Alan Gagloev, the 41-year-old leader of the Nykhas party and former security officer, was inaugurated today as the new leader of the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.
Gagloev, the leader of the Nykhas party and former security officer, took the upper hand with 16,134 votes (56.09%) in the runoff of May 8, defeating incumbent Anatoly Bibilov who obtained 11,767 votes (40.90%). 3.01 percent — 867 people — voted against all.
In his address to the ceremony at a drama theater in Tskhinvali, the new leader gave the oath to work toward “observance of the law, respect freedom and human rights and the universal equality of citizens,” the local RES news agency reported.
Gagloev also pledged to make efforts for increasing budgetary revenues, tend to social problems and grow the economy, tasks he said can be achieved through joint efforts with Russia.
As for “foreign policy,” the new S. Ossetian leader said his administration’s key priority will be to deepen ties with Russia’s North Ossetian republic.
“We also intend to further deepen our relations with all the friendly countries the representatives of which are present at the ceremony,” RES cited Gagloev, referring to Kremlin-backed authorities of occupied Abkhazia, Donetsk and Luhansk, among others.
In his speech, the new leader also drew attention to the “acute geopolitical situation in the world right now.”
“This is the moment of an armed clash between good and evil,” he said, alluding to Russia’s war against Ukraine. “We believe that the steps taken by our strategic partner, the Russian Federation, are fully consistent with the threat to national security hanging over the countries in the orbit of the ‘Russian World.'”
Stressing that Tskhinvali will remain “faithful to its duty of alliance,” Gagloev argued that Russia aided the region “in the hour of death,” possibly referring to the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.
At the ceremony top diplomats of Russian-occupied Luhansk and Donetsk Vladislav Deinego and Natalia Nikonorova, as well as Abkhaz “vice-president” Badra Gunba were in attendance.
The delegation from Moscow included the Chief of Russia’s Presidential Directorate for Interregional Relations and Cultural Contacts with Foreign Countries, Igor Maslov, Deputy Economy Minister Dmitry Volvach, and Communist MP from State Duma Leonid Kalashnikov, among others.
As the new leader took office in Tskhinvali, “prime minister” Genadi Bekoev’s cabinet, appointed by the previous leader Anatoly Bibilov, resigned.
Gagloev has not yet approved his own cabinet.
The new S. Ossetian leader entered the “presidential elections” campaign as an underdog against then Kremlin’s favorite Bibilov, but scored a landslide victory in the “presidential runoffs” on May 8.
One of the first tasks for the new leader will be to navigate the region through the Russian annexation referendum, slated for July 17 and decided by outgoing Bibilov without consultations with Gagloev.
At the time, Gagloev expressed general support for “the unification” with Russia but doubted whether it was the right time in history to hold such a referendum and whether the moment was in Moscow’s favor.
Kremlin Spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov has said that Russia has not “taken any legal or other actions” as regards the referendum, however.
Georgia’s central government as well as the international community except for Russia and a handful of countries that recognize the independence of Tskhinvali and Abkhazia, reject the legitimacy of any polls in the occupied regions.
Currently, about 30 thousand ethnic Georgians remain unable to return to the region following armed conflict in 1991-92 and the 2008 War.