South Ossetia’s authorities are planning to hold a referendum on joining Russia “before August,” according to Russian media.
"We are already discussing the dates," South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov told TASS news agency. "A specific date can’t be named yet, but it will take place in the near future, we plan before August."
The breakaway province was under the control of the Georgian government before the summer of 2008, when a short war between Georgia and Russia claimed several hundred lives.
This conflict left South Ossetia as well as the western province of Abkhazia out of Tbilisi’s hands, and with increasingly close ties to the Russian Federation.
Tiboliv has made repeatedly clear his desire for South Ossetia's full integration with Russia.
The referendum would ask whether Ossetians would like to amend Article 10 of the constitution, which would let it appeal to the Russian leadership for accession.
Last March Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed his commitment to South Ossetia by calling for the region’s almost compete integration into Russia, following a meeting with Tibilov on Moscow. In October Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press spokesman, denied that a referendum was being planned.
“I am absolutely sure that the people will say ‘yes’ [in the referendum],” Tibilov said on Sunday. After meeting Putin in Moscow on March 31, Tibilov is meeting him again this week.
SOURCE: commonspace.eu and agencies