Russian anchor Sergey Karnaukhov has stirred controversy in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia after accusing the occupied region’s new leader Alan Gagloev of standing up for the interests of Georgia and the U.S.
The controversial remarks came during his own Karnaukhov Labyrinth program, aired on May 31 at Solovyov Live TV, often characterized as the mouthpiece of Kremlin propaganda.
Karnaukhov said Gagloev lobbied for the reopening of crossing points between the occupied region and the rest of Georgia, which allowed in “agents of Georgia who recruited opinion leaders in the border villages of South Ossetia.”
The Russian anchor also lambasted Gagloev for suspending the referendum on Russian annexation, set by his predecessor Anatoly Bibilov. “If in two or three days the president of South Ossetia does not explain what his refusal to join Russia means, this will cause mass unrest in South Ossetia.”
Karnaukhov, now a TV personality, earlier served as Vice-Governor of Kirov and Kaliningrad Oblasts. He was reportedly one of the initiators of the Kirovles case against opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Tskhinvali KGB Reacts
Russian-controlled security committee (KGB) of Tskhinvali reacted to the accusations with dismay, saying the “statement is not only untrue but runs counter to the allied relations between South Ossetia and Russia.”
In the statement, released on June 3, the KGB said it possesses no information on Gagloev’s ties with Georgian or foreign secret services, adding that Gagloev started his career in the S. Ossetian security services.
It also noted that Gagloev is a senior reserve officer of the KGB and that he fought during the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 over South Ossetia, “during which the family of the incumbent president suffered heavy losses.”
“Taking into account close cooperation between KGB of South Ossetia and the FSB of Russia through inter-agency inter-state relations, we have sent an official request for clarification of the situation in question,” Tskhinvali KGB concluded.
Further Reactions in Tskhinvali
Tskhinvali-based political scientist Irina Gagloeva, head of IR media center told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian-language Ekho Kavkaza service that Karnaukhov’s allegation is “a pathetic attempt” to “take advantage of what is most unacceptable in our society – the pro-Georgian sentiment.”
“This is a dirty technique on the part of those who want immediate revenge… possibly political, in this case in the parliamentary elections,” Gagloeva added, alluding that Gagloev’s predecessor Anatoly Bibilov is in fact behind the accusations.
Tskhinvali lawmaker David Sanakoev concurred in his remarks with Ekho Kavkaza: “one should not expect anything else, because Bibilov has repeatedly stated that he does not quit politics. And here he has only this topic left – spy mania.”
41-year-old Gagloev entered the “presidential elections” campaign as an underdog against then Kremlin’s favorite incumbent Bibilov but scored a landslide victory in the runoffs on May 8. Per official data, Gagloev took the upper hand with 16,134 votes (56.09%), while Bibilov obtained 11,767 votes (40.90%).