns (Medians-Hanians) from Moutain Altay.
They settled accordingly in Northern Caucasus: Skiffians in the West, Guns in the East and the better tribes of Israel among them - in the lower (Northern) portion of Northern Caucasus.
Ibero-Caucasians remained in the upper (Southern) portion of Northern Caucasus.
In time they merged into new nations.

Northern Osetia consists:
North-West - Skiffs mixed with pre-Georgians;
South West - pre-Georgians mixed with Skiffs;
North-East - Guns mixed with pre-Georgians;
South-East - pre-Georgians mixed with Guns;
Middle-North - tribe of Dan mixed with above;
Middle-South - Medians mixed with Northern Kartli pre-Georgians - It was pre-Kartly, before Darius broke through Georgian Military highway (Darial) and settled at the north of it South-Eastern pre-Georgians of Media, people of Besso (Beslan).

In order to cut-off Osetins from Georgians and the rest of Iberian World, Russians concated a
pseudo-scientific propaganda, claiming that if
Iranians use changed Median, and if in Beslan live Medians, and if Osetins use in part changed Median too - they must be Persians
and insofar part of Russia!

As for South Osetins - they were gest-knights in Georgia during Georgian Kings, but Russians influxed children of rape by Russian spies accompannied by Russian GRU and Spectcnaz - trying to annex it from Georgia.

More South Osetins live in Georgia than in Tchinvali, once surrounded by Georgian villages and towns...
In Response

by: David from: Los Angeles
December 05, 2011 17:43
All the above are complete lies. The Ossetians are Alanian/Caucasian, not Iranian (no offense to Iranians, I'm just disproving this point). Language does not mean a people share roots with others. If that were the case, Georgians would be Persians (in fact, modern Georgia's roots are embedded in Persian and Semitic roots, so that should resolve that argument right there).

I bring this up because this rabid idiot Konstantin never ceases to disgust me with his specialized brand of falsified propaganda. I don't understand why you and people like you from your nation continue to constantly try to discredit the rich cultures, heritage, and history of those around you except if not for two reasons:
a) your own history as you claim it is is based on lies and the theft of cultural traits and customs based on those around you. prime example of this: your Qartveli or Mingrelian fashion from before 1700s and what it was after. or, let's say how you allowed your flag to be redesigned by your colonial masters after the so called "Rose Revolution".
b) someone smarter and better than you and your ilk is urging you to do this so that it would be easier for them to gain a foothold in this region

Shame on you, Konstantin. Go crawl back in the sewer you and your kind dwell in. You cannot revise history when it is recorded in stone and known by so many, no matter how many sites you spam or lies you print.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
December 05, 2011 21:34
David Morosov, go back to your brother, one of Gauliters of Russian invaders and occupiers of
Northern Osetia and Shida Kartly.
Report to your boss, general Boldyrev, which turned Osetin people into "sewer" of raped Osetin girls by Russian Neanderthals and made them and their children of rape slaves of Russian occupiers!
Take back with you terrorists-canibals,
guards of political prison camps of Russia!

It is you Russia that perverting history, since Khrutchev burned history books!

I am so indignated by your inpudent lies that
I will return to it later!
Shame on you, Morosov!
In Response

by: Rasto from: Slovakian in London
December 06, 2011 14:43
well it depends what..Certainly it is true that nowadays more Ossetians live in Borjomi, Bakuriani and Tbilisi than in South Ossetia..And despite throwing Georgians out of Shiofa Kartli they freely drive from Gerogia to Russia and back..majority of cars you see around Kazbegi driving southwards from Verkhni Lars are driven by Ossetians. On proprotion of Ossetian population living in Shida Kartli in past please see my comment below. They migrated to Georgia rather recently.
In Response

by: Frank
December 06, 2011 21:37
When considering the total Ossetian population in North Ossetia, South Ossetia and elsewhere, most Ossetians prefer Russia over Georgia.
In Response

by: Arabia
December 14, 2011 08:13
"The Ossetians are Alanian/Caucasian".
These are bizarre stories. Since when did Iranian-speaking Aryan Ossetians became Caucasians? It is also strange that you are referring to Alania. The word Alania came into scientific world from Arabic because we had political and trading ties to Ala people. The word Ala means Noble. That is how we called Chechens. You can find yourself online that besides Alans there were Noble Alans. The scientific world confuses the two terms. The Chechens traditionally had classless society. There were no kings or nobility amongst them. In that case they were very unique. That is why our historians labeled the whole nation as Ala. Moreover, Alania and the capital of Alania Maghas are known only from Arabic sources because Europe was in the Dark Ages and had no contacts with the Caucasus that time. Persian geographer al-Istakhri traveled through the land of Ala people to Khazars. He was a Persian geographer. Don’t you think it is strange that he didn’t report that any people in the Caucasus spoke the same Persian language as he did? Also, I suggest you do some research on the Caucasian Albania. Albania is the Latinized word. The difference is only in one letter.
In Response

by: Arabian
December 14, 2011 07:36
I see why Russia supported the terrorist regimes of South Ossetia and Iran. Russia loves Persians. The question is are the ruskies going to build nuclear plants in Ossetia too?

by: chokha from: germany
December 06, 2011 08:27
What does it matter what roots people have? There are people in Georgia's Shida Kartli Province who call themselves Ossetians and they drove out (with the help of Russia) people who called themselves Georgians. They drove out Georgians from ancient Georgian lands.
Ossetians and Georgians lived together peacefully for a long, long time. Queen Tamar chose the Ossetian Soslan as husband.
Then the Russians came and divided the people. They gave russian passports to Ossetians who lived in Georgia. And they openly supported separatists in a foreign country.

They call the land "South Ossetia" to make everybody believe that this is "ossetian" land and that Georgia has no rights there.
They (the russian occupiers) try to make everybody believe that Georgia is the occupier.

The term "South Ossetia" never existed before the tsarist regiem in the 19. century.

We know from the german scientists Guldenstadt, Reineggs et al., who travelled the Caucasus 1770, that the Tskhinvali region was Kartli. Ossetia was called the land beyond the Caucasus on the russian side.
In Response

by: Rasto from: Slovakian in London
December 06, 2011 14:36
Chokha why you mention 18th century ?? Even less than 100 years ago - in 1917 Number of Ossetian families in Tskhinvali was less than 10 %
In the 1917 it had 600 houses with 38.4% Jews, 34.4% Georgians, 17.7% Armenians and 8.8% Ossetians.[8]
In Response

by: Mike from: NY
December 10, 2011 17:53
It matters because the Georgians are funding neo-fascist camps, programs, literature, and media now and have been doing so for years. The result of this massive brainwashing campaign of their leaders is inciting their people to spew hatred and lies towards their neighbors. As a result, Georgian fascist attitudes have been growing, which then lead to the disgusting discrimination they have been inflicting on not only Ossetians, but Armenians, Abkhazians, etc. for decades. This all started pre-Stalin but really resonated in his time. This is why this matters. Because if Georgians are going to try to claim that they own land that is not theirs from people who want just to live quietly and not bother with any sort of violent situations, what do you expect to happen? Do you see any of these other groups sending their children to neo-nationalist camps near others' borders and teaching them to hate and that they are superior to others? NO. So think about that the next time you try to say the above. In addition, from your writings, it seems you are Georgian? This statement of your about South Ossetia is false. It is Ossetian land, not Georgian. What does "Georgian" mean anyways, by the way? Does it mean solely Qartveli, Mingreli, Svan, what? Are you aware that the roots of some of these so called Georgian descent people are not even native to the Caucasus? How can they claim this land if they are not from it? Think about this carefully. Have a nice day. One last comment: do you know the age of this queen Tamar and the age of Soslan when they were united in marriage? Do you honestly think Tamar ruled your people then?
In Response

by: Arabia
December 14, 2011 08:17
"Georgians are funding neo-fascist camps" I've visited Georgia. The people there are very nice. I've also visited Russia and I saw skinheads in their uniforms with swastikas and SS symbols. I think you are confusing Russia with Georgia.

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