The West calls it illegal. Russia says it should be respected. South Ossetia went to the polls on Sunday, in venues where the South Ossetian and Russian flags fly, to vote in a referendum on reaffirming independence. Residents also voted for a local leader, with incumbent Eduard Kokoity widely expected to be re-elected. “We reach out to both Russia and Europe and call on everyone to reject a policy of double standards,” he said.
South Ossetia broke away from Georgia after a war in the early 1990’s that claimed hundreds of lives and forced tens of thousands to flee. The Georgian Prime Minister, Zurab Noghaideli, had this to say about the vote: “We need first of all to demilitarize the region, build confidence between the sides, establish basic law and order, rehabilitate infrastructures in the region and create jobs – in order for us to be able to negotiate the status”.
While official results of the referendum have not yet been released, the incumbent president has announced that the majority of residents in the breakaway region have voted in favour of independence.