Plans by Eduard Kokoity, the leader of Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia, to reduce the manpower of the region's army might impel the military to side with the opposition to Kokoity, RFE/RL's Echo of the Caucasus
reported on April 14.
Some South Ossetian military units reportedly
planned to participate in a protest meeting on March 20 organized jointly by opposition parties (mostly based outside South Ossetia) and an informal organization uniting people whose homes were destroyed during the August 2008 war. That protest never took place.
On March 24, Kokoity explained that the planned cutback would affect in the first instance personnel approaching retirement age, or who for other reasons are incapable of participating in combat operations. That statement failed, however, to reassure many younger military personnel, given that alternative employment prospects are minimal.
In fact, the planned downsizing will be on a larger scale that Kokoity admitted: from 3,000 to 200 men. Roland Kelekhsayev, chairman of the opposition People's Party, told Echo of the Caucasus that the cuts will not be implemented at least until June, as the authorities "still don't know what to do with" the army and Interior Ministry personnel who face dismissal.