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August 8, nine years have elapsed since the beginning of the Russian-Georgian armed conflict, the so-called "August" or "five-day war", which resulted in hundreds of deaths, forced displacement of thousands of citizens and Georgia's loss of two regions - South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
President Georgi Margvelashvili, Georgian Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili, Parliamentary Speaker Irakly Kobakhidze, Defense Minister Levan Izoria and other high-ranking officials have visited Mukhatgverd cemetery in Tbilisi, where Georgian soldiers killed in August 2008 were buried. They laid flowers to the graves of the fighters and made statements.
"Nine years have passed since "August war" began in 2008. First of all, it is our duty to pay tribute to the memory of our dead heroes, to remember them. Our duty is also to do everything to ensure the aim, which our heroes fought for, this is the unity of our homeland and the reunification of Georgia," said the head of the Georgian parliament Irakli Kobakhidze.
In turn, President Georgi Margvelashvili stressed that in 2008 Russia infringed upon the sovereignty of Georgia, occupying 20% of the country's territory and changing borders, but none of the Georgians recognizes these borders. "Never artificial barriers and invented borders will undermine the integrity of our country," he stressed.
The majority of the population of South Ossetia are ethnic Ossetians, but the share of the Georgian minority is also large. The region has several times tried to proclaim independence from Georgia, but it was not possible. After the last attempt in 2006, peacekeeping missions were introduced from three sides of the conflict: Russia, Georgia, and South Ossetia. Then the relationship between Tskhinvali (the center of South Ossetia) and Tbilisi depended to a large extent on Russia's attitude to the conflict and to the government of Georgia. The then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili tried to negotiate with the separatist government in Tskhinvali, but the talks did not yield a positive result. Some experts believe that this was due to Georgia's intention to join NATO and the negative attitude of the Russian authorities towards this.
The situation was aggravated in early August 2008. Then each side of the conflict began to blame the other at the beginning of hostilities. On August 7, Saakashvili made a televised statement about the confrontation around Tskhinvali, promised Ossetia's autonomy, amnesty to the battle participants and announced a one-sided cease-fire. However, the same night the shelling of Georgian villages continued, which led to a full-scale offensive by the Georgian forces on the position of separatists.
As a result of this armed conflict, 408 Georgian citizens were killed: 170 servicemen, 14 employees of Ministry of Internal Affairs, and 228 civilians. From the South Ossetian side, 380 people were killed, most of them servicemen. According to the Ministry of Health of Georgia, the number of wounded and injured in the days of hostilities amounted to 2,232 people, including 1,045 servicemen. About 26 thousand inhabitants of Georgian villages from the Tskhinvali region became refugees. The total number of displaced persons, taking into account the Georgian population, forced to leave Abkhazia in 1993, reaches 263,598 people.
Georgian authorities and the international community continue to insist that Russia withdraw the recognition of the independence of the Georgian regions. Only during the past year, a huge number of international documents have been adopted in support of Georgia. So in March, the UN Human Rights Council expressed concern over human rights violations and the humanitarian situation in the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia, and demanded that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other human rights organizations "have immediate access" to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.
June 1, for the tenth time has the UN General Assembly adopted resolution initiated by Georgia, recognizing the right of all refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
At the same time, May 3, Committee of the Deputy Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) adopted a decision on the agenda of the “Council of Europe and the Conflict in Georgia,” emphasizing the international responsibility of the Russian Federation as a party to the conflict that exercises actual control in the occupied territory of Georgia and Preventing Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region from spreading the jurisdiction of Georgia.