Bonfires in Tbilisi, Georgia mark the anniversary of a conflict whose embers still glow a year after hostilities officially ended.
Georgia and Russia blame each other for causing the 5 day war over Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia. “Today” one student said, “we want to show that we are cleaning up Georgia from Russia’s aggression. This fire is a symbol of purification, or our unity and these kind of fires will be lit all over Georgia.” The brief war began when pro-Western Georgia launched an assault on South Ossetian separatists who wanted to break away from Georgia and align themselves with Russia. Russia came to their aid with deadly force. In South Ossetia residents held their own commemoration. In the capital Tskhinvali, scene of the war’s major battle, one resident was philosophical. “It was horrible,” she said. “Pray God it will not be repeated. After any bombardment or war it is necessary to reach an agreement. With America or someone else, I don’t know, I understand it is not the Georgians fighting against us.” Meanwhile, a shaky ceasefire is punctuated by sporadic gunfire and the risk of renewed hostilities between Georgia and South Ossetian rebels is ever-present.