POLITICS
President of Georgia’s occupied Tskhinvali region congratulates Vladimir Putin on winning elections
20 March, 2018
Anatoly Bibilov, de facto president of Tskhinvali, occupied South-Ossetia, has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tskhinvali. According to Bibilov's press secretary Dina Gasayeva, the de facto president congratulated Vladimir Putin on winning the elections and said that the population of "South Ossetia" is grateful and fully supports Putin.

"We are very glad that you won elections in South Ossetia. We hope that our cooperation will continue and we will hold a meeting. Let me once again invite you on
the event dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the recognition of South Ossetia's independence by Russia," Bibilov said.

As a reminder polling stations were opened in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) in the occupied regions of Georgia. Russian President Vladimir Putin received over 90% of votes in the Russian presidential elections in the above mentioned regions.
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Georgia's regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) occupied by Russia

As reported Putin accumulated 39,427 votes in Abkhazia that amounts to 94.21% of the total number of votes cast in the region (41,849). As for Tskhinvali Region (so called South Ossetia), the incumbent Russian President gained around 17,500 votes, 92.8% of all votes cast. Twenty polling stations were opened in Abkhazia and thirteen in Tskhinvali. Residents of both regions holding Russian citizenship and the Russian troops positioned at the territories were able to vote.

Tbilisi as well as US Ambassador to Georgia condemned opening of the presidential polls in the two regions of Georgia.

Anatoly Ilyich Bibilov is a Russian and South Ossetian military officer, currently serving as the 4th President of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), breakaway region of Goergia were currently Russian troops are positioned.

“We do not recognize the borders mentioned by Mr. Bibilov. This is not an internationally recognized border. Consequently, creating artificial barriers among people is an illegitimate and unlawful act,” Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly said.

Ten years have passed since the August War between Georgia and Russia in 2008. As a result of Russia’s intervention, 228 Georgia’s citizens and 14 police officers, 1 747 were injured. About 150,000 people were forced out of their homes, with 30,000 among them remaining refugees to this day. 169 soldiers deceased and 5 were missing in action, although due to no trace of them being found for 2 years and no signs of them being alive reported, they are now officially considered deceased.
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Russo-Georgian war 2008

Officially, war between Georgia and Russia began on August 7, 2008. Despite Georgia’s unilateral ceasefire earlier in the day, South Ossetian separatist forces, including already mobilized Territorial Defense Units, continued shelling ethnic Georgian villages in and around the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali. In response, the Georgian Armed Forces, to use President’s Mikhail Saakashvili words, “began restoring Constitutional Order” and commenced a heavy military offensive against South Ossetian military units. Only thirty minutes after Georgia began its offensive, Russia came to the aid of the South Ossetian side, moving its 58th Army combat tanks through the Roki Tunnel into Georgian territory. Russian air forces also attacked military bases and landing strips located in various Georgian cities. Gori was bombed twice, with civilian structures also taking damage. Tbilisi’s Vaziani base, aircraft factory and the radar station at Kvishiani mountain were also bombed, as well as Poti’s port and military bases in Senaki and Marneuli.
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Russian soldiers holding down a street during the Russian-Georgian war, 2008

Cessation of hostilities was made possible thanks to Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France. Sarkozy’s peace plan, containing 6 clauses, was agreed upon both in Moscow and Tbilisi on the 12th of August. On the 8th of September, new details of the peace plan by Saakashvili and Medvedev were specified. As for recognition of Georgia’s occupied territories as independent states, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued the order of recognizing Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia on the 26th of August. Besides Russia, 5 more countries recognized the breakaway territories as independent (Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), although later both Vanuatu and Tuvalu withdrew their recognition and re-established diplomatic relations with Georgia.Rest of the world does not recognize neither Georgian regions as independent states.

On the 23rd of October, Georgia implemented a law “On Occupied Territories”, where status of Russia-occupied regions was determined and a special judicial regime established.

As for Abkhazia, on July 23 of 1992, functioning of Georgian Constitution in the autonomous region of Abkhazia was terminated. The judicial war that had begun between the Georgian capital and the region degenerated into an armed confrontation within less than a month. In the Soviet period Abkhazia, a pleasant region on the Black Sea coast and popular summer destination among the USSR’s elites, enjoyed autonomous status within the Georgian republic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, ethnic Abkhaz with some Russian support fought a brutal war against the Georgian government in 1992-93. The catastrophe left more than 250,000 Georgians (who had constituted a majority in the region) homeless. In August 2008, Russia recognized the territory as independent while majority of countries consider it part of Georgia.

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Civilians fleeing Abkhazia 1993. Photo by Mike Goldwater

Related stories:

Putin receives 94,1% of votes in Georgia’s occupied region of Abkhazia

US Ambassador to Georgia condemns opening of polling stations in Tskhinvali for Russia's elections

US Ambassador does not recognize borders mentioned by de-facto president of occupied Tskhinvali Region


9 years after Russia-Georgia war - Occupation continues
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