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TSKHINVAL, August 8 (Itar-Tass) - The night of August 8, 2008 became a historic landmark for the Republic of South Ossetia that divided the life of its citizens to the times before and after the war, South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov stated at a mourning action titled “Living light of memory”, which is dedicated to the 5th anniversary of the Georgian army invasion in the Republic of South Ossetia on Thursday.
“I can speak for a length of time about the exemplary valor, which the defenders of Tskhinval, Ossetian servicemen and militiamen, Russian officers and soldiers showed in those August days. But no words can express the depth of feat and the degree of sacrifice of those people, thanks to whom the Republic of South Ossetia did not surrender to the aggressor, but is a recognized country today. All of us, who met here now, are somehow lucky people, because we witnessed how our republic gained freedom,” the president said.
He expressed gratitude to the Russian leadership, which in August 2008 has taken vital decisions for South Ossetia. “Today the people of South Ossetia have an opportunity to live in peace and promote the development on their homeland. We enjoy full support from Russia, which takes with permanent care all the issues related with the republic,” Tibilov noted.
He proposed to observe a minute of silence for those, who died before this day and who gave their lives for bringing it closer. “The loss of each resident of South Ossetia, each Russian soldier is irreparable. Remembering them and mourning about them, meanwhile, we are looking into the future with hope,” the president said.
The mourning action on Teatralnaya Square in central Tskhinval brought together hundreds of residents and guests of the republic. At 23:35 Moscow time on August 7, the moment when a massive shelling of the city began five years ago, the participants of the action lit up candles in commemoration of the war victims.
Shortly before midnight on August 7, 2008, Tskhinval and neighboring Ossetian villages came under a massive missile and gun shelling and air strikes. Along with cannon artillery, the Georgian army used against the civilians multiple launch rocket systems Grad and cluster aviation bombs, which are considered as mass destruction weapons. In the morning on August 8 Georgian tanks attacked southern outskirts of Tskhinval. The strike was also delivered on the barracks of Russian peacekeepers. The city’s defenders took part in fierce battles during the whole day. Russian leadership decided in a critical situation to launch a coercion operation of Georgia to peace and after that forces of the Russian 58th Army entered the republic. Several days later Tskhinval has been unblocked, the Georgian troops retreated. As many 387 people including civilians and peacekeepers died in the conflict.
On August 26, 2008, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In retaliation Georgia severed diplomatic relations with Russia and declared both republics as ‘occupied’ territories.