New Tskhinvali Leader Visits Moscow

New Kremlin-backed leader of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia Alan Gagloev is on a visit to Moscow where he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday.

Congratulating Gagloev on becoming the new leader of the region, Russia’s top diplomat emphasized that Moscow-Tskhinvali relations are built on the “basis of alliance and strategic partnership,” according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“This [partnership] is particularly important in the current circumstances, when the international situation is being undermined in the interests of one group of countries — our Western colleagues, first of all, the United States,” FM Lavrov claimed.

During the meeting, FM Lavrov pointed to the continued development of relations including “intensive political dialogue, military-technical cooperation, trade, and economic ties, investments, and humanitarian and cultural relations.”

The Russian Foreign Minister also stressed that the security of the occupied region is “reliably guaranteed” by the Russian military base with security at the dividing line ensured by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

Consultations on Annexation Referendum

Tskhinvali-based RES news agency also reported that Gagloev and his delegation met with Russian officials yesterday to discuss the issue of now-suspended referendum on the Russian annexation.

RES reported that Russian interlocutors included Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev, Head of the Presidential Department for Interregional and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries Igor Maslov, Deputy Secretary of the Security Council Rashid Nurgaliyev, Deputy FM Andrey Rudenko, Russia’s envoy to Tskhinvali Marat Kulakhmetov, as well as Deputy Head of the Presidential Department for Border Cooperation Sergey Bovenko.

The news comes two weeks after Gagloev suspended the referendum which had been unilaterally slated for July 17 by outgoing leader Anatoly Bibilov.

RES noted that the press conference will take place in Tskhinvali in the coming days to address the results of the consultations.

Meeting with Economy Minister

A day before, on June 14, Gagloev met with Maxim Reshetnikov, Russian Minister for Economic Development. Per RES, Reshetnikov emphasized that the bilateral cooperation is “already underway in various areas, from medicine and education to trade and security.”

While the work towards socio-economic development of the region continues, the Russian Minister went on, “at the same time, the tasks become more difficult… It is important to create conditions for attracting investments so that businesses open up and the number of jobs grows.”

During the meeting, the parties agreed that Deputy Economy Minister Dmitry Volvach will visit the region in the near future. “We are ready to help, to carry out explanatory work. For example, in terms of harmonization of customs legislation. This is not an easy process,” Volvach was quoted as saying.

Gagloev also met with Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov, according to RES, with the pair discussing the existing treaty and improving the Joint Information and Coordination of the Internal Affairs Bodies, as well as training law enforcement personnel and their activities.

Tbilisi and much of the international community consider Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia to be an occupied part of Georgia’s sovereign territory with only Russia, and a handful of other countries recognizing its independence.

Currently, about 30 thousand ethnic Georgians remain uprooted from the region following armed conflict in 1991-92 and Russo-Georgian War of August 2008.

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