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  Wednesday, April 8, 2020
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South Ossetia will most likely hold a referendum on its independence by the end of the year
South Ossetia, a breakaway province in Georgia, will most likely hold a referendum on its independence by the end of the year, the self-proclaimed North Caucasus republic's president said Wednesday. South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and a bloody conflict that ensued in the region, but it remains unrecognized internationally. Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the conflict zone ever since, but the current Georgian leadership is determined to bring the separatist region back under its control. "I have no doubt we will able to hold a referendum on independence by the end of the year," Eduard Kokoity said in an interview. He said South Ossetia's independence was legitimized by a referendum in 1992, but that a new poll was needed to test people's willingness for the move. "A lot of statements have been voiced recently, saying that the independence move reflects a personal wish of the South Ossetian president and his inner circle," he said. "We want to confirm the results of the previous referendum of 1992 and ask the Georgian part of our population to take part." Kokoity said a steering group, created late last week to organize a referendum, has already gathered the necessary number of signatures in support of the referendum, as required by the republic's constitution. He said the distribution of new identification documents with symbols of an independent state, begun August 15, would be complete in two months, allowing refugees and ethnic Georgians living in the republic to become South Ossetian citizens and take part in the referendum. The majority of people in South Ossetia, whose leadership has stated its desire to join the neighboring Russian republic of North Ossetia, already hold Russian passports, and the ruble is widely used.
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