TSKHINVAL (South Ossetia) (Sputnik) – The leader of the breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia is planning to organize a referendum to join Russia, the president’s press service announced on Monday.
South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s. Moscow recognized the region, as well as another Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia, as an independent state in August 2008 following an armed conflict with Tbilisi. The war prompted Georgia to declare South Ossetia and Abkhazia "occupied" territories.
"Today’s political realities are such that we have to make a historic choice, we must reunite with brotherly Russia," Leonid Tibilov said at a meeting with Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov.
The Russian parliament, meanwhile, was reluctant to project the outcome of the plebiscite, as chairman of the State Duma Committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States told RIA Novosti.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a congratulatory message on the 25th anniversary of South Ossetia’s independence on September 20, affirmed Russia’s readiness to continue providing social, economic and national security assistance to the republic.