'Independent' South Ossetia Dreams Big

Locals want to make province into a tax haven, ski resort
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2008 8:40 AM CDT
Ossetian Londa Koblova looks out of her destroyed apartment in Tskhinvali, capital of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
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(Newser) – When the Russian government recognized South Ossetia as an independent state last week, the international reaction was not only anger but incredulity. The breakaway Georgian province has only 70,000 citizens, and they have suffered both wretched poverty and years of fighting. But citizens insist that theirs is a viable state, reports the New York Times. "Why can’t Liechtenstein be here?" asked one Ossetian, referring to the wealthy European principality of about the same size.

South Ossetia's proximity to Sochi, the Russian resort hosting the 2014 Olympics, has inspired some locals to propose a ski resort for the province. Many Ossetians—who are wholly dependent on Russian aid to survive—envision their future as citizens of a tax haven microstate, along the lines of Liechtenstein or Andorra. One newspaper editor pushed the Andorra model, though she added, "Of course, I have not been there. We only know what we have read on the Internet."