ST.PETERSBURG, June 2. /TASS/. South Ossetia, Georgia’s breakaway republic recognized by Moscow as an independent state, is discussing plans with Russian colleagues on holding a referendum this year on joining Russia, South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov told TASS.
"There are agreements (on holding the referendum) and we should implement them. Of course, we should talk to our Russian colleagues and then we will already take the decision," Bibilov said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The preparations for the referendum won’t be lengthy, the president said.
Earlier reports said South Ossetia may hold a referendum in 2017 on whether it should become part of Russia. Citizens will decide on amending South Ossetia’s constitution. The move will enable the authorities to ask Russia’s leadership to give the greenlight on the possible accession.
Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia in late August 2008. This came in the aftermath of Georgia’s armed attack on South Ossetia in the small hours of August 8, 2008. Russia defended the civilians and its peacekeepers who had been in the region since 1992.