South Ossetian Authorities Release Results of 1st Census in 26 Years

TSKHINVALI, South Ossetia – The statistics Department of Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia has released the final results of a census, the first of its kind since the Soviet Union’s last head count in 1989.

According to results published Tuesday, South Ossetia’s total population amounted to 53,532 people, with ethnic Ossetians making up 89.9 per cent of the Russian-backed separatist region’s residents.

The total number of Georgians – most of whom have been ethnically cleansed in the last 26 years – only amount to 3,966 people, or 7 per cent of the overall population.

Immediately after the release of the statistics, the Georgian government was quick to cast doubt on the accuracy of the results.

Because Georgia’s office of the statistic was not able to conduct the 2015 Georgian census in South Ossetia, the present composition of the population of South Ossetia is unknown.

According to Georgian officials, during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, more than 15,000 Georgians were forced to fell their homes and continue to be classified as internally displaced persons.

South Ossetian officials were quick to point out that an estimated 30,000 Ossetians fled to North Ossetia in the Russian Federation and 500 other local residents were killed during the hostilities.

At the time of the last Soviet census, South Ossetia’s population totalled 98,500 people, including more 28,000 Georgians and 2,000 Russians.

The Georgian government forces fought three wars against Russian-backed separatist forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia between 1991-2008.

The wars left thousands dead and led to the ethnic cleansing of a quarter of a million ethnic Georgians. Abkhazia and South Ossetia were recognized as independent states by Moscow following the 2008 war.

International law and the United Nations continue to state that the regions remain parts of Georgia.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller

Photo: Ada Bagian/Sputnik

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