The fifth anniversary of the Russian-Georgian five-day war was marked in Georgia on Thursday.
A wreath-laying ceremony took place in Tbilisi at the graves of Georgian soldiers killed in the 2008 conflict.
In Tskhinvali, people placed flowers in memory of victims and lit candles representing those who died. Activists held up Georgian flags, chanting “long live Georgia”.
On August 8, 2008, after years of growing tensions between Russia and Georgia, and days of clashes, Georgia launched the war to re-capture the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
On the same day, Russian fighter planes destroyed Georgian military bases and Russian tanks forced the Georgian fighters far back into their territory.
The bitter and painful war lasted just five days. A conflict where neither side got what it wanted.
After the five-day war, Moscow recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia’s other separatist region, as independent states.
Relations between Russia and Georgia remain tense, but are easing step by step.
Meanwhile, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvilli is leading an investigation into the war to establish whether President Saakashvilli was partially to blame: “The inevitability of the Georgian-Russian war could have been avoided only under one condition, in which Georgia would have become a failed state and agreed to Russia’s demands not in 2008, or 2007, but starting from 2004 or even at the end of 2003,” he said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who was president at the time of the conflict and ordered the military invasion, does not regret his decision. Speaking on Georgian television, he said: “l tell you this: I made this decision, and I believe it was the only right thing to do in that particular situation.”
Most of the 150,000 people who fled their homes five years ago have yet to return, despite the cease-fire
A fence erected by Russian border guards between South Ossetia and Georgia prevents movement from one region to the other.