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Bibilov Plays Tough Honesty Card in Akhalgori

Incumbent S. Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov has played a tough honesty card over the reopening of crossing points with Georgia proper during his pre-election meeting in Akhalgori the occupied region’s ethnic Georgian majority district.

“There are two ways to open the checkpoints — diplomatically and by joining Russia. It is impossible to open the road by deception,” Bibilov wrote in his Telegram channel today after the meeting.

Bibilov has seemingly targeted his rival, frontrunner Alan Gagloev from the opposition Nykhas party, who allegedly promised Akhalgori residents to open the crossing points – closed since 2019 — in case his victory.

“For me now, opening the road is a humanitarian issue. I know that almost everyone on the other side of the border has relatives, grandchildren, children to whom Leningor [Ossetian name for Akhalgori – ed] residents bring food, whom they want to see,” Bibilov wrote.

He seemingly continued targeting Gagloev: “And now these poor people are deceived, their hopes are taken advantage on, their needs are politicized.”

“Don’t you think I knew that if I closed the road Leningor district would not vote for me? I knew. And I also knew it had to be closed. But I will not lie and feed people with false promises for votes.”

“I want to say thank you to everyone who voted. For me or not for me – it does not matter. The important thing is that the vote is a position. And this position should not be formed through deception,” Bibilov concluded.

“Presidential runoffs” are rescheduled in occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia for May 8. In the first round on April 10, opposition leader Alan Gagloev received 10,707 votes (38.55%), while incumbent Bibilov came second with 9,706 votes (34.95%).

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Georgian Service reported today that Gagloev received four times more votes than Bibilov in the town of Akhalgori. Akhalgori is home to approximately 2,500 ethnic Georgians, who make up 55.5% of the district population.

According to EU Monitoring Mission, the Odzisi crossing point between the district and the rest of Georgia served around 400 crossing daily, prior to its closure in September 2019.

Bibilov gradually closed all five checkpoints citing threats coming from Tbilisi amid the Chorchana-Tsnelisi crisis over the Georgian police checkpoint near the occupation line, and COVID-19 pandemic.

The closure exposed the residents of the occupied region to a severe humanitarian situation, chiefly caused by delayed medical transfers to Tbilisi-controlled territory. Georgian authorities reported in November 2020 that the closure had claimed the lives of 16 people over delayed transfers.

In a rare sign of goodwill Bibilov’s administration opened three crossing points, including Odzisi, during Orthodox Easter holidays.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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