South Ossetian leadership hopeful Alan Gagloev, opposition Nykhas party leader, told Russian news agency TASS that the idea of the occupied region “joining” Russia is not at the moment in Moscow’s favor.
“When the incumbent president [Anatoly Bibilov] announced the referendum, we witnessed together with you that from that moment Georgia supported U.S. sanctions against Russia.”
“That is, we see that the steps of the incumbent [S. Ossetian] government pushed Georgia to go against Russia once again,” Gagloev said.
But Gagloev asserted Russia absorbing the region is not Bibilov’s initiative: “Our people have already held a referendum several times, we know the public opinion on this very well,”
“Bibilov is dragging our Russian colleagues into this situation, thus discrediting the Russian Federation and causing anti-Russian sentiments in the republic,” TASS quoted Gagloev as saying.
Gagloev stated occupied South Ossetia’s possible “accession” to Russia “cannot be a unilateral decision.”
“We are always monitoring Russia’s position and as soon as our strategic partner, Russia, gives a signal, South Ossetia and the people of South Ossetia are ready to help the Russian Federation and if necessary take a step forward.”
“I think the current authorities of Russia represented by President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin are still busy with other issues, I think it is more serious,” Gagloev concluded.
Voters in Georgia’s Russian-held Tskhinvali Region will vote in “presidential elections” tomorrow, April 10. Five candidates, including incumbent Anatoly Bibilov vie for the highest office. Georgia and most of the international community, including the U.S., EU, and OSCE do not recognize the sham vote.
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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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