The new authorities of the pro-Russian Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia announced on Monday that they were abandoning the organization of a referendum on its integration into Russia.
• Read also: [LIVE] 96th day of war in Ukraine: here are all the latest developments
• Read also: A French journalist killed in Ukraine
• To read also: “The internal quarrels must end”, launches Zelensky to the countries of the EU
In a decree, “President” Alan Gagloev invoked “the uncertainty linked to the legal consequences” of such a consultation, which had been decided by his predecessor, Anatoly Bibilov, and which was to be held on July 17.
He also highlighted "the inadmissibility of a unilateral decision by referendum on issues relating to the legitimate rights and interests of the Russian Federation".
Mr. Gagloev nevertheless called for “holding, without delay, consultations with the Russian side on all issues related to greater integration of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation”.
On May 13, the authorities of South Ossetia announced the signing by Mr. Bibilov of a decree on the holding of a referendum, evoking the “historic aspiration” of the inhabitants of this small Caucasian territory to join Russia, which it borders.
“We are going home,” commented Mr. Bibilov on Telegram messaging, adding that “the time has come to unite once and for all”, “South Ossetia and Russia will be together. This is the beginning of a great new story”.
Anatoly Bibilov failed to win re-election as 'president' earlier this month and Russia had expressed hope that his successor in the post, Alan Gagloyev, would ensure 'continuity' in relations with Moscow .
South Ossetia was at the center of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, following which the Kremlin recognized its independence as well as that of another Georgian breakaway region, Abkhazia, and set up bases there military.
The announcement by "President" Gagloev comes on the 91st day of the Russian army's invasion of Ukraine, where the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, whose independence has also been recognized by Moscow, have likewise expressed their interest in integrating with Russia.
The offensive against Ukraine has sparked an outpouring of solidarity in Georgia.
In August 2008, Russia attacked Georgia whose government was fighting pro-Russian militias in that region after they bombed Georgian villages.
The fighting ended after five days with the establishment of a European Union-brokered ceasefire, but left more than 700 dead and displaced tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians.