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South Ossetia gets a young leader, but his message is old and rusty
24 May 2022
It was a piece of surreal political theatre of the sort that have become increasingly popular with the choreographers of the Kremlin. On Tuesday (24 May ) the liliputian self-declared Republic of South Ossetia, a de facto Russian protectorate, got a new president.
Alan Gagloev was sworn-in at the theatre on Tskhinvali's main square. The choreography was perfect: a military guard of honour, a swearing in ceremony, and delegations of "foreign countries", except they represented other self declared entities such as Abkhazia, Lugansk, Donetsk, Nagorno-Karabakh etc. Most of the world still recognise South Ossetia as part of Georgia.
Gagloev came to power unexpectedly, having defeated the incumbent Anatoly Bibilov in elections on May 17. The number of people who voted for him was 16,134 (representing 56.09% of the electorate).
Bibilov left his successor a time bomb, due to go off on 17 July, in the form of a referendum calling for South Ossetia's unification with Russia. The Kremlin does not seem to be impressed.
Gagloev made no reference to the referendum in his inauguration speech today, but he did heap praise on Russia and promised eternal friendship.