Georgia and Russia are marking the first anniversary of their conflict
over the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia with competing
ceremonies and again exchanging charges.
Georgians joined in a
minute of silence honoring the victims of the conflict ahead of an
address by President Mikheil Saakashvili in Gori, the Georgian city
that suffered most from Russian military operations.
An outdoor exhibition in the Georgian capital Tbilisi is portraying centuries of Russian efforts to dominate the country.
commemorations are being held in the South Ossetian capital. The
region's leader, Eduard Kokoity, in televised comments, accused Georgia
of efforts to exterminate his people.
Georgian President Mikheil
Saakashvili in comments to VOA Russian service Thursday insisted the
international community has recognized Russia as the aggressor.
The European Union, in a statement Friday, noted that its monitors in the area describe the situation as broadly calm.
But it also urged the sides to make further efforts to allow the return of refugees to their homes.
says it sent its forces into Georgia last year in response to Georgian
military efforts to regain control of South Ossetia by force. Georgia
says it was responding to a Russian invasion.
Weeks after a
cease-fire, Russia recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway
region of Georgia, Abkhazia, as independent countries, despite strong
protests from Western governments.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.