Russia on Monday called the referendum on independence for
Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia a "milestone" and urged
Georgia and Western countries not to underestimate its
Preliminary results showed that 99 percent of the voters in
Sunday's referendum backed independence for South Ossetia, the
Itar-Tass news agency quoted the local election chief as saying on
"Like it or not, we face the expression of the free will of
South Ossetians through democratic procedures. No matter how hard
Georgia or some Western countries may try to scale down the
importance of the event, it is nevertheless a milestone," the
Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement.
"It would be short-sighted, to say the least, to ignore the
event," the statement said.
South Ossetia broke away from Georgia's central government in the
early 1990s. The region previously held referenda on independence
in 1992 and 2001, but their results were not recognized by the
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to bring South
Ossetia and another breakaway region Abkhazia back under Tbilisi's
control. The Georgian Foreign Ministry has said the presidential
election and the referendum in South Ossetia were unlawful.
The European Union (EU) said on Monday that the EU does not
recognize the outcome of the referendum in South Ossetia.
The EU's current presidency Finland issued a statement saying
Sunday's referendum "contradicts Georgia's sovereignty and
"The European Union considers that the referendum and the
elections did not contribute to efforts for peaceful conflict
resolution," the statement said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2006)