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Occupied Donbas risks becoming like South Ossetia

Protest against Russian occupation of Georgian territory, Kyiv, July 18, 2015
Occupied Donbas risks becoming like South Ossetia
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Russian-controlled South Ossetia held so-called “presidential elections” on April 9. Observers and journalists — only Russian ones, of course — came to the self-proclaimed “republic.” However, even the Russian reports from the “republic” leave no doubt about the poverty and devastation that exists only a few dozen kilometers from Tbilisi. But the main issue is the lack of choice that no “elections” can mask.

In South Ossetia today only a third of its prewar population has remained. Georgians were expelled as a result of the ethnic cleansing carried out  by the occupiers and their accomplices. There is nothing to do for the remaining Ossetians in their “republic.” Most of them work and live in neighboring Russia. But even those who have remained would like to have the right to choose their own future.

In 2011, Moscow had already chosen their future president — General Anatoly Bibilov,  who is now known in Ukraine for his contacts with the Donbas militants and his constant travels both to the “people’s republics” and to Crimea.

General Anatoly Bibilov. Photo: Voskresenskiy/RIA Novosti.
General Antoly Bibilov. Photo: Voskresenskiy/RIA Novosti.

However, unexpectedly for Moscow and the Tskhinvali government, the opposition candidate Alla Dzhioyeva won the “presidential elections.” When the authorities refused to recognize her victory, people began to protest — the so-called “snow revolution.” But the residents of South Ossetia were not able to defend their right to free elections. After all, such things are not so simple in the occupied “republic.” The results of the “elections” were cancelled, and Alla Dzhioyeva was not allowed to participate in the new “elections.” Leonid Tibilov, a KGB alumnus, became “president.” Incidentally, the self-proclaimed Abkhazia is also headed by an alumnus of the KGB. As is Russia itself. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

This transformation of a poor, hopeless region into the property of the next Russian security operative  is the fate awaiting any territory occupied by Russia. If the occupied part of the Donbas is not liberated soon, Vladimir Putin will sooner or later “gift” it to some representative of state security. Elections will become fiction, there will be no development, and most of the residents will go to Ukraine or Russia. And the ones who remain will languish in poverty and despair.

It simply will become South Ossetia.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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