Occupied South Ossetia celebrates Republic Day
The occupied Georgian region of South Ossetia celebrated Republic Day on Thursday (September 20) marking the 22nd anniversary of its declaration of independence with a military parade, concerts, dancing in the streets and fireworks.
The tiny region, which has run its own affairs with Russian backing since the early 1990s, is recognised as independent by only a handful of nations, including Russia.
Moscow recognised it as an independent nation after a brief war with Georgia in 2008. Internationally it is only recognised by Venezuela, Nicaragua and the Pacific nation of Nauru.
The region of about 63,000 remains heavily dependent on Moscow`s financial help and military protection amid growing dissatisfaction over how funds are spent.
Four years after the Russian-Georgian war, South Ossetia continues to receive aid from Russia, with its president Leonid Tibilov saying the rebel region should become a part of the Russian Federation.
Tibilov, a pro-Russia former KGB officer, said during the celebrations on Thursday it had taken much time and effort to gain South Ossetia`s independence.
"Our way to freedom was long and complex. But during these years, in difficult conditions we have managed to significantly strengthen our sovereignty and we have done it at the cost of unbelievable moral and physical strains," Tibilov told the audience.
Russia fought a brief war with Georgia in 2008 after Tbilisi tried to regain control of breakaway South Ossetia with a military assault.
Moscow has spent about one billion USD supporting the impoverished region since the five-day 2008 war, which took place mostly on South Ossetia`s territory.