Russian MP Leonid Kalashnikov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, has said that newly elected South Ossetian leader Alan Gagloev will not hurry a referendum on “reunification” with Russia.
“As for the referendum, it remains their will. That said, I think Gagloev will wait now, unlike [outgoing leader Anatoly] Bibilov,” Russian state-owned TASS news agency cited Kalashnikov as saying on May 9.
“Even though he [Gagloev] announced his readiness to hold such referendum, it depends not even on them, but on Russia, on how ready Russia and Belarus are to expand the Union State,” the Russian communist lawmaker added.
Kalashnikov expressed his confidence that “in any case” Moscow and Tskhinvali will continue having good relations.
“As for Russia — whoever is the president of [South Ossetia], they are always quite appreciative towards Russia, and I do not think there will be any surprises.”
The Russian lawmaker also said Bibilov acted fairly by conceding defeat in the vote.
“And in this sense, those behind him [Bibilov], will follow his example and won’t make things more difficult for the president-elect,” he added.
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41-year-old Alan Gagloev, opposition Nykhas party leader and former security officer secured victory in May 8 South Ossetian runoffs with 54,2% of votes, defeating incumbent leader Anatoly Bibilov who received 43.3%.
Bibilov renewed talks on “reunification” with Russia just days before the first round on April 10, and pushed for the referendum preparations.
Gagloev then accused Bibilov of using the issue for electoral purposes, and while generally expressing the support for the idea, noted that circumstances for “reunification” were not at the moment in Moscow’s favor.
Tbilisi, that regards the region as occupied by the Russian Federation, as well as most of the international community, denounced the polls as illegitimate, and decried the preparations for referendum.
The central Georgian Government said “no referendum will have any legal force amid the occupation, especially against the backdrop of hundreds of thousands of our citizens being expelled from their homes as a result of the ethnic cleansing.”