Secretary of the General Council of United Russia, Andrey Turchak visited occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia on February 8 to back incumbent leader Anatoly Bibilov’s candidacy for re-election on April 10.
The Russian ruling party and Bibilov’s United Ossetia, a clone of the former, also signed a cooperation agreement on the same day, ahead of Tskhinvali leader’s official announcement of his re-election bid during the party’s congress.
Addressing the gathering, Turchak stressed that Bibilov “has the necessary experience and knowledge of state-building, good personal potential for active development of Russian-South Ossetian relations and the implementation of the socio-economic development program,” as reported by Tskhinvali-based RES news agency.
Besides, the United Russia official lauded the Kremlin-backed Tskhinvali leader as a man who managed to establish himself as a “responsible head of state” and a person able to solve the problems of the people.
Against this backdrop, Turchak claimed electing people without similar experience would lead to division among the public, implementation of dubious reforms and personnel reshuffling.
“The outcome of the elections will be of great importance for the future of all the people of South Ossetia,” Turchak said, going on to stress the importance for “common sense and genuine concern” for the occupied region to prevail over personal ambitions in the vote.
During the visit, Turchak was accompanied by United Russia MPs Aleksandr Karelin, Andrey Krasov and Dmitry Sablin.
Besides the delegation, Head of Russia’s North Ossetian Republic Sergei Menyailo and Denis Pushilin, heads of the self-declared “Donetsk people’s republic” and “Luhansk people’s republic” Denis Pushilin and Denis Kolesnikov, respectively, visited Tskhinvali in support of Bibilov.
Bibilov also received support of Ludvig Chibirov, the first “elected president” of the occupied region.
“Presidents” of Tskhinvali Region serve for a five year-term, acting both as head of “state” and the executive branch. Political parties and initiative groups have until February 20 to nominate the candidates for the position.
Bibilov won in the previous 2017 vote with 54.8% against then-incumbent and Kremlin’s favorite Leonid Tibilov, who received 33.7% of votes.
Elections in Tskhinvali Region are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community except for Russia and a few other countries that recognize the region’s independence from Georgia.
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