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South Ossetia to vote to join Russia on July 17


In a May 13 statement, the office of leader Anatoly Bibilov said he had signed a decree to hold a meeting in what the separatists call the “Republic of South Ossetia”. public election. The “historic aspiration” of the people of South Ossetia is to join the Russian Federation, the statement said. protector.

A referendum, which Georgia firmly opposes, is scheduled for July 17.

South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia on the border with Russia, was at the center of the 2008 conflict between the two countries. The Kremlin later recognized the territory – along with Abkhazia, another breakaway region – as a state. independent and established a military base there.

South Ossetia to hold referendum to join Russia on July 17 - Figure 1

Anatoly Bibilov and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2016.

Reuters

“We’ll go home,” Bibilov said on the messaging app Telegram. “It is time for total unity. South Ossetia and Russia will live together. This is the beginning of a great new story.”

Earlier this month, Mr Bibilov lost his re-election bid. Russia said it hoped incoming leader Alan Gagloyev would maintain “continuity” in relations with Moscow.

The news came on the 79th day of Russia’s “military operation” in Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops since 2014. Two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, have also expressed their desire to join Russia.

A look back at the 5-day war between Russia and Georgia

Georgia had previously condemned South Ossetia’s “unacceptable” plan to hold a referendum on joining the Russian Federation.

Russia launched an operation in Georgia in August 2008 when Georgian government forces were fighting pro-Russian militias in South Ossetia. The fighting ended in an EU-brokered ceasefire five days later, but claimed more than 700 lives and displaced tens of thousands of Georgians.