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It is not possible to visit South Ossetia from Georgia. The only way to go to Tskhinvali is via Vladikavkaz in Russia. All roads from Georgian controlled territory to South Ossetia are closed for foreigners, including between Ergneti and Tskhinvali, and to Akhalgori (Leningor).Tourism in the breakaway state of the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, widely recognised internationally as being part of Georgia, is rare. It is illegal to enter South Ossetia under Georgian law. However, South Ossetia remains accessible through Russia via the South Ossetia–Russia border.Entry requirements

South Ossetia may only be entered through Russia. All visitors, except for citizens of exempt countries, must be invited by a party in South Ossetia (a private citizen or a South Ossetian organization, such as a government department or business) prior to their arrival.

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In 2008 South Ossetia \u0026 parts of Georgia were a war zone. 13 years later tensions are still high in this part of the world and the scars of the \”5 Days War\” still run deep.
We set off from the city of Gori with a local guy Alex, to see this virtually unrecognised border to find out how the people living along this ‘military dividing line’ live, what has changed for them in the past decade and a half \u0026 hear their stories from 2008 and beyond.
As with every war, it is always ordinary people that are the losers.
The conflict between South Ossetia and Georgia started in the early 90’s, directly after the break up of the Soviet Union. With the ‘autonomous region’ of South Ossetia rejecting the rule of Tbilisi and unilaterally declaring their independence. This sparked a full scale war. Despite a ceasefire and numerous peace efforts, tensions once again boiled over in 2008. South Ossetia is only recognised officially by a handful of states around the World, but for intents and purposes operates as a completely separate country to Georgia.
THIS VIDEO IS NOT POLITICAL IT IS ABOUT ORDINARY PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD.
CHECK OUT OUR FULL GEORGIA TRAVEL GUIDE: https://www.mattandjulia.co.uk/travelguides/p/ultimate-georgia-travel-guide

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Tourism in South Ossetia – Wikipedia

It is illegal to enter South Ossetia under Georgian law. However, South Ossetia remains accessible through Russia via …

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Source: en.wikipedia.org

Date Published: 12/2/2022

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? Travel to South Ossetia | – Off Trail Trips

For the Georgian government, visiting South Osetia from Russia is illegal. Theoretically you could be persecuted for this if you ever return to Georgia. To …

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Source: offtrailtrips.com

Date Published: 4/11/2021

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South Ossetia – Young Pioneer Tours

Since then, the border with Georgia is sealed and the only way to enter is through the Caucasus mountains on the Russian border. South Ossetia is a paradise for …

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Source: www.youngpioneertours.com

Date Published: 6/20/2021

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Travel advice and advisories for Georgia – Travel.gc.ca

Knappings have occurred in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and other areas bordering Russia. You should travel in a group. Do not walk or take the …

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Source: travel.gc.ca

Date Published: 4/24/2022

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Life on the BORDER of a CONFLICT ZONE | South Ossetia (Georgia)

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Can you enter South Ossetia from Georgia?

Tourism in the breakaway state of the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, widely recognised internationally as being part of Georgia, is rare. It is illegal to enter South Ossetia under Georgian law. However, South Ossetia remains accessible through Russia via the South Ossetia–Russia border.

Can Americans visit South Ossetia?

Entry requirements

South Ossetia may only be entered through Russia. All visitors, except for citizens of exempt countries, must be invited by a party in South Ossetia (a private citizen or a South Ossetian organization, such as a government department or business) prior to their arrival.

Is it possible to travel to Abkhazia?

Legal status. As part of organized tourist groups from travel companies registered in Abkhazia or in Russia, tourists from all countries (except Georgia) can visit Abkhazia without an Abkhazian visa by land only through Russia, for a period of no more than 24 hours.

Does Georgia recognize Abkhazia?

Vanuatu reconfirmed in 2019 it does not support nor recognize the independence of Abkhazia, and supports Georgian territorial integrity including the two disputed territories. Georgia has severed diplomatic relations with the states expressing recognition of independence, with Syria being the most recent example.

Is it safe to visit Georgia 2021?

OVERALL RISK : LOW

Georgia is overall safe to travel to, with considerably low crime rates and even pickpockets not being that much of an issue. However, it is advised that you remain vigilant at all times, especially when crossing the streets.

Do I need a Covid test to fly to Georgia?

As of June 12, 2022, air passengers arriving into the U.S. will not need to get tested and show a negative COVID-19 test result, or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19, prior to boarding a flight to the U.S.

Is Georgian border open?

Entry and Exit Requirements:

Open land borders on the Georgian side are listed here; note that the Georgian land border with Russia near Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) is open to U.S. citizens 24/7. (The limited hours posted on the website do not apply to private travelers.) Any transportation method is permissible.

Is it safe to visit Georgia now?

Avoid all travel

You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk. If you are already there, you should think about leaving if it is safe to do so.

Is it safe to travel to Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan is overall relatively safe to travel to, with both petty and violent crime to keep in mind and watch out for. It is advised that you remain vigilant at all times, especially when crossing the streets.

How do I get Abkhazia passport?

According to article 5 of the 2005 citizenship law, to be eligible for citizenship a person must have permanently resided in the territory of Abkhazia for at least five years at the time of Abkhazia’s 1999 declaration of independence and must not have renounced their citizenship.

Is Abkhazia a country?

Abkhazia, also spelled Abkhaziya, autonomous republic in northwestern Georgia that formally declared independence in 1999. Only a few countries—most notably Russia, which maintains a military presence in Abkhazia—recognize its independence.

Where is Abkhazia located?

Abkhazia is located in the western Caucasus, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. On the north, it borders the Russian Federation, on the east Georgia’s Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region.

What is Abkhazia famous for?

Formerly the crown jewel of the Russian Riviera—that stretch of ragtag resorts frequented by the Soviet elite—Abkhazia was once prized for its fine-sand beaches, subtropical flora, and misty mountain towns.

Is Abkhazia part of Russia or Georgia?

The polity is recognised as a state by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru, and Syria. While Georgia lacks control over Abkhazia, the Georgian government and most United Nations member states consider Abkhazia legally part of Georgia, with Georgia maintaining an official government-in-exile.

Does Russia recognize Georgia?

Georgia and Russia have had no formal diplomatic relations since August 2008, largely due to the Russo-Georgian War and Russian recognition of separatist regions. Instead, the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi hosts a Russian interest section, while the interest section of Georgia is hosted in Moscow.

South Ossetia – Travel guide at Wikivoyage

WARNING: Unexploded land mines and ordinance can be encountered throughout the entirety of South Ossetia. Also, terrorists in the area often use car bombs to target military and security facilities. Exercise a high level of personal security awareness at all times. Many governments recommend against all travel to South Ossetia. Government travel advisories Australia

Canada

New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States (Information last updated 24 Mar 2021)

South Ossetia is a country with limited recognition which has seceded from Georgia. It is under the control of Russia, that can be considered an occupying power fully responsible for “border control” and military defense. Its mountainous, wild isolation gives South Ossetia both reasons to visit and reasons to think twice about it. There was a lot of damage inflicted during the 2008 war, and rehabilitation of the region is slow and stifled by corruption; government control is weak. Nearly 89% of the region is above 1,000 m; the southern lowlands are influenced by the same subtropical climate that blesses lowland Georgia.

Cities [ edit ]

South Ossetia and the surrounding regions

A church in Tskhinvali behind the monument to those killed in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict

— the capital and the largest town in the region, home to the government of South Ossetia

(Russian & Ossetian)/ Akhalgori (Georgian) — a small town that was under Georgian control until 2008, home to the Lomisi Brewery

— nominally the administrative center of Georgia’s Java district, but not under Georgian control

Other destinations [ edit ]

Understand [ edit ]

Central Georgia’s Kartli region lies to its south and east and the Rioni Region to its west. To the north is the ethnically identical North Ossetia-Alania region of Russia’s North Caucasus. The only UN members that recognize the Republic of South Ossetia are Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and lastly Syria.

A person of Ossetia (oh-SEH-tee-ah) is an Ossete (oh-SEET). The ethnicity and language are Ossetian (oh-SEH-tee-ahn). The Ossetes belong to the ancient nation of Alans, which was located on the north side of the Caucasus mountains and is distinctive from the Georgians. Both communities have mixed together in the past in the area now known as South Ossetia.

History [ edit ]

Shortly after the Soviet Red Army conquered independent Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1921, South Ossetia was created as an autonomous region within the Georgian SSR of the Soviet Union. The boundary drawn in the 1920s caused many (ethnic) Georgian communities and lands to be included in the autonomous region, the consequences of which can still be witnessed today. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the Soviet Union was undermined by strong nationalist feelings among its various peoples, and the South Ossetians moved to secession from Georgia, opting a merger with their North Ossetian neighbors in Russia. The Georgian government overruled this by abolishing the autonomy in late 1990 which led to the 1991-1992 civil war between South Ossetian separatists and the Georgian national government. A Russian-brokered ceasefire in 1992 resulted in Russian peacekeeping deployment in the region under the Joint Control Commission (JCC).

After the civil war, South Ossetia was effectively independent; the Georgian government had little control over the highly autonomous region, which was ethnically cleansed of its Georgian population. Georgia’s Rose Revolution of 2003 established a government keen to regain the lost control over Ajara, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a region which had a similar separatist post-Soviet history.

Georgia’s handling of the situation derailed in 2008 when Georgia shelled South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinvali to assert its authority through a military campaign after a period of Russian backed Ossetian provocations. This back-fired when the Russian army entered the region through the Roki Tunnel and overran much of Georgia proper. A “6-point ceasefire agreement” was brokered by the EU between the Russians and Georgians. Eventually the Russian forces withdrew to the boundaries of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, leaving them well beyond Georgian control. Meanwhile both regions were quickly recognized by Russia as independent countries, using the Western-pushed Kosovo independence earlier that year as a precedent.

In effect this enabled Russia to legitimize its continued military presence, circumventing the ceasefire agreement which stipulated that Russia should withdraw its forces from Georgia to pre-conflict positions: Russia does not recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as part of Georgia anymore and thus renders repeated international calls for compliance with the ceasefire agreement void. Since 2009 Russia has constructed a dozen military bases along the boundary line monitoring the boundary zone and enforcing a so called “international border” upon the local community, frequently arresting and detaining “violators”.

The de facto South Ossetian government has since tried to merge the region with Russia, but so far this hasn’t happened despite far reaching integration agreements signed with the Kremlin, just short of formal annexation.

Politics [ edit ]

While the separatist conflict between the de facto Ossetian authorities and the Georgian central government has cooled to a much lower level than during the 2008 war and despite a heavy Russian military presence, security and government control are both weak. The Ossetians are largely grateful for Russia’s military intervention against Georgia.

However, it is mostly the remaining Georgian community of several thousand that bear the brunt of the aftermath of the war: increased boundary enforcement as “international border” by Russian and Ossetian troops means freedom of movement principles for local civilians are restricted. Local communities on both sides of the boundary have been separated, risking arrest and detention when trying to visit their farmland or relatives. Since 2013 fences and barbed wires have been constructed, sometimes right through villages.

Demographics [ edit ]

According to the last Soviet census in 1989, the region had a population of 98,527 of which 65,233 (66%) Ossetian and 28,544 (29%) Georgian. According to unofficial estimates the population declined to roughly 70,000 by 2007 (~45,000 Ossetians and ~17,500 Georgians respectively). As result of the 2008 war and subsequent restrictive policies by the de facto South Ossetian authorities, the Georgian community in the region has been decimated by 2015 to 7% (or 3,966 – down from 4,600 or 9% in 2012) on a total population of 53,532. Most remaining Georgians in the region live in Leningor (Akhalgori) district, others live scattered in villages along the southern section of the boundary line.

Talk [ edit ]

The three most commonly spoken languages in the region are Ossetian, Russian and Georgian.

Given the ongoing Georgian-Ossetian conflict, most people will find it offensive to be addressed in Georgian.

English is spoken by almost nobody. For this reason, the independent traveller requires a solid knowledge of Russian or Ossetian to get around.

Get in [ edit ]

Boundary between Georgia and South Ossetia

It is not possible to visit South Ossetia from Georgia. The only way to go to Tskhinvali is via Vladikavkaz in Russia. All roads from Georgian controlled territory to South Ossetia are closed for foreigners, including between Ergneti and Tskhinvali, and to Akhalgori (Leningor). All three active Ossetian-run checkpoints (Sinaguri, Kardzmani, Leningor) are only selectively open to locals.

However, it is possible to get very close to the demarcation line and to view Tskhinvali a few km away. People come to Ergneti with goggles to try having a look at South Ossetia, which is fine as long as no Georgian military equipment or soldier is filmed.

Via Russia [ edit ]

From Georgia head to Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia-Alania (Russia) via the Georgian Military Highway through Kazbegi. Buses between Tbilisi and Vladikavkaz take roughly seven hours.

From Russia, head to Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia-Alania (there are trains and planes from Moscow).

From there, go onward by a mountain road that passes through the Roki Tunnel. There are buses. You will be at the mercy of the Russian authorities, but they are willing to let some people in, including journalists. If they allow you in, simply drive into the tunnel from Russia. When you exit, you will be in South Ossetia. Consider engaging the services of a guide/tour operator, who will say the right things and pay the right people at the right times.

Visas and permits [ edit ]

If travelling from Russia, the South Ossetian embassy (9 Kurcovoi Pereylok, ☏ ) in Moscow should be able to arrange your documents. A South Ossetian Consular Agency in Vladikavkaz is at 43 Krasnodonskaya Ulitsa. Foreign access is restricted but not impossible. An invitation should be arranged according to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Ossetia: “foreign citizens arriving to the Republic of South Ossetia for tourism must address the Committee on youth policy, sports and tourism of the Republic of South Ossetia and ask to write an official invitation letter.”

You must have at least double entry visa to Russia. There is no way out to the rest of Georgia: you have to re-enter Russia. Also, the Georgian Law on Occupied Territories applies to foreigners as well: this means that unwarranted visits to South Ossetia through the Russian border section are considered an illegal entry onto Georgian territory, as no Georgian immigration has been passed. Make sure your visit cannot be traced in your passport if you are going to Georgia afterwards.

Tours [ edit ]

Various companies run tours to the region. They offer a good advantage of sorting out all your paperwork and permits for you.

Kavkaz Explorers – offers week long itineraries. In the summer you can be driven around the main sites. In the winter you can trek across the mountain snow to remote hill stations. From US$700 per person per week (does not include transport to Vladikavkaz in Russia).

Abchasien Reisen [dead link] – Abkhazia specialists that also run week long trips to South Ossetia. From €1,390 per person per week (includes flights from Europe to Vladikavkaz).

MarkoPoLo – Abkhazia, Nagorno Karabakh, Transnistria, Somaliland unrecognized country tour operator provides 3-7 day tours in each destination as well as custom tours

Get around [ edit ]

See [ edit ]

Central square of Tskhinvali

In Tskhinvali there are sights related to the Russian-Georgian war of 2008.

Mountains – South Ossetia is in the Caucasus mountains, and most of the region is over 1,000 m above sea level.

Do [ edit ]

Buy [ edit ]

Money [ edit ]

Exchange rates for Russian ruble As of January 2022: US$1 ≈ 75руб

€1 ≈ 85руб

UK£1 ≈ 105руб

Japanese ¥100 ≈ 65руб

Swiss Fr.1 ≈ 85руб

Chinese ¥1 ≈ 12руб Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com

The Russian ruble is the commonly used currency in South Ossetia.

Eat [ edit ]

Ossetian food, a Caucasian cuisine similar to but significantly different from Georgian cuisine, is delicious. Be sure to feast on Ossetian pie, a dish similar to khachapuri, but with meat and mushrooms instead of cheese.

Drink [ edit ]

Stay safe [ edit ]

South Ossetia is not dangerous anymore, but it’s not yet easy to visit, due the absence of standardized formalities. If you can get an “approval to visit”, you can go without hassle.

The Ossetes are understandably jumpy, and may arrest travelers taking photographs of, well, anything. Likewise, officials may believe that, by taking pictures, you are spying on their country. It’s also a bad idea to voice your political opinions regarding the conflict; better to listen to locals’ perspectives and to be vaguely sympathetic.

Stay healthy [ edit ]

While the war and conflict has ended, the situation is far from over and medical supply is not always going to reliable and efficient. Heating, electricity, plumbing are basically commodities owing to years of failing infrastructure due to lack of investment. Likewise, the healthcare system is dilapidated – be sure to bring the necessary medical equipment and only buy bottled water.

Go next [ edit ]

The only legal way in and out of South Ossetia is from Vladikavkaz in the province of North Ossetia in Russia. The roads from and to Georgia are closed to foreigners. There are buses and taxis going every day between Vladikavkaz and Tskhinvali

The Russian border crossing at the Roki Tunnel is a formal border crossing. Very often the security officers call foreign visitors leaving South Ossetia for a “quick” interrogation. When asked them why they do this interrogation on these particular borders and not, for example, Abkhazia or Mongolia, they explain that these are sensitive borders and they have to do this frequently. Nevertheless, the young officers, when finished doing their duty, may be very friendly. The Russians and South Ossetians pass through the checkpoint without any delay.

This country travel guide to South Ossetia is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a “Get in” section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

Tourism in South Ossetia

Tourism in the breakaway state of the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, widely recognised internationally as being part of Georgia, is rare. It is illegal to enter South Ossetia under Georgian law.[1] However, South Ossetia remains accessible through Russia via the South Ossetia–Russia border. Non-Russian citizens are required to hold a valid Russian visa that permits them to return to Russia, unless they are citizens of countries that are exempt from Russian visa requirements.[2] Visitors, unless they hold a South Ossetian passport or are from an exempt country, such as Russia, are required to receive approval from the South Ossetian government in advance of their visit.[3]

Visas [ edit ]

South Ossetia does not issue visas, with visitors being required to receive approval from the South Ossetian government in advance of their visit. However, as South Ossetia is only accessible through Russia, non-Russian citizens are required to hold a valid Russian visa that permits them to return to Russia, unless they are citizens of countries that are exempt from Russian visa requirements.[2][3]

Tourism attractions and tours [ edit ]

South Ossetia, located in the South Caucasus, occupies part of the southern Caucasus Mountains, including the Keli Highland, which is a popular natural attraction among tourists to the state.[4][5][6] Religious tourism is also popular, with South Ossetia having many old Christian churches, some dating back to the 9th century—the Bieti Monastery, Eredvi basilica, Tigva Monastery, Tiri Monastery and Tsirkoli church of the Mother of God are inscribed on the list of Georgia’s Immovable Cultural Monuments of National Significance.[7]

The tourism industry remains underdeveloped. However, several efforts to develop tourism have been made since 2010.[5] During the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the cancellation of international flights, the number of Russian tourists visiting South Ossetia domestically increased significantly.[8] Between 2011 and 2020, Caucasus Explorer organised 28 tours in South Ossetia for Russians and other foreign tourists.[9]

Travel advisories [ edit ]

As South Ossetia is widely recognised as being part of Georgia, several countries have issued warnings against travelling to the breakaway state. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom advises against all travel to South Ossetia, due to the British government not recognising the state as independent and considering the region to be unstable.[10] The United States’ Bureau of Consular Affairs also advices against all travel, claiming “Attacks, criminal incidents, and kidnappings have occurred in and around the areas.”[11]

See also [ edit ]

Visa policy of South Ossetia

Policy on permits required to enter South Ossetia

South Ossetia does not issue visas. However, visitors are required to receive approval from the South Ossetian government in advance of their visit unless they are citizens of an exempt country. Because South Ossetia is only accessible through Russia, visitors are also required to hold a valid Russian visa that permits them to return to Russia unless they are Russian citizens or citizens of countries that are exempt from Russian visa requirements.[1]

Entry requirements [ edit ]

South Ossetia may only be entered through Russia.

All visitors, except for citizens of exempt countries, must be invited by a party in South Ossetia (a private citizen or a South Ossetian organization, such as a government department or business) prior to their arrival. Inviting parties must submit their invitation letters to the Immigration Control Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which takes up to 30 calendar days to process invitations. Tourists must obtain an invitation from the Committee on Youth Policy, Sports, and Tourism. In addition to an invitation, journalists must receive approval from the State Committee on Information and Press prior to arrival. All visitors must register with the Immigration Control Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs within three days after their arrival.[2]

Prior approval exemption [ edit ]

All members of the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations have agreed to abolish mutual visa requirements for their citizens.[citation needed]

A mutual free-travel agreement between South Ossetia and Nauru was signed on February 3rd, 2018 that would allow citizens of Nauru to travel to South Ossetia without prior approval and for citizens of South Ossetia to travel to Nauru without a visa, both for up to 90 days within any 180 day period. However, the agreement has yet to be ratified.[3]

Visitors statistics [ edit ]

Approximately 95%[4] of the population of South Ossetia has (in addition to citizenship of the Republic of South Ossetia — State of Alania), citizenship of the Russian Federation, and many of them leave the territory of South Ossetia and enter it with Russian passports, and almost half of them permanently reside in Russia. During the year, most of them leave South Ossetia for Russia many times for various purposes and enter back. Even from Russian citizens by birth, South Ossetia is mostly visited by Russian citizens living mainly in Republic of North Ossetia–Alania (part of the Russian Federation). From the rest of the Russian Federation, an extremely small number of citizens of the Russian Federation visit South Ossetia.

Citizens of the Russian Federation[5]

Country 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 Russia 381,473 206,260 407,694 443,646 451,918 450,753 472,443 502,108 500,682 511,715 528,223 537,080

See also [ edit ]

Tourism in Abkhazia

Tourism in Abkhazia is possible under Georgian law for foreigners entering the occupied territory from Georgia, although Georgia cannot assure the safety inside disputed territory. However, the Abkazian beaches on the Black Sea continue to be accessible for tourists coming from the Russian side of the Abkhazia–Russia border which is not under Georgian control. Low prices and an absence of any visa requirements attracts Russian tourists especially those who can not afford the vacations in Turkey, Egypt, Bulgaria and other popular Russian touristic directions.[1][2]

Background [ edit ]

During the time of the Soviet Union, Abkhazia’s Black Sea beaches attracted tourists from a number of surrounding countries, constituting a 40 percent share of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic’s tourism market. Prior to the 1992-93 war in Abkhazia, over 202,000 tourists visited the region every year.[3] Abkhazia is now a disputed region, with Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru as the only United Nations member states that recognise the territory as an independent nation.[4]

Despite the risks involved, about one million tourists visit Abkhazia each year, mainly from Russia.[5] One of the attraction of visiting Abkhazia as opposed to other Black Sea coastal towns, such as Sochi, is the lower cost of visiting the breakaway state.[6] One night’s accommodation in Gagra, for example, cost US$25 in 2003, with the cheapest hotel in the region setting a rate of US$12 for a room and meals in that year. A trainride from a Russian border town of Sochi to the Abkhazian capital of Sukhumi only cost US$1 in 2003. However, Abkhazia’s tourism facilities are below Western standards, with much of its infrastructure dating back to the Soviet era.[3]

Tourism attractions [ edit ]

Abkhazia lies on the coast of the Black Sea, and as such, much of its tourism appeal is derived from its coastal resort towns. A number of resort facilities exist in easy and cheap reach of Russian tourists, with Sukhumi and Gagra two of the most popular towns. Tourism is most prevalent in the region’s north.[6] Some of the tourist attractions include:

Legal status [ edit ]

As part of organized tourist groups from travel companies registered in Abkhazia or in Russia, tourists from all countries (except Georgia) can visit Abkhazia without an Abkhazian visa by land only through Russia, for a period of no more than 24 hours. Crossing the border with Abkhazia from Russia is free, but according to the Georgian law visitors may only enter Abkhazia from Georgia. (In practice, it is impossible to get from the territory of Georgia to the territory of Abkhazia, since there are no checkpoints between them.) Despite that, the fact of crossing the border is easy to hide because the Abkhazian custom officials don’t make any stamps in the visitors’ passports since 2014.

See also [ edit ]

International recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

International recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are disputed territories in the Caucasus. They are both recognised as independent by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru, and Syria. Russia’s initial recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia occurred in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War in 2008. The central government of Georgia considers the republics under military occupation by Russia.

Since their declarations of independence, Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been recognised by seven and six UN member states respectively, though Tuvalu withdrew its recognition of both in 2014,[1][2][3] while the status of Vanuatu’s recognition of Abkhazia led to confusion between 2011 and 2015. Vanuatu reconfirmed in 2019 it does not support nor recognize the independence of Abkhazia, and supports Georgian territorial integrity including the two disputed territories.[4][5] Georgia has severed diplomatic relations with the states expressing recognition of independence, with Syria being the most recent example.[6] Abkhazia and South Ossetia recognise each other, and also have some recognition from other non-UN member states.

History [ edit ]

South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia during the 1991–1992 South Ossetia War on 29 May 1992, with its Constitution referring to the “Republic of South Ossetia”.[7][8][9] Abkhazia declared its independence after its war with Georgia in 1992–1993. Its Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1994.[10][11]

Developments in 2008 [ edit ]

In April 2008, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1808 that reaffirmed “the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders and supports all efforts by the United Nations and the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General, which are guided by their determination to promote a settlement of the Abkhaz–Georgian conflict only by peaceful means and within the framework of the Security Council resolutions.”[12][13]

The 2008 South Ossetia war was fought in August 2008 between Georgia on one side and South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia on the other, resulting in a combined South Ossetian, Abkhaz and Russian victory and the expulsion of the Georgian military from both territories. On 21 August 2008, rallies were held in Tskhinvali and Sukhumi at which the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, respectively, appealed to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian Federal Assembly for official recognition of their independence as sovereign states.[14][15] South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity flew to Moscow on 23 August 2008 to address the Federation Council of Russia, and in his appeal stated “what the Georgian leadership has done in South Ossetia can only be described as a Caucasian Stalingrad.” On 25 August 2008, President of Abkhazia Sergei Bagapsh also made a presentation to the Federation Council. In his address to the Council, Bagapsh stated “I can say for certain that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will never be [a] part of Georgia.”[16]

Russia’s recognition [ edit ]

Presidential decrees No. 1260 (left) and No. 1261 (right), recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

President Medvedev announcing that he has signed decrees recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (in Russian) Transcript in English

After hearing the aforementioned appeals from both the Abkhazian and South Ossetian leadership, on 25 August 2008, the Federation Council and State Duma passed motions calling upon President Dmitry Medvedev to recognise the independence of both states and establish diplomatic relations.[16][17]

On 26 August 2008, President Medvedev signed decrees recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as sovereign states,[18][19] and made the following statement:

“A decision needs to be taken based on the situation on the ground. Considering the freely expressed will of the Ossetian and Abkhaz peoples and being guided by the provisions of the UN Charter, the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Governing Friendly Relations Between States,[20] the CSCE Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and other fundamental international instruments, I signed Decrees on the recognition by the Russian Federation of South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s independence. Russia calls on other states to follow its example. This is not an easy choice to make, but it represents the only possibility to save human lives.”[21]

President Medvedev stated that “Western countries rushed to recognise Kosovo’s illegal declaration of independence from Serbia. We argued consistently that it would be impossible, after that, to tell the Abkhazians and Ossetians (and dozens of other groups around the world) that what was good for the Kosovo Albanians was not good for them. In international relations, you cannot have one rule for some and another rule for others.”[22]

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin noted previous Georgian aggression against Ossetia, and said “those who insist that those territories must continue to belong to Georgia are Stalinists — they stick to Yosif Visarionovich Stalin’s decision”, referring to the fact that it was Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, who gave the territory to the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, the predecessor of the modern day Georgian republic.[23][24]

The Russian representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin stated that Russia’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is “irreversible” but called upon “NATO countries to withdraw and review their decision concerning Kosovo’s independence” and subsequently “act on the premise that this is the new political reality.”[25][26]

In the UN Security Council, the United States was heavily critical of Russian support of the secessionist governments, accusing the government of violating Georgia’s territorial integrity. In response, Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, attacked the U.S. claim to moral high ground by recalling its invasion of Iraq in 2003.[27] Others accused the United States of hypocrisy, citing its support of the violation of Serbian territorial integrity when it recognised the independence of Kosovo in 2008.[28]

The Russian government also welcomed Nicaragua’s recognition of the two states, and called on other countries to “recognise reality” and follow Nicaragua’s example. President Daniel Ortega announced that his government “recognises the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and fully supports the Russian government’s position.”[29] Medvedev also signed into law federal bills ratifying friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance pacts between his government and those of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The laws stipulated the obligations of each state to provide assistance to each other if either of them comes under attack, joint protection of Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s borders, as well as cooperation on a wide range of economic, social, and humanitarian issues. The states would also jointly counter organised crime, international terrorism, and drug trafficking, documents to this effect were signed for 10 years with an option to extend the deal automatically.[30]

Georgia’s response [ edit ]

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili considered Russia’s move as an attempt to alter the borders of Europe by force. Below are some excerpts from his statement:[31]

This is the first attempt on European territory … since Hitler’s regime and Stalin’s Soviet Union where a large state is trying unilaterally, with the use of force, to completely crush a neighbouring country and openly annex its territory.

This is inconceivable lawlessness and insolence … Russia has done unthinkable damage to its place in the international community.

The question of the re-establishment of the territorial integrity of Georgia and the protection of its freedom — this is not an internal Georgian problem, or a question of Georgia and Russia. This is now a question of Russia and the rest of the civilised world. Georgia’s future, is not only the future of Georgia, this is the future of the whole civilised world…

Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria said, “This is an unconcealed annexation of these territories, which are a part of Georgia.”[32]

On 28 August, the Georgian Parliament passed a resolution declaring Abkhazia and South Ossetia “Russian-occupied territories” and instructed the government to annul all previous treaties on Russian peacekeeping.[33] The following day the government announced that it was severing diplomatic ties with Russia, with the Georgian Embassy in Moscow and the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi to close as a result. Georgia recalled its ambassador from Russia and ordered all Russian diplomats to leave Georgia, saying that only consular relations would be maintained. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on this decision, saying that some 600,000 to 1 million Georgians in Russia would be left to the “mercy of fate”.[34][35][36]

Later, Georgia also severed diplomatic relations with Nicaragua.[37] Georgia moved to economically isolate the regions. A ban on economic activity in the regions without Georgian permission was issued, and anyone caught violating this ban by the Georgian authorities faced prosecution. The Georgian Navy blockaded the coast of Abkhazia, and has seized 23 cargo ships trying to bring supplies to Abkhazia, most notably fuel supplies. Abkhazia is dependent on fuel imports, and faced a serious shortage as a result. Russia began deploying boats from its own Black Sea Fleet on 21 September 2009, in response.[38] In August 2009, Russia and South Ossetia accused Georgia of shelling Ossetian villages and kidnapping four South Ossetian citizens. Russia threatened to use force unless the shelling stopped, and put its troops stationed in South Ossetia on high alert.[39]

Georgia criticised Nauru following the small island state’s recognition of Abkhazia. Minister of Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili stated “The recognition of Abkhazia’s independence by Nauru is more like a comedy … it changes nothing on the international arena”.[40]

In January 2010, Georgia adopted a strategy regarding the reintegration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The strategy is called Involvement through Cooperation and it was presented to the international organisations as well as to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The document says Georgia views peaceful methods as the only way for conflict solution and that there won’t be a war with these regions. It envisions engagement of people of these two regions through education as well as social, economic and business projects, instead of isolation.[41][42]

It is officially illegal under Georgian law to enter South Ossetia or Abkhazia through Russia, without permission from Georgia; it is possible to travel through Georgian territory to Abkhazia, though as Georgia cannot assure the safety inside the disputed territories, going to either Abkhazia or South Ossetia is not recommended by the Georgian government.[43][44][45] It is not possible for foreigners to enter South Ossetia from Georgian controlled territory, as the South Ossetian de facto authorities do not facilitate nor allow this.[46]

Western response [ edit ]

The European Union, NATO,[47] the OSCE,[48] and the United States[49] immediately voiced displeasure with Russia’s decision.

Comparison [ edit ]

Abkhazia is recognised by Russia and five other countries

South Ossetia is recognised by Russia and four other countries

Comparisons with Kosovo [ edit ]

The Assembly of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, under administration of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo since 1999, unilaterally declared independence as the Republic of Kosovo on 17 February 2008.[50] The Republic of Kosovo was soon recognised by the United States and the EU three.[51]

In an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Serbian President Boris Tadić asked the Council, “Are we all aware of the precedent that is being set and are we aware of the catastrophic consequences that it may lead to?” The Permanent Representatives of the United States, United Kingdom and France presented their opinion that the Kosovo case is sui generis in nature and could not be perceived as a precedent.[52]

The setting of a precedent was mentioned by many countries. Among them were Argentina,[53] and Cuba.[54] India stated that Kosovo “can set a very dangerous precedent for similar cases around the world.”[55] The then Russian President Vladimir Putin described the recognition by Western powers of Kosovo independence as “terrible precedent, which will de facto blow apart the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries.”[56] He then went on to say, “They have not thought through the results of what they are doing. At the end of the day it is a two-ended stick and the second end will come back and hit them in the face.”[56]

In hearings before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, California Republican Congressman and member of the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, Dana Rohrabacher, compared the situation in Georgia to Kosovo.[57]

“Now, we can talk until we are blue in the face, trying to say there is no analogy here, but it does not cover up the obvious analogy between Kosovo and what is going on in Georgia, where you have breakaway republics similar to what the Serbs faced. Now, the only difference is, of course, we are Americans, and they are Russians, and the people trying to break away there were pro-Russian.

Either we are for democracy, either we are for those people in Kosovo and in Ossetia and elsewhere and, I might say, in Georgia for their right to be separate from Russia, to begin with, and if we lose that, we have lost the high ground.

We are already losing our credibility right now. Let us not lose the high ground.”[58]

Some analysts at the time called ignoring Russian objections and the move by the United States and the EU-3 a mistake, with Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute stating that their view of Kosovo being sui generis and setting no precedent as “extraordinarily naïve”.[59] It was also suggested that Russia could use the case of Kosovo as pretext for recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia or annexing Crimea in the future.[59][60] The Heritage Foundation suggested that Kosovo is no precedent due to its administration by the United Nations as a protectorate for seven years and was blocked from being admitted to the United Nations due to Russia being able to use their veto in the United Nations Security Council.[61]

In July 2008, in a speech to Russian ambassadors on Russian foreign policy, Dmitry Medvedev opined that “for the European Union, Kosovo is almost what Iraq has proved to be for the United States” and that they acted unilaterally in pursuit of their own self-interests and undermined international law in the process.[62]

Latvian newspaper Diena on 28 August 2008 argued that Medvedev’s decree was “a blow below the belt” for Russia’s ally Serbia. “If the changes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia occurred, as Russia claims, in accordance with the example set in Kosovo, then that means that Russia has indirectly admitted that Kosovo’s departure from Serbia was lawful.”[63]

In September 2009, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, when asked by journalists why Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be internationally recognised and Kosovo not, said that “the strongest argument is the fact that at the time when Kosovo’s authorities made the UDI, nobody was threatening them or putting them in a position where they had to secede. On the contrary, Belgrade even went so far as to refrain from exerting any military or economic pressure on Pristina.”[64]

In October 2009, Dmitry Medvedev said that parallels between Kosovo and South Ossetia are “inappropriate”. “We are categorically against drawing parallels between the Balkan events and the events in the Caucasus,” he said. “As concerns South Ossetia – it’s our unambiguous, absolutely clear position – it about repelling direct military aggression. And what was done by Russia after that, was done in full accordance with the UN Charter.” He said that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and the events that followed “have confirmed the inadequacy of attempts to adjust the solution of complex international problems to considerations of notorious political expediency.” “We consider it unacceptable to do what was done in the Kosovo precedent – to use the lack of progress at negotiations as the reason for unilateral actions, including recognition of new international legal entities,” the Russian president said.[citation needed]

As a precedent in other disputes [ edit ]

On 18 September 2008, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov summarised and explained Russia’s position in relation to the other two frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Transnistria, both de facto independent republics seeking international recognition.[65]

“Russia will provide active support to the peaceful resolution of all conflicts in the CIS area on the basis of international law, respect to all principles of UN charter, previously attained agreements in striving for an agreement between the involved parties. We will execute our mediatory mission in the negotiation process with great responsibility, which refers to Transdniestria and Nagorno Karabakh. Each conflict has its own features, format and mechanisms of mediation. But the South Ossetian crisis does not set a precedent for them.”[66]

He went on to give the following explanation for this position:

“None of those concerned with Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistrian settlement plan to violate international law, tear up existing accords, destroy the agreed settlement formats and bomb civilian residents and peacekeepers. There is no one there who would like to ensure territorial integrity by mass killing of people whom you consider your citizens, residents of your own country. There can be no parallels here. Thank God Saakashvili is the sole phenomenon of its kind.”[67]

Map of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

The French ambassador to Armenia Serge Smessoff commented that “the events in Georgia have changed the regional situation, and therefore we hope that there will arise the possibility of rapid solution to the Karabakh conflict.”[68]

In Armenia the five political parties: the Union “Constitutional Right”, the Democratic Party of Armenia, the United Communist Party of Armenia, the Christian-Democratic Union of Armenia and the Union “National Self-Determination” welcomed the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian Federation.[69] The Union “Constitutional Justice” stated in a declaration that “today an unprecedentedly favourable situation for the international recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic has come to a head, and Armenian diplomacy does not have the right to delay” and “What Armenian and Karabakh diplomacy could not do in 17 years, Russia has done in 20 days.” The declaration went on to say that “in case of the conflicts which have arisen on post-Soviet space, the thesis of territorial integrity cannot be a method for solving the conflicts. On the contrary, the continued reiteration of this thesis can lead the conflict to military confrontation, and all of the consequences that entails.”[70]

The Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, however, stated that Armenia will not formally recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states any time soon, but reiterated his support for their residents’ right to self-determination. He said that Armenia will not recognise them “for the same reason that it did not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Having the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia can not recognize another entity in the same situation as long as it has not recognized the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.”[71]

Secretary of the opposition party Heritage Stepan Safaryan expressed the opinion that the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Armenia would be dangerous as it could damage Armenia’s sole stable way to communicate with the outside world – through Georgia.[72]

Transnistria [ edit ]

Map of Transnistria

The then president of the unrecognised state of Transnistria Igor Smirnov said that “the Russian leadership, in recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has underlined the priority of the expression of the will of the people for solution of such problems”.[73]

On 25 August, the day before Russia’s recognition, Dmitry Medvedev met with President of Moldova Vladimir Voronin, where the Russian leader made it clear that Moscow is ready to solve the Transnistria conflict within the framework of the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova with the maximum effort. Relations between Moldova and Transnistria worsened after Moldova refused to support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[73]

Within Russia [ edit ]

According to a declaration addressed to the Council of Europe by Russian human rights activists, “the situation in the North Caucasus republics has become greatly more agitated since the war between Russia and Georgia in the South Caucasus.” In Ingushetia, Ingush opposition activist, Magomet Khasbiyev in an interview with radio station Ekho Moskvy called for Ingushetia to separate from Russia, saying that “We must ask Europe or the US to separate us from Russia.” He also said “If we aren’t acceptable to this country, we don’t know what else we should do.”[74]

President Dmitry Medvedev did not express concerns about possibility of renewed separatist sentiments in the North Caucasus and believed such scenarios could only arise from foreign countries. In an interview with Euronews he said that he did not “see any such dangers so long as the people from abroad do not meddle in these affairs, thinking up various scenarios for dismembering Russia.”[75]

Separatism [ edit ]

Georgian justice minister Nika Gvaramia claimed that “this will have very serious political consequences for Russia.” “We will overcome this crisis, I am sure; but what is Russia going to do with its own state – in respect of separatism, which is still a problem in Russia; I’m not worried much about it, but I am sure that it will lead to a total collapse of Russia if not today, tomorrow, for sure,” he told journalists.[76]

Various arguments [ edit ]

Following the Russian recognition of South Ossetia, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt stated, “South Ossetian independence is a joke. We are talking about a smugglers’ paradise of 60,000 people financed by the Russian security services. No one can seriously consider that as an independent state.”[77]

When asked about UN resolutions that supported Georgia’s territorial integrity, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin claimed that “Their use of force against South Ossetia clearly dashed all those previous resolutions and created a completely new reality.”[78] However, France’s deputy UN ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix argued that “there is no way you can “dash” or “cancel” or whatever “terminate” a resolution of the Security Council by force.”[79]

Andrey Illarionov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin, argued that recognition of Abkhazia will legitimize the ethnic cleansing and apartheid. He also cited several differences between Kosovo and Abkhazia as the reasons why Abkhazia should not be granted recognition. In Kosovo the ethnic cleansing was carried out by Serbs – the opponents of secession; In Abkhazia it was committed by the secessionists. While the right of return of refugees to Kosovo was a precondition for self-determination, in Abkhazia the self-determination is linked with the refusal to allow the return of internally displaced people. Abkhaz separatists rejected several peace plans proposed by Georgia, the United Nations, and Germany; while in Kosovo it was Serbia that rejected peace efforts. After the war, Kosovo was ruled by U.N. administration; while Abkhazia denies international organizations entry.[80]

Stephen F. Jones argued that while South Ossetia was seeking for union with Russia, the political realities of the South Caucasus made this an unlikely prospect. In the 2012 presidential elections, Alla Dzhioyeva, an opposition representative had victory snatched from her by the South Ossetian Supreme Court. This illustrated the region’s limited political autonomy, which was underlined by the unchallengeable presence of the Russian military. That court decision supported the contention that South Ossetia is a not a real state, but a Russian vassal. South Ossetia’s borders are controlled by Russia. There is no South Ossetian foreign policy. South Ossetia does not have the functions of a state to provide for its citizens. There is little popular support for independence.[81]

Other events [ edit ]

Abkhazia said it would not take part in the “Geneva Talks on Security and Stability in the Caucasus” in June 2010 because of concerns over the objectivity of the co-chairmen who were representatives of the UN, the EU, and OSCE. A spokesman said “Our proposals are being ignored, discussions on the non-renewal of war are being procrastinated, instead secondary questions are being discussed. Thereupon we feel the co-chairmen have no real proposals, and we want to give them time till September to prepare a document, concerning security, and acceptable for all sides. The Geneva discussions are necessary, and it is normal that each party voices its position, but the mediators must be neutral and non-biased. But the mediators fail to conduct discussions in a constructive impartial manner.”[82]

Positions taken by states [ edit ]

Abkhazia and South Ossetia States that recognise(d) both Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent States that recognise(d) Abkhazia as independent States that recognise(d) South Ossetia as independent States that do not recognise either. A world map, showing states that recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia:

According to international law regarding recognition of states, contained in article 6 of the Montevideo Convention: “The recognition of a state merely signifies that the state which recognizes it accepts the personality of the other with all the rights and duties determined by international law. Recognition is unconditional and irrevocable.”, as well as Article 7: “The recognition of a state may be express or tacit. The latter results from any act which implies the intention of recognizing the new state.”[83] Therefore, once one state recognizes another as a fellow sovereign state (even if indirectly, or tacitly), this recognition cannot be revoked, except when one or the other state ceases to exist. One can only revoke the recognition of a government (for example by breaking off diplomatic relations), but not of the state itself.[84][85] The provisions of the Montevideo Convention are generally considered to be a restatement of customary international law, codifying existing legal norms and its principles, and therefore do not apply merely to the parties to the Convention, but to all subjects of international law as a whole.[86][87]

States formally recognising Abkhazia or South Ossetia as independent [ edit ]

UN member states [ edit ]

Other states [ edit ]

States that recognised Abkhazia or South Ossetia as independent, but subsequently withdrew recognition [ edit ]

UN member states [ edit ]

States that do not recognise Abkhazia or South Ossetia as independent [ edit ]

UN member states [ edit ]

Other states [ edit ]

Positions taken by intergovernmental organisations [ edit ]

Under international law, intergovernmental organisations do not themselves possess the legal capacity to recognise any state diplomatically; their member states do so individually. However, depending on the intergovernmental organisation’s rules of internal governance and the positions of their member states, they may express positive or negative opinions as to declarations of independence, or choose to offer or withhold membership to a newly declared state.

Positions taken by non-state actors [ edit ]

Regions with independent governments [ edit ]

Entity Position Hamas (government in Gaza Strip) On 26 August 2008 a spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, welcomed the diplomatic recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He said that there were similarities between the situations of the Abkhazian, South Ossetian peoples, and the Palestinian people. The spokesman said, “We, Palestinians, also struggle to attain recognition for our rights, the main of which is the right to be an independent state. We hope that the decision of Moscow becomes the beginning of recognition of peoples which combat for freedom and justice”.[394][395][396] Yemen – Supreme Political Council (government in part of Yemen) The internationally recognized government of Yemen has not recognized either Abkhazia or South Ossetia. Nevertheless, Abdullah Ali Sabri, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Houthi-dominated Supreme Political Council government of the Republic of Yemen in Damascus, met with the Abkhaz Ambassador in Syria in 2021. Both representatives exchanged views on possible areas of bilateral cooperation between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Islamic Republic of Yemen as well as the strengthening of relations between both parties.[397]

International non-governmental organisations [ edit ]

See also [ edit ]

Notes [ edit ]

Tourism in South Ossetia

Tourism in the breakaway state of the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, widely recognised internationally as being part of Georgia, is rare. It is illegal to enter South Ossetia under Georgian law.[1] However, South Ossetia remains accessible through Russia via the South Ossetia–Russia border. Non-Russian citizens are required to hold a valid Russian visa that permits them to return to Russia, unless they are citizens of countries that are exempt from Russian visa requirements.[2] Visitors, unless they hold a South Ossetian passport or are from an exempt country, such as Russia, are required to receive approval from the South Ossetian government in advance of their visit.[3]

Visas [ edit ]

South Ossetia does not issue visas, with visitors being required to receive approval from the South Ossetian government in advance of their visit. However, as South Ossetia is only accessible through Russia, non-Russian citizens are required to hold a valid Russian visa that permits them to return to Russia, unless they are citizens of countries that are exempt from Russian visa requirements.[2][3]

Tourism attractions and tours [ edit ]

South Ossetia, located in the South Caucasus, occupies part of the southern Caucasus Mountains, including the Keli Highland, which is a popular natural attraction among tourists to the state.[4][5][6] Religious tourism is also popular, with South Ossetia having many old Christian churches, some dating back to the 9th century—the Bieti Monastery, Eredvi basilica, Tigva Monastery, Tiri Monastery and Tsirkoli church of the Mother of God are inscribed on the list of Georgia’s Immovable Cultural Monuments of National Significance.[7]

The tourism industry remains underdeveloped. However, several efforts to develop tourism have been made since 2010.[5] During the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the cancellation of international flights, the number of Russian tourists visiting South Ossetia domestically increased significantly.[8] Between 2011 and 2020, Caucasus Explorer organised 28 tours in South Ossetia for Russians and other foreign tourists.[9]

Travel advisories [ edit ]

As South Ossetia is widely recognised as being part of Georgia, several countries have issued warnings against travelling to the breakaway state. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom advises against all travel to South Ossetia, due to the British government not recognising the state as independent and considering the region to be unstable.[10] The United States’ Bureau of Consular Affairs also advices against all travel, claiming “Attacks, criminal incidents, and kidnappings have occurred in and around the areas.”[11]

See also [ edit ]

South Ossetia Travel; My Personal Experience on How to Get There

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South Ossetia Travel; My Personal Experience on How to Get There

If you’ve found this blog post via Google, then you’re probably another lunatic like me who is trying to visit EVERYWHERE! And by everywhere, I mean every country in the world (197 countries in the world officially), PLUS those kind-of ‘half countries’. Thankfully, I have finished my journey to every country in the world now, but since then I’ve also been chasing those half countries. And my travel to South Ossetia was part of that.

But anyway, you probably just want info on how to travel to South Ossetia, and is it safe to travel to South Ossetia, rather than hear about how I ended up there. So I’ll try to blog about all the details too, and then you can humour me while I share my experiences too!

How to travel to South Ossetia

I had just finished my 197th and FINAL country, Norway, and it was time for some new adventures. I began embarking on climbing the seven summits, whilst also visiting all the Observer States within the United Nations, and the place that are trying to be recognised as countries, but aren’t. That includes places like nearby Abkhazia, or Somaliland in northern Somalia, and also South Ossetia.

I had taken my mum to Abkhazia recently. And it was super simple. Just enter from Georgia, no probs. But to travel to South Ossetia, whilst similarly placed, wedged between Russia and Georgia, is a considerably more difficult prospect. And a lot more expensive too.

Beautiful South Ossetia

What is South Ossetia? Is South Ossetia Part of Russia? Georgia?

First of all, what is South Ossetia? Well, it’s officially known as the Republic of South Ossetia. It’s not a country, but it is a de facto state.

This is where it gets complicated. Officially, according to the United Nationals, South Ossetia is very much considered part of Georgia. However, within South Ossetia, they see themselves as an independent nation. And they have very close relations with Russia. To the extent that you CAN NOT enter South Ossetia from Georgia (despite officially being the same country!), and you MUST ENTER from Russia.

Tensions still exist between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia. And there was an official war as recently as 2008. This included the alleged ethnic cleansing of Georgians in South Ossetia, between the initial flare-up in 1992 and the most recent war in 2008. With many reports stating up to 200,000 people displaced. So it’s a pretty hot topic in the Caucasus region.

TLDR?

South Ossetia is not a country

Russia provides everything for South Ossetia

South Ossetia is OFFICIALLY part of Georgia (but in practical sense, it may as well not be).

South Ossetia sees itself as an independent country

There are almost no ‘Georgians’ in South Ossetia, it’s mostly Russian-blooded people there

Tellingly, South Ossetia uses the Russian ruble as their currency

Tskhinvali, South Ossetia’s Capital

Where is South Ossetia?

South Ossetia is wedged between Georgia and Russia, near Azerbaijan and eastern Turkey.

The capital of South Ossetia is Tskhinvali, and the population of the ‘country’ is just 60,000 people.

How to get to South Ossetia? Getting a South Ossetia Visa

Good question! Most people visiting these more obscure travel destinations see both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as a double-target. They both border Russia and Georgia. But really South Ossetia takes a lot more work.

First of all, please note you MUST ENTER SOUTH OSSETIA BY RUSSIA ONLY. There is no way to fly in. You have to overland via Russia.

This means you need a multi-entry Russian visa. Because technically you will leave Russia to South Ossetia (remember, Russia is the only country that recognises as an independent country!), and then you’ll have to return to Russia to continue your life. So you need to get stamped out of Russia, and then enter into South Ossetia (they don’t stamp your passport as that would ban your future entry to Georgia), then when you’re down, back to the border once more and get out of South Ossetia and stamped back into Russia.

South Ossetia

Step 1

So Step 1 to visit South Ossetia? Get a Russian double-entry or multi-entry visa.

Once you have your Russian paperwork sorted, you need to sort out your South Ossetia visa/permit. Officially, you can do this through the correct channels by emailing [email protected] Generally you need an invitation these days. So , they’ll most likely forward you on to private fixers: [email protected] or [email protected], who will sort that out for you (but you’ll need to book a tour with them for that of course!).

These guys will organise all your permits and meet you at the border. As part of their price, they’ll include a 2/3/4/5 day tour depending on what you’re after. Prices start at a chunky 600 Euro for 1 person for 3 days.

Step 2

Sort out your paperwork for South Ossetia using the emails Above.

So now you’ve got all our paperwork sorted, you just need to physically get there! You need to get to Vladikavkaz in Russia. There is an airport there, but actually I flew to Nalchik and took a bus to Vladikavkaz from there.

Once in Vladikavkaz, there are regular taxis/buses doing the 3-hour journey to the capital Tskhinvali. I stayed in the Planeta Lux hotel in Vladikavkaz, it was fine.

If you use the guys I listed above though, they organised a taxi for me from Vladikavkaz to Tskhinvali, with the guy himself meeting me at the border and hopping in the car with me. All good.

Step 3

Get to Vladikavkaz, Russia. And then onto Tskhinvali from there, either by public transport or through a car that your contact sorts for you.

South Ossetia flag

Is it safe to travel to South Ossetia?

It’s not as safe as Switzerland, that’s true. But equally, it’s not like travel to Libya! Don’t talk about politics, and try to avoid the police and any shakedowns. But the risk of violent crime etc? Almost non-existent.

Is South Ossetia a country?

As I said above, no South Ossetia is not a country. Not officially anyway, they’re only recongised by Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria. Quite a selection.

South Ossetians DO however have their own passport. But they generally travel also with a Russian (note, not a Georgian) passport.

South Ossetia passport

My personal experience traveling to South Ossetia

I was with my best buddy, Anthony from ManVsClock, and I had been trying and failing to get my permit to visit South Ossetia through the official channels. I didn’t want to spend the 1200 euro on the both of us entering the ‘country’ for 3 days. But after a month of failure, I bit the bullet and used the guys from [email protected] It took about 6 weeks for our permission to be granted.

We had been climbing Mount Elbrus (Europe’s Highest mountain) in Russia the week before, so we were in the region and we had already got our multi-entry visa for Russia a month previously in London. That was an extortionate $300 or so!

Our South Ossetia Permits at the border

3 DAY TOUR

Our tour was just 3 days, and it included transfers from Vladikavkaz in Russia to Tskhinvali and back again to Vladikavkaz. It also included all our transport in South Ossetia, including a day tour to the beautiful mountains and a city tour of the capital. In addition, all visas/permits were included as were

the hotels, food, and a guide throughout.

Via email, we organised to meet at a spot in Vladikavkaz and after a bit of confusion, Anthony and I hopped in their 50 year old car and began the journey south to the border. If you’ve never been in the Causcusus region, it’s BEAUTIFUL. Lush green mountains, waterfalls, rolling hills, it’s gorgeous. So the drive is nice, and they stopped at a few viewpoints for us.

Our surprisingly nice restaurant in Tskhinvali

The border

Soon we reached the border, and it’s quite intense there. It probably took about 2 hours of questions, paperwork, and delays there. Thankfully our guy took care of most of it. And suddenly the $1200 we spent felt like money well invested! We were, without doubt, the only non-Russians there that day.

After clearing the border, we drove the last 90 minutes to Tskhinvali where we checked into our hotel. Kind of average, old Soviet-style hotel. Air conditioning and hot water. No problems.

We were taken out for food in a snazzy town centre restaurant, and our guide settled the bill. We had a tour of the city and back for dinner, then we were left to our own devices. Which meant the pub for us!

It felt very safe, and although lots of people were staring at the 2 random foreigners, people were friendly. It’s no problem to go exploring. To stop and eat and drink wherever you want. We had a great evening.

South Ossetia landscapes

The mountains

The next day was a full day in the mountains. Old churches, villages, viewpoints, hikes and mountains. South Ossetia really is quite breathtaking. There were stages at which I thought the old piece-of-crap car we were in wouldn’t make it through the mountain passes, but alas, it did! That evening, back to the local pub scene for us.

The local Tskhinvali nightlife

Tskhinvali

The next day, we were left to our own devices. So we simply spent time exploring Tskhinvali further. I love being in places like this. And I was delighted to not have to be stuck to our guide. It was nice to be free. Around mid-afternoon, our transfer left for the border, where the local team managed our border crossing, and that night we were back in Vladikavkaz. We spent one more night there, and flew to Moscow the next day.

One thing to note though, Vegetarian or Vegan options in South Ossetia are AWFUL! Bring some snacks! These guys do not understand people who don’t eat meat.

Martyrs from the war in South Ossetia

Final thoughts on South Ossetia Travel

Tricky to get to. Not cheap. But a privilege to be able to travel to South Ossetia. It’s one of those places that you know you’re fortunate to have access to. It was worth the effort, and the cost, to be able to experience a little pocket of the world that few people even know exists. I may well run a tour here one day. It’s pretty epic.

Tskhinvali, The Capital of South Ossetia

South Ossetia

WARNING: South Ossetia is a conflict zone that is recognised as part of Georgia, but these are quite obsolete as there has been essentially no violence there since 2008. (Feb 2020) South Ossetia can currently be considered a safe country, although given the volatility of the region this could change. Government travel advisories: Australia • Canada • Ireland • New Zealand • United Kingdom

A church in Tskhinvali behind the monument to those killed in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict

South Ossetia (Ossetian: Xussar Iryston; officially The Republic of South Ossetia-State of Alania) is a partially recognized state in the south-central Caucasus. Most countries consider it to be legally a part of Georgia, but in reality it has been functionally independent since 1991. At present South Ossetia is recognized by Russia, Syria, Nauru, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Cities [ edit ]

Tskhinvali, also called Chreba in Ossetian — the capital and the largest town in the region, home to the government of South Ossetia.

Leningor — a small town to the East. Called Alkhagori by Georgians.

Dzau, also called Java in Georgian.

Understand [ edit ]

South Ossetia was an autonomous region of the Georgian SSR under the Soviet Union. In 1989, amid rising nationalist sentiment throughout the Soviet Union, when Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s independence movement began to call for the expulsion of Ossetes, the government of the South Ossetian Autonomous Region declared itself an Autonomous Republic within the USSR separate from the Georgian SSR. Georgians responded by attacking Ossetes in an attempt to drive them from the region, eventually resulting in a full-scale war between Ossetes and the Georgians. The conflict lasted for two years until a Russian-brokered ceasefire in 1992.

In August 2008 Georgia launched a military offensive into South Ossetia in order to regain Georgian control. After five days the Russian army intervened to stop the conflict. Russia formally recognized South Ossetia as an independent state, and since that time the Russian army has defended the border against further Georgian attacks. Contrary to portrayals in the Western media of Russia as an “occupying force,” South Ossetians see Russia as guaranteeing their security against a hostile neighbour, similar to the US presence in South Korea.

South Ossetia is rich in historical monuments, but most have not been adequately cataloged or studied. Locals may be able to suggest interesting places to visit. The country’s main attraction, however, is its spectacular nature.

South Ossetia’s street crime rate is low to non-existent; however, it is wise to steer clear of drunks and drug addicts.

Google Maps are almost useless in South Ossetia since they are outdated and use Georgian place names which are nowhere visible in South Ossetia. Yandex maps are more accurate and reliable. Note also that Apple shares Google’s partisan pro-Georgian bias, so that your iPhone will show Tbilisi time which is one hour ahead of what is used in South Ossetia, and your photos will be labelled as having been shot in Tbilisi. Booking.com will also suggest hotels for you in nearby Georgian towns that are inaccessible from South Ossetia.

Talk [ edit ]

The Ossetian language (an Iranian dialect distantly related to Persian) is more widely spoken in South Ossetia than in the North, but Russian is still used for most official purposes. The older generation can generally speak Georgian but will not willingly do so.

Get in [ edit ]

Holders of Russian passports may enter South Ossetia using their internal passport. If you are not a Russian citizen then you must obtain permission from the South Ossetian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Currently (Feb 2020) you must have an invitation from someone in South Ossetia. Contact the consular section of the South Ossetian Foreign Ministry by e-mail: [email protected] You must be in possession of a multiple entry visa, since you will formally be leaving Russia when you enter South Ossetia.

South Ossetia is accessible only by road from Russia via the Ruk tunnel. Small buses frequently leave from the bus station in Vladikavkaz to the capital Tskhinval. Private or shared taxis leave as soon as all four seats are fully booked. The going rate (Feb 2020) for the 3 hour trip is 500 rubles per person; thus you can rent an entire taxi for 2,000 rubles.

The distance from Vladikavkaz to Tskhinval is 164km and travel time is less than three hours, but the passport control on the Russian side can take time if you do not appear in the computer as having visited South Ossetia before. Russia will not stamp your passport since evidence of having visited South Ossetia will prevent you from being admitted into Georgia in the future. After passing through two long tunnels under the mountains you will arrive at the South Ossetian border post. If you have received permission to visit then your name will be in the computer and you will be given an entry slip which you must return when leaving the country. Again, they will not stamp your passport. The trip from the South Ossetian border post to the capital of Tshkinval is 52km and takes about half an hour.

Get around [ edit ]

The former Railway station is now a bus station. There are bus routes to most cities in South Ossetia (and Vladikavkaz) but frequency varies. It is preferable to negotiate with the taxi drivers who wait outside, since these are inexpensive.

Tskhinval A quiet town of about 30,000 with some nice parks including a pleasant main square and a new riverfront walk on the other side of the parliament building to the east. The South Ossetia National Museum on Kosta Khetagurov ulitsa north of the parliament building is well worth a visit. Other sites of interest include the 18th century Church of the Holy Virgin in the former Armenian quarter, and a ruined synagogue in what used to be the Jewish quarter just to the south. There is a good view of the city from a small chapel which can be accessed on foot by climbing the path at the end of 13 Kommunarov ulitsa east of the riverside park. Leaving the city on the opposite, western side you can see the gruesome monument known as the “Museum of Burnt Souls,” commemorating a group of civilians who were burnt to death in their cars by Georgian militia while trying to flee the violence in 2008.

Leningor (Akhalgori in Georgian) A town to the east of Tskhinval (90 minutes by car), where there is still a small Georgina population. For this reason it has the only functioning border crossing with Georgia, but this is open only to locals. The town has two old fortresses formerly owned by the local Georgian nobility (one is now a restaurant), a church, and a couple of old mansions with wooden balconies, one of which is now an art museum. With a local guide you can visit such sites as Aramaz, an impressive 9th-century church and monastery complex, and Usanet dzuar, an important popular mountaintop shrine, both of which are about 10km west on the road to Tskhinval.

Dhzer Site of an important mountaintop shrine to the Ossetian patron deity Uastrydzhi (St. George), located in the central part of the country. The infant Joseph Dzhugashvili (known later in life as Stalin, who is still an Ossetian national hero) was brought here by his grateful middle-aged father who had despaired of having children.

Itineraries [ edit ]

Day 1 Drive in the morning from Vladikavkaz to Tskhinvali stopping on the way to enjoy various scenic spots. Have lunch at Vicenzo, a good modern restaurant on the main square, then do a walking tour taking in the former Armenian and Jewish quarters. Day 2. Day tour to Leningor with side trips to the valleys . Visit the fortresses, the museum, and if able to find a guide, hike up to the Usanet shrine and/or the Aramaz monastery complex west of town. Return to Tskhinvali for overnight. Day 3. Day tour to Kvaisa to explore the western mountains of South Ossetia. Return to Tskhinvali for overnight. Day 4. The Dzher shrine can be visited as part of your return trip to Vladikavkaz, if you have reserved a taxi for yourslf and if the driver agrees to take you. Otherwise organize transport to do it as a day trip from Tskhinval.

Hiking and horseback riding in the mountains.

Café Vicenzo. An excellent, modern restaurant on the main square with a wide range of affordable dishes including Italian, local and Japanese. The city’s number one hangout. Free wifi.

Japanese restaurant. On Putina between Stalina and the university.

Al’Coffee. Café next to the university on Putina.

There are a number of other restaurants serving local cuisine. No Ossetian meal is complete without traditional pies (pirogi) served in a stack of three; they may include, cheese, potatoes, cabbage, beets or meat.

South Ossetia has the same excellent wines as Georgia, but exclusively homemade, even in restaurants. In Tskhinval also try Rong, a sweet liqueur similar to Amaretto.

Stay [ edit ]

Hotel Iryston. A four-star hotel on the main square due to open in spring 2020.

Hotel Uyut. A simple but clean and modern hotel on the south side of the city. (Oktyakbrskaya uilitsas, 135). 1,500/2,500 rubles per night. Free wifi. Do not pay extra for the horrible breakfast, go instead to the pleasant Vicenzo restaurant in the city centre.

Stay safe [ edit ]

In Leningor and other areas you may attract the attention of the police while taking photographs. Use common sense and avoid photographing government or other sensitive areas.

The Russian Internal Security Service (FSB) at the border crossing to Russia has been ordered to interrogate foreigners in a separate room following passport control. Don’t panic and merely answer their questions.

Stay healthy [ edit ]

Due to supplies having to come from Russia there are sometimes shortages of medicine. Heating, electricity, plumbing are basically commodities owing to years of failing infrastructure damaged by years of warfare. Likewise, the health care system is dilapidated – be sure to bring the necessary medical equipment and only buy bottled water.

Respect [ edit ]

Ossetians tend to be culturally conservative, even if a bit more liberal in the South. Social events are generally gender segregated and public displays of affection are frowned upon. Male gatherings tend to involve a lot of drinking, so if you are invited to one be prepared, although it is acceptable to say that you are a non-drinker. Such gatherings, called kuyvd, date back to Scythian times and often the drinking is done out of horns (“so that you cannot put it down until it is empty”). These gatherings consist of an endless procession of toasts, beginning with toasts to the supreme deity, then to Uastyrdzhi, then to the host, then parents, children, friends, etc. It can go on for hours.

Get out [ edit ]

The only legal way out of South Ossetia is by road to Russia. There are public buses and private taxis departing from Tskhinval towards Vladikavkaz.

The Russian border crossing at the Ruk Tunnel is very formal and if many passengers are crossing it may take some time to clear. On the other hand, it may be surprisingly fast.

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? Travel to South Ossetia

It is the dream of who wants to know what many refuse to accept that exists. After its declaration of independence in 1992, and its recognition by Russia and few other countries after the war with Georgia in 2008, this country, located in the center of the Caucasus Mountains, has been practically isolated from the Western world and few are the tourists that have entered so far.

We will discover virgin mountains and valleys, where they say that live more bears than people and also will see the traces of one of the last wars that Europe has suffered. We will also know the remains of the Alana culture; exquisite traditional food and, above all, charming people who value peace and hospitality and who are willing to open themselves to the world.

If you are looking to leave the tourist routes this is your trip. Possibilities to coincide with other tourists 0.1%

South Ossetia — Young Pioneer Tours

Independent Travel to South Ossetia

Alongside the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, South Ossetia is amongst the youngest breakaway states in the world. In 2008, the region was the site of a brutal 5 day war between Russia and Georgia known as the Russo-Georgia war. Since then, the border with Georgia is sealed and the only way to enter is through the Caucasus mountains on the Russian border. South Ossetia is a paradise for adventure travellers being one of the least visited republics on earth due to the difficulty of entering. Luckily, YPT can guarantee entry into the republic and obtain permits fast.

South Ossetia has found a place in the hearts of YPT Soviet Europe, as the countries of the South Caucasus region are slowly being enveloped by mainstream tourism, South Ossetia is a bastion of how the Caucasus used to be, with ancient traditions, beautiful food and warm, hospitable locals.

Tour guides in South Ossetia

Our team in South Ossetia are highly connected through the country and can arrange anything with ease. Our team knows all of the hidden sights from war ravaged ghost towns to forgotten ancient monasteries and pagan sites nestled deep in the Caucasus mountains. You will be picked up in jeeps bearing government plates and will be taken care of throughout your trip.

Hotels in South Ossetia

In the capital city of Tskhinvali there are only two hotels, the original Soviet Intourist hotel which is only 30% reconstructed since the war raged right past it in 2008 and tanks were blown up outside it. The rooms are of a Soviet comfort level provided you don’t mind the odd bullet hole or power cut. The other option is the official accommodation for the national football team with more luxury rooms and breakfast.

Specialist Private Tours to South Ossetia

For those with a specialist interest in breakaway states and the Republic of South Ossetia, we can arrange private independent tours throughout the year for any length of time. The tour can begin in Moscow or Vladikavkaz and can also include trips to other parts of the North Caucasus such as Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan. You will be joined by a YPT representative and accompanied by our local team in South Ossetia focusing on specific areas of your interest. We can arrange trips across the entire country and in the past have arranged specialist trips focusing on ancient monasteries, war history, political history, cultural trips and Paganistic history.

Join a Group Tour to South Ossetia

Each year, Young Pioneer Tours operate two South Ossetia group tours throughout the year at an unbeatable price. The first as part of our all breakaway states tour and the second is our annual South Ossetia National Day tour taking in the awe inspiring military parade and independence celebrations. Beginning in Moscow or Vladikavkaz and taking in all the main sights of the republic including many hidden spots, meeting locals and getting an in depth view of this fascinating breakaway country.

Further Reading

Read more here about our experiences of travel in South Ossetia

For an in depth FAQ sheet about South Ossetia, click here.

What are you waiting for?

Get in contact with us today to begin planning your dream trip to South Ossetia.

For film projects inside the republic, check out Pioneer Media, who can assist you with a variety of on-set services.

Sample South Ossetia Itinerary:

Day 1 – Moscow

Arrival in Moscow at your own leisure and check into our hotel.

We’ll meet up in the evening and head out for a hearty Russian dinner and some welcome shots of local Vodka if you wish.

Overnight in Moscow.

Day 2 – Moscow/Train

Breakfast at the hotel before we check out and store our bags.

Moscow city tour taking in the Soviet Disneyland of VDNKh, featuring a Vostok rocket, a Soviet Tupolev aircraft, tons of stunning Soviet art and an imposing Lenin.

We’ll then see the Cosmonaut museum with Yuri Gagarin’s original spacesuit and the incredible monument to the Cosmos outside.

We’ll then check out Red Square and the KGB headquarters

We’ll leave in the evening for our mammoth train journey to Vladikavkaz, the gateway to the North Caucasus and home to one of the biggest military bases in Russia!

Overnight on the train.

Day 3 – Train

We’ll enjoy breakfast in the restaurant car of the train and spend the rest of the day on board, stopping off at various points for snacks, drinks, souvenirs and a chance to stretch your legs on the platform.

On our trip we’ll be journeying through the Cossack heartland of Southern Russia, seeing what was once some of the worst battlefields on WW2 and your YPT guide will be on hand to answer any questions and keep you entertained all the way.

Dinner and overnight on the train.

Day 4 – Vladikavkaz

Morning arrival in Vladikavkaz.

After check in and breakfast we’ll begin a city tour of Vladikavkaz.

We’ll see The beautiful Mukhtarov Mosque set against the dramatic backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains. It was used to serve the Ingush residents of Vladikavkaz before they were expelled from North Ossetia in the 1990s.

We’ll then check out the enormous Soviet monument to Issa Pliyev on horseback, he was a Soviet general who commanded forces during the battle of Moscow and Stalingrad and also played a vital role in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Visit the Victory Park full of hulking Soviet monuments to the NKVD, Cossacks, WW2 battles. The park also features one of the last surviving statues of Josef Stalin left in the former USSR, locals claim Stalin was an Ossetian and he is well thought of here.

We’ll then walk down the picturesque main boulevard of Vladikavkaz set against the might Caucasus mountains, here we’ll have a traditional Ossetian lunch with Caucasian tea and people watch.

If dates align, we’ll try and catch a concert at the national university of North Ossetia.

Overnight in Vladikavkaz

Day 5 – Tskhinvali

After breakfast we’ll meet our driver and have an early start as we visit the site of the Beslan school massacre and pay our respects. In 2004, during the height of the 2nd Chechen war, a group of terrorists captured the school and took over 1,100 people hostage. After three days and a raging battle with security forces, over 334 people (including 186 children) lay dead.

We’ll grab lunch to go on the road then begin the 4-5 hour drive to Tishkinvali, on the way we’ll stop to see the imposing Soviet monument to the Red Army soldier and hero of the Soviet Union Peter Barbashov who sacrificed his life during the brutal fighting for the city of Vladikavkaz in 1942. There are also a selection of original WW2 tanks and weaponry alongside the monument.

On the way we’ll stop at some incredible beauty spots and monuments in the mountains.

We’ll use the infamous Roki Tunnel to cut through the Caucasus mountains before reaching the South Ossetia border, this will be tense and questions will be asked by men in suits but fear not, your YPT guide will take care of all formalities and get you inside.

Keep an eye out on the road to South Ossetia and you’ll see various artillery guns on standby.

After arriving in the capital of South Ossetia, we’ll check into our hotel, drop our bags and freshen up before meeting our local high ranking host who will be overseeing our visit to the country and ensuring everything goes smooth.

We’ll walk through the main city park and see the ‘I love Tskhinvali’ sign before going for dinner at one of the best eating spots in the city which is often frequented by the South Ossetian president. We’ll order traditional South Ossetian Chacha to toast your arrival in one of the hardest to visit breakaway republics on earth.

Overnight in Tskhinvali

Day 6 – Tskhinvali

Breakfast in Tskhinvali

We’ll begin a city tour of the capital city of South Ossetia. We’ll start at the former Intourist hotel of the Soviet era, still functioning but riddled with bullet holes and rocket blasts.

We’ll then explore the former train station and the plinth outside that once held a statue of Josef Stalin. After this we’ll head down the main street and see the university, outside is the turret of a Georgian army tank which was destroyed outside the train station before embedding itself in the concrete.

We’ll visit the only souvenir shop and the national museum followed by the old town of Tskhinvali, this is a harrowing experience and it has been left the same since it was obliterated in a Grad rocket strike in 2008. Many buildings are in ruins still with inhabitants. There is a former synagogue here and only one Jewish person left living in the city.

Free time in the evening

We’ll meet up in the evening to have dinner.

Overnight in Tskhinvali.

Day 7 – Leningor

Early start and breakfast in Tskhinvali

We’ll drive out to the highway of death monument, a sobering ring of burnt out cars which were part of a refugee column fleeing the capital. Many were slaughtered in a rocket strike on the column and the memorial stands as testament to the war crime.

We’ll drive along the lonely mountain road to Leningor, the second biggest city in the republic and inhabited by Georgians. On the way we’ll be passing through stunning scenery and war torn ghost towns.

We’ll stop at 8th century fortified churches on the way with stunning views of the Caucasus mountains.

In Leningor, we’ll see the local museum, medieval monuments, Soviet WW2 memorial and monuments to Pushkin. Here it’s possible to buy Georgian wine, brandy and bizarrely, even magnets saying ‘I love Georgia’.

We’ll enjoy a traditional Georgian lunch in Leningor before returning to the capital.

Dinner and overnight in Tskhinvali.

Day 8 – Vladikavkaz

Travel advice and advisories for Georgia

On this page

Risk level Georgia – Take normal security precautions Take normal security precautions in Georgia. The Russian border regions, breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and surrounding areas – Avoid all travel Avoid all travel to regions bordering Russia, including the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as to the areas surrounding them.

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Safety and security COVID-19 – Preventative measures and restrictions COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations. These could include: curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns

mandatory mask use

required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are still in effect. Foreign Representatives in Canada Abkhazia and South Ossetia Tensions are high in both breakaway regions. Unexploded ordnance, landmines and explosions may pose a risk in those parts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia where military operations have occurred. Terrorists have carried out attacks in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They typically use car bombs to target military and security facilities. Exercise a high level of personal security awareness at all times. Canadian officials may not be in a position to provide consular assistance to Canadians in these areas, due to security concerns and travel restrictions. Risk levels Russian border regions Avoid entering or leaving the country via land borders with Russia in these republics: Chechnya

Dagestan

Ingushetia

Kabardino-Balkaria

Karachay-Cherkessia

North Ossetia Crime Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs. Inadequate lighting in public places increases the likelihood of crime. Do not carry large amounts of cash and do not display signs of affluence

Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times

Pay careful attention when your credit card is handled by others during payment processing Muggings, home invasions, carjackings, sexual assaults and other violent crimes against foreigners have occurred. Do not visit disreputable bars and neighbourhoods, where local law enforcement may be unable or unwilling to intervene. In one scam that is particularly common in Tbilisi, locals invite tourists to bars for food and drinks, and then force them to pay a steep bill. Kidnapping Kidnappings have occurred in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and other areas bordering Russia. You should travel in a group. Do not walk or take the subway alone after dark. Vary your routine and lock doors to cars and residences. Avoid showing signs of affluence and exercise vigilance in crowded places, such as markets and public transportation facilities. LGBTQ2 travellers LGBTQ2 travellers, as well as their friends and families, have been targets of harassment and violence. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Georgia. Laws affecting LGBTQ2 travellers Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics Demonstrations Political demonstrations take place regularly in Georgia, especially in Tbilisi. Clashes between protestors and security forces have resulted in casualties. Security forces have used water cannons to disperse crowds. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place

Follow the instructions of local authorities

Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations More about mass gatherings (large-scale events) Road safety Traffic accidents are a common cause of injury and death. Drive defensively. Poor road conditions, reduced driving standards, insufficient road markings and inadequate lighting create hazards. Avoid driving after dark. Public transportation Use only officially marked taxis and negotiate fares in advance. Do not share rides with strangers. Exercise caution when travelling over long distances by train at night and when alone. Do not leave the compartment unattended. Lock the cabin door from the inside. Air travel We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards. General information about foreign domestic airlines Mountaineering and hiking Accurate information on mountain conditions can be difficult to obtain, and weather in mountainous areas can be unpredictable. If you intend on engage in mountaineering or hiking: never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company

buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation

ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity

ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard

inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp

know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal

obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails General safety information Standards of police practice may differ from those you might expect in Canada.

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Entry and exit requirements COVID-19 – Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19. These measures can be imposed suddenly and may include: entry or exit bans

quarantine

mandatory proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing

suspensions or reductions of international transportation options Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document. Before travelling: verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any restrictions or requirements related to this situation

consider even your transit points, as there are transit rules in place in many destinations

monitor the media for the latest information

reconfirm the requirements with your airline or tour operator The situation could disrupt your travel plans. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance to change your travel plans. Useful links Travel restrictions and health requirements – United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Foreign Representatives in Canada Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements. We have obtained the information on this page from Georgian authorities. It can, however, change at any time. Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada. Passport Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel. Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules. Regular Canadian passport Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Georgia. Passport for official travel Different entry rules may apply. Official travel Passport with “X” gender identifier While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination. Other travel documents Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination. Useful links Foreign Representatives in Canada

Canadian passports Visas Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 365 days

Business visa: Not required for stays up to 365 days

Student visa: Not required for stays up to 365 days If you are planning to stay in Georgia for more than 365 days, you must obtain a visa before entering the country. If you overstay your visa, you may be fined. State Commission on Migration Issues of Georgia Abkhazia and South Ossetia You need prior authorization from Georgian authorities to enter the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As there is no official border control, you could face serious consequences, such as incarceration and fines, when re-entering Georgia if your passport has been stamped by the authorities of these regions. Risk levels Yellow fever Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section). Children and travel Learn about travel with children.

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Natural disasters and climate Georgia is located in an active seismic zone. An earthquake may cause landslides in affected areas, and strong aftershocks may occur up to one week after the initial earthquake. Heavy rains may trigger floods and landslides.

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