The authorities in South Ossetia want to change the name of their self-declared republic in response to a historical dispute with a rival Caucasus nation. A rebranding could also, some in South Ossetia hope, hasten its incorporation into the Russia Federation.
Five years after their formal recognition by the Russian Federation as independent states on August 26, 2008, Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are on very different trajectories in terms of relations with their northern neighbor. But both are plagued by growing domestic political instability.
Whenever Ilya Beruashvili hears his dog bark, he knows the Russians are at the gate.
For the past five years, Beruashvili, 53, who lives on the outskirts of the Georgian village of Ditsi, has watched from his windows as Russian soldiers stationed in the neighboring separatist territory of South Ossetia have patrolled the fields he used to farm.
Orthodox Easter was celebrated on April 15 in Georgia. This year, Misha Tabatadze could not join in the traditional pilgrimage to visit the graves of loved ones. He could not light a candle in the cemetery where his daughter, Etuna, is buried, or place a brightly dyed red egg on her grave.
In a jab at Moscow, Georgia on May 20 became the first country to recognize as genocide Tsarist Russia’s massive slaughter of ethnic Circassians in the mid-19th century. The decision constitutes part of Tbilisi’s ongoing argument that the Caucasus is a region where Russia comes as an outsider, not as a native with the right to rule.