Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees on Tuesday recognizing Georgia's breakaway republics as independent states, despite warnings by Western leaders not to do so.
Upon hearing the news, people spontaneously gathered in the capitals of both republics. They shot in the air, waved their respective flags alongside Russian flags, beeped car horns, and shouted "Recognized! Recognized!"
The residents of Tskhinvali and Sukhumi hugged and congratulated each other, chanting "We're free!" Fireworks were also let off.
The leader of Abkhazia, Sergei Bagapsh, hailed Russia's announcement, saying, "This is the century-long dream of the people of Abkhazia made reality."
"This is a great day for our country and for our people," South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said. "Russia has saved us from genocide and has granted us the opportunity to develop and live on our own land," he said.
South Ossetia was attacked by Georgian forces on August 8. Hundreds of people died in the assault, and Russia subsequently launched an operation to expel Georgian forces from the republic. Moscow concluded its operation to "force Georgia to peace" on August 12.
The capital of the Russian Republic of North Ossetia, Vladikavkaz, also held celebrations on Tuesday. "Through the efforts of the most just and humane state on the planet, Russia, the bloodshed has been stopped," said the republic's president, Taimuraz Mamsurov. "I hope Russia never regrets that step."
The sound of celebratory fire had quieted down by Wednesday morning. Local authorities also reported a rise in road accidents following the celebrations, but no one was seriously injured.