Aleksandr Dzasokhov, a one-time member of the CPSU Politburo, won a convincing victory in Sunday’s election for president of North Ossetia. Dzasokhov won 75 percent of the vote in besting incumbent president Akhsarbek Galazov, who received only 15 percent (some reports put it even lower). Turnout was over 70 percent. (RTR, January 19)
Both candidates are former leading members of the Soviet nomenklatura. Dzasokhov headed the CPSU organization in North Ossetia from 1988 to 1990. He was promoted to the Politburo in 1980. Galazov took his place and was elected president of North Ossetia in 1993.
North Ossetia’s elections are an important event for the whole North Caucasus. North Ossetia is the only republic in the region with a predominantly Christian population (about 70 percent of Ossetians living in the republic are Christians). The Tsarist authorities, the Soviet leadership, and Russia’s present leaders have traditionally viewed North Ossetia as their chief regional ally. The republic was the scene of violent clashes in 1992 over Prigorodny District, which lies close to the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, and was inhabited by Ingush until their deportation from the region by Stalin in 1944.
There are grounds for hope that Dzhasokhov’s victory may hasten the return of thousands of Ingush forced to flee the republic in 1992. Galazov was in charge in North Ossetia at that time and more involved in the events than Dzasokhov, who was in Moscow serving as a Supreme Soviet deputy. Some 11,000 North Ossetian Ingush took part in Sunday’s election, many of them bussed in from Ingushetia by Ingush president Ruslan Aushev, and most of them are said to have voted for Dzasokhov. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 20) Aushev welcomed Dzasokhov’s election yesterday, saying he hoped good relations could be re-established between the two neighboring republics. (RTR, January 19) Aushev himself is up for re-election in March.
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