SOUTH OSSETIA (/ɒˈsɛtiə/ ), also known as the TSKHINVALI REGION,
is a partially recognised state in the
South Caucasus , located in
the territory of the
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
Ossetia declared independence from the Georgian Soviet
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 South Ossetia War . Georgian fighting against those
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
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 to enter South Ossetia.
Transnistria , Nagorno-Karabakh , and
sometimes referred to as post-Soviet "frozen conflict " zones.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Medieval and early modern period
* 1.2 South
Ossetia as a part of the Soviet Union
* 1.3.1 1989–2008
* 1.3.2 2008 war
* 2 Geography and climate
* 3 Political status
* 3.1 Integration with
* 3.2 Law on Occupied Territories of Georgia
* 4 Politics
Republic of South
* 5 Demographics
* 6 Economy
* 7 Culture
* 7.1 Education
* 8 Gallery
* 9 See also
* 10 Notes
* 11 References
* 12 External links
History of Ossetia Historical Russian map of the
Caucasus region at the beginning of the 19th century 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
North Ossetia approximately corresponds to "Ossia".
Republic of Georgia (1918–1921) in 1921.
MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN PERIOD
Ossetians are believed to originate from the
Alans , a Sarmatian
Iranian tribe. In the 17th century,
Ossetians started migration from
Caucasus to 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
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
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
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 Little Liakhvi,
Ksani River gorge, Guda (Tetri Aragvi
estuary) and Truso (Terek estuary).
Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti , part of which was the major
territory of modern South Ossetia, was annexed by the Russian Empire
in 1801. According to Georgian historian Roland Topchishvili, Ossetian
migration to Georgian areas continued in the 19th and 20th centuries,
when Georgia was part of the
Russian Empire and Ossetian settlements
Trialeti , Borjomi ,
Kakheti emerged as well.
SOUTH 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
Bolshevism and demanded
ownership of the lands they worked, and the Menshevik government
backed ethnic Georgian aristocrats, who were legal owners. Although
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 1920, the Ossetians
were covertly supported by Soviet
Russia , but even so, were defeated.
Between 3,000 and 7,000
Ossetians were killed during the crushing of
the 1920 uprising, according to Ossetian sources 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 Kavburo
(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 the
Ossetians in exchange for their help in fighting the Democratic
Republic of Georgia and favoring local separatists, since this area
had never been a principality before. 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
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
Kutaisi Governorate (western Georgia) were also included within the
South Ossetian AO. According to Georgian historians all these
territories historically had been indigenous Georgian lands.
Ossetians had their own language (Ossetian ), Russian
and Georgian were administrative/state languages. Under the rule of
Georgia's government during Soviet times, it enjoyed minority cultural
autonomy, including speaking the
Ossetian language and teaching it in
schools. In 1989, two-thirds of
Ossetians in the Georgian Soviet
Republic lived outside the South Ossetian AO.
Ossetia in the North
Caucasus did not have its own
political entity before 1924, when the North Ossetian Autonomous
Oblast was created.
Tensions in the region began to rise amid rising nationalism among
Ossetians in 1989. Before this, the two communities
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
South Caucasus (Georgia) began in the 17th century, Ossetians
claim to have been residing in the area since ancient times and that
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
Ossetia began after the Mongol
invasions of the 13th century, while one South Ossetian de facto
foreign minister in the 1990s admitted that the
appeared in the area only in the early 17th century. Since it was
created after the Russian invasion of 1921, South
Ossetia was regarded
as artificial creation by
Georgians during 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
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 have no right to a state here in Georgia. They are a
national minority. Their homeland is North Ossetia.... Here they are
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. Although initially the Soviet military reportedly
facilitated a ceasefire as ordered by
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
Zviad Gamsakhurdia asserted that the Soviet
leadership was encouraging South Ossetian separatism in order to force
Georgia not to leave the Soviet Union. Despite the use of such tactics
by Gorbachev, Georgia still 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
North Ossetia from which the Ingush had been expelled by
Stalin in 1944, leading to conflicts between
Ossetians and Ingush over
the right of residence in former Ingush territory.
On 29 April 1991, the western part of South
Ossetia was affected by
an earthquake , which killed 200 and left 300 families homeless.
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 Council.
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,
Georgians was 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
Ossetia was generally
Following the 2003
Rose Revolution ,
Mikheil Saakashvili became the
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, "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 future
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,
Russians and Georgians) to be non-neutral and
demanded its replacement.
Joseph Biden (Chairman, U.S. Senate
Foreign Relations Committee),
Richard Lugar , and Mel Martinez
sponsored a resolution accusing
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, EU
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
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 August.
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
Tskhinvali ) on the night of 8 August, reaching its centre in
the morning of 8 August. One Georgian diplomat told Russian newspaper
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 action.
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
Poti , and Gori (the last one after the ceasefire agreement
was negotiated). Russian
Black Sea Fleet blockaded the Georgian
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
displaced. In an interview published in Kommersant, South Ossetian
Eduard Kokoity said he would not allow
Georgians to return.
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 and South
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
Ossetia compared with the Georgian administrative regions.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
See also: Geography of
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 Valley
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
Ossetia with Russia, and the main roads through the mountain
range into Russian territory lead through the
Roki Tunnel between
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 populous
North Ossetia (which
is part of Russia) and extending southwards almost to the Mtkvari
river in Georgia. More than 89% of South
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
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 in the
approximately 30% are located within Georgia which South
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 elevation.
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
continental climate .
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
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 independence.
2008 South Ossetia war
2008 South Ossetia war ,
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
European Union ,
Council of Europe
Council of Europe , North Atlantic Treaty
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 to the 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
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
Ossetia , staffed by ethnic Ossetian members of the
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
President of Georgia as the Head of South Ossetian Provisional
On July 13, 2007, Georgia set up a state commission, chaired by the
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
INTEGRATION WITH RUSSIA
Russian military bases in South
Ossetia as of 2015
On August 30, 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
District . The
Associated Press described the treaty as calling for
"nearly full integration" and compared it to a 2014 agreement between
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
In another move towards integration with the Russian Federation,
South Ossetian President
Leonid Tibilov proposed on December 29, 2015
a name change "emphasizing South
Ossetia as part of Russia". According
to Tibilov South
Ossetia should to be named "South Ossetia-Alania" in
analogy with "North Ossetia-Alania", a Russian federal subject.
Tibilov furthermore expressed hopes that in the future this and a
referendum on joining the Russian Federation to be held before April
2017 will lead to a united "Ossetia-Alania". On April 11, 2016,
Tibilov said he plans to hold the referendum before August of that
year. However, on May 30 Tibilov subsequently postponed the
referendum until after the presidential election due in April 2017,
where it will be a central issue. Preliminary results show that more
than 80% of those who voted in the referendum approved changing the
unrecognised country's name to South Ossetia-Alania.
LAW ON OCCUPIED TERRITORIES OF GEORGIA
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
Tskhinvali (territories 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. Entry into
Abkhazia should be carried out from the
Zugdidi District and into South
Ossetia from the
Gori District . The
major road leading to South
Ossetia from the rest of Georgia passes
through the Gori District.
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
* Prime Minister
* Parliament Chairman :
* Political parties
* Recent elections
* Presidential: 2012
* Parliamentary: 2009
* Provisional Administration of South
* Politics of Georgia
* Other countries
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
Tskhinvali and 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 facto
REPUBLIC OF SOUTH OSSETIA
Eduard Kokoity voting in the 2009 elections.
On September 11, 2006, the South Ossetian Information and Press
Committee announced that the republic would hold an independence
referendum (the first referendum had not been recognized by the
international community as valid in 1992) on 12 November 2006. The
voters would decide on whether or not South
Ossetia "should preserve
its present de facto status of an independent state". Georgia
denounced the move as a "political absurdity". However, on 13
September 2006, the
Council of Europe
Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Terry
Davis commented on the problem, stating that it would be unlikely that
anyone would accept the results of this referendum and instead urged
the South Ossetian government to engage in negotiations with Georgia.
On 13 September 2006
Special Representative to the
South Caucasus , Peter Semneby , while visiting
Moscow , said:
"results of the South Ossetian independence referendum will have no
meaning for the European Union". Peter Semneby also added that this
referendum would not contribute to the peaceful conflict resolution
process in South Ossetia.
Russians living in South
unanimously approved a referendum on 12 November 2006 opting for
independence from Georgia. The referendum was hugely popular, winning
between 98 and 99 percent of the vote; flag waving and celebrations
were seen across South Ossetia, but elsewhere observers were less
Georgians living in South
Ossetia boycotted the
referendum. International critics claimed that the move could worsen
regional tensions, and the
Tbilisi government thoroughly discounted
the results. "Everybody needs to understand, once and for all, that no
amount of referenda or elections will move Georgia to give up that
which belongs to the
Georgian people by God's will," declared Georgi
Tsagareishvili , leader of the Industrialists bloc in Georgia's
People of South Ossetia for Peace was founded in October 2006 by
Ossetians who were outspoken critics and presented a serious
opposition to secessionist authorities of Eduard Kokoity.
The group headed by the former defence minister and then prime
minister of the secessionist government
Dmitry Sanakoyev organized the
so-called alternative presidential election, on 12 November
2006—parallel to those held by the secessionist authorities in
Tskhinvali. High voter turnout was reported by the alternative
electoral commission, which estimated over 42,000 voters from both
Ossetian (Java district and Tskhinvali) and Georgian (Eredvi,
Tamarasheni, etc.) communities of South
Ossetia and Sanakoyev
reportedly received 96% of the votes. Another referendum was organized
shortly after asking for the start of negotiations with Georgia on a
federal arrangement for South
Ossetia received 94% support.
Initially, Sanakoyev's administration was known as "the Alternative
Government of South Ossetia", but during the course of 2007 the
central authorities of Georgia decided to give it official status and
on 13 April the formation of the "Provisional Administration of South
Ossetia" was announced. On 10 May 2007
Dmitry Sanakoyev was appointed
head of the provisional administrative entity in South Ossetia.
An EU fact-finding team visited the region in January 2007. Per
Eklund , Head of the Delegation of the European Community to Georgia
said that "None of the two alternatives do we consider legitimate ."
The republic held its fourth presidential election in November 2011.
Eduard Kokoity was not eligible to run for president for a third time,
per the constitution.
Anatoly Bibilov , supported by Russian
Alla Dzhioeva , backed by main South Ossetian
opposition figures, got about a quarter of the vote each and
participated in the run-off vote. A run-off was won by Dzhioyeva on
November 27, 2011, but the results were invalidated by the Supreme
Court of South Ossetia.
Leonid Tibilov won the 2012 election over
David Sanakoyev after a run-off.
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
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, in order to
prevent further incursions. RIA Novosti places the population of
Ossetia at 80,000, although this figure is probably too
Christianity is the major religion practiced by the
Islam and the neopagan religion
Ætsæg Din ("Right Faith") also have
Tskhinvali pipeline , delivering natural gas
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.
2008 South Ossetia war
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 Russia.
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 college-bound students from South
Ossetia in Russian post-secondary education institutions.
* Pictures from South Ossetia
Scenery in central South Ossetia.
A South Ossetian woman.
South Ossetian performers.
School Number 2 in Tskhinvali.
Koskhi, South Ossetia.
* Georgia portal
* Geography portal
* Europe portal
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations
South Ossetian passport
Vehicle registration plates of South Ossetia
Russia–South Ossetia relations
Abkhazia–South Ossetia relations
* 2008 Georgia–
Military of South Ossetia
* ^ SOUTH 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)
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* ^ Presidential
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Elections in South Ossetia – Plan B
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Council of Europe
Council of Europe Secretary General calls for talks instead of
"referendum" in the Georgian region of South Ossetia. Council of
Europe Information Office in Georgia. Retrieved on 13-09-2006.
* ^ "EU Envoy Downplays Importance of South
Civil Georgia online magazine. 13 September 2006. Archived from the
original on 22 October 2007.
* ^ AFP by Simon Ostrovsky: "Thumbs up for independence in
separatist Georgian region", 13 November 2006
* ^ Civil Georgia: "MPs Pass Draft Law on S.
Ossetia with Final
Hearing", 13 April 2007
* ^ Civil Georgia: "Sanakoev Appointed as Head of S.Ossetia
Administration", 10 May 2007
* ^ "Georgia". europa.eu.
* ^ "EU Mulls New Opportunities for Breakaway Regions". Civil
Georgia online. 22 January 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
* ^ Kremlin favorite faces run-off in South
Deutsche Welle , 14.11.2011
* ^ Кандидатка против всех (Candidate Against
Gazeta.ru , 14.11.2011
* ^ Парламент РЮО назначил повторные
выборы президента на 25 марта 2012 года (IN
RUSSIAN). OSINFORM. 29 NOVEMBER 2011. RETRIEVED 29 NOVEMBER 2011.
* ^ "Обработано 95,64% избирательных
бюллетеней. Леонид Тибилов продолжает
сохранять лидерство". Cik.ruo.su. Retrieved 10 April
* ^ G. Tsuladze, N. Maglaperidze, A. Vadachkoria, Eds.,Demographic
Yearbook of Georgia: 2001, Georgian Academy of Sciences: Institute of
Demographic and Sociological Research (Tbilisi, 2002). This source
reports that in January 2002 there were 37,000
Ossetians living in
Georgia but excluding South Ossetia.
* ^ "Georgia: a toponymic note concerning South Ossetia" (PDF). The
Permanent Committee on Geographical Names. January 2007. Archived from
the original (PDF) on 14 June 2007.
* ^ "Georgia: UN continues to press for humanitarian access to
victims". Un.org. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
* ^ Mikhail Barabanov (2008). "The August War between
Georgia". Mdb.cast.ru. Archived from the original on 15 September
2008. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
* ^ A B "
Russia to provide $200 mln in urgent aid for S. Ossetia".
En.rian.ru. 11 August 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
* ^ "South
BBC . Retrieved 18 February 2014.
* ^ Census results in South Ossetia: 1926, 1939, 1959, 1970, 1979,
1989 (in Russian)
* ^ Mamuka Areshidze, "Current Economic Causes of Conflict in
Georgia", unpublished report for UK Department for International
Development (DFID), 2002. Cited from Georgia: Avoiding War in South
International Crisis Group
International Crisis Group , 26.11.2006 Archived August 6,
2009, at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ "South Ossetia, center of conflict between
Russia and Georgia,
struggles a year after war". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
* ^ A B C D E Delyagin, Mikhail (March 2009). "A Testing Ground for
Modernization and a Showcase of Success".
Russia in Global Affairs.
* ^ Vartanyan, Olesya; Barry, Ellen (18 March 2014). "If History Is
a Guide, Crimeans’ Celebration May Be Short-Lived". nytimes.com. The
New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
* ^ A B Holdsworth, Nick (2008). "Students seek refuge in Russian
University World News . Higher Education Web Publishing (42).
ISSN 1756-297X . Retrieved 20 April 2012.
* ОСЕТИНСКИЙ ВОПРОС (in Russian). Tbilisi. 1994.
* Souleimanov, Emil (2013). Understanding Ethnopolitical Conflict:
Karabakh, South Ossetia, and
Abkhazia Wars Reconsidered. Palgrave
Find more aboutSOUTH OSSETIAat's sister projects
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* President of
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* Crisis profile, Georgia, Abkhazia, S.
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* Border South
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