The leader of the separatist region of South Ossetia has announced a referendum on whether to become part of Russia.
A statement from the office of Anatoly Bibilov said it was the “historic aspiration” of his people to join Russia and the vote would take place on July 17.
Moscow recognizes the region as independent after a brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, and has provided financial support, Russian citizenship to its citizens, and established a military base there.
Georgia claims South Ossetia is an occupied territory and previously said a referendum on joining Russia would be unacceptable.
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