"There are reminders of the euphoria that swept this valley last summer, when Russia acknowledged South Ossetia's 18-year separatist struggle by recognizing it as a sovereign nation. Graffiti proclaims 'Ossetia thanks its defenders' and 'Great Russia,' and citizens say they are extraordinarily grateful to be free of Georgian governance."
"But it has been a hard winter, and reconstruction is moving slowly. The South Ossetian president, Eduard Kokoity, said the process had been delayed by price gouging and shoddy workmanship by unscrupulous contractors in the first round of reconstruction, and he promised that the pace would pick up this spring. Residents, many of whom scrounged materials and patched up their homes themselves, are beginning to wonder when the promised aid will reach them."