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South Ossetia votes on independence

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South Ossetia votes on independence


The breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia has been holding a referendum on independence and a presidential election. The current leader, Eduard Kokoity, was out early to cast his vote in the contest he is easily expected to win. However, the vote and its self-declared independence are only backed by Russia and not at all recognised by the rest of the international community.

South Ossetia declared independence after a civil war ended in 1992. But amid increased tensions within Georgia and its giant neighbour Russia, many South Ossetians see the poll as a chance to once again declare their breaking away from Tbilisi and elect a regional leader.

Most people here have both South Ossetian and Russian passports. But not all would like to join North Ossetia and become part of the Russian Federation. South Ossetia has many villages populated by ethnic Georgians and not all want to live in a separatist state. Many ethnic Georgians loyal to the central government have rejected the vote called by separatists and are running their own poll to elect a rival leader for South Ossetia.

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