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South Ossetia (Georgia; under Russian occupation)

Last modified: 2018-07-22 by ivan sache
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Flag of South Ossetia - Image by Ivan Sache, 16 September 2006

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Presentation of South Ossetia

Status: Self-proclaimed independence from Georgia, which whom conflict continues.

Despite their loyalty to the Soviet state, Communist divide-and-rule policies dictated the division of Ossetians lands into two regions. A North Ossetian Autonomous Region was created in 1924, two years after a South Ossetian Autonomous Region. To further complicate matters (as it was surely intended to), North Ossetia was part of Russia and South Ossetia part of Georgia.
This ethnic time-bomb duly exploded when Georgia became a separate state. Ossetians in South Ossetia, desiring union with their kinsmen in the north, declared their republic a part of Russia rather than Georgia in 1989. A year later (Georgia having abolished the autonomous status of the region) South Ossetia declared independence and armed conflict, which has still not been resolved, erupted.
The Ossetians are said to be descendents of the Sarmatians, a Central Asiatic people who migrated westwards into the region in the 7th century BC.

Stuart Notholt, 5 October 1995

The historical homeland of Ossetian people is and can be only so called North Ossetia or simply Ossetia (local name Alania). There are almost inaccessible mountains on its south (higher than Mont Blanc) and it is quite impossible for a people to form on both slopes of such range.
Only about a few centuries ago, some tribes of Ossetians, pursued by their stronger Muslim neighbours, began to move through Caucasus range, looking for a safer place.
Historically, there has never been some Ossetian state. The territory of present-day South Ossetia always belonged to Georgia and in many conquests always shared the fate of neighbouring Georgian territories. Before Bolshevik revolution in Russia nobody used the term "South Ossetia" and it was always regarded as part of Kartli, one of main historical regions of Georgia. However, the Georgian population in that hostile mountain territory was sparse, so Ossetians who had no choice became the majority there during the 19th and 20th centuries. This was the reason to proclame first an autonomous region and then, after the collapse of USSR, a republic.
But, in any case, it was not some kind of deliberate decision "intended to complicate matters" and create inter-ethnic tensions or example of "divide-and-rule policies" simply because there was nothing to divide.

Alexander Morozov, 6 May 1999

Flag of South Ossetia

The flag of South Ossetia is horizontally divded white-red-yellow. It is prescribed by the Constitution of 26 November 1990 (Article 155) and confirmed by the Regulation on the National Flag of 30 March 1992.
According to Article 1 of this Regulation, the proportions of the flag are 1:2. Excep the proportions, the flag is the same as the flag of North Ossetia.
Red is said to stand for military virtue; white for intelligence and the spiritual life of the nation; and yellow for the well-being of the people.

Stuart Notholt, Victor Lomantsov & Antonio Gutierrez, 30 November 2005

There's a series of programmes on BBC TV called Holidays in the Danger Zone, where our intrepid reporter goes to places which don't officially exist and wanders around with a camera crew until he is expelled or arrested. Recently, the programme on South Ossetia was shown, and there was a shot of the flag. The flag - flying over an unspecified government building - is clearly longer than higher, perhaps 1:2.

André Coutanche, 1 June 2005

Flag with proportions 2:3


Flag of South Ossetia with proportions 2:3 - Image by António Martins, 7 October 2000

The Times, 27 August 2008, contains a color photo depicting two Ossetian women in Tsinkhvali weeping with joy. Behind them is a Russian military vehicle, while behind the vehicle are South Ossetian and Russian flags standing alongside one another. The proportions of all flags seem to be 2:3, not the legal 1:2.

Ron Lahav & J. Patrick Fischer, 28 August 2008

Flags with the coat of arms


"Banner of the Republic" of South Ossetia (uncertain status) - Image by Victor Lomantsov, 9 October 2004

The World on BBC4 TV tonight (6 August 2004) had a piece about the situation in South Ossetia.
The more interesting vexillological information came in an interview with South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoiti. Behind him was a flag bearing the national coat of arms; presumably this is the presidential flag.
The coat of arms on the flag is very similar to the image shown above, but there are some differences: the "divider" between the names of the republic in the two languages (Ossetian and Russian) looks a lot like a Breton triskelion and doesn't have coloured infills; more significantly, the Russian inscription is at the bottom rather than the top. There is also something odd about the disposition of the two colours visible on the flag - they appear to meet at the С of РЕСПУБЛИКА, which is on neither the vertical nor horizontal axis of the coat of arms.
The flag manufacturer October labels the flag the "Banner of the Republic".

André Coutanche & Victor Lomantsov, 9 October 2004


Official flag of South Ossetia (uncertain status) - Image by Zoltán Horvath, 3 April 2012

The national flag with the complete coat of arms in the center of the flag could be state flag, used by the President during official events (photo).


Official flag of South Ossetia (uncertain status) - Image by Zoltán Horvath, 3 April 2012

There is an alternative national flag where the simplified coat of arms (without the name of the country) is placed on the white stripe. It is definitely used by officials and citizens as well (photo, photo, polling station; photo, demonstration).


Official flag of South Ossetia (uncertain status) - Image by Zoltán Horvath, 3 April 2012

it seems that the President uses not only the national and the flag with the coat of arms, but also s plain dark red flag with the complete coat of arms in the center of the flag (photo).

Zoltán Horvath, 3 April 2012

Coat of arms of South Ossetia


Coat of arms of South Ossetia (Click on the arms to see a larger image) - Image by Nozomi Kariyasu & Ivan Sache, 13 July 2004

On a red round escutcheon a golden snow leopard with black spots, walking on a golden ground, behind it seven silver mountains. A white border, black ornaments around all, inwards black marginal inscriptions "Republic of South Ossetia" in Cyrillic letters РЕСПУБЛИКА ЮЖНАЯ ОСЕТИЯ (Russian, top) and РЕСПУБЛИКӔ ХУССАР ИРБІСТОН (Ossetian, beneath), between the two inscriptions a round emblem consisting of three segments in the colours silver, yellow and red (counterclockwise). The inscriptions and the ornament are separated by a thin circle.

Source: Folder "State symbols of the Republic South Ossetia" issued by the Government of the Republic South Ossetia on 19 May 1999 - German version forwarded by Nozomi Kariyasu and translated by M. Schmöger, 13 July 2002

The coat of arms is identical, except the inscription, to the coat of arms of North Ossetia.
It was designed by the Georgian scientist Prince Vakhushti Bagrationi in 1735. Its original copy is held in the Georgian Manuscripts Collection in Tbilisi.

David Gigauri, 13 July 2004

Former coat of arms of South Ossetia

The former arms of the independent government of South Ossetia headed by President Ludvig Chibirov are shown on Soslan Tabuev's website, with the following description:
- The eagle stands for generosity, bravity and freedom. In the talons and on the wings of the eagle one can see the Wasamonga cup, a pole ax, an oak branch, hops and wheat ears.
According to the ancient Ossetic myths (Nartian epos) all those things were given by God to the Narts, the legendary forefathers of the Ossetians since ancient times. The word Wasamonga translates from Ossetic as "Teaching the holy". In the Nartian epos (Narty Kadgita) the Wasamonga cup proclaims truth and exposes lies. The cup (for every Ossete) is the symbol of justice and equality of all before the laws of morality. Hops are a symbol of finding the eternity. Wheat ears of wheat stand for peace and prosperity.
- The swastika on the chest of the eagle signifies eternal life, endless moves and changes. Being the symbol of the sun, it has three ends - the Trinity is the main principle of most religions--it signifies Father-Son-Holy Spirit,the God-Man-Nature, Soul-Body-Spirit, Past-Present-Future.
- The colors are white, for wisdom, red, for power and energy, yellow, for abundance. These colors are the national colors of Ossetia and are on the flag of both South and North parts of the land.

Chris Kretowicz, 27 March 2001

Armed Forces of South Ossetia


Colour of the Armed Forces of Ossetia - Image by Jens Pattke, 7 December 2013, after a photo)

National Guard of South Ossetia


Flag of the National Guard - Image by Ivan Sache, 7 March 2002

The national flag with a white snow lion in the red stripe was unofficially used by the National Guard.

Victor Lomantsov, 7 March 2002

This flag appears in the Flags of Aspirant Peoples chart [eba94], #111, with the following caption:
North Caucasus, Georgia

Ivan Sache, 15 September 1999

Ministry of Extraordinary Situations

[Flag]         [Flag]

Flag and emblem of the Ministry of Extraordinary Situations - Images by Jesn Pattke, 25 June 2018

The flag of the Ministry of Extraordinary Situations (photo) is blue with the flag of South Ossetia in canton and the ministry's emblem in lower fly.

Jesn Pattke, 25 June 2018

Georgian flag proposal for South Ossetia


Georgian flag proposal - Image by Eugene Ipavec, 21 March 2009

A flag proposal for South Ossetia was found on the semi-official website of the pro-Georgian Abkhazian Government in-exile (pro-Georgian).

Chrystian Kretowicz, 21 March 2009