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Georgia marks Russia war anniversary as tensions simmer

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By Jo Gill Lindsey Rempel
Georgia marks Russia war anniversary as tensions simmer

Georgia has been marking 11 years since its 2008 conflict with Russia over separatist regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

It comes after tensions rose between the two countries earlier this summer when a Russian MP appeared in Georgia's parliament.

"Occupation is the pain that should unite all of us, despite our political affiliations. It is a nationwide pain and challenge and I am confident that Georgia will overcome the occupation," said Mamuka Bakhtadze, Georgia's prime minister.

On August 8 2008, Russian forces entered Georgia after Tbilisi launched a large-scale military operation against South Ossetian separatist forces. The separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have remained under Moscow's influence.

In Brussels, the EU reiterated its support for Georgia and condemned Moscow's alleged actions in the region.

"The Russian Federation has not only maintained but increased its military presence in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in violation of international law and its commitments under the 12 August 2008 agreement," said Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela.

The Russian Foreign Ministry explained its position in this written statement to Euronews.

"The Russian military operation had only one goal - to put an end to Georgia's aggression and prevent the possibility of repeated attacks.

"The operation itself and the way it was conducted was proportional to the threat from Georgia.

"The units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation were withdrawn from the territory of Georgia by the end of the military operation. "

An estimated 23,000 ethnic Georgians fled from South Ossetia into ethnically Georgian areas, many now live in temporary accommodation, desperate to return home.

"The story of my life was left there, my ancestors lived there, and I can'`t even visit their graves," said Edik Gogidze, a refugee from South Ossetia. "My house was burned down, there is nothing to go back to."