The South Ossetian president, Eduard Kokoity, was out early this morning to vote in the breakaway region’s independence referendum. The poll is also an election for a new leader and Kokoity is expected to remain in his post. However, neither of the votes is recognised by the international community, and neither is the self-proclaimed country, carved out of Georgia after a civil war in 1992 that killed hundreds and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Most people here have both South Ossetian and Russian passports. Without an economic drip-feed from Moscow, the aspiring state would collapse. Many would like to join North Ossetia, part of the Russian Federation. Ethnically, Ossetians are different from Georgians, but the region has many villages populated by Georgians. They reject today’s vote called by separatists and are running their own poll to elect a rival leader for South Ossetia.