Russia intervenes in S Ossetian unrest

Russia intervenes in S Ossetian unrest

Russia intervenes in S Ossetian unrest

South Ossetian presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva (C) speaks to supporters. REUTERS photo

A senior Kremlin official held talks in the rebel Georgian region of South Ossetia yesterday as Russia tried to defuse a political crisis sparked by the invalidation of presidential polls.

Russian presidential administration official Sergei Vinokurov met with the presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva whose apparent victory over a Kremlin-backed rival was annulled due to alleged violations. Dzhioyeva also barred from participating in the new vote.

Dzhioyeva said she had “constructive dialogue” with Vinokurov, Agence France-Presse reported. Protests rocked the region yesterday and the day before as security forces fired warning shots to prevent Dzhioyeva’s supporters from breaking into a government building. Dzhioyeva said she objects to a new vote even if she is allowed to run in the March vote.

Anti-corruption crusader Alla Dzhioyeva declared herself president after she led with about 57 percent of Nov. 27’s runoff vote with ballots from 74 of the 85 precincts counted, while rival Anatoly Bibilov trailed with 40 percent. “I won my election, 17,000 out of 30,000 (voters) cast their ballots for me,” Associated Press quoted the 62-year-old former education minister as saying.

Dzhioyeva also appealed to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for support, warning that the region was on the brink of “civil war.”

South Ossetians broke away from Georgia in a war in the early 1990s after a nationalist central government abolished the province’s Soviet-era administrative and linguistic autonomy.

Tensions between pro-Russian separatists and the Western-learning Georgian government triggered a brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. Since then, Russia recognized South Ossetia as an independent nation.