TSKHINVAL, August 8 (Itar-Tass) —— Three years after the Georgian aggression in August 2008, South Ossetia is mourning its victims overnight to Monday. An action in their memory started at 23:35 on Sunday, the exact time when Georgia’s shelling of the city began.
People have gathered on a square in front of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Tskhinval, with burning candles in their hands.
“The time to attack South Ossetia was chosen deliberately,” South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity said at the mourning ceremony. “The war was unleashed on the day when the world was celebrating a global sports festival, the Olympic Games. And two hours before the shelling, Georgian peacekeepers and members of the OSCE mission fled the city.”
“First Georgian shells killed many civilians. Then, for the next three day, South Ossetian soldiers deterred the enemy forces until Russian troops came to help,” the South Ossetian president said. “Tskhinval was a Caucasian Stalingrad. The forces were unequal and only thanks to the actions of Russia the bloodshed was stopped.”
Later in the day, a monument to a Russian soldier, Hero of Russia Denis Vetchinov, will be unveiled in a Tskhinval suburb where he died on August 9, 2008.
On August 9, 2008, a column of Russian vehicles with a number of journalists and 58th army commander Anatoly Khrulyov onboard was ambushed by Georgian special forces in the outskirts of Tskhinval. Khrulyov was wounded in the ensuing firefight. Vetchinov, armed with a trophy Georgian machine gun, organized defence but was wounded in both legs. He continued firing at the enemy. Vetchinov kept covering fire until he was hit in the head by Georgian fire. He died on the way to hospital. On August 15, Denis Vetchinov was posthumuously awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation golden star “for courage and heroism while fulfilling his duty in the North Caucasus region”.