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Experts anticipate no boycott of elections in South Ossetia

Presidential elections scheduled for April 9 in South Ossetia will not be boycotted, Yuri Beteyev, Director of local Alania Inform Agency, has told EADaily.

He admitted that “the election campaign is tense,” however “responsible approach of voters to the future of their republic means that turn-out will be high.”

President of Aspect Center for Social and Political Studies Georgy Fedorov, who observed previous elections in South Ossetia, does not anticipate any boycott of elections either. He is sure that “an insignificant percentage” of voters may boycott the voting.

Sunday, South Ossetia will see presidential election with three candidates for the highest post: Leonid Tibilov, the incumbent president, Anatoly Bibilov, the parliament speaker, and a KGB officer Alan Gagloyev. The same day, people will simultaneously vote for returning the historical name of South Ossetia. It will be a nation-wide referendum to rename the Republic of South Ossetia (RSO) into Republic of South Ossetia – State of Alania.

Ex-president Eduard Kokoity also sought to run for president, but he was not let to the campaign for not meeting residence requirements. At first, Kokoity’s supporters took to the streets, but later the ex-president urged everyone to vote for Anatoly Bibilov. This has disappointed some of the ex-president’s supports who started urging a boycott of election. Noteworthy that Bibilov supports South Ossetia’s unification with Russia, meantime Eduard Kokoity who has joined him, is for sovereignty of RSO.

On April 4, intellectuals, veterans, representatives of industrial and non-governmental organizations of the country came out with a statement urging South Ossetian citizens to “show their traditional political culture, not to yield to the calls for boycotting the voting, avoid unsanctioned rallies and other unlawful events.” The authors of the statements call on everyone to participate in the voting and expressed their will.

Yuri Bateyev says turnout has always been high in South Ossetia. “At the parliamentary elections in 2014 turnout was not as high as it used to be in South Ossetia, because when voting is on party lists, people do not feel like they elected anyone. Now, the issue was revised and the next elections will be on both party lists and single-mandate constituencies and the turnout will be high, since people will see who they vote for,” Beteyev says. He is sure by 90% that there will be no second round of presidential election.

Georgy Fedorov also anticipates a “traditionally good” turnout. “A boycott can be a political act growing into other phases. Consequently, an insignificant percentage of people may boycott the voting,” the expert says.

The candidates for president have no shared vision of the referendum either. Anatoly Bibilov believes that RSO must be renamed into Republic of South-Ossetia-Alania like the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, though the decree on referendum has already been signed.

According to Beteyev, State of Alania is an equivalent name and “legally no changes can be made to the decree.” “Everything depends on the people’s will. As far as I know, people welcome the new name,” he says. Besides, he says, consultations were held in North Ossetia and the people there have supported the idea.

Georgy Fedorov believes that the referendum will just increase the turnout and there will be less people who may deliberately invalidate ballot-papers. “Considering national dignity and other issues, I think, the referendum will be held at the highest level,” he says.

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