Most of this was taken from the Net, but I added a few things:
When the Soviet Union broke up, Georgia (not US Georgia), which was itself a patchwork of different kingdoms/clans, broke up too after a bloody civil war. South Ossetia and Abkhazia are too very well-known cases.
Two others were Ajara and Svaneti.
The Ajars are Muslims who speak a dialect of Georgian that is fully intelligible with the Georgian language.
People called the Svans live in Svaneti. They speak Svan, a language closely related to Georgian.
Since Georgian independence, Georgia has worked at aggressive nation-building and and has attacked the cultures and languages of the Svans, Mingrelians (another language close to Georgian), and Batsbi (who speak Bats, a language related to Chechen).
None of these languages have much of any rights in Georgia. This was part of the reason that South Ossetia and Abkhazia split off. They didn’t want to be forced to become Georgians.
One of the first things Saakashvili did, around 2003-2004, was to overrun Svaneti with few hundred newly US-trained Georgian special forces. The Svans were very quickly defeated.
The second more daring raid was to take over Ajara, who was ruled by a “warlord” named Abashidze. While the Russians did not like Georgia, they did nothing to protect Abashidze, though they did allow him to come to Moscow. The two actions made Saakashvili very popular politically in Georgia and turned him into a darling of US establishment. I remember reading few pieces about how “uncorrupt” and “decisive” he was.
South Ossetia was the next obvious target, with Abkhazia being too tough of a nut to crack at that time. Initially, Georgia had fought brief wars against both regions in which they unable to conquer them and annex them to Georgia.
The Russian invasion of Georgia was fake. It never happened! Nevertheless all of the US media and of course the Deep State-run CIApedia all insist that Russia invaded Georgia. Any American who knows anything about this will tell you, “Russia invaded Georgia.” Well, it’s a lie.
What happened was that after the initial wars in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia placed peacekeepers in both regions. Georgia then attacked South Ossetia, and Russian forces rushed in to defend the South Ossetians. A brief war was fought in which Russia did indeed cross the border and even went all the way to Tblisi. But that wasn’t really an “invasion.” It was in response to a war of aggression that Georgia waged on South Ossetia, and Russian troops soon left.
Given that the Russians did not respond to Saakashvili taking over Ajara, the expectation was that under dovish Medvedev, they would not dare to respond in South Ossetia. Importantly, Georgian struck when Putin was in away in Beijing watching the Olympic Games.
Medvedev did dither before going in, which the Russian military never forgave him for.
My point was it was not the Russians who picked the time to move in on South Ossetia, as they were quite happy with the status quo at the time. It was the Georgians.