South Ossetia has marked the first anniversary of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia with the opening of “museum of genocide”.
The tiny territory in the Caucasus is commemorating the beginning of the vicious conflict with concerts and a vigil. The region’s President Eduard Kokoity – who is not recognised by Georgia – officially opened the museum. Items on display include artillery shells, bombs and pictures of the conflict, paintings and photographs depicting the suffering caused by the fighting and one art work comparing Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili with Hitler. A candlelit vigil began last night in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali to mark the moment the Georgian offensive to take control of the territory began. The former Soviet republic launched an assault on South Ossetia late on August 7, 2008, after days of clashes with separatists. The action provoked a devastating Russian counter-strike. Meanwhile at a memorial concert in nearby Gori in Georgia, President Saakashvili struck a conciliatory chord. “We want to defeat our enemies, but we want to defeat them by peaceful means, strengthening our democratic institutions, by constantly developing our economy, by integration into Europe, by offering a perspective to every Georgian child. We want peace, because we are winning with peace,” he said. The causes of the war remain a hotly contested issue with both sides continuing to blame each other.