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Separatists plan to change name of the region

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, February 9
The de facto leadership of Georgia’s occupied South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) territory have announced that the region’s name will be changed.

The President of Georgia has condemned the planned action, stressing it was beyond any legality.

De facto President of South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov has stated that the breakaway region will hold a referendum about the change of the name on the same day it holds its so-called presidential election on April 9.

Tibilov initiated that the name “The Republic of South Ossetia” be changed to “The State of Alania”.

The proposed name is similar to North Ossetia-Alania, which is now part of Russia.

The de facto leader highlighted that this move would lead to “the republic returning to its historic name”.

“Any attempt to change the occupied region’s name without the consent of the central government of Georgia is an attempt to violate Georgia’s sovereignty and yet another step towards further annexation of the occupied territories of Georgia,” said President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili.

The statement stressed that referendums, elections or any other actions which involve the free expression of people mustn’t be implemented in the area, which is occupied by a foreign state and from which a majority of the indigenous population were expelled, where ethnic cleansing was held, and where Russia is truly in control.

“We still continue to urge the Russian Federation to take real steps for the de-occupation of the conquered territories of Georgia and meet its international obligations.

“We urge the international community to stand up against the violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and any attempt of legitimizing this so-called plebiscite," the statement reads.

Russia and Nicaragua recognised Georgia’s two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as independent states in 2008 in the wake of the Russia-Georgia war.

In 2009 Venezuela, Vanuatu, Nauru and Tuvalu took the same step.

The rest of the international community recognizes Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, which make up 20 percent of Georgia's total territory, as integral parts of Georgia.