South Ossetia’s reunification with Russia is a win-win topic. This is why it is mentioned quite often, but there will hardly be a referendum this time, Kirill Koktysh, assistant professor of political theory at the Moscow State University of Foreign Affairs, said, when asked by EADaily to comment on South-Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov’s initiative to hold a referendum on South Ossetia’s reunification with Russia.
“Even if Tibilov said this just to score more points before the forthcoming election and even if he is not going to hold the referendum, the population will hardly be disappointed as the Ossetians are always sensitive to reunification initiatives and are always ready to support them,” Koktysh said.
Nor will there be protests, if the referendum is held. Some youths and intellectuals in South Ossetia want to see their country independent but they are not dominant and can hardly cause a split in society.
“For Russia this is a useful message. We can use it as a counter-argument if the West turns out to be too tough on Ukraine. This will be a chance for the Russians to show them in the West that they can act differently. And they may always say that they have nothing to do here and it was South Ossetia’s initiative,” Koktysh said.
“I don’t think the referendum will be held, but as a message, it can be good for both sides,” the Russian expert said.
As EADaily reported earlier, South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov has decided to organize a referendum on South Ossetia’s reunification with the Russian Federation.
During a meeting with the Russian president’s assistant Vladislav Surkov in Tskhinval on Oct 19, Tibilov said that reunification with Russia is a dream the South Ossetians have cherished for as long as two centuries while faced with Georgia’s chauvinism and fascism.
Chairman of the State Duma’s CIS Committee Leonid Slutsky sees Tibilov’s motives but advises Russia to keep in mind the current geo-strategic realities. “Ossetians have always wished to reunite but we should think twice here,” he said.
First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Leonid Kalashnikov also recommends not hurrying. “For South Ossetia the advantages are obvious but for Russia there are lots of diplomatic disadvantages here and we cannot but keep them in mind,” he said.
After a meeting with President Putin in June, Tibilov said that it was early to talk about South Ossetia’s reunification with Russia. “Today this is contrary to the interests of our strategic partner,” he said.
Before the last parliamentary elections in South Ossetia, a similar initiative was advanced by the leader of United Ossetia Party Anatoly Bibilov.