Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
“The people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have repeatedly supported their independence. We understand that they have a right to determine their fate themselves after what happened recently,” Medvedev said in a televised address.
“They addressed to Russia with a request to recognize their independence. Taking into consideration the free will of the peoples, the UN Charter and OSCE documents, I have signed decrees to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on behalf of the Russian Federation. This is the only way to save people’s lives,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev compared Saakashvili’s actions with the position of a former Georgian President, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who unleashed the war under the slogan “Georgia for Georgians.”
"Saakashvili chose genocide to fulfill his political plans," Medvedev said. "Georgia chose the least human way to achieve its goal - to absorb South Ossetia by eliminating a whole nation."
“Russia stopped the extermination of the Georgian people and then showed restraint with a goal to regulate the conflict through diplomacy,” the president said.
“Our warnings were left with no response. NATO and the UN ignored them. It is clear now that the Georgian administration was preparing for the war, whereas the support of its external protectors was only strengthening the feeling of impunity. The Georgian administration chose another way – to disrupt negotiations, launch military provocations and attack peacemakers. The Georgian administration initiated a military conflict in defiance of common sense and contrary to the UN Charter,” Medvedev said.
The Federation Council and the State Duma of Russia unanimously previously voted for the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“Russia’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is a necessary condition to ensure security for these nations. We are obliged to support the aspiration of the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to stability, peace and independence,” Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov said.
The presidents of the now-recognized republics, Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity, thanked Medvedev for his decision.
Residents of Sukhumi and Tskhinvali (the capitals of South Ossetia and Abkhazia) took to the streets to celebrate the news.
Russia ’s decision to recognize the independence of the two republics came out of the blue for its citizens. People started making countless phone calls to share their joy. Everyone started to congratulate each other after Medvedev’s televised address.
Cars blare their horns and people fire guns in the air celebrating their long-awaited independence, Interfax reports from Tskhinvali. People can be seen in the streets waving the flags of the republic, hugging and congratulating each other.
“The president’s decision is a response to those political speculators, who claimed that Russia needed new lands and who referred to Russia as an invader and who said that Russia was going to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states is a refusal from annexation,” Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO said in a statement.