Georgia marked the first anniversary of the war with Russia with a minute of silence in front of the parliament building in the capital Tbilisi.
Georgia and Russia blame each other for starting the 5-day conflict over Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia. Afterwards, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili justified attacking South Ossetia. “Some still want to close their eyes to ethnic cleansing and occupation, he said. “ But in the democratic world, truth always defeats falsehood and good defeats evil,” he said The brief war began when pro-Western Georgia launched an assault on South Ossetian separatists. Russia came to their aid with deadly force. Russia used the anniversary to hold a protest outside the US Embassy in Moscow. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, criticised Georgia’s actions as those of an American puppet. “It was the first attempt to break us,” he said, “and make us obey American globalism and NATO’s generals. Saakashvili has failed with his mercenaries, but this is a lesson for all of us.” The brief conflict cost the lives of 236 soldiers and displaced thousands of civilians as well as destroying a large part of South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinvali. “Today” this student says, “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.” In South Ossetia residents held their own commemoration. In the capital Tskhinvali (Tskin-vali), 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.