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President’s Nykhas party wins South Ossetia parliamentary election

13 June 2024
A bus stop covered in campaign posters. Photo: OC Media

President Alan Gagloyev’s Nykhas party has won parliamentary elections in South Ossetia, securing at least 13 seats in the 34-seat parliament.

According to the South Ossetian authorities, almost 22,000 people in South Ossetia went to the polls on Sunday to cast ballots for the legislature, according to official figures. 

According to official results published on Monday, former president Anatoli Bibilov’s United Ossetia party came on top in the national vote, winning 31.5%, just ahead of Nykhas’ 30.6%. The People’s Party, previously in coalition with Nykhas, came third with 16% while the Communist Party passed the 7% threshold to gain seats by just three votes. However, Nykhas made up for this by winning more seats in the single-mandate constituencies.

Parliamentary elections in South Ossetia are held under a mixed system, with half of parliament’s 34 MPs elected proportionally and the other half through 17  single-mandate constituencies. More power is concentrated in the presidency than parliament.

From the single-mandate constituencies, United Ossetia candidates won in just one race. 

Nykhas won in four constituencies, with three more MPs who ran as independents joining the party immediately following the election. RFE/RL reported that several other independent MPs may also follow.

Seven parties ran in the elections, with four crossing the threshold to enter parliament. However, before the vote, several parties and candidates were denied registration by the central elections commission.


The election was condemned as illegitimate by Georgia, the US, EU, and a number of Western countries. 

Who’s who?

Nykhas leader Alan Gagloev, a former intelligence officer, was swept to power in the 2022 presidential elections, defeating the incumbent, Anatoly Bibilov.

Bibilov and his United Ossetia party have since remained in opposition. 

In early 2022, Bibilov volunteered to fight for Russia in Ukraine alongside other South Ossetians

Support for South Ossetians fighting for Russia became a major focus of the party’s election campaign. For example, the United Ossetia faction in parliament proposed easing the residence requirements for candidates running for office. 

The current rules state that candidates for parliament must have resided in South Ossetia for the past five years, without being absent for more than 90 days in any given year. For presidential candidates, the requirements are for 10 years of residence. Ostensibly aimed at helping those fighting in Ukraine, the proposed change was seen by many as a way to allow Bibilov to run for the presidency during the next elections.

The United Ossetia party also demanded that polling stations be opened in the Donbass, so that South Ossetians at the front could take part in the elections. Party member Alan Tadtaev claimed that this accounted for around 1,500 people.

However, no such polling stations were opened, and unlike in previous elections, no stations were opened in Abkhazia, and only one was opened in North Ossetia.

One shock of the campaign was the merger of the People’s Party and the Patriots of Alania party under the name of the former. The party was led in the elections by Dzambolat Tedeev, a former champion wrestler and former coach of the Russian freestyle wrestling team, as well as a member of the North Ossetian parliament. 

The merger led to the exodus of many members of the People’s Party. The party had previously been linked with former president Eduard Kokoity and his supporters, with Kokoity and Tedeev being longtime political rivals.

Of those parties barred from running, the most prominent were For Justice and Iron. In February, the three leading members of the For Justice  party — Garry Muldarov, David Sanakoev, and Dzambolat Medoev — were stripped of Russian citizenship for actions ‘aimed at aggravating the military-political situation near the Russian state border’. 

While Russian authorities did not provide more details, the three had proposed a bill on the state border of the republic. The border is guarded by Russian border guards. All three were also banned from entering Russia. 

A ‘road to Georgia’?

During the election campaign, the programmes of the parties participating in the elections converged on all the main points of foreign and domestic policy.

During the televised debates between candidates, however, one area of divergence did appear — the possible opening of a road between Russia and Georgia through South Ossetia.

Over the past few months, several meetings of the chambers of commerce and industry of Georgia and Russia have taken place in Russia. According to media reports, at one of them, the opening of a road from Russia to Georgia through South Ossetia was discussed.

During a televised debate between candidates, Alan Tadtaev, a member of the United Ossetia party, challenged his opponents to address the issue.

‘Is it possible to open this road now, before our neighbours recognise us and sign a law on the non-use of force? Should the economy be placed above our pain?’ he asked.

Sergei Kharebov from the People’s Party was the only participant of the debate who did not rule it out.

‘How do you plan to create jobs?’, he asked. 

‘On the one hand, until Georgia recognises us and signs an agreement on the non-use of force, it is difficult to talk about this issue’, he said. ‘On the other hand, if we take the economy… How can we develop it?’ 

‘I’m not saying that the road should be opened immediately, but we should think about it and discuss it in the future’, he said, adding that he expected to be criticised for this position.

All other candidates expressed opposition to the idea, primarily for security reasons. At subsequent debates, the People's Party again raised this issue, with party member Pyotr Gassiev calling the road not just a road ‘to Georgia’, but ‘a road to Transcaucasia and Western Asia’. 

‘I specifically do not use the term “road to Georgia”, because this is a manipulation by those who want to mislead the people of South Ossetia’, Gassiev said when asking the question. 

This question was also raised during debates for the single-mandate constituencies. 

Candidate Oleg Kozaev, whose emotional outbursts have already been the subject of several popular internet memes, spoke out harshly against the opening of the road — threatening to cut out the tongues of anyone who spoke about it. Kozaev won a landslide victory in his constituency.

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
Read in Russian on SOVA.News.
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