Independence of the Republic of South Ossetia - a guarantee of safety and reliable future of the Ossetian people

Sat, 23/08/2008 - 12:36

Independence of the Republic of South Ossetia - a guarantee of safety and reliable future of the Ossetian people
Speech at the VI congress of the Ossetian people

The congress of today – the sixth one, according to modern numbering, and under an absolute count – the seventeenth congress of the Ossetian people, has gathered for the first time in Tskhinval. By a strange concurrence of circumstances – it gathered the day before the seventeenth anniversary of the Republic of South Ossetia. Let this teenager number deceive nobody. All the same we’re having an anniversary this year – ninety years have passed since the first national congress had been held. Ninety years long Ossetia’s civil institutions have been struggling with the lack of state unity. For ninety years people have been electing indivisible public representation, thus pointing at the irregularity and temporariness of all attempts of political division.
Located in the geopolitical centre of the Caucasus, on both sides of the Main ridge, Ossetia does refute the myth that mountains are doomed to be a natural border. The ethno-cultural unity of the territory occupied by modern Ossetia, is well traced since the epoch of Late bronze and Early iron age – from the end of the II and the beginning of the I millennium BC. At least since the times of the Koban culture and Scythian campaigns to Asia on the slopes of these mountains people have been speaking one and the same language. People, known as "Ossetians" since the middle of the 17th century – are the last fragments of numerous ancient tribes, whom Herodotus, Strabo and Ptolemy called Scythians and Sarmatians. In the Western Medieval chronicles Ossetians’ ancestors are more often mentioned under the name of Alans and also As, Jas, and in the East they were also named Asu. The Medieval Alanian state was destroyed during the 13-14th centuries in bloody wars against Mongols and Tamerlan. Losing the flat lands, the surviving groups of Alans concentrated in the southeastern outskirts of the ruined country – in the heart of the Caucasus, in the remote canyons and mountain valleys on both slopes of the Main ridge. Three hundred years – since the 15th c. till the 17th c. – they lived in closed communities, defending their gorges from enemies. For three hundred years a severe struggle for survival was the essence of their existence – people had to overcome the consequences of demographic catastrophe. Highland Alania of that time was a free confederation of self-governing land-areas (Osset. «komæbstæ») – in Russian called obshestva. The Georgian variant of the name Alania – "Ossetia" – was fixed in the Russian language during the epoch of renewal of Russian-Alanian relations, after a three-century break, instead of the forgotten Slavic name for Alans – «Jasy».

Joining Russia
When at the beginning of the 18th century the threshold of a demographic consistency had been, at last, overcome and highland Alania-Ossetia had become an overpopulated country, it found itself facing urgent problems of social and political crisis. Difficult terrain and lack of land, developed class hierarchy and class contradictions, internecine conflicts and rigid opposition to southern and northern neighbors’ aggression – that is how things were going on in the country in the first half of the 18th century. The most important thing being the three centuries period of a non-state existence, that had exhausted the possibilities of sociopolitical development of Ossetia in the format of a confederation of self-governing communities.
The paramount purposes clearly formulated by the political elite of the time – returning to the plain, overcoming of feudal divisions and creation of a reliable defense system – were equally unattainable without state institutions. Along with the internal preconditions for the state self-determination, without such self-determination it was impossible to protect their interests in the situation of rigid imperial rivalry in the Caucasus. Three empires – Iran, Turkey and Russia – were known to participate in the struggle for control over the Central Caucasus.
To defend its Lebensraum and provide the future of the country, Alania-Ossetia was again in strong need of state forms for self-organization. But it was impossible to restore Alans’ statehood in the Alpine zone of the Central Caucasus for the lack of the required natural-economic base. The Alans’ kingdom, as well as all ever existing Caucasian states, depended on the material resources of the plain lost in the 14th century and already inaccessible for highland Ossetia. The main achievement of Ossetian political thought and practical diplomacy of the 18th century was that the way out of this vicious circle had been found. The way out was equally witty and faultless: if there is an urgent need in statehood and no resources for its separate restoration, it is necessary to get hold of the already existing strong state.
It is clear, that the importance of the choice Ossetia was facing was stipulated rather by the determination of optimal directions of economic, political and cultural development than by effective restoration of statehood, which was nothing but a tool. A cool pragmatism – this was the main line of the Alania-Ossetia decision to join Russia. It is necessary to recognize that there existed neither political nor economic, nor a cultural alternative for the strategic union with Russia.
First of all – Russia showed in practice a full recognition of Ossetia’s sovereignty, only Russia offered Ossetians a horizontal model of mutual obligations. Iran and Turkey presented themselves in the Caucasus by vassal (including Georgia) ownerships, trying to impose upon Ossetia a subordinated status in a multistage feudal hierarchy. Partnership with Russia enabled restoration of the system of socio-political and economic communications debugged as early as the Middle Ages. The basic economic potential of medieval Alanic statehood concentrated on the fertile Precaucasian plain. Under new conditions the role of a mother country was assumed by the Russian centre, quickly expanding its dominant positions in the Precaucasus.
The Alanic-Slavic ethno-lingual kinship was proved scientifically in the next century, and the religious affinity of two Orthodox people appeared as the essential factor of rapprochement. After all in the 18th century in the nearest vicinity of Ossetia there were no other Christian countries. It’s not worth deceiving oneself about the Georgian landowners: not only Persian suzerain of Kartli kings and princes, but more often they themselves related to Muslims – Orthodox peasants were of no political importance. The cultural value of Russian-Ossetian union was immediately proved in practice: first, by the activities of Ossetian spiritual commission that translated prayer books into Ossetian and taught reading and writing, and then – a whole decade prior to joining – by founding the first Ossetian school in Mozdok. In comparison, the activity of Georgian missionaries has always had as its aim an ethno-lingual assimilation and social suppression.
Now, what happened in the middle of the 18th century? Answering to this question today, we should show responsibility and accuracy of definitions: Ossetian people chose and established Russia as their national state. Ossetians initiated negotiations about joining the empire. Since 1749 till 1752 Ossetia was presented in Petersburg by an embassy. But before that, carrying on the instructions of the Senate, the Board of Foreign Affairs made a detailed analysis of the situation in Ossetia and certified full sovereignty of Ossetia. The structure and powers of the Ossetian embassy also became a subject of multiple and careful studies in Petersburg, for the Georgian lobby tried to convince the higher Russian officials of the ambassadors’ lack of powers to represent the country. Secret struggle and international intrigues came to an end with the trials and decisions of the Senate that unmasked the Georgian adventurers.
It is also important to note, that two of the three Ambassadors Plenipotentiary – Zurab Magkaev, the head of embassy, and Elisey Kesaev – came from Tualta area, which included territories of Southern and Central Ossetia, and the third of them – Batyrmirza Tsopanov – was representing the key society of North Ossetia – Kurtat. According to the protocol, the embassy included three assistants – attendants. The assistant to the head of the embassy was his son Dmitry, while the other two (Dzivi Abaev and Sergey Solomonov) belonged to a noble Ossetian clan of Agyzata (Osset. “Ægwyzætæ”) whose ancestral territory was located in the Republic of South Ossetia, within the present Dzhava region. All the representations, acting on behalf of Ossetia, were organized in the same way. One more example can be given – in 1758 Ossetia appealed to Elizaveta Petrovna with the request to renew customs privileges. And one of the three representatives of Ossetia was Osif Abaev, from Sba community, situated in the territory of the present Republic of South Ossetia.
It’s worth paying attention to the political format of Russian-Ossetian relations. Usually the level of a governor or a commander of a large military unit was considered quite sufficient to negotiate with separate feudal ownerships or societies and to accept oaths of Russian citizenship. While a top-level reception of the Ossetian embassy – and Russian-Ossetian negotiations in Petersburg – provide a reliable evidence of Ossetia seen as a single integrated country with a special geopolitical status both in the Caucasus and in Russia.
The Ossetian programme is repeatedly formulated in the remaining documents – joining Russia, external safety, returning to the plain, duty-free trade, availability of school education. Close political union came as the result of negotiations. Actually, the joining had to be postponed, as the 1739 Belgrade peace treaty with Turkey limited Russia’s freedom of action in the Caucasus, establishing neutrality of Kabarda, to which the part of a "barrier” between the zones of influence of Turkey and Russia was assigned. The neutral status of Kabarda, occupying in the middle of the 18th century all the Central Caucasus and being situated right between Ossetia and Russia, was, in the international legal sense, an absolute obstacle for joining, i. e. for inclusion of the territory of Ossetia into the structure of Russian empire.
Actual annexation took place in 1774, after the victorious war and conclusion of a new, Kjuchuk-Kajnardzhijsky peace treaty between Russia and Turkey. According to article 21 of this treaty, Turkey transferred the authority of establishing Kabarda’s status to the Crimean khanate. Meanwhile the existing Crimean treaty, concluded between Russia and Crimean khanate in 1772, attached the importance of the final recognition of the Russian sovereignty over Kabarda to this diplomatic formula. Thereby the unique obstacle for international legal registration of Ossetia’s joining Russia was removed.
By the way, Russia proceeded to execute the obligations taken on, waiting not to observe formalities – a sort of a sovereign pragmatism rather than anything personal. Hardly anyone in Ossetia of that time was deceived by the purposes pursued by the great northern power in the Caucasus. Neither will we confuse the historical choice of people with the specific properties of empire and typological features of autocracy. All the more the price of the imperial choice appeared rather high – the political history of Russia brought many surprises to Ossetians.

As a part of the Russian empire
Delivering itself of external Georgian-Persian danger, Ossetia in the 19th century faced again the threat of acculturation and social enslavement – this time within the boundaries of the empire. Annexation of Kartli-Kakheti kingdoms in 1801 by Russia and the subsequent «collecting of Georgian lands», won by Russia from Iran and Turkey revived and encouraged Georgian nobility’s claims for Southern Ossetian territories. Changing the patron and coming to be part of Russia, the aggressors cheered up to pass to a new offensive. However at first Georgian princes’ claims for Ossetia were not answered. The project of cultural aggression failed also: urgently designed Ossetian alphabet on the Georgian graphic basis, aimed at superseding Cyrillic alphabet introduced as early as 18th century, resulted in being nonviable. Tax and virtual dependence lawsuits against the population of the foothill Tran Caucasian valleys had lost their urgency after the country reform of 1864.
Thus, willy-nilly, the Georgian aggression concentrated on the administrative-political trend. Russian power aspired to construct in the Caucasus an optimal control system working irrespective of ethnic territories, and for this sake Southern territories of Ossetia were annexed to the adjacent Georgian ones. And so Georgian claimants got an opportunity to make their way to direct governance over Ossetians – on behalf of the empire and as Russian officials. The class status, property and educational qualification of Kartli court nobility, escorting now Russian deputies in Tiflis, left little chances, if any, for career development of local inhabitants of Southern Ossetia.
Like all the countries comprising Russia, Ossetia underwent territorial-administrative development. Thereby it was for the first time, that such a precedent as the division of self-governing confederations between several governmental centres was created. Three northern communities were administered by Vladikavkaz Commandant and since 1845 by Vladikavkaz District Caucasian Line. Digor society, the largest in the North, was attached to the Caucasian Line Center governed from Nalchik. Central and Southern communities of Ossetia became a part of Tiflis province. Southwest parts of Ossetia were included into Kutaisi province.
With the consolidation of the empire’s positions in the Caucasus and in the process of accumulating experience in the Caucasus, administrative-territorial division was also perfecting. In 1857 Digora was included into Vladikavkaz district. In 1858, after several armed conflicts with the Georgian nobility wearing the form of the Russian officials, the Tual society passed from Gori district of Tiflis province to Vladikavkaz district. Nar, Zaramag and other Tual territories extending to the North from the Main ridge, had long been governed from Gori and Tiflis until the risk of complete loss of state control forced the Governor-general to take a radical decision which made the area quite and loyal since then. Other societies of Central and South Ossetia for another half a century were permanently resisting the pressure of Georgian nobility who used to confuse deliberately imperial officials’ powers with its own imperial ambitions.
Historical significance of this resistance is in the cardinal discrepancy of models, strategy and motivations of social development of Ossetia and neighboring Georgia.
The internal mainspring of the Georgian political project and at the same time an inexhaustible source of energy nourishing the claims on adjacent regions, moreover – on whole countries, come from the natural processes of overcoming feudal dissociation, clearing overseas dependence, and ascending a step to centralization.
Georgia could hardly accomplish these transformations on its own; it was Russia who assumed the responsibility of discharging Georgian territories from Iranian and Turkish dependence and joining them within the integrated state. Gathered of separate fragments, Georgia hadn’t grown from its own economic resources, political potential of the elite or the will of its population; all was collected and transformed with foreign help. That’s why the transformation it underwent appeared to be foreign too – up till now Georgia resembles a wine cask: it is easily scattered, when iron hoops of an empire, foreign as ever, are removed. But overtaking the age of Georgian political maturity, foreign reformers could not cancel the realities of its historical life – routine aggression of landowners, regionalism and a sheer feudal understanding of public service as a source of feeding. So did princes and noblemen in all the countries that underwent centralization, and everywhere at first it was the state that indulged them – for its own bureaucratic purposes. And although it might seem an anachronism for the 19th century Russia, still it corresponded to the social structure and expectations of the Kartveli population.
In the meantime Ossetia led a life of its own. Having chosen the Russian state on its own, Ossetians in the middle of the 19th century were intensively developing the Precaucasian plain and were building new economic relations with the mother country, leaving feudalism for ever. The peasant movement between 1840 - 1850 became the final crisis of the traditional economy. The main feature of the peasant reform in Ossetia was the sequence that eliminated the traces of feudal landed property and class system.
The strategic value of Ossetian territory forced the legislators oriented to the interests of a free country economy to act as fast as they could. Rapidly growing Vladikavkaz got the status of a city in 1860 and soon turned into the regional commercial and industrial centre and the informal capital of Ossetia. For comparison: in the middle of the 19th century half of the population of Vladikavkaz were Ossetians, while in Tiflis – Georgians comprised hardly one fifth.
In the last third of the 19th century before one generation’s eyes capitalism cardinally changed economic, and then the social structure of the Ossetian society. Ossetians worked at the enterprises in Tiflis and at oil fields in Baku, in California and Alaska, in Japan and China. Meanwhile Ossetia itself experienced an enterprise boom, a general search for deposits of nonferrous metals; European companies were investing into extraction and processing of polymetallic ores, and in agrarian sector the unprofitable branches were superseded by the manufacture of commodity grain and wool. Regional Ossetian centers were rising: in the South – Tskhinval, in the West – Christianovsky.
Social and cultural shifts in the second third of 19th century marked the beginning of an epoch of National revival – active building of a professional culture, meant to provide the process of urbanization and the demands of a new market agrarian-industrial society. Artificially interrupted during 1920-1930, Ossetian National revival, nevertheless, succeeded in implementing its fundamental historical mission, having generated numerous intelligentsia, having put forward the programme of cultural-patriotic movement, and defending the right of national culture to sovereignty and free development.
Developing on this background the perspectives of Georgian feudal aggression are easy to estimate. An instructive problem to solve – not an equation with the unknowns it is, with the decisions gone through and optimistic result. In other words, the answer to the problem of Ossetian-Georgian discrepancy was formulated by life itself. A nation having its own national structure, developed consciousness and cultural ideology, cannot be a participant of alien, all the more anachronistic political projects. It cannot be a convenient subject of external manipulations. It cannot be a meek victim of alien historical mythology and redeveloped appetite.

Revolution and genocide
The Ossetian national movement both before the revolution and during it proclaimed as a political aim the achievement of self-government of a united Ossetia within the limits of Russia, i. e. in Ossetians’ understanding – their mother state. General frustration of the power and direct military threat forced Ossetia to start national-state building. Four congresses of Ossetian people held between April-November, 1917, took basic decisions that were never cancelled and always observed by all sides even during the civil war: Ossetia is uniform in territorially-political sense, Ossetia remains as a part of the Russian state.
It’s hard to call national Georgian movement adequate – it stuck to political frames of the feudal project and planned the state self-determination of Georgia in the territories of two Transcaucasian provinces of Russia, ignoring the interests and opinions of Ossetians. After the statement of independence, accepted by Transcaucasian Seim on February, 22, 1918, Tiflis authorities set to resolute actions. To keep the Transcaucasian territories of Ossetia under control and to finish with Ossetia’s unity, autonomy and Russian orientation as fast as possible, a military expedition was directed to Tskhinval, thus unleashing a fortnight preventive war.
The turning of Ossetian-Georgian discrepancy into an open political phase took place after the statement of independence was accepted on 26 May, 1918, and Tiflis and Kutaisi provinces together with Ossetian territories were in overnight announced as territories belonging to Georgian democratic republic. But a barrel needs flank hoops – and so, a more successful patron came up fast enough to take Russia’s place while it was choking in the civil war. It took several days for Germany – time enough – for official recognition and conclusion of a treaty. Already at the beginning of June the German army entered Georgia. Hopes for democratic reorganization of the mutual Russian state, so peculiar to Ossetians, were definitively wasted. The problem of self-determination and unity of the native land thus became the burning question of Ossetia’s political life, having turned at once from in-Russian into international. A day later after the declaration of independent Georgia, the Third congress of South-Ossetian delegates gathered.
To emphasize the difference from «congresses of Ossetian people», representing all Ossetia, plenipotentiary national meetings of South Ossetia were called as "congresses of delegates» (that is delegates of public congress). To function effectively in the rough stream of revolutionary events, it was necessary to duplicate the higher representative bodies: the uniform Ossetian National board elected by the Congress of Ossetian people functioned in the North, while in the South – the South Ossetia National board elected by the Congress of delegates of South-Ossetia. Coordination was carried out by the All-Ossetian United Committee. The third congress of delegates of South-Ossetia held on May, 28, 1918 and the Fourth congress on 15-17 June, 1918 refused to recognize Georgian jurisdiction in the territory of Ossetia.
Intervention was a response to this: divisions of Georgian guards and German military units entered Tskhinval. Under the threat of a full-scale military operation against the peaceful population, on 3 August, 1918, the Fifth congress of delegates accepted a compromise resolution of interim and conditional association with Georgia on the principles of a wide territorial autonomy. Within the next few weeks of correspondence with the government of Georgia it appeared that Ossetians can see neither autonomy, nor even a united Zemstvo. But then there were expanded punitive operations aiming at the so-called "disarmament" of Ossetia.
In the meantime the victory at the First World War theatre shifted to the side of the Entente, and in the autumn of 1918 the withdrawal of German troops from Georgia began. Compromise with an aggressor became an object lesson and had its effect. The sixth Congress of delegates, held on 4 December, 1918, never mentioned the proposal to recognize Georgian democratic republic.
At the beginning of 1919 the National board of South Ossetia together with the All-Ossetian United Committee appealed to the Entente missions in Transcaucasia with the Memorandum of the people of South Ossetia. This program document came as the final and cardinal answer to the question of national-state self-determination of the Ossetian people. The Memorandum was directed on behalf of South Ossetia, for the problem of unity of the Ossetian people was connected with the international legal definition of the status of Transcaucasian territories. The preamble contained all the necessary historical explanation for the position of South Ossetia and its relations with Georgia. The basic part of the Memorandum deals with the future perspectives of the united Ossetia – united in all cases and under all circumstances: in the context of the developed international situation and taking into account different variants of political development and corresponding models of state and social order of the Caucasus. The unshakable principle of national-state unity of Ossetia, all-Caucasian scale of discussion, total absence of personal ambitions and reckoning, – all this made the text of the Memorandum a stage in the development of Ossetian political thought.
The South Ossetia National board was supported in the North by the military government of Ossetian autonomy set up as a part of Denikin Russia in 1919. The North Caucasus’s going under the control of White guards coincided with the change of patrons of “democratic Georgia”: Germans were forced out by the allies of White Russia – the English. With this the appeal to the Entente could have become a guarantee of self-determination. Regular troops were sent to South Ossetia by the decision of Menshevik Central Committee and Georgian government. Tskhinval was occupied on 12 May, 1919. The Democratic multi-party National board was smashed.
Under conditions of an occupation regime the Bolshevist organization became the leading centre of Ossetian Resistance. Why? The answer is obvious. Resistance to invaders moved to the underground, and the guerrilla home guard came forward to defend the native land. Bolsheviks were experienced in underground struggle; they had a network of rural cells, party discipline. Above all: Ossetian Bolsheviks appeared unique plenipotentiaries of Russia and consistent enemies of Menshevism ruling in Georgia; and after all, Bolsheviks were initially acting in South Ossetia as an all-Ossetian political movement – including the level of personal structure.
The South-Ossetian District Committee of Bolsheviks established in July, 1919, stood for the coordinating headquarters of guerrilla movement in all Ossetia and supported Kermenists who had retreated to the mountains from the north after the establishment of White government in Vladikavkaz. And now Bolsheviks, having retreated to mountains from North and South, and having taken the key knot of pass roads under their control, had to assume the function of unifiers – and, just as the Central Ossetian elite of the epoch of joining to Russia, came forward as national leaders.
The analogy to the 18th c. events is evident: finding itself again in the situation of state self-determination, Ossetia repeated the choice made one and a half centuries ago. The difference now was that Ossetia itself had changed, turning from confederation of closed communities into a modern nation. But this transformation, as it proved, does not change the historical mechanism – it still does not depend on personal interests and party doctrines, but now it’s moved on a qualitatively different – the national-state level.
Reproduction of one and indivisible formula of political self-determination, sovereignty and Ossetian-Russian union under new conditions, makes, to the best of our judgment, the timeless meaning of the history of Ossetia during the revolutionary epoch. Anticipating things, we could continue the analogy: a new disintegration of the Empire in the end of the 20th century once again reproduced the same formula, having once again confirmed both the invariability of Ossetian “historical code”, and a severe choice of Ossetia’s enemies.
Nothing can be done with it. Can we cancel history? Structure the whole people differently? "Write" some other culture for it? Sounds impracticable, – the unique form for cancellation of historical processes is annihilation of the society where they are going on. Thus, there is only one way to cancel South Ossetia – destroy it. And the only way to destroy the unity of Ossetia – to exterminate Ossetian people.
One should appreciate the talents of Georgian politicians of 1919-1920. Like some of their contemporaries in other countries, they learnt their lesson well – genocide is their unique chance. The formula “no man (or people) – no problem” was a widespread political recipe in the first half of 20th century.
A special role in the destiny of South Ossetia belonged to the Caucasian District Committee of Bolsheviks that was consistently crossing and giving up South Ossetia in the military-political game with Georgia. The majority of members of the District Committee were comprised of Georgian revolutionaries much more anxious for the problems of their native land, than the destinies of Ossetia or Russia. The party axis along which the Kremlin sent down guidelines to the Caucasus is also well-known: from The Peoples Commissioner for National Policy Dzhugashvili-Stalin to The Commissioner Extraordinary of the South Ordzonikidze. The extent of co-ordinated provocative activities of Georgian Mensheviks and Caucasian leadership of Bolsheviks in respect of South Ossetia still needs to be defined, but there’s no doubt about such coordination and provocation.
In the autumn-winter of 1919 South Ossetia, provoked and betrayed by Georgian Bolsheviks, escaped genocide due to the decision not to accept battle, hide weapons and save the leaders of Resistance sending them to the North. But the delay was brief.
In spring of 1920 when the Red Army occupied the Northern Caucasus, Georgia sent troops to Highland Ossetia to shut the passes and cut off South Ossetia from Russia. And the Caucasian District Committee did its utmost to make Ossetia a gun meat and a red rag for Mensheviks:
A Revolution Committee is urgently established in the South, on 6th of May Soviet power is established, while in the North a South Ossetia brigade is formed. Meantime in Bolshevist Moscow negotiations are carried on with Mensheviks, and Georgia, now abandoned by Britain, concludes a peace treaty with Soviet Russia on the 7th of May, 1920.
The note of the Kremlin from 17th of May set forth a demand to withdraw Georgian troops from Ossetia, here’s Moscow’s opinion: “… we consider that Ossetia should have the power it prefers. Georgian intrusion into affairs of Ossetia would be an unjustified intervention into foreign internal affairs”. And this is Georgia’s answer: “… there is no South Ossetia within Georgia, as for Ossetian settlements in Georgia they are located in Gori district of Tiflis province”. The Ossetian initiative to begin negotiations and Russia’s proposal of mediation were also rejected.
A general offensive against Ossetia began on the 12th of June. The project of destruction of the Ossetian south that had failed in 1919 now, at last, was activated. Lack of real ethnic and religious tension between Ossetian and Georgian peasants was depriving of possibility to dramatize a “Bartholomew’s night”. Peculiarities of Ossetian history and geography well-known in Georgia excluded an easy military solution. To clear the Transcaucasian Ossetia of Ossetian population, Georgia applied several techniques in 1920. The most effective was the “tactics of the burnt earth”, it was used in highlands and in the basic centres of peasant movement. Here the troops strove for extermination of all inhabitants and burnt settlements. The second technique was “intimidation tactics”: selective destruction of rebels reckoning that their relatives and fellow villagers would take to flight. That was meant for areas with mixed population. The third technique – “ethnic cleansing” – consisted in deportation of Ossetians from peaceful settlements. To the places of their residence Georgian population moved in a planned order. There was also the fourth technique – “perfidious peaceful disposition” to punish those who escaped from chastisers, but couldn’t leave for the north. These people were called to return to peaceful work to be shot or deported.
The exact account of victims of genocide of 1920 appeared problematic for a number of reasons. The genocide statistics was affected also by the inclusion of South-Ossetian autonomous region in the structure of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. We’ll give figures from the most reliable sources – more than 5 thousand killed and dead at retreat, more than 25 thousand refugees counted in the territory of North Ossetia, and all in all about 50 thousand turned out of their home places.

As a part of Soviet Georgia
When in the spring of 1921 the Bolsheviks won in Georgia, and the remnants of occupation administration fled from South Ossetia, the refugees returning to their homes believed that their native land would at last be free of foreign aggression, of the division attempts, of the threat and danger of genocide. Far from it – things were still there and in the old scenario: administrative division, the policy of aggression and denationalization, and then – disintegration of the Soviet empire took place, and soon after – declaration of independent Georgia and a new genocide for Ossetians – after all, how else could Ossetia be conquered.
Soviet Georgia appeared to be a true successor of princely oligarchy and Menshevist national-democracy. Georgian communists passed anew all the stages of solution of “an Ossetian problem”, arrogantly accounting their predecessors’ failures for a bad chance. The list of their first achievements is as follows – division of Ossetia into two autonomies, inclusion of South Ossetia into Georgian republic, and annexation of southeast Ossetia, torn away and included in Kazbegi area (it comprises 2 of 11 societies of Highland Ossetia). In the mid-twenties, taking advantage of Ossetians’ struggle for a united autonomy, an attempt is made to seize the whole of Ossetia. Petitions of Ossetians for unity were definitively rejected in 1926, but the Georgian plan of full submission was also frustrated – Ossetia remained divided into two autonomous regions: South-Ossetian, established in 1922 and included in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, North Ossetia, formed in 1924 as a part of the Russian Federation.
Georgian communists had to await two decades before the possibility of a new seizure showed up. When in 1944 the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was abolished, the home places of deported inhabitants were populated by Ossetians from highland south and north Ossetia, and also from Kazbegi area of Georgia. Thus the southeast part of North Ossetia, luckily "saved" from Ossetians, was also attached to the cleaned out Kazbegi area – and thereby almost half of the North Caucasian mountain territories of historical Ossetia went to the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Simultaneously cultural aggression was promoted. In 1938 a particular written language on the basis of Georgian graphic was designed for South Ossetia – thus for the first time cultural division of the people turned out well. In 1944 Ossetian schools were closed, in 1951 paper-work was translated into Georgian.
The policy of economic discrimination was carried on to a well spent formula: folding of the existing industry and stoppage of building new enterprises, voluntary setting of targets in agriculture too high – all for the maximum exhaustion of natural resources, ruin and exile of countrymen.
The crimes connected with the implementation of the plan of carrying out mobilization in a field army at the expense of under-age Ossetians – is a special subject.
The Soviet power appeared much more convenient than imperial for it was impossible for the state in imperial Russia to practice such frank, mass forms of national oppression. The forced offensive of Georgian communists halted only during Ottepel’, after the chief patrons of provincial imperialism left the Kremlin.
Between 1960-1980 the aggression could hardly be too open, and so a special demographic policy was used instead: the migratory policy was directed at extrusion Ossetians from South Ossetia to the north or relocation to the areas of Georgia where a well-organized social pressure could compel them to accept Georgian writing for their surnames and change the record in the column "nationality". To increase ethno-acculturation, South Ossetia was turned into a raw-material producing appendage of neighboring Georgian areas. It took last place in the USSR for the dynamics of economic development, number of workplaces and level of a social infrastructure. At the general more than double growth of population, the Ossetian population
of South Ossetia reduced considerably during the Soviet period. The goal was nearly achieved – by the end of the Soviet epoch the Ossetian population of autonomy reduced to 66 thousand – only the tenth part of the nation – and according to the Georgian plan even those were to move off. However the idea of silent annexation was frustrated. The life time of political system that was dividing and sorting the nations of the union state, understanding the principle of equality
as a possibility for unification and conniving at turning people into biological material, could not last long.

Self-determination of South Ossetia
Disintegration of the Soviet Union deprived again the Georgian barrel of imperial hoops. Proclaiming independence and finding new patrons, Georgia returned to the forced methods of unfinished aggression, set to direct destruction of South Ossetia, to war and genocide.
The processes of democratization in the USSR of the period of Perestroika legalized Georgian national movement with its slogans of ethnic discrimination and abolition of the autonomies in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. Georgian language development State program of 1988 imposing Georgian for paper-work became the first step. An unbridled racist-chauvinistic campaign was launched in the press; its main objects being South Ossetia and Ossetians in Georgia, and the proclaimed purposes – destruction of the autonomy and ethnic cleansing.
From November 1989 to June, 1990 the Supreme body of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic had made unconstitutional decisions canceling legislative acts of the Soviet period, among which Agreement of 1922 on formation of the USSR and Decree on formation of South-Ossetian Autonomous District. These decisions actually abolished the South-Ossetian Autonomous Region which thereby was put out of the legal framework of Georgia. To deprive the population of South Ossetia of lawful forms of will, the next elections to the Regional Soviet weren’t fixed – for such decision belonged exclusively to the competence of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic. Under these conditions preservation of the format of an autonomous region would have turned South Ossetia into a powerless territory, an easy game for the legislative aggression of Tbilisi.
According to the procedure established in the USSR, extraordinary session of People"s Deputies of South Ossetia on November 10, 1989 made a decision on transformation of Autonomous Region to Constitutional Autonomous Republic as a part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. The decision was passed on for consideration to the Georgian Supreme Soviet, but the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet turned it down, without submitting it to sessions, and on 23 of November a 30-thousand armed crowd under the leadership of the Communist Party of Georgia and the leaders of the national movement advanced against South Ossetia. Barred from Tskhinval, for half a year Georgian militia units together with the informal bands were besieging the town and committing acts of violence in the countryside of the republic.
Repeated appeals to the leaders and the governing bodies of the USSR and the Georgian Soviet Republic – with the request to assess, if not to stop, current developments – were
neglected. The situation aggravated in autumn 1990 with Georgian fascists coming to power and the declaration of independence of Georgia: armed provocations now were followed by economic, transport, information blockade and direct destruction of the social infrastructure. Again as at the beginning of the century South Ossetia faced the jeopardy of demolition. To rescue life and property of citizens, preserve law and order and the system of governance the people of South Ossetia took advantage of the right to self-determination. Using the principles of international law and the operating legislation of the USSR, on 20th of September, 1990 the session of the Country Council with participation of People"s Deputies of all levels
transformed the autonomous region to South-Ossetian Soviet Democratic Republic as a part of the USSR. Elections to the Supreme body of the Republic took place on 9th of December, 1990.
In a day, on 11th of December, 1990 the Supreme body of Georgia made a special decision on abolition of the South-Ossetian Autonomous Region that had been already repeatedly liquidated during the previous year. The true purpose for the new decision was to make a political grounding for military occupation which Georgia started at Christmas of 1991. Along with this the legal consequences of the one-sided decision made by Georgia appeared considerable. This decision, as well as the decision of South Ossetia to establish republic, was cancelled on 7th of January, 1991 by the decree of the President of the USSR. But Georgia refused to submit to the decree, while South Ossetia accepted it to execution. On 17th of March, 1991 the referendum about preservation of the USSR was held: Georgia refused to participate in it, and South Ossetia voted for preservation of the USSR (72 % present, 97 % votes). Two weeks later, on 31th of March, Georgia held a referendum about independence in which South Ossetia did not participate. The decree of the President of the USSR and two referendums completed the legal registration of the status of South Ossetia as an administrative and territorial unit out of Georgia and a part of the USSR.
In the meantime the occupation of South Ossetia continued. It begun on 6th of January, 1991 with the seizure of Tskhinval that was handed over to a six-thousand grouping of Georgian militia and informals by the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. Having occupied all the objects of life-support, blocked the roads, disconnected the electric power and blew up a water pipe, the aggressors started physical destruction of Ossetians. Resistances of the forces of self-defense made interventionists leave Tskhinval, but they occupied dominating heights and were firing point-blank at residential blocks with heavy guns and rocket installations. The terror organized in the areas of South Ossetia, was marked by mass violence against the peaceful population, robbery and arson of Ossetian settlements.
The most amazing in that, was that again as in 1918, the Ossetians showed readiness for compromise. Under the pressure of Moscow and Vladikavkaz, trusting to the promises of the Centre to stop extermination of people, the Meeting of Deputies at all levels, held on May 4, 1991, took a decision on the abolition of Republic and returning to the status of an autonomous region. Naturally, a new advance of armed forces of Georgia and a new stage of a systematic, well organized genocide was the answer to the double-dealing of Moscow, unscrupulousness of Vladikavkaz and historical forgetfulness of Tskhinval. The lesson seemed to be learnt. On the 1st of September, 1991 The Council of People"s Deputies of South Ossetia cancelled the unilateral compromise, together with the unconstitutional body – Meeting of Deputies at all levels.
In December, 1991 the Soviet Union ceased to exist. When the Constitution of the USSR, also valid in the territory of South Ossetia, was abolished, on December, 21st, 1991 the Supreme body of the Republic accepted the Declaration on Independence of the Republic of South Ossetia. A month later, on January, 19th, 1992 the referendum was held in support of the independence of the Republic South Ossetia and reunion with Russia as the successor of the USSR (70 % present, 99 % votes).
The last illusions and expectations – I hope, the last in our history – have dissipated after the downfall of the fascist dictatorship in Georgia: the new regime didn’t stop military operations, but threw against South Ossetia new regular units armed with heavy military hardware. The acts of genocide now were especially cruel. Ethnic cleansing – mass exile of Ossetians from Georgia – renewed an apogee.
The war against South Ossetia continued till July 14, 1992, when peace-making forces were brought into South Ossetia – in accordance with the Quadrilateral (Russia, Georgia, Northern and South Ossetia) Agreement on Principles of Settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict.
The general number of victims of the genocide and military aggression against the Republic South Ossetia totals more than 2 000 people killed, more than 3 500 wounded, more than 120 missing. The number of the burnt settlements is 117. In the territory of North Ossetia and Russian Federation there are registered over 20 000 refugees from South Ossetia and over 100 000 refugee-Ossetians from Georgia. The sum of the material damage totals more than 516 billion rubles at the prices of 2005.
Peace-making forces honorably carry out their mission of peace maintenance. Fragility of this world we have once again witnessed in the summer of 2004. The true purposes of the Georgian side, consistently breaking the activities of the Joint Supervisory Commission on the conflict settlement, were demonstrated by the official Tbilisi when regular units armed with heavy hardware, artillery, military-transport aircraft were thrown against South Ossetia. Certainly, they achieved nothing, but people were lost, houses, economic and public buildings ruined, and the process of conflict settlement was neglected. Nothing new was demonstrated after that too, except for a train of provocations and Kurta buffoons. But we ourselves have changed.
We understand now, that the artillery cannonade, destruction and exile of Ossetians are the original, invariable sense of the Georgian policy, with its main objective – liquidation of South Ossetia. We have for ever abandoned the dependant expectation of a kind international Uncle, extraneous wisdom and alien justice. Independence and the state sovereignty of Republic South Ossetia are the unique protection against genocide, the best guarantee of a reliable future.
Self-determination as a norm of international law
Historically Ossetia has never been a part of Georgia and has never been in the structure of the Georgian state. At the moment the Republic of South Ossetia declared its independence it had already seceded the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic which cancelled all legal acts, stipulating the presence of South-Ossetian AR as a part of the GSSR. At the moment of
international recognition of an independent Georgia, South Ossetia had no longer been part of this state. Ignoring these circumstances, the defenders of imperialism and colonial approaches refer to the norms of international law, suggesting they are limiting the possibility of self-determination for the Ossetians.
Modern international law is grounded on the unity and equally strict application of the basic principles – equal right of people to free self-determination and territorial integrity of states.
These principles do not exclude but supplement one another for each of them has its own sphere of application.
The principle of territorial integrity is valid in the sphere of interstate relations. It aims at protection of one state against external encroachment of another. The self-determination principle regulates relations between the people, as the primary bearer of territorial rights, and the state to which it delegates the realization of the rights and obliges it to act on behalf and in the interests of the people it governs. “Declaration of the Principles of International Law, of Friendship and Cooperation between the states in accordance with UN Charter”, accepted by the UN General Assembly in 1970, directly specifies, that territorial integrity of the states should be based on self-determination of the people.
Realization of the right of people to self-determination is not considered as a violation of territorial integrity. International law protects the territorial integrity only of those states, whose borders are based on self-determination of the people.
This parity between the two principles is fixed and confirmed in the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and also in the Vienna Declaration and the Program accepted by the World Conference on Human Rights on June, 25, 1993. This last is of particular importance for, firstly, it was accepted after the people of South Ossetia declared their self-determination, and, secondly, it excludes any contraposition of human rights to the rights of the people. The Vienna Declaration states, “All people have the right to self-determination. Owing to this right they freely establish their political status and freely provide their economic, social and cultural development”; “World Conference on Human Rights considers refusal of the right to self-determination as a violation of human rights and emphasizes the necessity of effective realization of this right”.
The same document establishes people’s self-determination as a single sufficient reason for territorial rights of the state and a necessary condition of protection of its territorial integrity. The play performed by Georgia, in an attempt to establish a comprador-puppet administration, all these masked traitors and fugitives are nothing but a manifestation of understanding and recognition de-facto of the indisputable fact: any references to the principle of territorial integrity of the state are possible only in case if this state “in its actions follows the principle of equality and self-determination of the people” and if it “represents all people”.
The overwhelming majority of modern states in the world gained their independence through separation from other states. But we can speak about separation only in case when the territory of the people that are separating belongs to the state by right. In case when the state which has never possessed the right to this territory objects to separation – then the fact of occupation of a foreign territory by this state is at issue.
We now put a question – what is the state the independent South Ossetia came from? – The disintegrated USSR. What state has sovereign rights to the territory of South Ossetia gained through the good will of the Ossetian people? This state is Russia. But Russia does not lay territorial or any other claim to South Ossetia. As to the attempts of Georgia to affect the process of self-determination of the Republic of South Ossetia they bear no relation either to the history, national will or to the norms of international law.
The right to self-determination is recognized as the highest international legal basis of the state ownership of territory, proceeding from recognition of inseparable connection of each people with its territory historically established. Borders change; states arise and disappear, while this connection of the people with ethnic territory remains. When people’s destruction is meant, as a rule, they are deprived of territory. When foreign territory is held by force, the indigenous population is destroyed. The people’s right of to their territory is recognized even when these people are governed by a foreign state.
The population of such territory acts as a subject of law of self-determination and does not fall under action of the principle of territorial integrity of the states. Ethnic cleansings and genocide over the annexed territory are also recognized as the grounds for self-determination. We know from experience, that preservation of the integrity of states-aggressors dooms the people of the annexed countries and territories to a new genocide. And, on the contrary, state sovereignty serves them as a reliable protection.

State Sovereignty of the Republic of South Ossetia
After Georgia declared its independence, the Republic of South Ossetia was acting in strict conformity with the Law of “Order of Settlement of the Withdrawal Problems of Union Republics from the USSR” and gained its independence as the result of a national referendum in compliance with all legal norms and procedures under the control of observers from foreign states.
Having realized their legitimate right to self-determination, the people of South Ossetia established a sovereign state. Legitimacy of existence of the Republic of South Ossetia is confirmed by a free expression of popular will through three referendums, three presidential and five parliamentary elections.
Since 1992 the Republic of South Ossetia exists as a de facto independent state and meets all requirements necessary for its international recognition. The criteria applied to definition of statehood and fixed in the Montevideo Convention and other international acts, include: resident population, definite territory, effective government, ability to enter relations with other states.
The Republic of South Ossetia has resident population and definite territory. The organized government carries out an effective control over the territory and the population. The Republic has its own Constitution accepted by the referendum of 2001, the Army, the National flag and the Hymn. The status of the citizen is certified by the passport given out by the state. The president and Parliament are elected by general voting.
The Republic of South Ossetia is a legally valid democratic state. The Republic of South Ossetia held all the elections without exception, all the procedures of delegation of powers to the President, Parliament, and the Government in strict accordance with the constitutional order. The Republic has independent legal procedure, army and militia and security service. The state levies taxes, provides property rights and social service – public health services, provision of pensions, public safety, power and road and transport services, etc.
The Republic of South Ossetia seeks participation in the international integration processes and actively supports the creation of the Caucasian system of regional safety, and peaceful solution of all disputable issue.
Legitimacy of the state sovereignty of the Republic of South Ossetia, legality of the process of formation of the state, its viability and efficiency will form a reliable basis for international recognition.

Ossetian refugees in Georgia
In the late eighties-first half of 90s mass violence was done in Georgia against the Ossetians. Thousands of people were exposed to sadistic tortures and prosecution, no less than one thousand of them were killed, and about 100 thousand were plundered and expelled from Georgia. The unique relationship of these events with attempts of annexation of South Ossetia consists in an overall aim of physical destruction and exile of the Ossetian. It is necessary to distinguish two different political items – aggression against independent Republic of South Ossetia and internal national policy of Georgia based on the principles of discrimination and ethnic cleaning.
Hundred thousands of Ossetian refugees deprived of property and forced to move to Ossetia, often on foot, often by a round-about way via Armenia, – give a political portrait of the Georgian state. The decision of refugee problems is a heavy burden laid down on the modest economic and social possibilities of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and the Republic of South Ossetia.
So far nobody in Georgia has suffered punishment for crimes against humanity. Victims of the genocide and ethnic cleansings in the territory of Georgia are neither rehabilitated nor receive reimbursement for the lost property and moral damage. The declarative law of restitution, imposed to the Georgian parliament as an indispensable condition to enter the European Union and NATO, suggests no real legal mechanisms and so, as it is, actually protects the interests of robbers and marauders, but not the destitute refugees.
Consecutive condemnation of the policy of discrimination in Georgia could be carried out only with criminal prosecution of the organizers of the genocide and ethnic cleanings, the return and restoration of refugees with all their rights, reimbursement for property and moral damage, and acceptance of the legislation, capable to provide Ossetians in the territory of Georgia with personal safety, social protection and cultural autonomy.

Historical experience and political conditions of survival
In 1774 the united and independent Ossetia became a part of Russia following public will. The administrative borders existing in imperial and communistic Russia were taken in Ossetia as unnatural, but temporal, easily surmountable within an integrated state. The attempts undertaken twice in the 20th century to divide Ossetia between two states by force were marked by genocide of the Ossetian people and military conflicts. Henceforth any form of forcible submission of Ossetia will, no doubt, inevitably generate a national-liberation movement.
In the disintegrating Soviet Union South Ossetia was compelled to take advantage of the right to self-determination. Its initial purpose in 1989-1990 was to repel military attacks that threatened the existence of autonomy and above all – citizens’ life and property, but not to separate from Georgia, Soviet still at those times. However the conflict immediately assumed the character and dimensions of a national-liberation war. Tens of years of national oppression, armed aggression, repeated genocide of the Ossetian people have exposed the impossibility of providing the people of South Ossetia the conditions for survival in Georgia. Integration of South Ossetia within Georgia would mean serious threat to the survival of Ossetians. Peace and stability can be provided in case Georgia is deprived of any chance to interfere in the life of South Ossetia. Whatever Future has in store, nothing but independence of South Ossetia can guarantee that next time it won’t be destroyed in genocide.
South Ossetia has a two-century experience of administrative unity with a common state (Russian empire, and then the USSR) and in total twenty years" experience of the neighborhood with independent Georgia (at the beginning of 20th century and at the turn of millennia). Indisputable results of this cheerless experience are as follows:
Between Ossetia and Georgia there aren’t any ethnic or confessional conflicts, if there were, they might be settled within the general political system. It is no mere chance that neither the Russian empire, nor the Soviet Union achieved a success in this. Ossetia and Georgia are and have always been divided by the basic contrast of social cultures and actual political projects. While the socio-cultural basis of the Georgian public life is a vertically-hierarchical system of social, ethnic, any group and individual relations, the Ossetian public model follows a horizontal-liberal scheme.
Accordingly, the Georgian political project – feudal within the empire, totalitarian in the USSR, ethno-cratic in the situation of independence – always assumes unification and hierarchy, and hence – suppression, annexation, and ethnic cleansing. On the contrary, the Ossetian project of political development proceeds from the form of confederation, group and personal contestability, democratic choice – Ossetia is the most international country in the Caucasus, the Ossetians in the USSR took the first places for the degree of urbanization and statistical level of erudition.
These insurmountable, organic qualities explain absolute irrelativity of Georgian aggression against South Ossetia from any attendant circumstances – changes of regimes and ideologies,
changes of the political status of Georgia, and finally from its present patrons: Germany and then the Entente at the beginning of 20th century, the European Union or NATO at the beginning of the third millennium. The same internal properties of the Georgian policy explain consecutive destruction of democratic government bodies in Ossetia – certainly when temporal annexation is possible: both the multi-party liberal National board at the beginning of 20th century, and modern parliament will share one fate – they intend to replace it with an occupational puppet regime.
In all historical circumstances Georgia uses every possibility for military aggression and physical destruction of the Ossetians. The compromises offered by the Ossetian side,
including the consent to an autonomy within the independent Georgia in 1918, the consent to the autonomous region status during Soviet time, even the attempt to return to this status, refusing from the status of a republic in 1991 – at all historical stages these steps have been interpreted as weakness and were used for forced annexation and genocide.
In all cases, without exception, Georgia uses a double political standard, interpreting to its own advantage Human Rights Declaration of the people of Russia 1917, Acts for an Order of Exit from the USSR, international legal norm of self-determination of the people and so on, and so forth, refusing the same legitimate rights to the neighboring Ossetia.
Having practiced military intrusion and the second genocide of 1989-1992, neighboring Georgia today does not hide its aggressive plans. However, constant provocations and military preparations made by Georgia enable a better estimation of Russia’s peace-making role and the degree of Ossetia’s peacefulness. The existence of the Republic of South Ossetia as a de facto independent state is an effective stabilizing factor of a regional political life, an insurmountable obstacle to physical destruction of the Ossetian people, and the infringement of political, social and property rights of its citizens.
There is no and has never been an anti-Georgian mood in Ossetia and this is a well documented fact and a reality, easily observable. In reply to undisguised destruction of southern Ossetians in 1918-1920 the whole Ossetia was keeping a modest silence for seventy years. In reply to a new genocide South Ossetia saved the Georgian enclaves that now have become – in gratitude, probably, – a base for the Tbilisi hawks. Ossetian silence after the events of 1920 promoted the genocide of 1989-1992. The conclusion is as simple as this: maintaining peace and restraint, its time to stop keeping silent. Forgiving the destruction of people is a crime in itself, for it provokes recidivism. It is necessary to speak aloud about genocide and make it internationally recognized.
South Ossetia aspires to an exclusively peaceful and fair settlement of relations with Georgia, proceeding from following purposes:
1. Provide safety of citizens, to exclude repetition of genocide to which Georgia subjected the Ossetian people twice in the 20th century;
2. Provide for the sustainable development of a democratic state and civil society in South Ossetia;
3. Create favorable conditions for equal partnership, good neighborhood relations and cooperation with Georgia.
Recognition of the independent status of South Ossetia will become a reliable and the sole ground and guarantee for attaining these goals.
Only recognition of post-Soviet realities can help to finish the process of disintegration of empires and to overcome political crises caused as their heritage.
A free Republic of South Ossetia is a basic guarantee of national safety.
A sovereign Republic of South Ossetia is the best proof of political health of the nation which has managed to create an independent democratic state in the limited territory of the southern provinces of its small country. An independent Republic of South Ossetia is an effective school of professional policy and diplomacy that provided clear comprehension of national interests and reliable level of coordination and constructive cooperation of the state bodies of the South and the North.
Safety and well-being of the Republic of South Ossetia presupposes the unity of Ossetia, firmness of historical union with Russia and reliable prospects of national development of the Ossetian people.

September, 2007, Tskhinval

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