South Ossetia Crisis 2008

On August 8, 2008 while the 2008 Beijing Olympics were officially being inaugurated, fighting intensified between the Georgian and Russian military on the outskirts of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Earlier in the week, Georgia and the South Ossetian separatist government had concluded a truce after an outbreak of fighting for which each side blamed the other. The conflict has now escalated into war, with Russian forces bombing Georgia, and many dead.

Global Voices Posts about the South Ossetian crisis

15 Sep – South Ossetia: A Photojournalist's Musings On the War
28 Aug – Georgia, Russia, Serbia: Use (or Abuse) of Some Historical Facts?
28 Aug – Georgia: Blogging the War
28 Aug – Georgia, Russia: Interethnic Relationships
26 Aug – Russia Recognizes Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's Independence
24 Aug – Georgia: Regional Reporters
24 Aug – Georgia: Dispatches Under Russian Occupation
22 Aug – South Ossetia: Tskhinvali Photos and Reports
19 Aug – Georgia, Russia: Feeding Looters and Refugees
18 Aug – Arabeyes: Third World War in the Making?
17 Aug – Korea: Georgia Crisis
17 Aug – Internet and South Ossetia Crisis
16 Aug – Georgia, Russia: The War's Virtual Dimension
13 Aug – Georgia, Russia: Governments Unable to Protect Civilians
13 Aug – Georgia, Russia: “What's Next?”
12 Aug – South Ossetia: Did Kosovo set a precedent?
12 Aug – Georgia: Russian Troops in Georgian Villages?
12 Aug – Georgia, Russia: Tbilisi Reports
11 Aug – South Ossetia, Georgia: Journalists Killed, Foreigners Evacuated
10 Aug – Georgia, Russia: Blogger From Poti Recounts the Bombing
10 Aug – South Ossetia: Georgia, Russia and the U.S. Election
10 Aug – More Reports On the Conflict From Russophone Bloggers
10 Aug – South Ossetia: Olympic Truce
09 Aug – Cyrillic Bloggers React to the Conflict in South Ossetia
09 Aug – Georgia: The Blame Game
08 Aug – Georgia: South Ossetia Update
08 Aug – Georgia: War in South Ossetia
22 Jul – Abkhazia, Georgia: “Home”


South Ossetia is a region in the Southern Caucasus, formerly the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic of the USSR, and currently a breakaway republic within Georgia. The South Ossetia region consists of a checkerboard of Georgian-inhabited and Ossetian-inhabited towns and villages. The largely Ossetian capital city of Tskhinvali and most of the other Ossetian-inhabited communities are governed by the separatist government, while the Georgian-inhabited villages and towns are administered by the Georgian government. This close proximity and the intermixing of the two communities has made the conflict in South Ossetia particularly dangerous, since any attempt to create an ethnically pure territory would involve population transfers on a large scale.

Violent conflict broke out towards the end of 1991 during which approximately 1,000 died and about 100,000 ethnic Ossetians fled the territory and Georgia proper, most across the border into North Ossetia. A further 23,000 ethnic Georgians fled South Ossetia and settled in other parts of Georgia. Currently, South Ossetia has an estimated population of 70,000 people.

The de facto independent republic governed by the secessionist government held a second independence referendum on November 12, 2006, after its first referendum in 1992 was not recognized by the international community as valid. According to the Tskhinvali election authorities, the referendum turned out a majority for independence from Georgia where 99% of South Ossetian voters supported independence and the turnout for the vote was 95%, but again it was not considered valid internationally given the lack of ethnic Georgian participation and the legality of such referendum without recognition from the central government in Tbilisi.

On July 13, 2007, Georgia set up a state commission to develop South Ossetia's autonomous status within the Georgian state. According to the Georgian officials, the status will be elaborated within the framework of “an all-inclusive dialogue” with all the forces and communities within the Ossetian society.

Other resources in English

- From Wikipedia: 2008 South Ossetia War
– From The New York Times: South Ossetia Page
– From Reuters: The conflict in Georgia
– From openDemocracy: Georgia’s search for itself by Alexander Rondeli, South Ossetia: the avoidable tragedy by Thomas de Waal, Georgia's President Saakashvili, on the eve of war by Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, Russia/Georgia: War of the Web by Evgeny Morozov.
– From Transitions Online: Georgia Page
– From Human Rights Watch: Georgia Page
– From International Crisis Group: Georgia Conflict Alert: The Need for an Immediate End to Hostilities in South Ossetia
– From the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting: Caucasus Conflicts posts on the Untold Stories blog

South Ossetia Flickr Set by Joshua Kucera

Online activism global petition for ceasefire and withdrawal

If you have suggestions for posts we should be linking to, or if you are a blogger and would like to volunteer to write for Global Voices, please email our Caucasus and Central Asia Editor, Onnik Krikorian.

Map of South Ossetia's location in Europe, South Ossetia's flag and coat of arms, all from Wikimedia Commons