09TBILISI1005, GEORGIA: SOUTH OSSETIAN REGIME CLAIMS 50,000 VOTE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1005 2009-06-01 13:57 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7396
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1005 1521357
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011357Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1648
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001005 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KBDS RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SOUTH OSSETIAN REGIME CLAIMS 50,000 VOTE 
IN "PARLIAMENTARY" ELECTIONS 
 
REF: A. A. TBILISI 982 
     B. B. MOSCOW 1403 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and Comment.  Elections for the de facto South 
Ossetia parliament were held in South Ossetia on May 31 
without any official internationally-recognized monitoring 
organizations taking part.  De facto officials claimed to the 
Russian press that about 50,000 people voted, with 46 percent 
casting their ballots for Eduard Kokoity's Unity Party.  The 
high voter turnout -- far more than the estimated total 
number of current residents -- suggests a fraudulent 
election.  The Government of Georgia decried the results as 
illegitimate, as did the European Union.  End Summary and 
Comment. 
 
UNITY PARTY WINS 
 
2. (SBU) On May 31, voters in South Ossetia cast ballots for 
34 parliamentary seats, which are allocated proportionally. 
According to the South Ossetia de facto election commission, 
current de facto "President" Eduard Kokoitys Unity Party won 
just over 46 percent of the vote, while the Communist Party 
and People's Party both won approximately 23 percent of the 
vote.  The Fatherland Party did not exceed the seven percent 
threshold to enter parliament.  The new "parliament" will 
therefore consist of 17 parliamentarians from Unity, nine 
from the People's Party and eight from the Communist Party. 
South Ossetian officials reported voter turnout was as high 
as 70 to 80 percent, and estimated that 50,000 people had 
voted.  As noted in ref A, these numbers are highly inflated, 
as the total number of legitimate voters could be no higher 
than 30,000 (the number of eligible voters pre-August 2008), 
and were likely half that.  Furthermore, despite the Unity 
Party enjoying only a 17 percent popularity rating, it still 
managed to secure an overwhelming victory.  Minister of 
Reintegration Temuri Yakobashvili was quoted in the Georgian 
press as calling the results illegitimate, and the European 
Union issued a statement, saying that "the holding of such 
elections is illegitimate and represents a setback in the 
search for a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation 
in Georgia." 
 
NO GEORGIAN JOURNALISTS ALLOWED 
 
3. (C) Russian press reporting indicated that 110 foreign 
observers were present, and Russian monitors reported no 
serious irregularities.  Neither the OSCE nor the EU 
monitored the process and little information on the reported 
foreign observers is available.  Despite an open invitation 
to foreign journalists by de facto officials to witness the 
election, at least one Georgian reporter, Mari Otanashvili of 
Rezonansi newspaper, was briefly detained in Akhalgori and 
then evicted by South Ossetian militia.  Otanashvili, who 
arrived in Akhalgori to report on the elections, was allowed 
to cross Georgian and South Ossetian checkpoints because she 
is registered in Akhalgori.  After interviewing some elderly 
Georgians remaining in South Ossetia who said they were 
thinking of voting to avoid trouble with the authorities, she 
entered the polling station at Secondary School 1.  When the 
South Ossetians at the polling station learned she was 
Georgian, the local police were called in, and they 
transported her to the police station and said "Don't you 
know that we are not allowing Georgian journalists to work 
here?"  After conducting a thorough personal search, the 
South Ossetian police officers escorted her back to the 
Russian checkpoint, and a Russian security official then 
QRussian checkpoint, and a Russian security official then 
escorted her to the Georgian checkpoint.  According to 
Otanashvili, South Ossetian police officers said she can 
return to Akhalgori, but without her tape recorder and camera. 
TEFFT

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