|(c) RIA Novosti|
Written by Mamonov Roman
This week marked 4 years since Georgia invaded South Ossetia on August 8th 2008. Russia and South Ossetia held remembrance ceremonies for those killed during the armed conflict.
This week, President Vladimir Putin for the first time recounted his role in the South Ossetian operation while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said during his visit to Tskhinval that the decisions taken in 2008 were “correct and timely”. The Voice of Russia’s Roman Mamonov reports.
On August 8th 2008 Georgian troops launched an assault on South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinval shelling residential areas, civilian institutions, and Russian peacekeepers. The assault was followed by the invasion of ground forces, including infantry divisions and tanks. Russia responded by bringing in military units in what it described as “an operation to compel Georgia to peace”. Five days later, the Georgian troops were driven out of the region and Moscow recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
President Vladimir Putin, who was prime minister at the time, says that he phoned the Russian president and defense minister from Beijing on August 7th and 8th . Putin said that Russia’s military command had prepared a plan of action in case of a Georgian aggression well before the attack.
"Devised by the General Staff, the plan also envisaged training of South Ossetian volunteer corps. Even though Russian military experts believed that volunteer units were powerless against a regular army, South Ossetian volunteer divisions and the Russian peacekeepers managed to contain the onrushing enemy for three days until the arrival of the Russian army."
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev paid a “solidarity and commemoration” visit to Tskhinval on the 4th anniversary of the Georgian aggression on August 8th . Four years ago, then-President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree to begin a military operation in South Ossetia in order to rescue the republic’s residents many of which had Russian citizenship. During his visit, Medvedev held talks with South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov. Residents of Tskhinval greeted Dmitry Medvedev with applause.
"The Russian leadership had to make a number of difficult decisions and these decisions were correct and fair because in the long run, they helped to restore peace in South Ossetia and the balance of power in the region."
Russia’s Investigative Committee has completed an inquiry into the Georgian aggression against South Ossetia. A spokesman for the Committee, Vladimir Markin, says that the size of the criminal case against Georgia exceeds 400 volumes. Members of the Committee have conducted hundreds of forensic enquiries and collected the testimony of thousands of witnesses. According to the investigation, the Georgian authorities mounted a smearing campaign against Russia. The Georgian leadership released fake photo and video reports about mass civilian casualties. Vladimir Markin of the Russian Investigative Committee, comments.
"The dead bodies of Georgian servicemen were dressed in civilian clothes and were photographed or videotaped to feign considerable victims among civilians. Witnesses also say that Ukrainian mercenaries dressed in Russian army uniforms helped to fabricate pictures of Russian servicemen looting Georgian villages and using violence against Georgian civilians."
More than 1,500 people lost their lives during the aggression, South Ossetian sources say.
67 Russian servicemen, including peacekeepers, were killed during the conflict. Nearly 700 residential buildings and a number of hospitals, schools and daycare centers were destroyed or burned. More than 16,000 people, most of them Russians, were displaced. The European Commission has pointed to Georgia as bearing the main share of responsibility for unleashing of hostilities in South Ossetia.
Mamonov Roman is the author and presenter at the Voice of Russia, Russia's first internationally broadcasted Radio. On air since 1929.
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