Foreign Observation of the Illegitimate Elections in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2019
The so-called “Republic of South Ossetia” and “Republic of Abkhazia” are breakaway regions of Georgia that are recognised as independent sovereign states only by five UN Member States: Russia (which supports their de facto independence by military, economic and political means), Nauru, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela. Other entities that recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states are territories occupied by Russian forces (Transnistria, Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic), as well as Nagorno-Karabakh.
As the international community overwhelmingly considers any “elections” in these regions as illegitimate, no established election monitoring organisation would send its mission to observe “elections” in either South Ossetia or Abkhazia.
In order to give international legitimacy to the “elections”, the “authorities” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia organised their own “international monitoring”. The people they invited to observe the “elections” can be divided into three groups: (1) official representatives of the countries that recognise their sovereignty and independence, (2) representatives of the pseudo-states largely controlled by Russia, and (3) foreign individuals known for their previous involvement in various pro-Kremlin efforts and coming mostly from far-right parties, organisations and movements.
These pro-Kremlin efforts include but are not limited to: (1) previous participation in politically biased and/or illegitimate electoral monitoring missions in Russia and elsewhere; (2) legitimisation and justification of Russia’s actions aimed at undermining the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine; (3) cooperation with pro-Kremlin propaganda resources; (4) criticism of the European sanctions imposed on Russia in relation to its aggression towards Ukraine; and (5) membership in Western pro-Kremlin organisations, movements and groups.
The presence of “foreign observers” in South Ossetia and Abkhazia was underpinned not by the actual need to observe the “elections”, but rather by the intent to mimic legitimate international election monitoring in order to create an impression that South Ossetia and Abkhazia were legitimate independent states. Hence, the activities of “foreign observers” in South Ossetia and Abkhazia had nothing to do with the established principles and/or practices of international electoral observation.
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