Georgians have held a candlelit vigil to remember the dead one year on after their disastrous five day conflict with Russia.
Their President Mikail Saakashvili gave a heated speech to the rain drenched crowd. The anniversary has laid bare the conflicting versions of how the war which claimed nearly 400 civilian lives started. For five days Georgian troops fought to control the breakaway region of South Ossetia – Russia responded with a devastating counter attack against what it said was an unprovoked Georgian assault. the fiercest fighting took place around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali where more candles were lit last night. Thousands paid their respects at a remembrance wall for the victims. There the speeches were of thanks to the Russian forces for coming to South Ossetia’s aid. Further commemorations were held in Moscow – Kremlin youth groups gathered near a central cathedral in a show of support. Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev has defended his decision last year to go to war but describes it as a “sorrowful scenario”. The fighting ended with an EU-brokered agreement which left South Ossetia cut off from the rest of Georgia by military check points. Russia, which recognises the region as independent along with Abkhazi has since then continued to build up its military presence.