TSKHINVALI, South Ossetia (Eurasianet)–Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a surprise visit July 13 to the republic of South Ossetia, where he pledged support to the region, which Moscow recognized as independent after a war with Georgia in 2008.
Scores of Tskhinvali residents flocked to the streets to greet Medvedev, who, along with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, is hailed as South Ossetia’s protector. Medvedev laid flowers on the memorial of the victims of the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, during which sections of the South Ossetian capital suffered heavy damage. The Russian president pledged new reconstruction programs. “Just show us what we can do,” Medvedev told South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity.
Kokoity thanked Medvedev for his support and for recognizing the territory’s independence. “Today is a great day for the people of South Ossetia,” Kokoity said.
The presidential trip sparked an angry reaction in Tbilisi.
“Russia has once again shown that it cannot be a partner of the civilized world, and the partner of the United States, whose president publicly speaks of Georgia’s territorial integrity,” Georgia’s parliamentary speaker, David Bakradze, said in comments televised on July 13. He was referring to statements made by President Barack Obama during the US leader’s early July visit to Moscow.