Saturday, August 27, 2016

Caucasus Report

De Facto President Proposes Renaming Republic Of South Ossetia

Leonid Tibilov, the de facto head of South Ossetia (file photo)
Leonid Tibilov, the de facto head of South Ossetia (file photo)
By Liz Fuller

Two months after announcing plans to hold a referendum on the incorporation of Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia into the Russian Federation, the de facto president of the largely unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, has set a tentative timeframe for doing so. He told journalists on December 28 that the referendum should take place "long before" the presidential ballot due in April 2017.

Tibilov simultaneously proposed renaming the region the Republic of South Ossetia -- Alania, by analogy with the contiguous Republic of North Ossetia -- Alania, which is a Russian Federation subject. The Ossetians, an Indo-European people, consider themselves the direct descendants of the Alans. Approximately 65 percent of North Ossetia's population of 713,000 are Ossetians.

Changing the region's name, Tibilov argued, would underscore the predicament of an ethnic group divided between two polities, and thus pave the way for the eventual unification of the two Ossetian states within the Russian Federation, which Russian media quoted him as referring to as "the eternal dream of our entire people." 

Tibilov said he plans to task legal specialists with drafting the requisite changes to the republic's constitution, which currently describes South Ossetia as "a sovereign,democratic, law-based state formed as a result of the self-determination of the people of South Ossetia." 

Tibilov specifically referred to Article 10 of the constitution, which envisages South Ossetia entering into an alliance with other states and relinquishing part of its sovereignty.

Tibilov implied that his initiative to change the region's formal name was prompted at least in part by indignation at the recent formal opening in Magas, the capital of Ingushetia (North Ossetia's eastern neighbor) of a construction named "the Alan Gates." He construed the use of that name as a bid by the Ingush to appropriate part of the Ossetians' ethnic heritage. 

Relations between Ingushetia and North Ossetia remain strained as a result of their brief but bloody conflict in 1992 over Ingushetia's territorial claims on North Ossetia's Prigorodny Raion, which had been part of the Checheno-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic until that republic was abolished following the deportation of both Chechens and Ingush to Central Asia in 1944.

Moscow's Reticence

At first glance, Tibilov's intention to schedule a referendum on eventual unification with North Ossetia is difficult to reconcile with the emphasis he consistently places on strengthening South Ossetian statehood. To that end, he recently decreed the long-anticipated establishment of a Constitutional Court. 

On the other hand, if Tibilov intends to run for a second presidential term in April 2017, holding the referendum on unification will take the wind out of the sails of his most serious potential challenger, parliament speaker Anatoly Bibilov. 

Bibilov called two years ago for a referendum on unification with North Ossetia, but Moscow, which had recognized South Ossetia as an independent state in the aftermath of the August 2008 war with Georgia, declined to support the idea. Indeed, when Tibilov raised the issue two months ago during a visit to Tskhinvali by Russian presidential administration official Vladislav Surkov, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov swiftly denied that a referendum on unification figured on the agenda of their talks. 

There has been no comment on Tibilov's most recent statements either from Moscow or from North Ossetia, whose new head, Tamerlan Aguzarov, visited Tskhinvali to meet with Tibilov even before he was formally confirmed in office. 

Just days before Tibilov proposed adding "Alania" to his republic's name, however, the Regnum news agency cited comments by a politician and a political commentator from North Ossetia, both of whom were less than enthusiastic at the prospect of South Ossetia becoming part of Russia. 

Georgy Zozrov, who heads the North Ossetian chapter of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, opined that the proposed referendum should not take place for another 15-20 years. 

Political commentator Vladimir Kaloyev for his part argued that, while South Ossetia has the right to hold such a referendum, its results would not be binding for Russia.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: John Harduny from: Reston, Virginia
December 30, 2015 22:50
Dear Ossetian friends,
I am very happy that South Ossetia survived the Georgian attack in 2008 with the help of the Russians. This is awesome. But "South Ossetia" is a un-historical, artificial entity. Adding "Alania" is to its name is nonsense. This has always been part of historical Georgia.
In Response

by: peter from: ottawa
December 31, 2015 17:08
Dear Jonny Hard-on, the second part of your comment is correct. The Alans were pushed to that part of Sakartvelo by the Mongols. As for the first part, you must of read Putin's " Book of Lies". In 2008 all the Georgians were doing was stealing what was stolen from them in the first place. Today South Ossetia is in the process of being de-populated, ethnically cleansed and fully Russified by your awesome boot lickers friends.
In Response

by: Sharik from: Helsinki
January 01, 2016 11:36
I didn't know Putin wrote "Book of Lies." Good book, though; very believable.

I thought Putin had only written a book about how his Judo buddies led him to a life of corruption .

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
January 04, 2016 11:46
N. Caucasus was pre-Georgia till it was defended from cursed tribes of Sam and Gad with help of Ukrainian Skiffs and Mountain Altay's Medians and Hans in 5 Century BC, they and some of 10 Tribes settled among pre-Georgians.
Big Caucasian range was pre-Georgian, and Alania was part of Georgian United Kingdom, till Visantine provocateurs provoke uprising against Christianity in "Northern Ossetia"
That was their end - Gad and Pecheneg invaded and killed most of it, along with Sochi and N. Abkhazia regions of Georgia, later liberated by Georgian David the Builder.
Russia play even more evil role than Visantine.
S. Ossetia was always Georgia, only in 5 Century AD Georgian Kings let settle on a hill, now Tchinvali,
Knights from Ossetia, serving in Georgian army.
The rest of the land was full of Georgian villages and towns.
Lenin invaded and influx N. Ossetians and Russian spies
in Java region, mostly wooded mountains, after 1956 even more so. Children of rape by General Boldyrev spies, accompanied by GRU-Spetcnaz units, entrenched around Tchinvali, kidnapping and bestially murdering Georgian children from nearby villages, escalating till 2008 invasion.
Russia arrogant, hopes make a Russian spy USA President.
They can't wait to expand more! TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT?
Trump is Russian spy twin-brother Gan'ka,
Whose family and mob stole my inventions, killed my family, corrupting USA and being Russian swine, look at his face!
By the way, Russians control USA political propaganda,
media and press, even TV-run and rerun of movies
and shows!
Movies they re-run are staffed by actors born in Russia and
in Eastern block countries actors.
Their timings are so mean!
Yesterday during political show with candidates,
they helped Trump, all painfully familiar Eastern type faces,
trickery and impudence. They also mentioned that
Clinton was womanizer, even Trump married 3 times.
Same evening they re-run movie with new James Bond,
staffed with Russian "mordas". Bond played by
Russian-Moldovan "Cheburashka", his partner from CIA
looked like Vyacheslav Petuhov-Gruiber, Russian streets
secret police in Kishinev that organized assassinations
against me since 1949 or so, using baby-killers -
The big USA actor, playing usually hero-cop.
AS a parole he showed to Bond his belly tattoo,
and said that he, CIA hero, that also had
three wives - like "Great American" Trump?
Millions of Russians and their Quislings-slaves promote
Trump, lie for him, pretending to be "white"!
They are not white, even not Caucasians -
rats that rattle for Putin and his Russia -
Who running it, since Russian lied and lead USA and World
to "Big Depression"?
White and Red race war of Russia?
Also by decades of canning Lavrushas?

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.