The election administration in Georgia’s Kremlin-held Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia registered yesterday an initiative group on holding referendum for Russia’s annexation of the region.
The initiative group of 26 people includes current South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov (seeking reelection on April 10) as well as his predecessors Ludvig Chibirov, Eduard kokoity and Leonid Tibilov, among others.
It was immediately unclear why Eduard Kokoity — who had publicly expressed discontent with the prospects of S. Ossetia’s “unification” with Russia — is included in the group.
As soon as the initiative group receives a registration certificate it will be able to proceed with collecting signatures, local RES news agency cited the election administration.
Then the group will have three months to collect signatures. Afterwards, the election administration checks all the documents within 15 days and sends it to the occupied region’s “president.”
The “president” within 10 days of receiving the documents will sends them to the top court with a corresponding request.
The court verifies its compliance with the “constitutional” requirements and within 14 days sends the decision to the “president,” which is to be promptly published.
If the court greenlights the referendum, “the president” shall set a date for the referendum within 10 days
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Anatoly Bibilov announced on March 30 that his regime will take “appropriate legal steps in the near future” to seize the moment of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and achieve Moscow’s annexation of the region. He made similar annexation pledges many times before.
An array of Russian politicians promptly welcomed the announcement, with ruling United Russia’s Andrei Klimov suggesting that Tskhinvali should first hold a referendum, after which there will be “no legal obstacles” for the annexation.
Bibilov later said plebiscite would take place in a few weeks after the April 10 vote.
Georgia reacted that “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.
As things stand, some 30 thousand ethnic Georgians remain uprooted from Tskhinvali Region following the armed conflict in 1991-92 and the Russo-Georgian War of 2008.
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