Ossetia (/ɒˈsɛtiə/) or
Tskhinvali Region (also Republic
Ossetia or the State of Alania), is a Georgian territory
Russia in the South Caucasus, located in the territory of
South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast
South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within the former Georgian
SSR. It has a population of 53,000 people who live in an area of
3,900 km2, south of the Russian Caucasus, with 30,000 living in
its capital city of Tskhinvali.
Ossetia declared independence from the Georgian Soviet Socialist
Republic in 1991. The Georgian government responded by abolishing
South Ossetia's autonomy and trying to re-establish its control over
the region by force. The crisis escalation led to the 1991–92
Ossetia War. Georgian fighting against those controlling
Ossetia occurred on two other occasions, in 2004 and 2008.
The latter conflict led to the Russo–Georgian War, during which
Ossetian and Russian forces gained full de facto control of the
territory of the former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast.
In the wake of the 2008 war, Russia, followed by Nicaragua, Venezuela
and Nauru, recognised South Ossetia's independence.
Georgia does not recognise the existence of South
Ossetia as a
political entity, including most of the area in its Shida Kartli
region, under the administration of the Provisional Administrative
Entity of South Ossetia. Georgia and a significant part of the
international community consider South
Ossetia to be occupied by the
Russian military. South
Ossetia relies heavily on military, political
and financial aid from Russia.
Russia does not allow
European Union Monitoring Mission
European Union Monitoring Mission to enter South Ossetia.
Ossetia is not recognised by Georgia and its territory does
not correspond to any Georgian administrative area, it is often
informally referred to as the legally undefined
1] in Georgia and in international organisations when neutrality is
deemed necessary. Constitutionally South
Ossetia is known as "the
former autonomous district of South Ossetia", in reference to the
former soviet autonomous oblast that Georgian authorities disbanded in
South Ossetia, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and
sometimes referred to as post-Soviet "frozen conflict" zones.
1.1 Medieval and early modern period
Ossetia as a part of the Soviet Union
1.3 Georgian-Ossetian conflict
1.3.2 2008 war
2 Geography and climate
3 Political status
3.1 Plans of Integration with the Russian Federation
3.2 Law on Occupied Territories of Georgia
7.2 Public Holidays
9 See also
12 External links
See also: History of Ossetia
Historical Russian map of the
Caucasus region at the beginning of the
Fragment of the historical map by J. H. Colton. The map depicts the
Caucasus region in 1856. Modern South
Ossetia is located in Georgia
and Imeria. Modern
North Ossetia approximately corresponds to "Ossia".
Republic of Georgia (1918–1921) in 1921.
Creation of South Ossetian AO on historical Georgian regions in 1922.
Medieval and early modern period
The territory of contemporary South
Ossetia was part of kingdom of
Iberia, the latter was unified under the single Georgian monarchy in
11th-century, extending its possessions up to Dvaleti.
Ossetians are believed to originate from the Alans, an Iranian
tribe. In the 8th century a consolidated Alan kingdom, referred to
in sources of the period as Alania, emerged in the northern Caucasus
Mountains. Around 1239-1277
Alania fell before the Mongol and later to
the Timur's armies, that massacred much of the Alanian population. The
survivors among the
Alans retreated into the mountains of the central
Caucasus and gradualy started migration to the south.
In 1299, Gori was captured by the Alan tribesmen fleeing the Mongol
conquest of their original homeland in the North Caucasus. The
Georgian king George V recovered the town in 1320, pushing the Alans
back over the
In the 17th century, by pressure of Kabardian princes, Ossetians
started second wave of migration from the North
Georgia. Ossetian peasants, who were migrating to the mountainous
areas of the South Caucasus, often settled in the lands of Georgian
feudal lords. The Georgian King of the
Kingdom of Kartli
Kingdom of Kartli permitted
Ossetians to immigrate. According to Russian ambassador to Georgia
Mikhail Tatishchev, at the beginning of the 17th century there was
already a small group of
Ossetians living near the headwaters of the
Greater Liakhvi River. In the 1770s there were more Ossetians
living in Kartli than ever before. This period has been documented in
the travel diaries of
Johann Anton Güldenstädt who visited Georgia
in 1772. The Baltic German explorer called modern
North Ossetia simply
Ossetia, while he wrote that Kartli (the areas of modern-day South
Ossetia) was populated by
Georgians and the mountainous areas were
populated by both
Georgians and Ossetians. Güldenstädt also
wrote that the northernmost border of Kartli is the Major Caucasus
Ridge. By the end of 18th century, the ultimate sites of
Ossetian settlement on the territory of modern South
Ossetia were in
Kudaro (Jejora river estuary), Greater Liakhvi gorge, the gorge of
Ksani River gorge, Guda (Tetri Aragvi estuary) and
Truso (Terek estuary).
The Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti, part of which was the major
territory of modern South Ossetia, was annexed by the Russian Empire
in 1801. Ossetian migration to Georgian areas continued in the 19th
and 20th centuries, when Georgia was part of the
Russian Empire and
Ossetian settlements in Trialeti, Borjomi,
Bakuriani and Kakheti
emerged as well.
Ossetia as a part of the Soviet Union
Following the Russian revolution, the area of modern South Ossetia
became part of the Democratic
Republic of Georgia. In 1918,
conflict began between the landless Ossetian peasants living in Shida
Kartli (Interior Georgia), who were influenced by
demanded ownership of the lands they worked, and the Menshevik
government backed ethnic Georgian aristocrats, who were legal owners.
Ossetians were initially discontented with the economic
policies of the central government, the tension soon transformed into
ethnic conflict. The first Ossetian rebellion began in February
1918, when three Georgian princes were killed and their land was
seized by the Ossetians. The central government of Tiflis retaliated
by sending the National Guard to the area. However, the Georgian unit
retreated after they had engaged the Ossetians. Ossetian rebels
then proceeded to occupy the town of
Tskhinvali and began attacking
ethnic Georgian civilian population. During uprisings in 1919 and
Ossetians were covertly supported by Soviet Russia, but even
so, were defeated. According to allegations made by Ossetian
sources, the crushing of the 1920 uprising caused the death of 5,000
Ossetians, while ensuing hunger and epidemics were the causes of death
of more than 13,000 people.
The Soviet Georgian government, established after the Red Army
invasion of Georgia in 1921, created an autonomous administrative unit
Ossetians in April 1922 under pressure from
Kavbiuro (the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian
Communist Party), called the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast
(AO). Some believe that the
Bolsheviks granted this autonomy to
Ossetians in exchange for their help in fighting the Democratic
Republic of Georgia and favoring local separatists, since this area
had never been a separate entity prior to the Russian invasion.
The drawing of administrative boundaries of the South Ossetian AO was
quite a complicated process. Many Georgian villages were included
within the South Ossetian AO despite numerous protests by the Georgian
population. While the city of
Tskhinvali did not have a majority
Ossetian population, it was made the capital of the South Ossetian
AO. In addition to parts of Gori Uyezd and Dusheti Uyezd of
Tiflis Governorate, parts of
Racha Uyezd of Kutaisi Governorate
(western Georgia) were also included within the South Ossetian AO. All
these territories historically had been indigenous Georgian lands.
Ossetia in the North
Caucasus did not have its own
political entity before 1924, when the North Ossetian Autonomous
Oblast was created.
Ossetians had their own language (Ossetian), Russian and
Georgian were administrative/state languages. Under the rule of
Georgia's government during Soviet times,
Ossetians enjoyed minority
cultural autonomy, including speaking the
Ossetian language and
teaching it in schools. In 1989, two-thirds of
Ossetians in the
Georgian Soviet Socialist
Republic lived outside the South Ossetian
Main article: Georgian-Ossetian conflict
Tensions in the region began to rise amid rising nationalism among
Ossetians in 1989. Before this, the two communities
South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast
South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast of the Georgian SSR had been
living in peace with each other except for the 1918–1920 events.
Both ethnicities have had a high level of interaction and high rates
of intermarriage. Dispute surrounding the presence of
the Ossetian people in the
South Caucasus has been one of the causes
of conflict. Although Georgian historiography believes that Ossetian
mass migration to the
South Caucasus (Georgia) began in the 17th
Ossetians claim to have been residing in the area since
ancient times and that present-day South
Ossetia is their historical
homeland. No evidence exists to back up the Ossetian claims of
being indigenous to South Ossetia. Some Ossetian historians accept
that the migration of Ossetian ancestors to modern South
after the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, while one South
Ossetian de facto foreign minister in the 1990s admitted that the
Ossetians first appeared in the area only in the early 17th
century. Since it was created after the Russian invasion of 1921,
Ossetia was regarded as artificial creation by
the Soviet era.
The South Ossetian Popular Front (Ademon Nykhas) was created in 1988.
On 10 November 1989, the South Ossetian regional council asked the
Georgian Supreme Council to upgrade the region to the status of an
"autonomous republic". The decision to transform the South Ossetian
AO into the South Ossetian ASSR by the South Ossetian authorities
escalated the conflict. On 11 November, this decision was revoked by
the Georgian parliament. The Georgian authorities removed the
First Party Secretary of the oblast from his position.
The Georgian Supreme Council adopted a law barring regional parties in
summer 1990. Since this was interpreted by South
Ossetians as a move
against Ademon Nykhas, they declared full sovereignty as part of the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on 20 September 1990.
Ossetians boycotted subsequent Georgian parliamentary elections and
held their own contest in December.
In October 1990, the parliamentary elections in Georgia was won by
Zviad Gamsakhurdia's "Round Table" block. On 11 December 1990,
Zviad Gamsakhurdia's government declared the Ossetian election
illegitimate and abolished South Ossetia's autonomous status
altogether. Gamsakhurdia rationalized the abolition of Ossetian
autonomy by saying, "They [Ossetians] have no right to a state here in
Georgia. They are a national minority. Their homeland is North
Ossetia.... Here they are newcomers."
When the Georgian parliament declared a state of emergency in the
territory of South Ossetian AO on 12 December 1990, troops from both
Georgian and Russian interior ministries were sent to the region.
After the Georgian National Guard was formed in early 1991, Georgian
Tskhinvali on 5 January 1991. The 1991–92 South
Ossetia War was characterised by general disregard for international
humanitarian law by uncontrollable militias, with both sides reporting
atrocities. The Soviet military facilitated a ceasefire as ordered
Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1991, later they were participating in
the conflict on the Ossetian side. In March and April
1991, Soviet interior troops were reported actively disarming militias
on both sides, and deterring the inter-ethnic violence. Zviad
Gamsakhurdia asserted that the Soviet leadership was encouraging South
Ossetian separatism in order to force Georgia not to leave the Soviet
Union. Georgia declared its independence in April 1991.
As a result of the war, about 100,000 ethnic
Ossetians fled the
territory and Georgia proper, most across the border into North
Ossetia. A further 23,000 ethnic
Georgians fled South
Ossetia to other
parts of Georgia. Many South
Ossetians were resettled in
uninhabited areas of
North Ossetia from which the Ingush had been
expelled by Stalin in 1944, leading to conflicts between
Ingush over the right of residence in former Ingush
On 29 April 1991, the western part of South
Ossetia was affected by an
earthquake, which killed 200 and left 300 families homeless.[citation
In late 1991, dissent was mounting against Gamsakhurdia in Georgia due
to his intolerance of critics and attempts to concentrate political
power. On 22 December 1991, after a coup d'état, Gamsakhurdia and his
supporters were besieged by the opposition, which was backed by the
national guard, in several government buildings in Tbilisi. The
ensuing heavy fighting resulted in over 200 casualties, and left the
center of the Georgian capital in ruins. On 6 January, Gamsakhurdia
and several of his supporters fled the city for exile. Afterwards, the
Georgian military council, an interim government, was formed by a
triumvirate of Jaba Ioseliani,
Tengiz Kitovani and Tengiz Sigua, and,
in March 1992, they invited Eduard Shevardnadze, a former Soviet
minister, to come to Georgia to assume control of the Georgian State
On 24 June 1992, Shevardnadze and the South Ossetian government signed
the Sochi ceasefire agreement, brokered by Russia. The agreement
included obligations to avoid the use of force, and Georgia pledged
not to impose sanctions against South Ossetia. The Georgian government
retained control over substantial portions of South Ossetia,
including the town of Akhalgori. A Joined
Peacekeeping force of Ossetians,
established. On 6 November 1992, the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) set up a mission in Georgia to monitor
the peacekeeping operation. From then until mid-2004 South
generally peaceful.
Following the 2003 Rose Revolution,
Mikheil Saakashvili became the
President of Georgia
President of Georgia in 2004. Ahead of the 2004 parliamentary and
presidential elections, he promised to restore the territorial
integrity of Georgia. During one of his early speeches,
Saakashvili addressed the separatist regions, saying, "[N]either
Georgia nor its president will put up with disintegration of Georgia.
Therefore, we offer immediate negotiations to our Abkhazian and
Ossetian friends. We are ready to discuss every model of statehood by
taking into consideration their interests for the promotion of their
Since 2004, tensions began to rise as the Georgian authorities
strengthened their efforts to bring the region back under their rule.
Georgia sent police to close down a black market, which was one of the
region's chief sources of revenue, selling foodstuffs and fuel
smuggled from Russia. This was followed by fighting by Georgian troops
and peacekeepers against South Ossetian militiamen and freelance
fighters from Russia. Hostage takings, shootouts and occasional
bombings left dozens dead and wounded. A ceasefire deal was reached on
13 August though it was repeatedly violated.
The Georgian government protested against the allegedly increasing
Russian economic and political presence in the region and against the
uncontrolled military of the South Ossetian side. It
also considered the peacekeeping force (consisting in equal parts of
South Ossetians, North Ossetians,
Russians and Georgians) to be
non-neutral and demanded its replacement.[not in citation
Joseph Biden (Chairman, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations
Committee), Richard Lugar, and
Mel Martinez sponsored a resolution
Russia of attempting to undermine Georgia's territorial
integrity and called for replacing the Russian-manned peacekeeping
force operating under CIS mandate. According to U.S. senator
Richard Lugar, the
United States supported Georgia's call for the
withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the conflict zones. Later,
South Caucasus envoy Peter Semneby said that "Russia's actions in
the Georgia spy row have damaged its credibility as a neutral
peacekeeper in the EU's
Black Sea neighbourhood."
Main article: Russo-Georgian War
Tensions between Georgia and
Russia began escalating in April
2008. A bomb explosion on 1 August 2008 targeted a car
transporting Georgian peacekeepers. South
Ossetians were responsible
for instigating this incident, which marked the opening of hostilities
and injured five Georgian servicemen. In response, several South
Ossetian militiamen were hit. South Ossetian separatists began
shelling Georgian villages on 1 August. These artillery attacks caused
Georgian servicemen to return fire periodically since 1
At around 19:00 on 7 August 2008, Georgian president Mikheil
Saakashvili announced a unilateral ceasefire and called for peace
talks. However, escalating assaults against Georgian villages
(located in the South Ossetian conflict zone) were soon matched with
gunfire from Georgian troops, who then proceeded to move in
the direction of the capital of the self-proclaimed
Republic of South
Ossetia (Tskhinvali) on the night of 8 August, reaching its centre in
the morning of 8 August. One Georgian diplomat told Russian
Kommersant on 8 August that by taking control of Tskhinvali,
Tbilisi wanted to demonstrate that Georgia wouldn't tolerate killing
of Georgian citizens. According to
Russian military expert Pavel
Felgenhauer, the Ossetian provocation was aimed at triggering the
Georgian response, which was needed as a pretext for premeditated
Russian military invasion. According to Georgian intelligence,
and several Russian media reports, parts of the regular
(non-peacekeeping) Russian Army had already moved to South Ossetian
territory through the
Roki Tunnel before the Georgian military
Russia accused Georgia of "aggression against South Ossetia", and
launched a large-scale land, air and sea invasion of Georgia with the
pretext of "peace enforcement" operation on 8 August 2008. Russian
airstrikes against targets within Georgia were also launched.
Abkhaz forces opened a second front on 9 August by attacking the
Kodori Gorge, held by Georgia.
Tskhinvali was seized by the
Russian military by 10 August. Russian forces occupied the
Georgian cities of Zugdidi, Senaki, Poti, and Gori (the
last one after the ceasefire agreement was negotiated). Russian
Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet blockaded the Georgian coast.
A campaign of ethnic cleansing against
Georgians in South
conducted by South Ossetians, with Georgian villages around
Tskhinvali being destroyed after the war had ended. The war
displaced 192,000 people, and while many were able to return to
their homes after the war, a year later around 30,000 ethnic Georgians
remained displaced. In an interview published in Kommersant, South
Eduard Kokoity said he would not allow
President of France
President of France
Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated a ceasefire agreement
on 12 August 2008. On 17 August, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev
announced that Russian forces would begin to pull out of Georgia the
Abkhazia and South
separate republics on 26 August. In response to Russia's
recognition, the Georgian government severed diplomatic relations with
Russia. Russian forces left the buffer areas bordering Abkhazia
Ossetia on 8 October and the
European Union Monitoring
Mission in Georgia assumed authority over the buffer areas. Since
the war, Georgia has maintained that
Abkhazia and South
Russian-occupied Georgian territories.
Map of South
Ossetia (November 2004).
JPKF map indicating Georgian-controlled areas of South Ossetia
(hatched shading) in June 2007.
The monument in
Tskhinvali to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian
A school in
Tskhinvali after the fighting during August 2008.
Topographic map of South
Ossetia (Polish transcription).
Map of Georgia highlighting South
Ossetia (purple) and Abkhazia
Geography and climate
See also: Geography of Georgia (country)
Ossetia is in the very heart of the
Caucasus at the juncture of
Asia and Europe, and it occupies the southern slopes of the Greater
Caucasus Mountain Range and the foothills' part of the Kartalin
Ossetia is a very mountainous region. The Likhi
Range is roughly in the center of South Ossetia, and the plateau
that's also roughly in the center of South
Ossetia is called Iberia.
Caucasus Mountain Range forms the northern border of South
Ossetia with Russia, and the main roads through the mountain range
into Russian territory lead through the
Roki Tunnel between South and
North Ossetia and the Darial Gorge. The
Roki Tunnel was vital for the
Russian military in the
2008 South Ossetia war
2008 South Ossetia war because it is the only
direct route through the
Ossetia covers an area of about 3,900 km2
(1,506 sq mi), separated by the mountains from the more
North Ossetia (which is part of Russia) and extending
southwards almost to the
Mtkvari river in Georgia. More than 89% of
Ossetia lies over 1,000 m (3,281 ft) above sea level,
and its highest point is
Mount Khalatsa at 3,938 m
(12,920 ft) above sea level.
Mount Kazbek is 5,047 m (16,558 ft), and it is of
volcanic origin. The region between Kazbek and
Shkhara (a distance of
about 200 km (124 mi) along the Main
Caucasus Range) is
dominated by numerous glaciers. Out of the 2,100 glaciers that exist
Caucasus today, approximately 30% are located within Georgia
Ossetia forms a part of.
The term Lesser
Caucasus Mountains is often used to describe the
mountainous (highland) areas of southern Georgia that are connected to
Caucasus Mountain Range by the Likhi Range. The overall
region can be characterized as being made up of various,
interconnected mountain ranges (largely of volcanic origin) and
plateaus that do not exceed 3,400 meters (11,155 ft) in
Most of South
Ossetia is in the Kura Basin with the rest of it in the
Black Sea basin. The Likhi and
Racha ridges act as divide separating
these two basins. Major rivers in South
Ossetia include the Greater
and Little Liakhvi, Ksani, Medzhuda, Tlidon, Canal Saltanis, Ptsa
River and host of other tributaries.
South Ossetia's climate is affected by subtropical influences from the
East and Mediterranean influences from the West. The Greater Caucasus
range moderates the local climate by serving as a barrier against cold
air from the North, which results in the fact that, even at great
heights, it is warmer there than in the Northern Caucasus.
Climatic zones in South
Ossetia are determined by distance from the
Black Sea and by altitude. The plains of eastern Georgia are shielded
from the influence of the
Black Sea by mountains that provide a more
The foothills and mountainous areas (including the Greater Caucasus
Mountains) experience cool, wet summers and snowy winters, with snow
cover often exceeding 2 meters in many regions. The penetration of
humid air masses from the
Black Sea to the West of South
often blocked by the Likhi mountain range. The wettest periods of the
year in South
Ossetia generally occur during spring and autumn while
the winter and summer months tend to be the driest. Elevation plays an
important role in South
Ossetia where climatic conditions above 1,500
metres (4,921 ft) are considerably colder than in any lower-lying
areas. The regions that lie above 2,000 metres (6,562 ft)
frequently experience frost even during the summer months.
The average temperature in South
Ossetia in January is around +4
degrees Celsius, and the average temperature in July is around +20.3
degrees Celsius. The average yearly liquid precipitation in South
Ossetia is around 598 millimeters. In general, Summer temperatures
average 20 °C (68 °F) to 24 °C (75.2 °F)
across much of South Ossetia, and winter temperatures average
2 °C (35.6 °F) to 4 °C (39.2 °F). Humidity is
relatively low and rainfall across South
Ossetia averages 500 to
800 mm (19.7 to 31.5 in) per year. Alpine and highland
regions have distinct microclimates though. At higher elevations,
precipitation is sometimes twice as heavy as in the eastern plains of
Georgia. Alpine conditions begin at about 2,100 m
(6,890 ft), and above 3,600 m (11,811 ft) snow and ice
are present year-round.
South Ossetia's economy is primarily agricultural, although less than
10% of South Ossetia's land area is cultivated. Cereals, fruit and
vines are the major produce. Forestry and cattle industries are also
maintained. A number of industrial facilities also exist, particularly
around the capital, Tskhinvali.
Main article: International recognition of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Foreign relations of South Ossetia
Russian Presidential Decree No. 1261 recognising South Ossetian
Following the 2008 South
Russia recognized South Ossetia
as independent. This unilateral recognition by
Russia was met by
condemnation from Western Blocs, such as NATO, Organization for
Security and Co-operation in Europe and the
European Council due to
the violation of Georgia's territorial integrity. The
EU's diplomatic response to the news was delayed by disagreements
between Eastern European states, the UK wanting a harsher response and
Germany, France and other states' desire not to isolate Russia.
Former US envoy
Richard Holbrooke said the conflict could encourage
separatist movements in other former Soviet states along Russia's
western border. Several days later,
Nicaragua became the second
country to recognize South Ossetia.
Venezuela recognized South
Ossetia on September 10, 2009, becoming the third UN member state to
The European Union, Council of Europe, North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) and most UN member countries do not recognize
Ossetia as an independent state. The de facto republic governed
by the secessionist government held a second independence
referendum on 12 November 2006, after its first referendum in
1992 was not recognized by most governments as valid. According
Tskhinvali election authorities, the referendum turned out a
majority for independence from Georgia where 99% of South Ossetian
voters supported independence and the turnout for the vote was
95%. The referendum was monitored by a team of 34 international
observers from Germany, Austria, Poland, Sweden and other countries at
78 polling stations. However, it was not recognized
internationally by the UN, European Union, OSCE,
NATO and the Russian
Federation, given the lack of ethnic Georgian participation and the
illegality of such a referendum without recognition from the Georgian
government in Tbilisi. The European Union, OSCE and NATO
condemned the referendum.
Parallel to the secessionist held referendum and elections, to Eduard
Kokoity, the then President of South Ossetia, the Ossetian opposition
movement (People of South
Ossetia for Peace) organized their own
elections contemporaneously in Georgian-controlled areas within South
Ossetia, in which Georgian and some Ossetian inhabitants of the region
voted in favour of
Dmitry Sanakoyev as the alternative President of
South Ossetia. The alternative elections of Sanakoyev claimed
full support of the ethnic Georgian population.
In April 2007, Georgia created the Provisional Administrative Entity
of South Ossetia, staffed by ethnic Ossetian
members of the separatist movement.
Dmitry Sanakoyev was assigned as
the leader of the Entity. It was intended that this provisional
administration would negotiate with central Georgian authorities
regarding its final status and conflict resolution. On 10 May
2007, Sanakoyev was appointed by the
President of Georgia
President of Georgia as the Head
of South Ossetian Provisional Administrative Entity.
On July 13, 2007, Georgia set up a state commission, chaired by the
Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli, to develop South Ossetia's autonomous
status within the Georgian state. According to the Georgian officials,
the status was to be elaborated within the framework of "an
all-inclusive dialogue" with all the forces and communities within the
Plans of Integration with the Russian Federation
Russian military bases in South
Ossetia as of 2015
On 30 August 2008, Tarzan Kokoity, the Deputy Speaker of South
Ossetia's parliament, announced that the region would soon be absorbed
into Russia, so that South and North
Ossetians could live together in
one united Russian state. Russian and South Ossetian forces began
giving residents in Akhalgori, the biggest town in the predominantly
ethnic Georgian eastern part of South Ossetia, the choice of accepting
Russian citizenship or leaving. However, Eduard Kokoity, the then
president of South Ossetia, later stated that South
Ossetia would not
forgo its independence by joining Russia: "We are not going to say no
to our independence, which has been achieved at the expense of many
Ossetia has no plans to join Russia."
Civil Georgia has
said that this statement contradicts previous ones made by Kokoity
earlier that day, when he indicated that South
Ossetia would join
North Ossetia in the Russian Federation.
The South Ossetian and Russian presidents signed an "alliance and
integration" treaty on 18 March 2015. The agreement includes
provisions to incorporate the South Ossetian military into Russia's
armed forces, integrate the customs service of South
Ossetia into that
of Russia's, and commit
Russia to paying state worker salaries in
Ossetia at rates equal to those in the North
Associated Press described the treaty as calling
for "nearly full integration" and compared it to a 2014 agreement
Russia and Abkhazia. The Georgian Foreign Ministry
described the signing of the treaty as "actual annexation" of the
disputed region by Russia, and the
United States and European Union
said they would not recognize it.
In another move towards integration with the Russian Federation, South
Leonid Tibilov proposed in December 2015 a name
change to "South Ossetia–Alania" — in analogy with "North
Ossetia–Alania", a Russian federal subject. Tibilov furthermore
suggested holding a referendum on joining the Russian Federation prior
to April 2017, which would lead to a united "Ossetia–Alania".
In April 2016, Tibilov said he intended to hold the referendum before
August of that year. However, on 30 May, Tibilov postponed
the referendum until after the presidential election due in April
2017. At the name-change referendum, nearly 80 percent of those
who voted endorsed the name-change, while the presidential race was
Anatoliy Bibilov — against the incumbent, Tibilov, who had
been supported by Moscow and who, unlike Bibilov, was ready to heed
Moscow′s wish for the integration referendum not be held any time
Law on Occupied Territories of Georgia
Main article: Occupied territories of Georgia
Landscape in South Ossetia's Dzhava District.
In late October 2008 President Saakashvili signed into law legislation
on the occupied territories passed by the Georgian Parliament. The law
covers the breakaway regions of
of former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast). The law
spells out restrictions on free movement and economic activity in the
territories. In particular, according to the law, foreign citizens
should enter the two breakaway regions only through Georgia proper.
Abkhazia should be carried out from the
and into South
Ossetia from the Gori District. The major road leading
Ossetia from the rest of Georgia passes through the Gori
The legislation, however, also lists "special" cases in which entry
into the breakaway regions will not be regarded as illegal. It
stipulates that a special permit on entry into the breakaway regions
can be issued if the trip there "serves Georgia’s state interests;
peaceful resolution of the conflict; de-occupation or humanitarian
purposes." The law also bans any type of economic activity –
entrepreneurial or non- entrepreneurial, if such activities require
permits, licenses or registration in accordance with Georgian
legislation. It also bans air, sea and railway communications and
international transit via the regions, mineral exploration and money
transfers. The provision covering economic activities is retroactive,
going back to 1990.
The law says that the Russian Federation – the state which has
carried out military occupation – is fully responsible for the
violation of human rights in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Russian
Federation, according to the document, is also responsible for
compensation of material and moral damage inflicted on Georgian
citizens, stateless persons and foreign citizens, who are in Georgia
and enter the occupied territories with appropriate permits. The law
also says that de facto state agencies and officials operating in the
occupied territories are regarded by Georgia as illegal. The law will
remain in force until "the full restoration of Georgian jurisdiction"
over the breakaway regions is realised.
In November 2009, during the opening ceremony of a new Georgian
Embassy building in Kiev, Ukraine, Georgian President Mikheil
Saakashvili stated that residents of South
also use its facilities: "I would like to assure you, my dear friends,
that this is your home, as well, and here you will always be able to
find support and understanding".
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Chairman: Pyotr Gassiev
Provisional Administration of South Ossetia
Politics of Georgia
Until the armed conflict of August 2008, South
Ossetia consisted of a
checkerboard of Georgian-inhabited and Ossetian-inhabited towns and
villages. The largely Ossetian capital city of
most of the other Ossetian-inhabited communities were governed by the
separatist government, while the Georgian-inhabited villages and towns
were administered by the Georgian government. This close proximity and
the intermixing of the two communities has made the
Georgian–Ossetian conflict particularly dangerous, since any attempt
to create an ethnically pure territory would involve population
transfers on a large scale.
The political dispute has yet to be resolved and the South Ossetian
separatist authorities govern the region with effective independence
from Tbilisi. Although talks have been held periodically between the
two sides, little progress was made under the government of Eduard
Shevardnadze (1993–2003). His successor
Mikheil Saakashvili (elected
2004) made the reassertion of Georgian governmental authority a
political priority. Having successfully put an end to the de facto
independence of the southwestern province of
Ajaria in May 2004, he
pledged to seek a similar solution in South Ossetia. After the 2004
clashes, the Georgian government has intensified its efforts to bring
the problem to international attention. On 25 January 2005, President
Saakashvili presented a Georgian vision for resolving the South
Ossetian conflict at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe session in Strasbourg. Late in October, the US government and
the OSCE expressed their support to the Georgian action plan presented
by Prime Minister
Zurab Noghaideli at the OSCE Permanent Council at
Vienna on 27 October 2005. On 6 December, the OSCE Ministerial Council
Ljubljana adopted a resolution supporting the Georgian peace
plan which was subsequently rejected by the South Ossetian de
Under Article 46 of the Constitution, the president of the
Ossetia is head of state and head of the executive branch of
government. The president of RSO is elected by direct popular vote for
five years. Since 21 April 2017, the position is held by Anatoliy
Bibilov who won a contested election running against the incumbent,
Leonid Tibilov .
The country′s legislative body is the unicameral Parliament of South
Ossetia that comprises 34 members elected by popular vote for five
The government of South
Ossetia is a component of the integrated
system of the executive branch.
Main article: Military of South Ossetia
South Ossetia′s armed forces in 2017 were partially incorporated
into the Armed Forces of Russia.
Georgian-Ossetian conflict roughly two-thirds of the
population of South
Ossetia was Ossetian and 25–30% was Georgian.
The eastern quarter of the country, around the town and district of
Akhalgori, was predominantly Georgian, while the center and west were
predominantly Ossete. Much of the mountainous north is sparsely
inhabited. (See map at Languages of the Caucasus.)
Because the statistical office of Georgia was not able to conduct the
2002 Georgian census in South Ossetia, the present composition of the
population of South
Ossetia is unknown, although according to
some estimates there were 47,000 ethnic
Ossetians and 17,500 ethnic
Georgians in South
Ossetia in 2007.
2009 Population Estimate: During the war, according to Georgian
Georgians moved to Georgia proper; South Ossetian
officials indicate that 30,000
Ossetians fled to North Ossetia, and a
total of 500 citizens of South
Ossetia were killed. This
left the estimated population at 54,500. However Russia's
reconstruction plan involving 600 million dollars in aid to South
Ossetia may have spurred immigration into the de facto independent
republic, especially with Russia's movement of 3,700 soldiers into
South Ossetia. RIA Novosti places the population of South Ossetia
at 80,000, although this figure is probably too optimistic.
According to the 2016 census conducted by the South Ossetian
authorities, the region's total population was 53,532, including
Ossetians (89.9%), 3,966
Georgians (7%), and 610 Russians. Of
these, 30,432 lived in Tskhinvali. The Georgian authorities have
questioned the accuracy of these data.
Christianity is the major religion practiced by the
Islam and the neopagan religion
Ætsæg Din ("Right Faith") also have
Tskhinvali pipeline, delivering natural gas from
Russia to South Ossetia, went online in 2009.
Following the war in the 1990s, South
Ossetia struggled economically.
South Ossetian GDP was estimated at US$15 million (US$250 per capita)
in a work published in 2002. Employment and supplies are scarce.
Additionally, Georgia cut off supplies of electricity to the region,
which forced the South Ossetian government to run an electric cable
through North Ossetia. The majority of the population survives on
subsistence farming. Virtually the only significant economic asset
Ossetia possesses is control of the
Roki Tunnel that is
used to link
Russia and Georgia, from which the South Ossetian
government reportedly obtains as much as a third of its budget by
levying customs duties on freight traffic.
Eduard Kokoity has admitted that his country is seriously
dependent on Russian economic assistance.
South Ossetia's poverty threshold stood at 3,062 rubles a month in the
fourth quarter of 2007, or 23.5 percent below Russia’s average,
Ossetians have incomparably smaller incomes.
Before the 2008 South
Ossetia war, South Ossetia's industry consisted
of 22 small factories, with a total production of 61.6 million rubles
in 2006. In 2007, only 7 factories were functioning. In March, 2009,
it was reported that most of the production facilities were standing
idle and were in need of repairs. Even successful factories have a
shortage of workers, are in debt and have a shortage of working
capital. One of the largest local enterprises is the Emalprovod
factory, which has 130 employees.
The South Ossetian authorities are planning to improve finances by
boosting the local production of flour and thus reducing the need for
flour imports. For this purpose, the area planted with wheat was
increased tenfold in 2008 from 130 hectares to 1,500 hectares. The
wheat harvest in 2008 was expected to be 2,500 tons of grain. The
South Ossetian Agriculture ministry also imported some tractors in
2008, and was expecting delivery of more farm machinery in 2009.
Russia planned to spend 10 billion rubles in the restoration of South
Ossetia in 2008.
The economy is currently very dependent on funding from
Ossetian music and Women of South Ossetia
Part of a series on the
Culture of South Ossetia
Mythology and folklore
Music and performing arts
Coat of arms
The country's principal university is South
Ossetia State University
in Tskhinvali. After the
Russo-Georgian War in 2008, education
officials attempted to place most university-bound students from South
Ossetia in Russian post-secondary education institutions.
Main article: Public holidays in South Ossetia
Pictures from South Ossetia
Scenery in central South Ossetia.
A South Ossetian woman.
South Ossetian performers.
School Number 2 in Tskhinvali.
Koskhi, South Ossetia.
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations
South Ossetian passport
Vehicle registration plates of South Ossetia
Military of South Ossetia
Ossetia (Ossetian: Хуссар Ирыстон, Khussar
Iryston; Georgian: სამხრეთი ოსეთი, Samxreti
Oseti; Russian: Южная Осетия, Yuzhnaya Osetiya)
Tskhinvali Region (Georgian: ცხინვალის
რეგიონი, Tsxinvalis regioni; Russian:
Цхинвальский регион, Tskhinvalskiy region)
^ "Unrecognized states: South Ossetia" (in Russian). 2014-01-28.
^ a b population census 2015
Elections in South Ossetia
Elections in South Ossetia – Plan B
The first round of voting was accompanied by a referendum in which the
Ossetians were to decide whether Russian should become the second
official language of South Ossetia. Nearly 85 per cent of the voters
supported the referendum.
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Republic of South
Ossetia (in Russian)
Crisis profile, Georgia, Abkhazia, S.
BBC overview of South Ossetia
Ossetia for use in Google Earth.
Kingdom of Colchis
Kingdom of Iberia
Kingdom of Lazica
Christianization of Iberia
Principality of Iberia
Arab rule in Georgia
Emirate of Tbilisi
Kingdom of Abkhazia
Principality of Hereti
Principality of Kakheti
Duchy of Kldekari
Principality of Tao-Klarjeti
Kingdom of Hereti
Kingdom of Kakheti-Hereti
Kingdom of Georgia
Georgian–Seljuk wars (Battle of Didgori)
Georgian Golden Age
Mongol invasions of Georgia
Timur's invasions of Georgia
Principality of Samtskhe
Turkmen invasions of Georgia
Kingdom of Imereti
Principality of Abkhazia
Principality of Svaneti
Principality of Guria
Principality of Mingrelia
Kingdom of Kartli
Kingdom of Kakheti
Shah Abbas I's invasions of Georgia
Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti
1795 Persian Invasion
Absorption by the Russian Empire
Republic of Georgia
Red Army invasion of Georgia
Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic
April 9 tragedy
Georgian Civil War
War in Abkhazia
Name of Georgia
Timeline of Georgian history
Cities and towns
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Embassies in Georgia / of Georgia
World Heritage Sites
Georgian Orthodox Church
Freedom of religion
Secularism and irreligion
Coat of arms
South Ossetia articles
2006 independence referendum
Coat of arms
States with limited recognition
Details concerning international recognition and foreign relations
provided by the articles linked in parenthesis
UN member states
UN observer states
Recognised by at least
one UN member
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Recognised only by
Countries and regions of the Caucasus
1 Partially-recognized states
Countries and dependencies of Asia
East Timor (Timor-Leste)
United Arab Emirates
States with limited recognition
Dependencies and special
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
British Indian Ocean Territory
Politics of Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina
States with limited
Isle of Man
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations