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South Ossetia holds presidential elections


South Ossetia holds presidential elections

South Ossetia holds presidential elections. Photo: Alexei Nikolsky / Russian Presidential Press and Information Office / TASS

South Ossetia will today hold the second round of presidential elections.

April 10 saw the first round that pitted incumbent President Anatoly Bibilov against the leader of the opposition Nykhaz party, Alan Gagloyev. In a surprising upset, Gagloev secured 38.55% the vote to Bibilov’s 34.95%. While the top two candidates advanced after the first round, a simple majority will decide today’s winner.

Expect condemnation from Tbilisi and its Western partners such as the US and EU, which view the election in the Russian-occupied region as illegitimate. Russia, Syria, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru are likely to be the only countries to support the results. On the horizon are Russia’s ambitions to annex South Ossetia, as it announced earlier last month. Regardless of the election results, both Bibliov and Gagloyev are in line with Moscow, with the support of Russia foundational to their campaigns. Leaders are likely to continue to be incentivized by the Kremlin’s promises of socioeconomic investment and development initiatives which lend political credibility. Should he win a renewed mandate, Bibilov’s heavy-handed governance so far signals a potential crackdown on anti-Russian activists in the long-term in addition to an inevitable increase in Moscow’s political influence.

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