Georgia has welcomed a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed "in and around South Ossetia" during 2008, when Russia fought a brief war against Georgia over the breakaway region.
Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani told a press conference in Tbilisi on January 28 that the ICC probe will be an opportunity for Georgia to prove that Moscow and its proxy separatist forces in South Ossetia "committed ethnic cleansing of Georgians" and were responsible for killing Georgian prisoners of war.
The investigation will be the first by the ICC to examine a conflict outside of Africa.
Georgia launched an offensive to reclaim South Ossetia on the night of August 7-8, 2008.
Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgian president at the time, said Tbilisi was provoked by Russia and the separatists.
Russia responded with a counteroffensive in which its forces routed the Georgian military and swept beyond South Ossetia, which Tbilisi has not controlled since 1990, and deep into Georgian territory before withdrawing.