Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has criticized the July 17 referendum in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia over its question being worded as “unification” with Russia.
From a legal standpoint the phrasing suggests that Tskhinvali is considering the “creation of some third state” together with Russia, Peskov was cited as saying by Rusian state-controlled TASS news agency.
“If we are serious about [annexation], then we need to finalize this issue legally,” he said. “We need to think a little bit about the wording from a legal point of view.”
Still, the Kremlin spokesperson reiterated about the annexation referendum that “no steps have been taken in this case from the Russian side in this regard and are not planned.”
The remarks came on the day new of the inauguration for the new Tskhinvali leader, Alan Gagloev, who has maintained a cautious stance on the annexation referendum and questioned whether it is the correct moment in time to pursue the decision.
Gagloev’s predecessor Anatoly Bibilov on May 13 formally ordered the referendum, a move coming some ten days before he left office and by the time he had been already voted out in the “presidential runoffs” of May 8. He ordered the referendum unilaterally, without consulting then-incoming leader Gagloev.
Bibilov first announced the possible referendum to “join” Russia on March 30, in the lead-up to the “presidential polls.” Much of the former Tskhinvali leader’s reelection campaign was centered on the issue.
The central Georgian Government has said that “it is unacceptable to discuss any referendums while Georgia’s territory is occupied by Russia.”
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