Foreign Policy magazine on Tskhinvali ‘election’, name change ‘referendum’

11 Apr 2017

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By Salome Modebadze

Review by Journalist of,11 Apr 2017 Tbilisi,Georgia

Foreign Policy published an article on Sunday’s illegal referendum in Georgia’s Russian occupied region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) "and a name change - one some see as a threat to bring the region closer to Russian control”.

If one were to recognise the referendum results - which NATO, the U.S. State Department, the European Union, and the government of Georgia do not - one would say that they gave South Ossetia a new president, Anatoly Bibilov. So, too, would one say that South Ossetia has a new name: South Ossetia – the State of Alania”, it reads.

The author of the news story Emily Tamkin says the name change mirrors that of North Ossetia – the State of Alania, which is a federal subject of Russia.

The referendum stopped short of offering voters the mostly internationally unrecognised opportunity to reunify Ossetia, thereby bringing South Ossetia under (Russia would say) Russian control. But the name change brings the breakaway region closer to that point”, she said.

Citing David Bakradze, Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, the story says "this is a clear provocation by Russia that seeks to undermine Georgia’s efforts at reconciliation and confidence-building between communities divided by the occupation lines”.

Even if the threat of annexation remains just a threat, the referendum is a promise to, at the very least, continue the status quo, one in which Russia recognises - and actively supports the existence of - the independence of part of a country it used to rule”, the author says.

She further explains that "given that it’s been almost a decade since Russia’s war with Georgia, perhaps the case of South Ossetia serves as a reminder that, when it comes to what it considers to be its sphere of influence, Russia does not let go”.

Read the full article here:

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