Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia to hold referendum on joining Russia on July 17, says Anatoly Bibilov

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Anatoly Bibilov

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Anatoly Bibilov (File image)

Photo : AP

Tbilisi: A referendum will be held in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia to take a decision on joining Russia. Anatoly Bibilov, the leader of Georgia’s breakaway region, set July 17 as a date for a referendum, reported new agency AFP. Bibilov also signed a decree in this regard.
The announcement came on the 79th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. South Ossetia is a breakaway state in the South Caucasus and was the centre of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. After the war, Moscow, recognised South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia as an independent state. It also stationed its military bases in the area.

On messaging app, Telegram, Bibilov said, “We are coming home.” He further added, “The time has come to unite once and for all.” Earlier this month, Bibilov lost his bid for re-election. He was defeated by Alan Gagloev.

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Bibilov was de facto president of South Ossetia since 2017. However, he promised to still hold a referendum on the territory. Gagloev received 54 percent votes, while Bibilove got 43 percent votes. Russia also expressed hope that Gagloev would maintain continuity in ties with Russia.

In August 2008, Russia launched an assault against Georgi. More than 700 people were killed in the conflict. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have also wanted to join Russia.

Russia started its military operation in Ukraine on February 24. Since the Russian invasion, more than six million people fled the war-torn country. Russian President termed the invasion as “de-Nazification” of Ukraine.