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Eduard Dzhabeyevich Kokoity
Кокойты Джабейы фырт Эдуард


Incumbent
Assumed office 
18 December 2001
Prime Minister Gerasim Kugayev
Igor Sanakoyev
Zurab Kokoyev (Acting)
Yury Morozov
Boris Chochiev (Acting)
Aslanbek Bulatsev
Vadim Brovtsev
Preceded by Lyudvig Chibirov

Born 31 October 1964 (1964-10-31) (age 45)
Tskhinvali, Soviet Union
Political party Unity Party
Spouse(s) Madina Tolparova

Eduard Dzhabeyevich Kokoity (Ossetic: Кокойты Джабейы фырт Эдуард, Russian: Эдуа́рд Джабе́евич Коко́йты, Georgian: ედუარდ კოკოითი; surname also rendered as Kokoyty or Kokoiti or in a Russified version as Kokoyev) is the current President of South Ossetia, recognised only by Russia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela but which is claimed with wider recognition by Georgia.

Contents

Biography

Born in 1964, Kokoity is a former member, and champion, of the former Soviet Union's national wrestling team. Prior to 1989, he was the First Secretary of the Tskhinvali branch of the Komsomol, the Young Communist League. He moved to Moscow in 1992 where he became a businessman after learning about the intrigues of capitalism, before moving back to South Ossetia in 2001.

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Election

He was elected president at the age of 38 with a large majority in the presidential elections of November-December 2001. In the first round of the elections on November 18, 2001, he collected 45% of the votes, Stanislav Kochiev 24%, and incumbent Lyudvig Chibirov 21%. He won 53% of the vote against 40% for Stanislav Kochiev in the second round on December 6 and took office on December 18.

Kokoity's victory was unexpected but owed much to the backing of the Tedeyev clan, one of South Ossetia's most powerful families. He had gained key backing from Albert "Dik" Tedeyev and his brother Jambulat, a champion wrestler, who organised and financed Kokoity's election campaign.[1] The clan had previously supported Lyudvig Chibirov but broke off support for him after he attempted to move against them. After Kokoity was elected president, members of the Tedeyev clan took over responsibility for the republic's customs service and for freight traffic along the Transcaucasian highway. Revenues from the highway provide much of the South Ossetian government's revenue.

In July 2003, Kokoity moved against the Tedeyevs, sacking Albert Tedeyev from his position as secretary of the security council, and ordered their private militias to disarm. According to Kokoity, the security council secretary as well as the defence and security chiefs had links with criminals. The affair prompted an outbreak of gunfire in Tskhinvali but no casualties were reported.

Term as president

Kokoity has taken a strong position against reunification with Georgia, although he has expressed a willingness to negotiate a peace settlement on the basis of South Ossetia being treated as an independent state (a precondition rejected by the Tbilisi government). Following a tense stand-off with the central Georgian authorities in July 2004, he claimed "Georgia wants war. But we are ready for self-defense." Prior to the 2006 South Ossetian presidential elections, he stated that the Georgian-Ossetian conflict was not an inter-ethnic, but clearly a political one caused by Georgia’s desire to impose on Ossetians the norms of Western democracy which could not be superior to the Caucasian traditional laws.[2] He has also criticized the OSCE mission in the region on several occasions, accusing the organization of bias and likening its activities to "that of Georgia's secret services."[3]

He was reelected as the de facto president on November 12 during the 2006 South Ossetian presidential election. On the same day, his opposition organized an alternative elections in the territories controlled by Georgia or only loosely controlled by the secessionist regime. Dmitry Sanakoyev, former prime minister of South Ossetia sacked by Kokoity in 2001, was elected a rival president.

On September 11, 2008 Kokoity announced that independent South Ossetia would eventually become part of the Russian Federation, a claim that was quickly denied by Russian officials and shortly thereafter retracted by Kokoity.[4]

Opposition

Since December 2008, Kokoity’s former allies have subjected him to heavy criticism in a series of interviews with the Russian media. Kokoity’s erstwhile insider and the Russia-based businessman Albert Dzhussoyev accused the Kokoity administration of hijacking Russian funds meant for South Ossetia and claimed the region was on the brink of a "social catastrophe." Similar charges have been brought by South Ossetia’s former defense minister Anatoly Barankevich and prime minister Oleg Morozov. Barankevich further claimed that Kokoity fled Tskhinvali during the August fighting and accused him of personally torturing a captured Georgian soldier. South Ossetia’s former interior minister and chair of the supreme court, Alan Parastayev, told the Georgian Imedi TV Kokoity organized a series of terrorist attacks and ordered murders for which he blamed Georgia.[5] Representatives of the Kokoity administration dismissed the allegations, claiming these were part of a plot against Kokoity.[6][7]

On March 3, 2009, the Russian daily Kommersant reported that Kokoity's administration and Kremlin were at odds over the control of aid funds allocated from Russia's federal budget to South Ossetia and Tskhinvali was at the verge of "social explosion."[8][9] In May 2009, Albert Dzhussoyev and Dzhabulat Tadeyev (brother of the murdered Ibragim Tadeyev) announced they would seek to organize early presidential elections in order to remove Kokoity whom they accused of authoritarianism, corruption and being “unreliable” for Russia. The first attempt at organizing an Ossetian opposition rally in Moscow was dispersed by the Russian OMON.[10][11]

References

  1. ^ Dzugayev, Kosta (July 4, 2003). "South Ossetia's President Clamps Down". Caucasus Reporting Service (Institute for War and Peace Reporting). http://www.iwpr.net/?p=crs&s=f&o=160302&apc_state=henicrs2003. Retrieved 2008-08-08.  
  2. ^ "Kokoity: ‘Caucasian Laws’ Superior to Western Democracy". Civil Georgia. October 31, 2006. http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=13992&search=\. Retrieved 2008-08-16.  
  3. ^ "South Ossetia Accuses OSCE Of Bias". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. April 18, 2006. http://rfe.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/04/2152e573-5a09-4b7a-97d2-e2c3761befc5.html. Retrieved 2008-08-15.  
  4. ^ "Kremlin slaps down South Ossetia over claim it will join Russia". London: Times Online. September 11, 2008. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4732541.ece. Retrieved 2008-09-11.  
  5. ^ (Russian) Бывший глава МВД Южной Осетии обвинил Эдуарда Кокойты в терроризме. Lenta.ru. February 23, 2009
  6. ^ Jean-Christophe Peuch (December 19, 2008), Georgia: Former separatist officials in South Ossetia turn against regional leader. Eurasia Insight
  7. ^ (Russian) Кокойты не был в Цхинвали во время боев – Баранкевич. Kommersant. December 5, 2008
  8. ^ (Russian) Контрольная для Цхинвали. Kommersant. March 3, 2009
  9. ^ Moscow, Tskhinvali at Odds over Flow of Aid Funds. Civil Georgia. March 3, 2009
  10. ^ (Russian) В политическую борьбу вступает вольная. Газета «Коммерсантъ» № 91 (4146) от 23.05.2009
  11. ^ South Ossetian Opposition Group Protests In Moscow. RFE/RL. May 21, 2009
Political offices
Preceded by
Lyudvig Chibirov
President of South Ossetia
2001 – present
Incumbent

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