38. Georgia/South Ossetia (1990-present)


Crisis Phase (September 20, 1990-December 11, 1990): South Ossetian nationalists declared their independence from Georgia on September 20, 1990, and the Georgian parliament proclaimed the South Ossetian declaration of independence as illegal on September 21, 1990. Elections to the South Ossetian parliament were held on December 9, 1990. The Georgian parliament rejected the results of the South Ossetian elections and abolished the South Ossetian autonomous oblast on December 11, 1990.

Conflict Phase (December 12, 1990-June 24, 1992): Georgians and South Ossetians clashed in Tskhinvali beginning on December 12, 1990, and President Gamsakhurdia declared a state-of-emergency in the region on December 13, 1990. Some 6,000 Georgian troops entered Tskhinvali on January 5-6, 1991. On January 7, 1991, President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union condemned the South Ossetian declaration of independence and the Georgian abolition of South Ossetian autonomy. Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union on April 9, 1991. The South Ossetian parliament voted for full independence from Georgia on December 21, 1991. A majority of South Ossetians approved secession from Georgia and integration with North Ossetia in Russia in a referendum on January 19, 1992. The parties agreed to a cessation of military hostilities and the establishment of a joint peacekeeping mission (Sochi Agreement) on June 24, 1992. Some 5,000 individuals were killed during the conflict. Some 26,000 South Ossetians fled as refugees to other parts of Georgia or North Ossetia (Russia), and some 20,000 South Ossetians were displaced within South Ossetia. Some 12,000 ethnic Georgians fled as refugees to Georgia.

Post-Conflict Phase (June 25, 1992-July 31, 2008):  On July 14, 1992, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) deployed the Joint Peacekeeping Force (JPKF) in South Ossetia.  The CIS JPKF, which consisted of 1,500 troops at maximum strength from Russia, Georgia, North Ossetia, and /South Ossetia commanded by Russia, was responsible for monitoring the ceasefire agreement and maintaining law and order in South Ossetia.  The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council sent a fact-finding mission to Georgia on July 25-30, 1992.  On November 6, 1992, the OSCE established the OSCE Mission to Georgia to facilitate negotiations between representatives of the government and South Ossetia.  On March 29, 1994, the OSCE expanded the mandate of the OSCE Mission in Georgia (headed by Ambassador Hansjoerg Eiff of Germany) to include monitoring the JPKF in South Ossetia, as well as monitoring compliance with the 1992 ceasefire agreement.  Eight OSCE Military Monitoring Officers (MMOs) were deployed to the South Ossetia region.  Russian officials mediated the signing of a memorandum (framework for a peace agreement) by Georgian government and South Ossetian representatives in Moscow on May 16, 1996.  Ludvig Chibirov was elected president of South Ossetia on November 10, 1996.  Some 10,000 ethnic-Georgians from South Ossetia were refugees in Georgia, and some 35,000 ethnic Ossetians were refugees in North Ossetia (Russia) in December 1998. The OSCE Permanent Council sent an 18-member fact-finding mission to the region on October 12-15, 2001.  Presidential elections were held in South Ossetia on November 18 and December 6, 2001, and Eduard Kokoev won 53 percent of the vote.  Eduard Kokoev was inaugurated as president on December 18, 2001.  Parliamentary elections were held in South Ossetia on May 23, 2004, and the Unity Party (UP) won 20 out of 30 contested seats in the parliamentary.  Russia mediated negotiations between the parties in Moscow beginning on July 14, 2004.  Government and South Ossetian representatives signed a Russian-mediated protocol in Moscow on July 15, 2004.  Georgian government troops clashed with South Ossetian forces on July 28, 2004.  Zhelyu Zhelev of Bulgaria,  special envoy of the OSCE who visited the region on July 25-28, 2004, appealed for peaceful negotiations on July 28, 2004.  Government troops clashed with South Ossetians beginning on August 10, 2004.  On August 13, 2004, the Georgian parliament voted to call for the withdrawal of Russian (JPKF) peacekeeping troops from South Ossetia.  Russian-mediated ceasefire agreements were signed by Georgian government and South Ossetian representatives on August 13 and August 18, 2004.  Seventeen Georgian government soldiers, including seven JPKF peacekeeping soldiers, and five South Ossetians were killed between August 10 and August 19, 2004.  Georgian government troops withdrew from South Ossetia on August 20, 2004.  Government and South Ossetian representatives signed a Russian-mediated demilitarization agreement in Sochi, Russia on November 5, 2004.  Ninety-nine percent of South Ossetians voted in favor of independence from Georgia in a referendum held on November 13, 2004.  On January 26, 2005, President Mikheil Saakashvili proposed a peace plan for South Ossetia, but the plan was rejected by the South Ossetian government.  Karel De Gucht, chairman-in-office of the OSCE, appealed for peaceful negotiations between the parties on February 22, 2006.  South Ossetians fired on a government military helicopter on September 3, 2006.  Georgian government police and South Ossetian police clashed on September 8, 2006, resulting in the deaths of one Georgian policeman and three South Ossetian policemen.  Four individuals were killed in clashes in Dzhava District in South Ossetia on October 31, 2006.  Eduard Kokoity was re-elected as president of South Ossetia with 98 percent of the vote on November 12, 2006.  Some 99 percent of South Ossetians voted in favor of independence in a referendum also held on November 12, 2006.  Two individuals were killed in South Ossetia during clashes on July 3-4, 2008.

Conflict Phase (August 1, 2008-August 16, 2008):  Georgia government troops clashed with South Ossetian military forces on August 1-6, 2008, resulting in the deaths of six individuals.  Georgian government troops launched a military offensive against South Ossetian military forces on August 7, 2008.  Russian military forces intervened in support of the South Ossetians on August 8, 2008, and Russian troops occupied several cities within Georgian territory beginning on August 11, 2008.  British Foreign Secretary David Milibrand appealed for a ceasefire on August 9, 2008.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy, representing the European Union (EU), mediated a ceasefire agreement that was signed by the Georgian and Russian governments on August 15-16, 2008.  Some 184 Georgian government soldiers and policemen, 228 Georgian civilians, 365 South Ossetian soldiers and civilians, and 67 Russian soldiers.  More than 100,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (August 17, 2008-present):  On August 18, 2008, the OSCE increased the number of Military Monitoring Officers (MMOs) in the South Ossetia region from eight to twenty-eight.  On August 26, 2008, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia.  Most Russian troops completed their withdrawal from Georgian territory (except for Abkhazia and South Ossetia) on August 23, 2008.  On September 15, 2008, the Council of the EU established the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM-Georgia) to monitor the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgian territory adjacent to South Ossetia and to observe the ceasefire agreement, as well as to “contribute to the reduction of tensions through liaison, facilitation of contacts between the parties, and other confidence-building measures,”  The EUMM-Georgia, which consisted of more than 200 civilian observers from 27 EU member-states headed by Hansjorg Haber of Germany, was deployed on October 1, 2008.  Eight Russian soldiers (including Colonel Ivan Petrik, chief-of-staff of the JPKF) and three South Ossetian civilians were killed in a bombing of a Russian military base in Tskhinvali on October 3, 2008.   The EUMM verified the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgian territory adjacent to Abkhazia on October 10, 2008.  The CIS JPKF in South Ossetia was disbanded on October 15, 2008.  Approximately 50 members of the CIS JPKF were killed during the mission.  Two government policemen were killed in Dvani on November 10, 2008.  On December 2, 2008, the Council of the European Union (EU) established a three-member “independent international fact-finding mission” headed by Heidi Tagliavini from Switzerland to investigate the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict.  The OSCE Mission to Georgia was terminated on December 31, 2008, although 20 OSCE MMOs were authorized to remain in the South Ossetia region until June 30, 2009.  Parliamentary elections were held in South Ossetia on May 31, 2009, and the Unity Party (UP) won 17 out of 34 seats in the parliament.  The People’s Party of South Ossetia (PPSO) won nine seats in the parliament.  Russia sent observers to monitor the parliamentary elections.  President Eduard Kokoity dismissed Prime Minister Aslanbek Bulatsev on August 3, 2009, and appointed Vadim Brovtsev as prime minister of South Ossetia on August 5, 2009.  Venezuela recognized the independence of South Ossetia on September 10, 2009.  The EU fact-finding mission submitted its final report on the 2008 Georgia-South Ossetia Conflict on September 30, 2009.  The report indicated that, while both sides had engaged in provocative actions in the months prior to the conflict, it was the Georgian government that had initiated the 2008 Georgia-South Ossetia Conflict.  Presidential elections were held in South Ossetia on November 13 and November 27, 2011, and Alla Dzhioyeva won 57 percent of the vote in the second round.  The Unity Party (UP) filed a complaint with the Supreme Court of South Ossetia, and the court invalidated the election results and called for a new election.  Prime Minister Vadim Brovtsev served as Acting President of South Ossetia from December 11, 2011 to April 19, 2012.  Presidential elections were held in South Ossetia on March 25 and April 8, 2012, and Leonid Tibilov was elected president with 54 percent of the vote in the second round.  Leonid Tibilov was inaugurated as president of South Ossetia on April 19, 2012.  Prime Minister Vadim Brovtsev was dismissed by President Tibilov, and Rostik Khugayev was appointed as Acting Prime Minister on April 26, 2012.  The South Ossetia parliament approved Rostik Khugayev as prime minister on May 15, 2012.

[Sources: Agence France Presse (AFP), May 24, 2004; Allock et al., 1992, 183-184; Banks and Muller, 1998, 342-347; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 239-240; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), May 26, 2004, June 2, 2004, July 1, 2004, July 15, 2004, July 19, 2004, July 29, 2004, August 9, 2004, August 12, 2004, August 13, 2004, August 15, 2004, August 16, 2004, August 17, 2006, August 19, 2004, August 20, 2004, January 22, 2005, September 9, 2006, October 31, 2006, November 13, 2006, July 4, 2008, August 1, 2008, August 5, 2008, August 8, 2008, August 9, 2008, August 10, 2008, August 11, 2008, August 25, 2008, September 18, 2008, October 1, 2008, October 3, 2008, October 4, 2008, October 8, 2008, October 10, 2008, April 21, 2009, June 1, 2009, September 10, 2009, September 30, 2009, November 30, 2011, April 9, 2012; Cable News Network (CNN), November 13, 2006; Council of the European Union (EU) press release, September 30, 2009; Itar-Tass (Russian News Agency), April 26, 2012; Keesing’s Record of World Events, May 1992, November 1996; New York Times (NYT), August 5, 2004, August 14, 2004, August 27, 2008, June 1, 2009; Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) press release, October 12, 2001, July 28, 2004, February 22, 2006; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), May 16, 1996, November 19, 2001, December 11, 2001, July 14, 2004, August 6, 2009.]