Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson has said while Moscow had not taken any action over the annexation of occupied South Ossetia, it treats the proposed referendum with respect.
“We have not taken any legal or other actions in this regard. But at the same time, in this case, we are talking about expressing the opinion of the people of South Ossetia, we treat that with respect,” Peskov told reporters according to TASS.
But earlier today, ruling United Russia party official, Andrei Klimov said when Tskhinvali will hold a referendum on joining Russia, there will be “no legal obstacles to realize the long-standing dream of the residents of South Ossetia to become a part of the Russian Federation.”
Talks about the possible annexation resurfaced as Kremlin-backed Tskhinvali leader Anatoly Bibilov, soon seeking reelection, yesterday announced that his regime will take “appropriate legal steps in the near future” to ensure “unification” with Russia.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said earlier today “it is unacceptable to discuss any referendums while Georgia’s territory is occupied by Russia.”
Moscow recognized the independence of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region on August 26, 2008, two weeks after the end of the Russo-Georgian war. Tbilisi and most of the international community regard the two regions as part of Georgia.
In a landmark ruling of January 2021, the European Court of Human Rights asserted that the strong Russian presence and the S. Ossetian and Abkhaz authorities’ dependency on Russia indicated there had been Moscow’s continued “effective control” of the two occupied regions since August 12, 2008.
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.
- March 2020: Bibilov Says ‘Reunification’ with Russia Strategic Objective
- Bibilov ‘All for’ Russia’s Annexation of Tskhinvali Region
- August 2020: S. Ossetian Leader Speaks of Abolishing ‘Border’ with Russia
- February 2022: Tskhinvali Leader Talks Ossetian Unity