TSKHINVAL, April 11. /TASS/. South Ossetia plans to hold a referendum on whether to become part of the Russian Federation before August, the republic’s president, Leonid Tibilov, told TASS in an interview.
"We are already discussing the dates," Tibilov said. "A specific date can’t be named yet, but it will take place in the near future, we plan before August."
He explained that issues of changing a certain article of the South Ossetian constitution will be put to referendum, which will make it possible in the future to ask the Russian leadership to incorporate the republic.
"Currently, proceeding from the situation in the world, we would not like to put at serious political risks our strategic partner in the person of Russia," Tibilov said.
"So we reached the conclusion that we need to introduce changes to the current Constituion, its 10th article, which would enable the president to ask, with the approval of the republic’s parliament, the top leadership of Russia to consider the possibility of making part of the country," he said.
Article 10 of South Ossetia’s constitution says that the republic is entitled to enter into alliance with other states and hand the alliance’s bodies part of its powers.
"We plan to hold a referendum on supplementing that article with paragraphs stating that the Republic of South Ossetia is entitled to hand part of its powers to the Russian Federation," Tibilov said. "And then what I have already outlined - to give the president the opportunity to ask the Russian leadership to incorporate our republic.. as a new constituent member of Russia."
Russian experts will soon start work to clear South Ossetia of mines, President Leonid Tibilov told TASS in an interview.
"We have asked the leadership of the Russian Emergencies Ministry to render us assistance in mine clearing issues," Tibilov said.
He said there was a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in late March, and Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov received an instruction to provide relevant assistance to South Ossetia.
"I have been informed that a special group has been defined, which will come to us one of these days and will compile relevant documentation regarding mine clearing work here," Tibilov said.
He explained that since the late 1990s, various parts of the republic’s territory were mined by the Georgian side, and Ossetians could also use the method to counter attacks from the south. There remain several mined sections as of today.
South Ossetian servicemen that will be transferred to the Russian military in accordance with supplements to the Treaty on Alliance and Integration, will follow orders from Russian commander-in-chief, South Ossetian President Leonid Tibiliov told TASS in an interview.
"Servicemen that will be transferred to the 4th base stationed in the republic, will, of course, commit themselves to serving wherever the 4th base is deployed," Tibilov said. "This is not a state secret, service is service. They will have to follow tasks of Russia’s supreme commander-in-chief," he added.
Supplements to the Treaty on Alliance and Integration between South Ossetia and Russia say that some South Ossetian servicemen will be transferred to the Russian military, in particular 4th base stationed in the republic. Other South Ossetian servicemen will remain at the republic’s Defense Ministry and serve as the basis of South Ossetian army which will also be preserved.
Russian gas giant Gazprom may help gasify villages of South Ossetia, the republic’s President Leonid Tibilov told TASS in an interview.
"At the end of March in Moscow, we held a good meeting with Gazprom’s head Alexey Miller on the topic of further gasification of South Ossetian villages," Tibilov said.
The president said Gazprom understands this problem. "The gas that started to be supplied to South Ossetia in 2009 provides for Tskhinval and literally two-three other settlements connected to the city. The majority of settlements is not yet gasified," he explained.
"We requested from the Russian side the development of the general scheme of gasification. It has already been developed, and on its basis, we ask Gazprom to assume the task of gasifying our settlements," Tibilov noted.
"Such questions require discussion at the highest level. I can say though that we found understanding at the highest level," the South Ossetian president said. "I think that Gazprom’s leadership will soon receive a corresponding order and signal from Russia’s highest leadership," he concluded.
Moscow recognized as independent two Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which resulted in the cutoff of Russia-Georgia diplomatic ties. The recognition followed Georgia's attack on South Ossetia that entailed Russia's peacemaking operation in August 2008.