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Deputy Minister: Tskinvali’s referendum is a form of political blackmail

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, April 13
Georgia’s Deputy Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, says an announced referendum envisaging the joining of Georgia’s occupied region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) to Russia is a form of a political blackmail.

The official stressed that the referendum will be allegedly held before August, which will coincide with a ‘very interesting period of Georgia’ due to the upcoming elections.

Tsikhelashvili also said that very soon the Georgia-European Union Association Agreement will come into full effect, and Georgia is on the verge of gaining visa-liberalization in the Schengen Zone and there were positive expectations over the upcoming NATO Warsaw Summit.

The Deputy Minister stressed that these positive trends were not in Russia’s interests.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani said the referendum would not have any legal value as it contradicts international law.

Zalkaliani said the international community had already been informed of the illegality of the proposed referendum.

A special statement was also made byGeorgia’s Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Davit Bakradze. “This would be an action carried out through violation of all international legal norms and consequently it will have no legal power,” Bakradze said.

Several days ago, the de-facto President of Tskhinvali, Leonid Tibilov, told Russian media the referendum would be held ‘in the near future, till August’.

Almost all of the international community believes Tskhinvali and Abkhazia are integral parts of Georgia.

Russia and Nicaragua recognised the breakaway regions as independent republics in 2008 in the wake of the Russia-Georgia war. In 2009 Venezuela, Nauru and Tuvalu took the same step but after several years Vanuatu reversed its decision.