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South Ossetian Leader Proposes Referendum On Joining Russia

Leonid Tibilov, the separatist leader of South Ossetia.

Leonid Tibilov, the separatist leader of South Ossetia.

The separatist leader of South Ossetia has proposed holding a referendum on whether the Georgian breakaway region should join Russia.

Leonid Tibilov said reuniting with Russia "is a century-long dream of the South Ossetian people," in comments quoted by the Interfax news agency on October 19 after talks with Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov.

Tibilov said he was sure the public and political leaders would support the idea.

Tibilov and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an "alliance and integration treaty" in Moscow on March 18.

That pact was denounced by both the European Union and the United States.

Moscow had signed a similar deal with another Georgian breakaway region, Abkhazia, in December 2014.

South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in 1990 and has run its own affairs since a 1991-1992 war with the central government.

Russia recognized it as an independent nation after fighting a five-day war against Georgia in 2008, but few countries have followed suit.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS