Separatism and the demographic disaster of the Ossetians of the Tskhinvali region

18.02.23 20:30

Separatism leads to ethno-cleansing and extinction of the people. This applies to virtually all separatist projects.


 No matter how hard the Armenian "Artsakh" separatists try to convince the world community that there are allegedly "120 thousand Armenians and 30 thousand children among them" in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers in Azerbaijan's Karabakh, this is all a cynical lie. During the Armenian occupation, for example, all soldiers of the Armenian occupation army and workers of other occupation structures were included in the "population of Artsakh", forcing them to leave their previous residence in Armenia and register in Karabakh.


Similarly, newborns with at least one parent who was either a Karabakh Armenian or from the same occupier were counted as 'born in Artsakh' and 'children of Artsakh'. Without all these statistical tricks, in reality there are no more than 25-30 thousand Armenians in Karabakh, which the separatists are currently using as hostages, keeping on starvation rations in order to show the world a picture of a "humanitarian disaster"..


The separatists "deduce" the number of 30 thousand "children of Artsakh", taking into account the demographic statistics in the Nagorno-Karabakh AO of the Azerbaijan SSR, where, remember, a significant part of the population were Azerbaijanis expelled by Armenian separatists and occupants with much more large families than Armenians. Taking into consideration genocide and expulsion of Azerbaijanis and catastrophic decline in birth rate in Karabakh Armenians during the separatism and occupation - hardly more than 3 thousand children remained in Karabakh, i.e. 10 times less than the figure voiced by the separatists in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers.


The separatist regime in the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region of Georgia is also "pulling statistics". They claim that the population of so-called South Ossetia is 53,500 people.  But even this drawn figure in comparison with almost 100 thousand residents of South Ossetia, which is part of Georgia, looks like a disaster.


However, in reality, the population of the Tskhinvali region is much less than 53.5 thousand. At best, if we do not count the occupation army and workers of the FSB and other structures "sent" from Russia, there are no more than 15-20 thousand people. But even they are dying out very fast and this is confirmed by the interview given by Zhanna Kochiev to the separatist newspaper Respublika, head of the department of economics and business of the faculty of engineering and economics of so-called South Ossetian State University, author of the monograph "demographic situation in South Ossetia: factors, forecasts and the basis of the regulatory mechanism". Here are excerpts from the interview, which was reprinted by the pro-Armenian Eurasia Daily ( ):


 "- Tell us about the main demographic indicators in South Ossetia. And how do these data correlate with similar figures from the pre-war years?


- According to the data of the last census of the population of the RSO, its number makes 53 thousand 532 people. According to the data of the last all-Union census that was conducted in 1989, the number of inhabitants of the South Ossetian Autonomous District was 99 thousand 100 people. The main reason for the decrease in the number is, of course, an armed aggression of Georgia against South Ossetia in 1989-1992 and 2004-2008. This was also due to migration of the population. That is, the population of South Ossetia has decreased by almost 50 per cent during this small period.


But also disappointing are the latest figures, in the so-called peacetime. For example, according to statistics for 9 months of 2022, the birth rate has decreased by 48 people compared to the same period of 2021 (in 2022 122 people were born, in 2021 - 170 children). The death rate for the same period increased by 52 compared to 2021. There were 444 deaths in 2022 and 392 in 2021. Natural decrease of population in the republic was 322 people.


- When was Southern Ossetia's demographic performance the highest?


- Statistics recorded a significant increase in population before the Great Patriotic War, in early 1940. The population of South Ossetia had 108 thousand 500 people. At that, according to materials of the all-union censuses, in 1939 there were 106 thousand 100 people in South Ossetia. This data shows an expanded reproduction of population and is the result of progressive figures of natural increase and positive balance of migration. It is always a pleasure to cite figures of those years. And it is very much desirable that in perspective our republic reaches the same level again.


- Was the situation the same in the regions of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia during that period?


- Despite the progressive nature of the figures, the population growth rate in South Ossetia during this period lagged far behind that of other regions as a whole. During 1926-1940 total population of South Ossetia increased by 18 thousand 743 people or 21.5%. During the same period the population of Abkhazia increased by 55.2%, Adjara by 51.6% and Georgia by 32.2%.


I should add that North Ossetia is also depressed demographically. There is a tendency of decrease of population there as well. In fact, demographic problems are acute in the whole world. But we are now talking about the problem of demography in South Ossetia and how we can solve it.


- And what is the demographic situation in the capital of our country and in each district of the state of Alania - Tskhinvali, Dzaura, Znauri and Leningori?


- Now there is a very alarming picture in rural areas. From 1926 to 2015 that is in 89 years the urban population of South Ossetia increased 6 times and the rural population decreased almost 5 times. So, while in 1926 the urban population was 5,818, in 2015 it was 35,012. Meanwhile, the rural population was 81,557 in 1926 and 18,520 in 2015.


Since the late 1990s, both the urban and rural populations of the Republic have declined sharply. While in 1926 the urban population was 6.7% of the total population, by the time of the last general census in 2015 it had risen to 65.4%, almost tenfold.


The level of urbanisation in South Ossetia has particularly increased since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The main reason for the outflow of the rural population is the Georgian aggression over two decades, which caused an acute socio-economic crisis. It should be noted that the rural population's outflow of population was much more intense than that of the urban population.


Since the last all-Union census of the Soviet period in 1989 to the general census of the population of the RSO in 2015, the urban population decreased by 30.3% and the rural population by 2.6 times. As a result of these differentiated rates of urban and rural population change, the urbanization rate increased very rapidly, from 50.7% to 65.4%. This is quite a high rate.


As for individual districts, in Tskhinvali district during 1939-2015, decrease of population was 74.6% (from 30 693 to 7 793 persons), Dzauski district - 67.3% (from 20 108 to 6 567 persons), Znauri district - 75.9% (from 18 782 to 4 531 persons), Leningori district - 81.5% (from 22 725 to 4 209 persons). A negative role in this negative process was played by forced migration of the total population of the republic. At the same time, from the point of view of demographic and agricultural development, a further increase in the urbanization rate is inexpedient.


And a few more figures. Statistical materials of the corresponding censuses show that if in 1926 (that is, after the Genocide of 1920) there were 534 villages on the territory of South Ossetia, in 2015 there were almost twice less and the number of depopulated villages was constantly increasing. And if in 1926 on the territory of South Ossetia on average 153 people lived in one rural settlement, in 1979 - 123 people, in 1989 - 118 people, by the time of the census of 2015 this figure was only 64 people and it is decreasing every year. At the same time, in 1926 there were only two settlements on the territory of South Ossetia with a population of 10 people or less. In 1979 there were already 43 such settlements, in 1989 - 52, and in 2015 - 83...


All of the above suggests that preventing a further decrease in the number of people in the villages, the devastation of highland villages and the rationalisation of the settlement system is the most important task of the entire socio-economic and demographic policy of the republic.


It would be no exaggeration to say that we need to ring the bells. Radical measures are needed to ensure the growth of the indigenous population. The presence of so many sparsely populated and, for the most part, hopeless villages paves the way for further deterioration of the settlement system and the emptying of many villages in the countryside.


This problem exists not only in the South but also in the North of Ossetia. My colleague from North Ossetia - Alania Nodar Gavrilovich Kaberty candidate of economic sciences is closely working on this issue. In addition to our joint research, he has a large number of works on this topic in North Ossetia and the demographic situation there is also critical."


Thus, even in an interview with a separatist publication, using hackneyed separatist propaganda stamps "genocide", "Georgian aggression", etc. Zhanna Kochieva is forced to acknowledge the demographic catastrophe of the South Ossetians. Even on the basis of "stretched" separatist figures.


It is clear that the population in the Tskhinvali and Akhalgori districts (Leningori in terminology of the separatists) drastically decreased first of all due to genocide, ethnic cleansing and expulsion of the Georgian population that constituted there either significant percentage or (as in the Akhalgori district) the overwhelming majority. But after all, before the separatist war Javski (Dzauski in terminology of the separatists) and Kornisi (Znauri) districts were predominantly "Ossetian" in ethnic composition. And, nevertheless Ossetian population there even according to "official" statistics, is sharply declining and is on the verge of total extinction. In reality the situation is even worse.


In Java district, with dozens of completely deserted Ossetian villages, life in Java itself is somehow supported by the military base of the Russian occupants located there. And, apparently, before the war in Ukraine (when most of the occupation troops were transferred "to the Ukrainian front) there were more Russian military personnel here than the remaining local population. But in the Ossetian district of Kornisi (Znauri) population decline has actually been much greater than in the "official separatist" 4 times, despite the fact that there were no military operations there. And here, of more than 22 thousand inhabitants before the separatist movement began, not 4.5 thousand, as the separatists claim, but at best 1-2 thousand. An entire district is practically deserted and extinct!


To understand the extent of the catastrophe wrought by separatism one can compare the demographic data of "independent" so-called South Ossetia with statistics of the most demographically disadvantaged region of Georgia - Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti. Here mountain villages are also becoming empty, young people are leaving, only old and retired people are left. Here too, Georgian demographers are sounding alarm about the lowest birth rate in comparison to other regions of Georgia ...


 But for every 27.6 thousand people officially living in the region (i.e. almost twice as less than the "official" population of the so-called "South Ossetia" according to the separatist statistics) 263 children were born in Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti in 2022, according to Gruzstat. It is very little! But in the same year of 2022, only 122 babies were born in so-called "South Ossetia" which receives huge Russian subsidies. That is, for the officially twice as large population under the rule of the occupants and separatists there were born twice as few children. That is, birth rate in the separatist territory is 4(!) times lower than in the most demographically disadvantaged region of Georgia!


This is the catastrophe that separatism has brought the Ossetian people to. And that is not all. Young Ossetians are literally "fished out" and sent to their certain deaths to fight in Ukraine. And the already small number of children in the occupied Tskhivali region remain orphans. So, if the occupation is not stopped the South Ossetian ethnos can simply disappear very quickly.



Alexandre Chkheidze

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