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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Ossetians (South) in Georgia

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Date(s) Item
501 - 600 Ossetians settle in the region of present-day North Ossetia.
1201 - 1300 Ossete nomads conduct raids on Georgian frontier, but they are eventually repulsed.
1774 The area of present day North Ossetia is incorporated into the Russian empire. Unlike many other Caucasian nationalities, the Ossetians generally welcome the Russian presence as offering protection from their more powerful local rivals.
1783 Georgia signs a treaty with Russia, becoming a protectorate of the Russian empire.
1801 - 1810 Russia annexes Georgia. Strict Russification measures are introduced.
1801 - 1900 Ossetians collaborate with Russian military forces as they occupy the Caucasus. A successful Russification campaign is introduced among Ossetians.
1821 - 1830 The area of present day South Ossetia is incorporated into the Russian empire.
1917 Overthrow of the Tsarist regime and later the Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks emerge as the de facto rulers of Russia, controlling Moscow, Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and other major urban centers. A government dominated by Social Democrats takes power in Georgia. A Transcaucasian Federation is established under Soviet auspices incorporating Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
1917 - 1921 Most Ossetes collaborate with Bolshevik Russia in its confrontation with independent Georgia.
1918 The Transcaucasian Federation splinters as Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia (May) all declare independence. Pro-Bolshevik Ossetians stage a revolt and are harshly repressed by Georgian forces.
1918 - 1920 The Bolsheviks impose a naval blockade on independent Georgia and deploy military units to threaten the pro-independence government in Tbilisi.
Feb 1921 Bolshevik forces occupy Georgia, bringing the country back under domination by Moscow.
1922 The South Ossetian Autonomous Region is formed within Georgia and North Ossetia is created in the Russian Federation.
1924 The relatively tolerant economic and cultural policies of the Soviet Georgian government come to an end with the attempted insurrection of the "Underground Independence Committee." Amid continuing resistance, Georgian churches are suppressed and forced agricultural collectivization is imposed. Ossetians, however, for the most part do not participate in anti-Soviet activities.
1925 Local leaders in the North Ossetian Autonomous Republic appeal for the creation of a united Ossetian republic. Their request is denied by Nationalities Minister Stalin.
1953 The death of Stalin and the purge and execution of Beria leads to relative liberalization of Soviet society, including tentative redress of minority group grievances.
1954 In South Ossetia, the written language formerly based on the Georgian alphabet is made to conform to North Ossetian practices (where the written language is on the Russian alphabet).
1956 Khrushchev initiates his anti-Stalinism campaign, one aspect of which is the rehabilitation of the ethnic minorities forcibly resettled by Soviet authorities during the 1930s through the early 1950s.
1971 - 1980 Evidence indicates that elements of the Communist Party of Georgia pursued a long-term strategy of completely assimilating Ossetians to Georgian culture.
1985 Mikhail Gorbachev takes power in Moscow. Gorbachev's broad reform initiatives known as perestroika (economic restructuring) and glasnost (greater cultural openness) lead most ethnic groups, including the Ossetians, to demand more cultural and political autonomy. As Georgians increasingly organize to assert their nationalism under Zviad Gamsakhurida, the Ossetians in turn mobilize to protect their identity and status.
1988 - 1989 Abkhazia, Adzharia, and Ossetia lobby Moscow for removal from Georgian jurisdiction. Abkhazia seeks restoration of its brief status as a Union Republic, while South Ossetia wants to merge with North Ossetia under the Russian Federation. Georgians see these moves as part of a Russian plot.
1989 Fearful of the rise of Georgian independence forces under Zviad Gamsakhurdia, nationalistic feelings increase in South Ossetia. In reaction against the anti-Communist rhetoric of Georgians, South Ossetian leaders adopt strongly pro-Soviet positions.
Aug 1989 Georgia publishes measures designed to increase the use of the Georgian language in all spheres of life. Many of Georgia's national minorities consider this an act of repression.
Sep 1989 The government of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic ratifies a measure making Russian and Georgian officially recognized languages within the South Ossetian Autonomous Region.
Oct 1 - 15, 1989 Police units in South Ossetia are reinforced following spreading protests by ethnic Ossetes. Activists are calling for an end to the official use of Russian and Georgian and are also demanding a revision of Ossetia's status from an Autonomous Region to an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, a measure which would significantly increase the territory's independence from authorities in Tbilisi.
Oct 28, 1989 Izvestiya, the official organ of the USSR government, confirms that work stoppages have been sweeping through South Ossetia since September. In addition, the paper reports that a "Popular Front of South Ossetia" has been established by Ossetian activists.
Nov 12, 1989 The head of the Georgian Communist Party in South Ossetia is sacked for his failure to diffuse ethnic tensions in the region.
Nov 20, 1989 The Georgian Supreme Soviet declares that its incorporation into the Soviet Union in 1921 was the result of military force and not was therefore involuntary and illegitimate. The Supreme Soviet also claims that it enjoys the right to secede from the USSR and to nullify laws and decrees emanating from the central government in Moscow.
Nov 25 - 26, 1989 Violent clashes between Ossetes and Georgians occur in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, leaving about 20 people injured. Most of the Georgians involved in this unrest have entered the city from outside of Ossetia to challenge the rising tide of autonomy demands.
Nov 27, 1989 1,000 USSR Interior Ministry troops take up positions around Tskhivnali to guard against further ethnic clashes.
Aug 20, 1990 The Georgian Supreme Soviet schedules Republic-wide elections for October 28. The electoral law bans participation by groups who confine their activities to one region of Georgia. This measure prevents independence movements organized in South Ossetia and Abkhazia from participating in the election.
Oct 28, 1990 Nationalist forces in Georgia win 54 percent of the vote in the first round of elections for the Republic's Supreme Soviet. Sporadic boycotting of the election is reported in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Separatist organizations in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia are banned from participating in the election because their activities are geographically restricted, which is illegal under Georgia's electoral laws.
Dec 8, 1990 The Georgian Communist Party, which had adopted a pro-independence platform during the election campaign, declares that it is separating from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Party delegates from South Ossetia and Abkhazia do not attend the meeting and denounce the secession move.
Jan 1991 Moscow News publishes a poll of ethnic Russians in Georgia indicating that 62 percent are satisfied with conditions, 22 percent dissatisfied, and that 36 percent wish to remain in Georgia and 37 percent would like to emigrate to the Russian Federation.
Feb 27, 1991 Gamsakhurdia tells the Georgian Supreme Soviet that Gorbachev is planning to detach South Ossetia and Abkhazia from the Republic, and is using such measures as a tool for pressuring Georgia into singing the newly proposed Union Treaty.
May 26, 1991 In Georgia's first direct presidential elections, Gamsakhurdia wins 87 percent of the vote. The election campaign has been characterized by harsh denunciations among pro- and anti-Gamsakhurdia factions. Due to continued unrest, polling stations remain closed in sections of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Aug 19, 1991 The government of Georgia neither supports nor denounces the takeover in Moscow of the so-called "State Committee on the State of Emergency", a grouping of conservative, anti-Gorbachev elements drawn mainly from the military, Communist Party, and security services. However, authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia announce their support for the coup leaders.
Jun 21, 1992 Russian Vice-President Alexander Rutskoi accuses Georgia of practicing "genocide" against its Russian minority.
Oct 11, 1992 Shevardnadze is popularly elected chairman of parliament (President) with 95 percent of the vote. Due to interethnic fighting, nine districts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not participate in the election.
Nov 19, 1992 Georgian and Abkhaz forces reach a temporary ceasefire to allow Russian troops to depart from Sukhumi. The South Ossetian parliament votes to separate from Georgia and join Russia.
Jan 11, 1993 An opinion poll of ethnic Russians residing in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi indicates the following: 68 percent deny that the civil rights of Russians are violated in Georgia; 7 percent believe that the civil rights of Russians are violated in Georgia; 75 percent do not support the appeals of nationalists in the Russian Parliament to aggressively defend the Russians of Georgia; 58 percent say they will remain in Georgia.
Feb 18, 1993 Georgian and Russian representatives meet and agree that the various conflicts in the Caucasus cannot be separated from one another and must be settled in a comprehensive manner. The Russian side suggests that Russia will help end the conflict in Abkhazia if Georgia assists in bringing a close to ethnic strife in South Ossetia.
May 1, 1993 The Georgian Foreign Ministry rejects Russian allegations of discrimination against ethnic Russians in Georgia, but offers to host UN and CSCE experts to investigate such claims.
Jul 19, 1993 The Chairman of the Congress of Russian Communities, an organization based in Russia and dedicated to the protection of Russian minorities in the Newly Independent States, visits Georgia and meets with Shevardnadze. Georgian radio quotes the head of the Congress as saying that there was "not a single case of discrimination against ethnic Russians in Georgia."
Feb 2, 1994 Chairman of the South Ossetian "Nykhas" (Parliament) Lyudvig Chibirov accused Russia of inconsistency for signing a treaty with Georgia before the settlement of conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Feb 4, 1994 The Russian newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reports that 150,000 ethnic Russians have left Georgia since 1992, although it observes that official policies of the Georgian government do not discriminate against Russians.
Mar 2, 1994 Russia and Georgia sign a military cooperation agreement. The leadership of South Ossetia and ABKHAZIA meets in a joint press conference to decry the treaty as provocative of further ethnic conflict.
May 3, 1994 The Georgian constitutional commission issues a draft program for the country's political and territorial structure. The draft calls for the granting of special political status to ABKHAZIA and ADZHARIA. South Ossetia is not offered a similar status, although Georgian officials indicate that the issue is subject to negotiation.
Sep 1994 Rallies are held in Abkhazia to protest against the return of ethnic Georgian refugees from Georgia proper. Allegedly, these rallies are orchestrated by the leadership of the breakaway region and prominently feature Russians in order to create the impression that that ethnic group disapproves of the return of Georgians to Abkhazia.
Oct 31, 1994 A Russian, Georgian, North Ossetian, and South Ossetian quadripartite commission meets to negotiate settlements of outstanding disputes. The primary goal of the commission is to reach a comprehensive political settlement in South Ossetia, where Russian peacekeepers maintain a cease-fire pending a comprehensive peace.
Feb 17, 1995 The Georgian government allocates one million dollars for relief aid to refugees returning to South Ossetia. Returning refugees, responding to improved security conditions in South Ossetia, include Ossetians and ethnic Georgians.
Feb 24, 1995 South Ossetian and Georgian authorities announce that joint restoration operations will begin in March. Infrastructure and economic conditions deteriorated due to combat in 1992 and the prolonged political stalemate that followed.
Apr 7, 1995 Abkhazian civic organizations, including the Russian community of Gudauta and the Armenian society "Krunk", sponsor a petition campaign addressed to Presidents Yeltsin and Shevardnadze calling for the recognition of Abkhaz independence.
May 1995 Representatives of the Russian Ministry for Nationalities and the Georgian Committee for Interethnic Relations meet and agree to cooperate on areas of mutual interest.
Jul 20, 1995 Representatives from Georgia and South Ossetia meet to negotiate a comprehensive settlement to their dispute.
Aug 4, 1995 Georgia's Prime Minister meets with OSCE representatives to discuss settlement of the South Ossetian conflict.
Aug 29, 1995 Due to political and economic conditions in South Ossetia, it is reported that some workers have not been paid for as long as two years.
Oct 25, 1995 The Chairman of the Abkhaz branch of the "Congress of Russian Communities" (an organization of Russian speakers) states that the region's 70,000 Russians are suffering under a blockade imposed by Russia.
Nov 1, 1995 Georgia's Central Electoral Commission suspends polling in ABKHAZIA and parts of South Ossetia. On Russian television Shevardnadze states that the Russian Federation should assist Georgia in restoring control over its breakaway regions, particularly ABKHAZIA.
Nov 5, 1995 Shevardnadze wins 74 percent of the popular vote in his reelection bid for the Georgian presidency. In the first round of parliamentary polling, Shevardnadze's Citizens' Union wins 91 of 225 seats.
Nov 20, 1995 Shevardnadze praises the state of Russo-Georgian relations. Georgian radio reports that delegations of policemen, students, and teachers will receive training in Turkey.
Nov 21, 1995 The European Union promises Georgia 2,640,000 dollars in economic aid.
May 16, 1996 Georgian and South Ossetain leaders signed a confidence-building accords(Agence France Presse)
Aug 27, 1996 Shevardnadze and South Ossetian leader Chibirov met and discussed the political settlement of the conflict. They signed several agreements devoted to normalization of the relations between Georgia and South Ossetia (M2 Presswire)
Sep 1996 The South Ossetian parliament amended the constitution to create the institution of the presidency(TASS)
Nov 9, 1996 South Ossetia and North Ossetia signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation (TASS)
Nov 10, 1996 South Ossetia held presidential elections which were won by Lyudvig Chibirov, a moderate. The elections were not recognized by Georgia or any country. However, Shevardnadze stressed the fact that the elections should not undermine the thaw in the relations between Georgia and South Ossetia. A most radical South Ossetian candidate received less than 4%.(Agence France Presse)
Mar 14, 1997 South Ossetia called for the OSCE to review all the laws the republic has passed (BBC)
Apr 24, 1997 The OSCE opens its mission in South Ossetia (BBC)
Aug 1997 The congress of refugees and internally displaced peoples from Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared these provinces annexed and occupied by Russia. (BBC)
Sep 1997 South Ossetian refugees in North Ossetia are reported to live in homes of Ingush who escaped during the conflict with North Ossetian. The presence of South Ossetians is said to make return of the Ingush refugees more difficult (Defence and Foreign Affairs)
Nov 14, 1997 A meeting of Shevardnadze and Chibirov in Dzhava about the political settlement of the Georgian-South-Ossetian conflict took place. (TASS)
Apr 16, 1998 North Ossetian President Dzasokhov met with South Ossetian leaders (TASS)
May 13, 1998 North Ossetian and Georgian leaders discussed the settlement of South Ossetian conflict (BBC)
May 31, 1998 The South Ossetian Deputy Prime Minister and a North Ossetian business executive were murdered in a contract murder (TASS)
Jun 1998 Shevardnadze proposed an asymmetrical federation for Georgia with wider rights for Abkhazia, Adzharia and South Ossetia (BBC)
Jun 6, 1998 The EU granted 10 million ECU to Georgia for development, including restoration of South Ossetian territories damaged during conflict. (TASS)
Jun 20, 1998 Shevardnadze and Chibirov met in Borzhomi. They agreed on an economic program for the restoration of South Ossetia and stressed the importance of resolving the refugee issue but delayed the discussion of political settlement of the conflict (Current Digest of Soviet Press)
Aug 10, 1998 The South Ossetian government, 15 ministers and the heads of the state commission resigned on orders from Chibirov, who claimed that "decision was prompted by economic problems." (BBC)
Feb 8, 1999 Shevardnadze called for reconsideration of CIS treaty (BBC)
May 1999 Parliamentary elections in South Ossetia, not recognized by Georgia and the OSCE, were held. The Georgian population in the republic boycotted the elections (BBC)
May 10, 1999 South Ossetian authorities protested the Georgian customs enhancing measures to curb the passage of contraband goods, particularly petrol, from Russia to Georgia through South Ossetia (BBC)
May 16, 1999 South Ossetian authorities asked Russia to open a consulate in the republic (BBC)
May 26, 1999 It is reported that 256 South Ossetian refugee families returned home in 1998 and six refugees families returned so far in 1999 (BBC)
Jun 23, 1999 Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a joint declaration with the European Union. They pledge to overcome regional conflicts (BBC)
Jun 28, 1999 Shevardnadze welcomed the EU’s pledge to help resolve the Caucasus conflicts (Interfax)
Jul 2, 1999 Four hundred eighty newly replaced Russian peacekeepers resumed their duty in South Ossetia (BBC)
Jul 22, 1999 During the meeting with German diplomats, South Ossetian leaders said that international assistance to Georgia bypassed South Ossetia (BBC)
Aug 2, 1999 Russian nationalities Minister Mikhailov stated that there is a problem of 30,000 refugees from South Ossetia who live in Ingush settlements in Northern Ossetia (TASS)
May 23, 2004 Elections take place for South Ossetia's parliament. President Kokoity's Unity Party unseats the Communist Party and wins 20 of the 30 contested seats. (Agence France Presse, 05/24/2004, "Parliament vote in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia boosts local leader")
Jul 1 - Aug 31, 2004 Throughout July and August tensions escalate dramatically between South Ossetia and Georgia. Gunfire became an almost daily event, with many injured and killed although violence remained at a constant low level, with no large-scale military actions. Heaviest tensions occurred between July 8 and August 18. (BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 07/11/2004, “Caucasus Volunteers Go to South Ossetia; Russian Envoy Also Visit”; Reeve, Roy, 10/25/2004, “A Sense of Foreboding," Transitions Online, Helsinki Monitor No.1)
Jul 8, 2004 South Ossetia forces arrested approximately 50 armed members of Georgian Ministry of the Interior. (BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 07/08/2004, "Russian TV gives details of arrest of 50 Georgian policemen in South Ossetia")
Nov 13, 2004 South Ossetia's separatist government holds referendum on independence and presidential elections: 99% support independence and 96% support re-election of Eduard Kokoity. (Russia & CIS General Newswire, 11/16/2006, "Sanakoyev declared winner of 'alternative elections' in South Ossetia")
Nov 13, 2004 Alternative presidential election, supported by Tbilisi, takes place in South Ossetia and elects Dmitry Sanakoyev. (Russia & CIS General Newswire, 11/16/2006, "Sanakoyev declared winner of 'alternative elections' in South Ossetia")
Jan 26, 2005 Georgia's President, Mikheil Saakashvili, unveils peace plans for South Ossetia while visiting the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The plan would allow the government of South Ossetia authority over local economic, cultural, education, environmental and law enforcement policy, while Georgia would be responsible for defense, foreign and human rights policies. South Ossetia's government immediately rejected the plan. (Eurasianet, 01/27/2005, "Georgian President Unveils South Ossetia Peace Plan")
Feb 1, 2005 A car bomb exploded in the town of Gori, killing several people. Georgia accuses South Ossetia but the latter denies responsibility. (News Bulletin, 02/01/2005, "South Ossetia outraged by Georgia's accusations over Gori bombing")
May 29 - Dec 31, 2005 Series of shootings, kidnappings, and killings between ethnic group members, allegedly involving criminal networks, took place. At least eight died. (International Crisis Group, 06/07/2007, "Georgia's South ossetia Conflict")
Sep 20, 2005 The shelling of Tskhinvali left many civilians injured. Georgia denies responsibility. (Civil Georgia, 09/21/2005, "OSCE Condemns Shelling of Civilians in Tskhinvali")
Sep 7, 2006 Gunfight between South Ossetian and Georigan forces leaves four dead. (Associated Press Worldstream, 09/08/2006, “3 South Ossetian police, Georgian special officer killed in gunfight”)
Oct 31, 2006 South Osssetian government claims it killed four Georgian secret servicemen, but Georgia eventually denies the claim. (Associated Press Worldstream, 10/31/2006, “Authorities in Georgia's rebel province say they killed 4 Georgian agents”)
Nov 12, 2006 Two sets of presidential elections and status referendums are held, one by the de facto authorities in South Ossetia, and one by the Gerogian-sponsored de jure authorities in South Ossetia. (International Crisis Group, 06/07/2007, "Georgia's South Ossetia Conflict: Make Haste Slowly")


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Information current as of July 16, 2010