RUSSIA'S EXPANSIONIST POLICY IN THE CONTEXT OF ETHNO-CULTURAL AND CIVIC IDENTITY TRANSFORMATION (ON THE EXAMPLE OF SELF-PROCLAIMED SOUTH OSSETIA)
The August 2008 war and the subsequent events in self-proclaimed South Ossetia are part of Russia's expansionist plan towards Georgia, thereby striving to gradually integrate the occupied region into its composition and regain control over the South Caucasus.
The expansionist policy of Russia is going on in many directions: military, economic, cultural, demographic and moral-psychological; these interdependent directions form a single system, where the activation of one activates the others.
Russia's military expansion in the occupied region is primarily reflected in the borderization of the occupation line, which the Ossetian side is carrying out with the assistance of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) border guards; Russia fortifies this occupation line with border bases, annually increasing its military contingent and strengthening their military armament, i.e. militarizing the occupied territories; the Ossetian occupation regime arrests the so-called "violators" of the "border"; in some cases the right to life of illegal prisoners is violated; intensive military exercises are being conducted; the demonstration of military forces morally destroys the population of Georgian villages on our side and makes them be in constant fear.
Examples of Russia’s cultural expansion in the occupied territories include the policy of abolishing Georgian schools and converting them into Russian, the prohibition of the use of the Georgian language in schools, the reduction of classes of the Georgian language and literature, prohibition of Georgian applicants to enter higher education institutions in the territories controlled by Georgia and their access to higher education in Russia; declaring Russian as a working language in the State bodies of the occupied region;; official Tbilisi assessed such actions as a manifestation of the Russification policy and an evident form of occupation.
Traditional Georgian-Ossetian religious ties which fostered closer integration between these peoples were broken. The population of the occupied region actually found themselves outside the jurisdiction of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia; due to borderization, part of the Georgian churches is in the territory controlled by de facto Ossetia, while the Georgian Church controls only some of them.
The population of the region is becoming more and more economically dependent on the Russian market; Roki checkpoint in de facto South Ossetia was abolished; due to the lack of contact with the rest of Georgia, the only way to connect with the outside world, is through the north; the population of the occupied region intensively receives Russian passports, which changes their civil identity in favor of Russian citizenship.
Due to Russian policy, the remaining Georgian population in the occupied territories is forced to either leave the region or change their citizenship.
Russia's expansionist policy is ultimately aimed at integrating this historic territory of Georgia into the empire.
Keywords: Georgia, Self-proclaimed South Ossetia, Borderization, Russia's Expansionist Policy, Transformation of Civic Identity