Key pros and cons arguments of renaming South Ossetia" />

South Ossetia getting ready to become Alania

Key pros and cons arguments of renaming South Ossetia

Photo:Neli Gabaraeva

An initiatives of President of the Republic of South Ossetia, Leonid Tibilov, on renaming the republic, is one of the most important of his intentions and it will be implemented in the near future – Domenti Kulumbegov, the Head of the South Ossetian government, told “RES news agency reporter, on February 23.

President Tibilov stood with the initiative to rename the republic end of last year.

He also touched upon this issue during his annual address to the nation and Parliament, last week: ‘We have witnessed actual attempts to deprive us of our ethnic history and, whishing or not, we are encouraging that through our sluggishness,’ – the President said, adding that the decision would be made in full compliance with the constitutional requirements – that is, through a referendum.

Domenti Kulumbegov, the Head of South Ossetian Government, who has been tasked to thoroughly study the issue and submit some concrete proposals based on it, says the work has been actively underway and is already at its final stage. The Prime Minister has reminded that the initiative was widely supported by South Ossetian society and continuously discussed in media, in the Ossetian media space and on different platforms.

According to Vyacheslav Gobozov, Chairman of South Ossetia State Committee on Press and Information, there is no doubt about the compatriots’ unanimous approval of President Tibilov’s proposal to rename the republic into South Ossetia-Alania. However, the official stressed, the observance of certain procedures is required by the law:

‘There will be a referendum, since renaming of the republic is one of those issues, that are regulated by the Constitution. In his address to the nation and the parliament of the republic, Leonid Tibilov made it clear that it would be before April 2017, when the presidential elections are due. So, it will take place before the elections. Most likely, the referendum will be held in 2016.

Which is better – ‘the Republic of Alania’ or ‘the Republic of South Alania’? Or, as the northern brothers have it – both, Alania and Ossetia? Or maybe it’s better to leave everything as it is? – The renaming issue is one of the main topics for discussion in the social networks.

This issue has been widely discussed by politicians and ordinary social network users, who are engaged in heated debated on its ‘pros’ and ‘cons’.

The arguments ‘for’ the name ‘Alania’:

1. Ossetians are genetic descendants of the Alans, thus renaming the Republic of South Ossetia serves to restore historical justice

Svetlana Tedeeva, a lawyer: ‘I believe that we, as true Alans, should call our state “Alania’. We should erect monuments and build many things that would bespeak of the name Alan. We should call ourselves the name of our great ancestors. I think, it will be a good and wise decision and the citizens of our republic will approve it. ‘

2. Renaming will give the republic greater status than it enjoys today

Alan Dzhussoyev, leader of the ‘Your choice, Ossetia!’ public movement: ‘Alans and their heritage are known worldwide, but not everyone knows, that Ossetians are the descendants of Alans. This will give our country greater weight and certain status in the international community’s eye.’

3. ‘We should manage to become Alania in time, before Ingushetia does it’

‘Ingushetia has already started renaming streets and squares using terminology, related to the history of Ossetians. The republic’s leadership has decided to name Ingushetia’s capital after a medieval Alan city of Magas. After the ‘Alan gates’, it is also planned to build ‘Alania Square’ and name the city streets using Alan toponymy. However, such games will bring no good; the politicians should refrain from historical profiteering,’ – JAMnews was told in South Ossetian government.

Robert Gagloyty, co-chair of the ‘Styr Nykhas’ (Grand Council) All Ossetian Movement: ‘I fully support this idea. I had been talking about that long before the Ingush people named their capital Magas – the name of the capital of ancient Alania. If the activities aimed at renaming the republic are not performed now, then we will get some other names, like the ‘Alan gates’ in Ingushetia. Ingushetia is trying to take away our history and that is inadmissible. ‘

4. ‘We should get rid of Georgian context’

In fact, there is an opinion, that the name ‘Ossetia’ originated from the Georgian word ‘osi’. That’s how Ossetians are referred to in Georgian language.

Albina Totoeva, Facebook user: We are against everything that is Georgian, aren’t we! Ah, no! Still Ossetia-Alania! Can’t it be simply Alania?’ 

5. To become part of the Russian Federation

Perhaps this reason should have been named first. The first thing that President Tibilov said, when talking about it, was: – we have counted on becoming a part of Russia. ‘My suggestion is that our republic be renamed the Republic of South Ossetia-Alania. Under this name, we will be able to live in peace, to work with an expectation that a historic moment will come, when the two parts of Ossetia – already Alania – will reunite and the uniform Ossetia will join the Russian Federation.’

Yuri Gabaraev, the Head of the parliamentary committee on culture, religion and media: ‘If we consider ourselves as a single nation, then we should also have similar names. The Republic of South Ossetia-Alania – that’s how our republic should be named. The republic should be renamed by analogy with North Ossetia.

The main argument of those, ‘AGAINST’ renaming the republic in a particular situation:

1. Alania was a different country, it no longer exists

‘Alania was great, much greater as compared with Ossetia, that we have inherited from our ancestors. Alania united the present Circassia, Adygea, Balkaria, Karachay, Grand Chechnya, Ingushetia, the major part of Stavropol and Krasnodar regions, Transcaucasus areas. Alas, Ossetia is the only thing we’ve inherited from our ancestors. So, let’s preserve it! Without any pathos. Without any Alania. Let me stress once again, regrettably, there has not been even a trace of Alania for a long time, ‘- reads one of the social network users’ posts.

2. It is inappropriate to rename the republic just because the Ingush people have built the Alan Gates

Batradz Dzutsatti, member of the political council of the ‘Ossetia – Freedom Square’ political party: ‘Why should one react to building the Alan gates that way? Why should a country be renamed because of that? Of course, I don’t mind being referred to as Alania, they are our ancestors … but that should not be done in such a context. It should come from the people, there should be public debates on that issue and not that the president just wanted and renamed it.’

3. Renaming story is nothing but an attempt to pass it off from real problems ahead of presidential elections, scheduled for 2017

Roland Kelekhsaev, South Ossetian expert: ‘Renaming a state is a rather costly pleasure. A referendum should be conducted, passports and stamps should be replaced, organizations should be re-registered, etc. Perhaps it is worth putting off this venture and spending money on more pressing problems.’ 

Alan Dzhussoyev: It will be necessary to conduct a referendum, but it is expensive. It is also necessary to change forms, stamp, passports, numbers, licenses etc. Mind, that this is an election year. Our self-naming is not even among our society’s top 10 major problems that need to be addressed first.

The government has already initiated setting up a working group, tasked to work on promotion of Ossetians’ history. The group includes linguists, historians, archaeologists and political analysts. They should conduct a range of activities to prepare the population of the republic for renaming the country and remind them of the history of Great Alans.


The opinions expressed in the article convey the author’s terminology and views and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial staff

More on JAMnews