south assetia

South Ossetia's History

Modern history recently brought South Ossetia to world attention but the Caucasian state has a long history stretching to the dawn of time. The Ossetian tribes are descendants of the Alans, a race who once lived north of the Caucasian Mountains near the River Don. When the great Mongol onslaught swept into Europe in 1240 the Alans fled south seeking refuge in the isolated terrain of the Caucasian Mountains. The descendents of the South Ossetians found sanctuary in the Georgian Kingdom. In 1767 North Ossetia came under Russian control and in 1801 Georgia, including South Ossetia followed. In 1917 Georgia became independent but in 1921 it was crushed by the Red Army. South Ossetia enjoyed a degree of autonomy during the Soviet era. As the USSR disintegrated South Ossetia sought to unshackle itself from Georgia and declared independence in 1990. War broke out which ended in 1992 but flared briefly, but violently in 2008.

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During the struggle for an independent South Ossetia non-Ossetians departed and Ossetians from elsewhere in Georgia took their place. The economy was ruined and its cities devastated. Russia's support brought a ceasefire in 1992 but in 2004 tensions erupted as Georgia began to press its claims on South Ossetia. In August 2008 Georgia attacked but were defeated when Russia came to their aid. With peace Russia gave official recognition to South Ossetian independence. In April 2017 Anatoly Ilyich Bibilov became president. His party advocates unity with North Ossetia, which is part of the Russian Federation. Few people, even South Ossetians, see long term viability for their semi-independent but tiny nation-state.

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