2008 August War

Officially, the South Ossetian Autonomous District was set up within Georgia under the 20 April 1922 Decree of the Central Executive Committee of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Council of National Commissars.

In parallel to the declaration of the independence of Georgia, separatist movement outbroke in the South Ossetian Autonomous District, which aimed to separate the district from the rest of Georgia and create the Republic of South Ossetia. Separatist ideology and activities in the district was actively encouraged and supported by Russia. As a result, in the end of 1980s, in response to the claim of independence of the South Ossetian Autonomous District, controversy started in Georgia between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali and it turned into the armed conflict in 1991-92. 

For the peaceful solution of the conflict, on June 24, 1992, Georgia and Russia signed peace agreement on cease fire. According to the agreement, Joint Control Commission (JCC) was established together with the Joint Forces for Peace Keeping and Legal Order (JFPKLO) and Joint Groups of Observers (JGO), which were composed of the representatives of Russian, Georgian and Ossetian parties.  

As a result of the armed conflict, the Government of Georgia lost access to the part of the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Moreover, many people were killed in the military operations; big part of the population were forced to abandon their homes and resettled in the rest of the Georgian territory or went abroad. 

After the military operations were halted and fire was ceased, for the peaceful regulation of the conflict, Georgia took many steps. However, alongside the positive steps there were periodic controversies between the conflicting and interested parties. 

In March-April of 2008, the Georgian-Russian relations became particularly tense. At that period, Russia started speaking about recognition of the independence of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and Abkhazia; on the other side, Georgia once again officially declared its aspiration to the NATO membership during the April 2008 Bucharest Summit.

In July 2008, the escalation increased because various incidents happened in Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Namely, several armed attacks were organized in the conflict zone, as a result of which several people died and injured.

The escalation reached its culmination with the armed conflict of August 2008. On July 7-8, 2008, representatives of South Ossetia’s de-facto authority arrested 4 Georgian soldiers, who were freed on July 8. On the same day, four Russian military aircrafts flew into the Georgian airspace. On July 24-28, 2008, in the South of Tskhinvali and in Georgia-controlled village of Avnevi, there were several explosions. At the same time, in July 2008, Russia conducted large-scaled military trainings nearby Russian-Georgian border. In the same period, Georgia also started military trainings with the participation of partner countries. 

From August 1, small-scale clashes still happened between Georgian and Ossetian parties that periodically ended up with casualties. In the beginning of August, the South Ossetian government started evacuation of its population to the Russian Federation. On August 4, Russian military battalion was deployed nearby Roki Tunnel, from the side of North Ossetia.

Military operations became intensive on August 6 and 7. On August 7, 2008, the checkpoint of the Georgian peacekeepers nearby Avnevi village was intensively bombed from the side of South Ossetia. 

On August 8, Georgian military forces took control of Tskhinvali but because of the Russian attack they retreated soon. On August 10, 2008, Georgia unilaterally announced ceasefire and withdrew its armed forces from the territory of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. 

Chronological description of the Georgia-Russia Armed Conflict of August 2008 is available in the report of The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia (IIFFMCG).

The conflict parties, on August 12, 2008, with the mediation of the President of France, Nikola Sarkozy, signed ceasefire agreement. According to the ceasefire agreement, the parties refused to use force and pledged that they will return to the initial sites of their dislocation.

On August 15, 2008, Russian military forces started to leave Georgian territory but they created so-called 20-kilometers-long “buffer zone” in the Georgia controlled territory alongside the Administrative Border Line with South Ossetia, which they maintained until October 10, 2008. 

On August 26, 2008 the President of Russia Dimitry Medvedev released a decree on the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In 2008, there was new wave of internally displaced people as a result of Russia-Georgia war. As a result of the war, about 28 000 individuals from Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and adjacent villages were compelled to leave their houses. Hundreds of Georgian citizens and military officers were killed during the armed conflict; people are still missing. At the same time, many people were injured during the military operations. During the war, citizens were arbitrarily detained and tortured and ill-treated. 

After the 2008 August war, Russia exercises effective control over the district and villages of Georgia including Akhalgori district, upper Abkhazia, several villages of Gori municipality, Perevi village of Sachkhere municipality. The effective control of Russia is still exercised over these territories. 

As a result of 2008 August War Russian has occupied 20% of the Georgian territory.

On October 23, 2008, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the Law on the Occupied Territories. The law determines the status of the regions occupied as a result of the Russian aggression and establishes special regime in them. In accordance to the law, the state of emergency is enacted in the occupied territories as well as special legal regime which means restricted freedom of movement, economic activities, signing deals on property issues and other issues regulated under this law.