Medvedev awards South Ossetian war heroes

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is visiting Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia. Many Russian soldiers stationed in the region were the first to respond to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia.

Since the city of Vladikavkaz played such a crucial part in the South Ossetian war – both in terms of deploying troops and hosting refugees – Medvedev deemed it appropriate to mark the war’s anniversary there.

During his visit, he attended a commemorative parade and awarded soldiers who took part in the conflict.

Those awarded were not only high ranking officers, but also regular privates from the infantry for whom the August war was their first armed conflict. Many of them lost friends in the hostilities.

Lieutenant Ivan Levada said he had never been more nervous in his life than when he was waiting for his name to be called during the ceremony on Saturday as he was to receive the award from Russia’s commander in chief.

His battalion was one of the first to enter Tskhinval after the beginning of the Georgian assault.

“You secured a military victory and kept peace in the Caucasus," Medvedev said, addressing the soldiers at the ceremony. "And I’m sure that at some time a fair and firm punishment will be delivered to those who gave the criminal orders.”

“Military aggression in South Ossetia led to the transformation of the Caucasus political map," he continued. "Russia’s decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was the only option to protect people in the region. I stress that this decision is final and will not be reconsidered."

A couple of days ago, Medvedev stated during an interview that sending troops into South Ossetia was the most difficult and most dramatic decision he had to take in his life.

However, to this day he remains certain that it was the right decision under the circumstances, and that it saved thousands of lives.