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US, EU reject self-determination in South Ossetia

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December 5, 2006

US, EU reject self-determination in South Ossetia

by Rob Maguire

Qurban Hussain told The Dominion the arrival of international troops had helped save his people from further bloodshed. But he also claimed a new wave of internecine violence lies just around the corner. ©2006 Reproduction without permission prohibited. Photo: Chris Sands

Last month in the mountainous Caucasus region, the people of South Ossetia voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Despite the high turnout in which 99 per cent of the population casted their ballot in support of secession, the Georgian government declared the poll illegal, while the international community rejected the referendum as "unnecessary" and "counterproductive."

The United States, which provides military aid, training and weaponry to the Georgian republic, refused to recognize the referendum, as did the European Union. Although the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) refused to monitor the vote, a team of 34 international observers did oversee the polls, including members from Germany, Austria, Sweden, Ukraine and Venezuela.

The day before the election, the South Ossetian State Security Committee uncovered an alleged attempt to assassinate the Ossetian separatist leader Eduard Kokoity and to carry out a coup d'état in the region. Although the Georgian government denies the accusation, Alan Parastayev, the chairman of the Supreme Court, turned himself into the State Security Committee and confessed to being involved in the plot.

With the exception of a handful of villages controlled by the Georgian government in Tbilisi, South Ossetia is a de facto independent state. An autonomous territory of Georgia in the then-Soviet Union, South Ossetia first declared independence in September 1990. Open warfare between Georgia and Ossetian separatists soon followed, ending with a 1992 ceasefire agreement. Most South Ossetians desire reunification with North Ossetia, currently part of Russia, from which they were separated during the Soviet period.

Rob Maguire

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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