Author: Mamuka Komakhia


On June 9, 2024, illegitimate parliamentary elections were held in the occupied Tskhinvali region. A total of 34 “deputies” were elected for a 5-year term in the “parliament” of the 8th convocation. The article discusses how the “elections” were held, who got into “parliament” and what impact the “election” results will have on the political life of the occupied region and Tskhinvali’s relations with Moscow and Tbilisi.

Pre-Election Period

Who Was (Not) Allowed to Participate in the “Elections”?

A total of 108 majority candidates and seven political parties took part in the “elections.” The so-called Central Election Commission registered only seven out of 12 parties: United Ossetia Party (supported by the former de facto president Anatoly Bibilov), People’s Party (the party has enjoyed the support of the former de facto president Eduard Kokoity for many years, however, during the “elections,” party forged a political alliance with the Patriots of Alania Party which was recently created by Kokoity old opponent, Jambolat Tedeev), Unity of People Party ( In recent years, the party has been an ally of the United Ossetia Party), Nykhas Party (enjoys the support of the de facto president, Alan Gagloyev), Communist Party, and the Unity and Iri Farn Party.

The registration for various reasons was denied to five parties: Fydybasta, Irystony Nog Faltar, Iron, Development Party, and For Justice. The most resonant refusal was the one to the For Justice Party, whose list included three notorious “deputies:” Gary Muldarov, David Sanakoev and Jambolat Medoev. Before the “elections,” the Russian Federal Security Service notified all three “deputies” that they had been deprived of their Russian citizenship, naming “actions contributing to increased tension near the Russian border” as a reason. Although not specified, it is associated with their activities in establishing a “border” with Georgia. The exclusion from participation in the “elections” is also related to their increased popularity in the occupied region, which was unacceptable for Gagloyev and, apparently, even for Moscow government officials, who, given the normalization of Georgian-Russian relations, try to avoid any impediments to the improvement of these relations.

Fighters in Ukraine Left without the Chance to Vote

Despite the efforts of former de facto president Anatoly Bibilov, fighters who participated in Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine were not allowed to vote in the “elections.” Having lost the “presidential elections” to Gagloyev in 2022, Bibilov has been involved in Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine, a position he uses for propaganda purposes. Bibilov was not given the right to participate in the “elections” due to his so-called residency term. It is thought his mobilizing up to 1,500 fighters/“voters” for his party may have secured a success. Therefore, Gagloyev did not support Bibilov’s initiative and countered it with propaganda that suggested the participation of front-line soldiers in the “elections” would jeopardize their safety.

New “Citizens”/Votes

To gain the support of ethnic Georgians living in the occupied region, the de facto President, Alan Gagloyev, and his Nykhas Party promised Akhalgori Georgians they would improve the movement process through the so-called border checkpoints. In addition, a few months earlier, residents of the village of Tserovani (Village is located on the territory controlled by the central government of Georgia, where ethnic Georgians displaced from Akhalgori municipality after the August 2008 war live compactly), as well as local residents living in Akhalgori who had not yet received a “passport,” were issued “passports” of citizens of the so-called “Republic of South Ossetia.” According to unspecified information, about 800 new “citizens” were added to the Akhalgori region. Although the de facto government issued a statement that checkpoints would not be open on “election” day, it is suspected that “voters” were mobilized on previous days. In this regard, it is interesting that Zaza Dryaev, a majoritarian candidate from the Nykhas Party, received 787 votes in the Akhalgori district, while in 2019 even 260 votes were enough for him to win. This indicates a suspicious increase in the number of “voters” in the district, which has in fact suffered depopulation in recent years.

The Government Official’s Warning

In February, Igor Maslov, the Head of the Directorate for Interregional Relations and Cultural Contacts with Foreign Countries in the Russian Presidential Administration, who supervises the direction of the occupied regions, visited Tskhinvali. Maslov advised political groups to avoid a political crisis and not to take such steps (e.g. demand the revision/demarcation of the so-called border with Georgia or holding a referendum on joining Russia), which the opposition would use against the Georgian Dream government in the parliamentary elections in October.

Who Did Former De Facto Presidents Support?

Statements from former de facto presidents were also disseminated before the elections. Ludwig Chibirov and Leonid Tibilov called on the population to come out and vote. Speaking about the need to maintain stability and peace, they indirectly supported Gagloyev, while Eduard Kokoity openly did so, supporting Gagloyev in a move that was largely directed against Jambolat Tedeev and the People’s Party – Patriots of Alania political alliance, since Kokoity and Tedeev have a long-standing enmity.


“Election” Results

The Electoral System

In the “parliament,” 17 of the 34 “deputies” were elected under the majoritarian-proportional electoral system in a single-mandate constituency, and 17 “deputies” were elected according to party lists. Only a party that overcomes the 7% electoral threshold can have a representative in “parliament” there.

The “elections” were held in a total of 73 polling stations, of which 71 are located in the Tskhinvali region, and one each in North Ossetia and Moscow.

Who Succeeded and Who Failed in “Parliament”

A total of 72.32% of “voters” participated in the “elections.” Only four of the seven parties overcame the 7% barrier: The United Ossetia Party at 31.74% (6942 votes), the Nykhas Party at 30.59% (6690), the People’s Party at 16.07% (3514), and the Communist Party at 7.12% (1,557).

As a result of the proportional “elections,” the number of deputies in the “parliament” will be distributed as follows: 6 deputies from the United Ossetia Party, 6 from the Nykhas Party, 3 from the People’s Party, and  2 from the Communist Party.

In the majoritarian “elections,” the Nykhas Party was the absolute favorite. One of the party’s pre-election tactics was having some candidates running independently, although still enjoying Gagloyev’s support. Four of the nine candidates nominated by the party won the majoritarian “elections,” however, after the “elections,” some of them expressed a desire to cooperate with Nykhas, which means that the party will benefit from the support of 10 majoritarians. Among the other parties, the United Ossetia Party will have two majoritarian MPs, the People’s Party 2, the Communist Party 1, Iron 1, and independent 1.

As a result of the “elections,” factions in the new “parliament” can be distributed as follows: Communists 3 deputies, People’s Party 5, and United Ossetia 8. At this stage, 10 members of the Nykhas Party are deputies, although other independent candidates have already expressed their readiness to cooperate with the party, so there may be more “deputies” in the faction consisting of Nykhas and its allies, which will be enough to gain a simple majority.

Opposition Doubts and Accusations

Gagloyev’s opponents question the success of Nykhas. The main accusation against the de facto government is that Gagloyev’s party brought “voters” en masse from North Ossetia and issued “South Ossetian” passports to supporters of the Nikhas Party and its majoritarian candidates. In this regard, the Akhalgori region should be mentioned, where ethnic Georgians were issued passports before the “elections.” The new “citizens” were expected to support Zaza Dryaev, a Nykhas majority candidate.

There are talks about suspicious circumstances in the district of Vladikavkaz. The results came as a surprise, as this was where Bibilov and Tedeev’s parties were considered favorites, and where the Nykhas Party and Gagloyev were less popular. Nykhas received 1216 votes, the People’s Party 414, and United Ossetia 121. According to the United Ossetia party, “party markings on ballot papers vanished, as voters were given pens whose ink quickly disappeared.” The chairman of United Ossetia, Atsamaz Bibilov, accused the de facto government of fraud, and demanded the annulation of the election results in the North Ossetian district.

In addition, the de facto government was criticized for taking almost two days to announce the final results, which allowed Gagloyev to influence the outcome of the “elections.” In particular, Gagloyev is accused of increasing votes for the Communists, according to which the potential ally of the de facto government received two mandates, ultimately taken from the United Ossetia Party and the People’s Party.

Not everyone shares Atsamaz Bibilov’s protest, and some parties (the Iri Farn Party and the Communist Party) emphasize peaceful and “legal” ways to solve problems. No solidarity is expressed towards the claims of United Ossetia, just as there is no great discontent in Tskhinvali, which means that the results of the “elections” will not change, and the likelihood of a political crisis appearing at this stage is low.

Foreign “Observers,” and Moscow’s Assessment

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the “elections” held in the occupied region. Georgian partners made similar statements. To counter these statements, it is common in the occupied regions to invite “international observers” to “legitimize” their illegitimate elections. There are several categories of “observers:” Representatives of those countries that recognize the independence of the occupied regions, representatives of other separatist regions in the post-Soviet space, and persons from countries that do not recognize the independence of the occupied regions, yet have personal ties with the occupied regions of Georgia and are characterized by pro-Russian sentiments.

In total, 34 “observers” from abroad were present at the “elections,” among them members of the State Duma of the Russian Federation and the Federation Council; representatives of the Ossetian community in Turkey; a representative of the “South Ossetian Foreign Ministry in Austria,” Patrick Poppel, known for his pro-Russian activities; representatives of the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics and occupied Abkhazia; and Alexey Dzermant, the Director of the North Eurasia Center for Study and Development of Continental Integration, who is a pro-government political scientist and pro-Russian blogger working in Belarus.

The “observers” stated their satisfaction with the degree of democracy of the “elections.”

Moscow was also pleased with the “election” results. On June 11, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement: “The Russian Federation considers the successful completion of the electoral process as an important stage in the strengthening of the statehood and democratic institutions of South Ossetia. We hope the newly elected parliament will contribute to the deepening of bilateral allied relations.”


What to Anticipate

The Domestic Political Context

The results of the illegitimate parliamentary elections are promising for the current de facto president Alan Gagloyev’s political career. At the initial stage, his Nykhas Party and its allies will not have a constitutional majority in the “parliament,” although the existing majority will be sufficient to maintain control over the “parliament” and the internal politics of the occupied region. Moscow’s initial reaction indicates that Gagloyev has the Kremlin’s support so that he can better prepare for the 2027 “presidential elections.”

The People’s Party is disappointed with the “election” results. The party’s informal leader, Jambolat Tedeev, hoped to get a majority and cancel his residency term, which would have allowed him to participate in the “presidential elections.” The “elections” also turned out unsuccessful for the United Ossetia Party of Anatoly Bibilov, which was unable to take its planned revenge on Gagloyev for Bibilov’s defeat in the 2022 “presidential elections.” Indeed, Bibilov’s party showed its worst result since 2014, when it won the majority, and compared to the 2019-2024 “parliament,” which saw the party as the largest political faction, despite the fact that the de facto president (Alan Gagloyev) was from the opposition political team.

The People’s Party and the United Ossetia Party together will not have a majority in the “parliament,” however, they will have a “parliamentary” platform that will allow them to prepare for the 2027 “presidential elections.” Only Eduard Kokoity managed to become “president” in the occupied region twice. Therefore, Bibilov and Tedeev will have the opportunity to support a politician who can compete with Gagloyev.

Relations with Moscow

Moscow is happy. In their opinion, the pre-election process passed without much tension, and an “election” crisis and aggravation of the “Georgian issue” were avoided. Considering the war in Ukraine and the dynamics of Georgian-Russian relations, Moscow seeks not to create unforeseen problems/barriers in normalizing relations with the Georgian authorities regarding the ongoing processes in the Tskhinvali region.

Relations with Tbilisi

Today, relations between Tskhinvali and Tbilisi are at a minimum level, and are limited to periodic meetings in Geneva and Ergneti. Consequently, the “election” results cannot affect the nature of existing relations. Depending on the dynamics of relations between Russia and Georgia, there may be some changes, both positive and negative, in terms of “borderization,” illegal abductions and movement along the occupation line.