Separatist Summer Camp: Russia-Controlled Donbas Sends Kids to Occupied Georgia
14 July, 2017
Photo credit: Sputnik South Ossetia

It’s far away, impoverished, and unrecognized by the international community. But for a group of children from Ukraine’s occupied Donetsk region, it was also summer camp.

Twenty kids from the unrecognized “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) spent 10 days at a recreation camp in the mountains of South Ossetia, a Russia-backed breakaway region in Georgia. The children came at the invitation of the region’s “president,” Anatoly Babilov, the Russian state Sputnik news agency reported.

This week, the camp concluded with an event organized by the separatist “presidential administration,” a “state” children’s organization, and Sputnik South Ossetia, the local branch of Russia’s state international broadcaster, which has actively covered the camp. “President Babilov” himself even took part in the closing event, performing the Ossetian national dance with the children.

The separatist leadership’s participation in organizing the camp likely serves a broader goal: politics.

Separatist South Ossetia is the only entity to recognize the "Donetsk People’s Republic" as an independent state. In April 2016, DPR separatist leaders signed a memorandum of cooperation between the two unrecognized breakaway republics’ parliaments in Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, according to the pro-DPR Novorossia Today site.

Like the DPR, South Ossetia itself craves recognition. The isolated region fought a war to separate from Georgia in the early 1990s. During the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, Ossetian separatist fighters and Russian forces took full de facto control over the region.

However, only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the island of Nauru have ever recognized South Ossetian independence.

/by Matthew Kupfer, @Matthew_Kupfer