De facto leader of Georgia’s breakaway Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) Leonid Tibilov has proposed to rename the historic Georgian province, using the analogy of a Russian region.
Tibilov said South Ossetia should be called South Ossetia-Alania just like North Ossetia-Alania, which is a federal subject of Russia.
"I have instructed the relevant services and [we] will make a proposal to Parliament to consider this issue,” Tibilov said at a press conference in Tskhinvali, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
"There is the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and I propose to call our [region] the Republic of South Ossetia-Alania. The whole world should know that there is a problem of the divided nation.”
He also expressed his confidence that in the future the two would unite under one name – Ossetia-Alania within the Russian Federation.
"It is the dream of our people, as I have said many times. And I am sure that this historic moment will come," he stressed.
He also noted the region was preparing to hold a referendum on joining Russia.
"The exact date has not been determined, but the referendum will be held before the election of the President of the Republic, which will be held in April 2017,” he said.
The de facto leader stressed consultation with the Russian side about the issue was underway.
Tibilov first announced the region’s preparation for the referendum on joining Russia back in October.
Tskhinvali region, alongside with Abkhazia, is Georgia’s historic region that is currently occupied by Russia. Both regions are within Georgia’s internationally recognised borders but Tbilisi has no control over them. The regions have their own de facto governments that are supported by Russia.
Tbilisi and the global community have multiple times said Russia attempts to annex the Georgian regions.