|President Medvedev, Russian Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov (right) and Commander of the Russia’s North Caucasus Military District, Sergey Makarov (left) at the Russian military base in Tskhinvali. Photo: Kremlin|
Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, makes a previously unannounced visit to breakaway South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, on July 13.
“Joint implementation of projects for socio-economic rehabilitation of the [South Ossetian] republic was discussed during the Russian President’s working visit in South Ossetia,” the Kremlin said in a brief statement on Monday.
The Russian President was welcomed by hundreds of Tskhinvali residents at the main government building before meeting with South Ossetian leader, Eduard Kokoity, according to the Russian news agencies.
“I would like to thank you for inviting me in the new state – South Ossetia, which has been created as a result of difficult dramatic events and which was supported by the Russian people in the difficult times,” Medvedev told Kokoity, Itar-Tass reported.
After the meeting with Kokoity, Medvedev “laid a wreath to the memorial of victims of the Georgian aggression,” the breakaway region’s official news agency reported.
Accompanied by Russian Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian President also visited the Russian military base in Tskhinvali.
Commander of the Russia’s North Caucasus Military District,, Sergey Makarov, told President Medvedev, that the military base was composed of servicemen having combat experience and capable to carry out any task, Interfax news agency reported.
Officials in Tbilisi have condemned the visit as “a step directed against the Georgian statehood.”
President Saakashvili, who is in Ankara participating in a summit on Nabucco gas pipeline project, said Medvedev's visit was "shameful and immoral." He also said that Kokoity, whom Medvedev met in Tskhinvali, was “unwashed, murderer” and “corrupt criminal”.
“While the entire Europe strikes deal on diversification of energy supplies [reference to Nabucco summit in Ankara] in order to destroy Russian energy monopoly in Europe, the Russian President arrived in the occupied territory, in Tskhinvali,” Davit Bakradze, the Georgian parliamentary chairperson, said.
“This is not the way through which Russia would be able to adequately respond to the developments in the world. This visit once against confirms that there are people in the Russian leadership who made it part of their action plan to damage Georgia… This is a step directed against the Georgian statehood,” he added.
Bakradze also said that the Russian leadership failed “to respond in presence of the U.S. President” to the latter’s support towards Georgia, expressed during his visit to Moscow and “now the Russian authorities have decided to respond through this way” by visiting Tskhinvali.
A lawmaker from the ruling party, Akaki Minashvili, who is a chairman of the committee for foreign affairs, also said that by this visit the Russian President wanted “to compensate weakness showed by him in Moscow” during the U.S. President’s visit.
“Those speaking about good neighborly relations with Russia are in fact pouring water to the enemy's mill,” he said.
Another Georgian lawmaker from the ruling party, Davit Darchiashvili, said the visit was “alarming and very unconstructive step.”
“It will bring nothing good for Russia’s international image,” MP Darchiashvili, who chairs the parliamentary committee for European integration issues.