09TBILISI982, GEORGIA: CONTROVERSY OVER MAY 31 ELECTIONS IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI982 2009-05-29 14:10 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5989
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0982/01 1491410
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291410Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1631
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 8239

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000982 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/28/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KBDS RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: CONTROVERSY OVER MAY 31 ELECTIONS IN 
SOUTH OSSETIA 
 
REF: MOSCOW 1403 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  On the eve of May 31 
parliamentary elections in South Ossetia, controversy has 
erupted over the electoral system and establishment of 
political parties by the "de facto" administration.  While 
Russian officials and South Ossetian "de facto" 
administration officials claim that the upcoming elections 
will be "free and fair," South Ossetian opposition figures 
and Georgia's Head of the Administration of South Ossetia, 
Dmitri Sanakoev, protest that the system is corrupt.  Based 
on conversations with Sanakoev and according to Russian, 
South Ossetian, and Georgian press, it is doubtful that the 
elections will have any semblance of being free and fair. 
Furthermore, Sanakoev said that he believes the 
administrative boundary will be permanently closed around the 
time of the election, forcing ethnic Georgians to choose a 
side.  End summary and comment. 
 
ELECTION LOGISTICS 
 
2. (SBU) The fifth parliamentary elections in South Ossetia 
are planned for May 31.  This will be the first election to 
take place in South Ossetia since the August conflict and 
subsequent declaration of independence, and a party-list 
proportional representation system will be used.  In order to 
be represented, a party will need a to meet a seven percent 
threshold.  The four registered parties vying for the 34 
seats are Eduard Kokoity's Unity Party, chaired by Zurab 
Revazovich Kokoev; Communist Party of South Ossetia, chaired 
by Stanislav Yakovlevish Kochiev; People's Party of South 
Ossetia, chaired by Kazimir Kazbekovich Pliev; and the 
Fatherland Socialist Party, chaired by Vyacheslav Fedorovich 
Gobozov. According to Russian and South Ossetian press 
reporting, 88 polling stations will be opened in South 
Ossetia, six in North Ossetia, and one in Moscow. 
"Ambassador" of South Ossetia to Russia, Dmitri Medoyev, said 
that about 45,000 people are registered to vote and invited 
foreign journalists to attend and report on the elections. 
"FREE AND FAIR" OR FRAUDULENT? 
 
3. (C) Opposition leaders have criticized the way that the 
election system is being run, specifically how parties and 
candidates register to take part in the election.  Sanakoev 
alleged to poloffs that none of the parties have funding and 
all parties are actually fake.  According to Sanakoev, they 
were created just before the election and will cease to exist 
just after the election.  An example of the fraud embedded in 
this election is that South Ossetia's "Election Commission" 
refused to register the original People's Party ballot, 
headed by Roland Kelekhsayev.  Kelekhsayev and his party 
convened a congress on April 9, during which 10 candidates 
were selected.  Instead of registering this ballot, the 
Commission registered a second party of the same name 
established just days earlier, headed by Kazimir Pliyev, a 
supposed supporter of Kokoity.  Kelekhsayev appealed to 
Russian President Medvedev to intervene, however Medvedev did 
not respond.  Furthermore, the Commission registered only 
nine of the ten candidates on Fatherland's ballot list, 
specifically excluding the chairman, Vyacheslav Gobozov. 
Party members claim this was done because no Kokoity 
supporters were on their ballot. 
 
4. (C)  The website of the South Ossetian "Ministry of the 
Press and Mass Media," shows the current popularity rating of 
the Communist Party at 28 percent, followed by Fatherland 
with 18 percent, Unity, the current "president's" party, with 
Qwith 18 percent, Unity, the current "president's" party, with 
only 17 percent, and People's Party at 13 percent.  According 
to opposition leaders, these figures show that if there would 
be a free and fair election, and if Kelekhsayev's party were 
allowed to participate, Kokoity's Unity Party would likely 
win no more than half the seats.  There appears to be little 
doubt, however, that Unity will in fact win a parliamentary 
majority.  In addition, opposition figures have accused local 
authorities of inflating both the number of registered voters 
by almost three times, to over 45,0000, as well as the number 
of polling stations, in order to falsify results in an easier 
fashion.  Sanakoev corroborated this information, stating 
that before the August conflict there were about 33,000 
eligible voters in South Ossetia, now, he added, there are 
only half that number.  According to Sanakoev, 22,000 ethnic 
South Ossetians from the Kakheti region, who never lived in 
South Ossetia and left Georgia for North Ossetia, were put on 
the voting list and polls will be opened in North Ossetia in 
order to inflate numbers. 
 
WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE? 
 
5. (C) According to Sanakoev, most South Ossetians are 
 
TBILISI 00000982  002 OF 002 
 
 
throwing their fate in with the Russians, and that is what 
they will consider when deciding how to vote on election day. 
 Although most South Ossetians do not support Kokoity as a &
#x000A;leader, they will vote for his party as it is most closely 
aligned with Russia.  Sanakoev predicts that few ethnic 
Georgians will vote, as only a small number are still living 
in South Ossetia, and there are no polling stations being set 
up on undisputed Georgian territory.  According to Sanakoev, 
ethnic Georgians with ties to South Ossetia will, however, 
face a tough decision on election day - they will be forced 
to choose between the northern and southern side of the 
administrative boundary.  Sanakoev said he believes the 
administrative boundary will be closed around election day 
and ethnic Georgians will no longer be permitted to cross 
back and forth.  This would have an immediate detrimental 
impact on both the South Ossetian and Georgian population in 
terms of resource availability, return of IDPs, and 
confidence-building. 
TEFFT

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