On the accession of the breakaway region of Georgia to Russia, the leader sets the date for the referendum

The Georgian dissident leader’s office spoke of the people’s “historic aspiration” to join Russia. (Representative)

Moscow:

The leader of Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia set Friday July 17 as the date for a referendum on joining Russia.

“Anatoly Bibilov signed a decree on holding a referendum in the Republic of South Ossetia,” his office said in a statement, citing his people’s “historic aspiration” to join Russia.

South Ossetia was at the center of the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, after which the Kremlin recognized the territory – along with another breakaway region, Abkhazia – as an independent state and stationed military bases there.

The announcement came on the 79th day of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, with thousands dead and more than six million people fleeing the pro-Western country.

Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have also expressed interest in joining Russia.

The large-scale offensive against Ukraine has sparked an outpouring of solidarity in Georgia.

Georgia has previously denounced South Ossetia’s plans to hold a referendum on joining Russia as “unacceptable”.

In August 2008, Russia launched an assault on Georgia, which was fighting pro-Russian militias in South Ossetia, after bombing Georgian villages.

The fighting ended five days later with a European Union-brokered ceasefire, but left more than 700 dead and displaced tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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