Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 172

The South Ossetian Supreme Soviet on September 13 voted to amend its constitution by creating the post of president of the "South Ossetian Republic," and scheduled a presidential election on November 10. Supreme Soviet chairman Lyudvig Chibirov spearheaded the move and is likely to win the election, which would cement South Ossetia’s de facto secession from Georgia. Stung, the central Georgian government has accused Chibirov and his legislative assembly of violating the August 27 joint statement, signed by Chibirov with Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze in Vladikavkaz under OSCE, Russian, and North Ossetian mediation.

Yesterday, Shevardnadze told the country on radio that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are foiling Russian-mediated settlement negotiations, even as the two "separatist regimes exist on Russian sufferance" and "received from Russia arms among other things." Initially, at least one Tbilisi official has rationalized South Ossetia’s move by hoping that Chibirov’s enhanced authority would enable him to prevail against his rival, "Prime Minister" Vitaly Gaborayev, depicted as more radical than Chibirov on the issue of secession. Chibirov for his part has already countered that the August 27 statement enshrined equal powers for rump Georgia and South Ossetia and left both free to make their own decisions. (Radio Tbilisi, BGI, Interfax, September 12 through 16)

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