The chief of Georgia’s breakaway area of South Ossetia on Friday set July 17 as a date for a referendum on becoming a member of Russia.
“Anatoly Bibilov signed a decree on holding a referendum within the Republic of South Ossetia,” his workplace mentioned in an announcement, citing his folks’s “historic aspiration” to affix Russia.
South Ossetia was on the heart of the Russian-Georgian warfare in 2008 after which the Kremlin acknowledged the territory – together with one other separatist area, Abkhazia – as an impartial state and stationed army bases there.
“We’re coming residence,” Bibilov mentioned on messaging app Telegram. “The time has come to unite as soon as and for all.”
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“South Ossetia and Russia might be collectively. That is the beginning of a giant new story,” the outgoing chief added.
Bibilov misplaced his bid for re-election earlier this month. Russia has expressed hope the incoming chief, Alan Gagloev, will protect “continuity” in ties with Moscow.
The announcement got here on the 79th day of Russia’s army marketing campaign in Ukraine, with 1000’s killed and greater than six million folks fleeing the pro-Western nation.
Ukraine’s separatist areas of Donetsk and Lugansk have additionally expressed curiosity in becoming a member of Russia.
The total-scale offensive on Ukraine has sparked an outpouring of solidarity in Georgia.
Georgia has beforehand denounced as “unacceptable” plans by South Ossetia to carry a referendum on becoming a member of Russia.
In August 2008, Russia launched an assault in opposition to Georgia which was battling pro-Russian militia in South Ossetia, after they shelled Georgian villages.
The preventing ended 5 days later with a European Union-mediated ceasefire however claimed greater than 700 lives and displaced tens of 1000’s of ethnic Georgians.
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