Georgian officials pay tribute to victims of 2008 Russia-Georgia war

  • Eleven years ago the five-day war between Russia and Georgia claimed the lives of 412 people,  including 170 military servicemen, 14 policemen and 228 civilians. Photo: Government press office, 8 Aug 2019 - 13:26, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, President Salome Zurabishvili and other state officials paid tribute today to the victims of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia of 2008.

PM Bakhtadze said at the Mukhadgverdi cemetery that the Russian occupation of Georgia is “the pain that should unite us all” despite the differences in political views.

It is a common national pain, common national challenge and I am confident that Georgia will by all means overcome the occupation”, he said.

PM Bakhtadze said although “this day marks a great pain, unhealed wound of the country”, it is also the symbol “of national consolidation.”

The support of our friendly nations will be the warrant that with peace and development we will overcome the Russian occupation and Georgia will be united, strong and successful country", he added. 

PM Bakhtadze also underscored that occupation of Georgian territories started back in early 1990's and Russia was preparing for the 2008 invasion for quite a long time. 

 PM Bakhtadze lays wreath on the memorial for those who fell during the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. Photo: Government press office

President Zurabishvili also stated earlier that the 2008 war remains "an open wound" for the Georgian society, for the parents who lost their children in the war, for the children who are growing up without their fathers because of this war.

Zurabishvili said that as the Commander-in-Chief, a mother and as a citizen of this country, she pays respect “to the vivid memories of our deceased heroes”.

We do not accept that the Georgian people residing in Gali and Akhalgori have their basic rights violated, nor do we tolerate the restrictions applied to our Ossetian and Abkhaz citizens and the infringements upon their language and identity”, Zurabishvili said.

She then underscored that Georgia's response to the occupation is “our political and economic resilience and the continuation of our path of development”.

412 people,  including 170 military servicemen, 14 policemen and 228 civilians have died during the five-day war in 2008. Photo: Government press office

President Zurabishvili thinks it is her responsibility “not allow any threat against the statehood of Georgia and to avoid falling prey to any provocation”. 

Our unity is the most powerful instrument in the peaceful resolution of the current conflicts. Therefore, I am, and will remain, the main advocate in achieving public reconciliation”, Zurabishvili promised. 

She thinks that “without consensus-building in the Georgian society, it is impossible to reconcile with the Abkhaz and Ossetian societies, traumatised and divided by war”.  

Any respected country and its society unify around the war issue. The issue of war needs to bind our society together and not create grounds for its polarisation", President Zurabishvili said.

She further stressed that "for this to happen, it is necessary to overcome hatred and to raise the level of our culture and our national consciousness".

Consequences of Russian aggression in 2008 in Georgia include:

  • Human loss: 412 killed on the Georgian side – including 170 military servicemen, 14 policemen and 228 civilians.
  • 1,747 wounded on the Georgian side – including 973 military servicemen, 227 policemen and 547 civilians.
  • Three journalists killed, six journalists wounded.
  • 130, 000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – out of which 26,000 are still denied the right of return. [Overall, the number of IDPs from both occupied regions is now close to half a million].
  • 35,000 houses burned, ruined and destroyed.
  • 125 more villages have been occupied since the August 2008 war.