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Moscow Wants Referendum Before Annexing S. Ossetia

Press service of ruling United Russia party cited Andrei Klimov, the deputy head of party’s international cooperation commission, as saying that occupied Tskhinvali/South Ossetia should hold referendum to “unite” with Russia.

“It is necessary to express the will of the Ossetian people. This can be done through a referendum,” noted yesterday Klimov, who also serves as Deputy Chair of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Klimov’s remarks came as S. Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov yesterday called to grab a chance amid Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine by taking “appropriate legal steps in the near future” to secure annexation.

“We have long been aware of the desire of our neighbors, South Ossetia, to make their choice to reunite,” continued Klimov, adding: “when all the formalities will be observed, there are no legal obstacles to realize the long-standing dream of the residents of South Ossetia and become a part of the Russian Federation.”

“We are waiting for these procedures to take place. From our side all legal issues were worked out 20 years ago.”

Klimov said a constitutional law, adopted in 2001, on procedures for foreign countries or territories to join Russia worked for the case of Crimea, and that the same mechanism could be used for occupied Tskhinvali region.

“All mechanisms are working, and the most important thing for this is to get the verdict of the people of South Ossetia,” Klimov concluded.

Moscow recognized the independence of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region on August 26, 2008, two weeks after the Russo-Georgian war. Syria, Venezuela, Nauru, and Nicaragua are the only other nations that recognize the two regions’ independence from Georgia.

Tbilisi and most of the international community regard the two regions as part of Georgia.

As things stand, some 30 thousand ethnic Georgians remain uprooted from Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia following the armed conflict in 1991-92 and the Russo-Georgian War of 2008.

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