Georgians fleeing border town

Rusiko Amirejibi-Mullen r.amirejibi-mullen at
Mon Nov 10 20:48:40 UTC 2008

PEREVI, Georgia: Dozens of Georgians crowded onto a rickety bus  
Monday, clambering over one another to flee this remote mountain  
village, which has become a flash point of mounting tensions on the  
boundary of South Ossetia.

They left behind a nearly deserted village, whose remaining residents  
are afraid to come out onto the streets for fear of attracting the  
attention of Ossetian soldiers patrolling the area. Russian troops  
continued to withdraw from the main checkpoint at the western edge of  
Perevi, leaving Ossetians in charge of a tense population.

Darejan Bakradze, 50, removed most of her valuables from Perevi on  
Monday morning, but returned in the afternoon to look after her  
mother-in-law. Passing the checkpoint, she grew pale and shaky at the  
sight of Ossetian soldiers.

"I want the Russians to come back," Bakradadze said. "They were  
perfect people."

European monitors urged both sides to remain calm on a day marked by  
tension along the boundary with South Ossetia. Two Georgian policemen  
were killed outside the village of Dvani when a remote-controlled mine  
exploded near their car, according to Shota Utiashvili, a spokesman  
for the Georgian Interior Ministry. When a patrol arrived to  
investigate, a second mine exploded, wounding three more policemen, he  


Complete coverage: Georgia
» View

Related Articles

Explosion kills 2 Georgian police near South Ossetia

Today in Europe

EU says it will talk with Russia

Merkel looks to Hesse before Germany votes

Georgians fleeing border town
Ambassador Hansjörg Haber, head of the EU monitoring mission, called  
the attack "an unacceptable breach of the Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement."  
He was referring to the peace deal brokered by the French president,  
Nicolas Sarkozy, and endorsed Sept. 8 by the Russian president, Dmitri  
Medvedev, after the brief war between Georgia and Russia over the  
breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"Today's attack risks escalating the still-tense situation along the  
administrative boundary lines," Haber said Monday. "We repeat our call  
on all sides to prevent further provocations."

The South Ossetian interior minister, Valeri Valiyev, said his forces  
were not involved. "It is Georgian territory," he said. "What happens  
there has nothing to do with us."

Though no violence has occurred in Perevi, home to about 1,000 ethnic  
Georgians, it was the focus of angry rhetoric Monday from Tbilisi and  
Tskhinvali, the separatist capital. Both sides claim it is on their  
territory. The European Union said in a statement Saturday that it is  
"clearly" on the Georgian side of the line.

Ibragim Gaseyev, the South Ossetian deputy minister of defense, said  
the village has belonged to South Ossetia "for countless centuries,"  
and promised to "give an adequate answer to any provocative act by the  
Georgian side on the territory of our republic."

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia said his country would  
protect the village.

"We will do everything not to yield to the occupants' provocations,"  
Saakashvili said Monday. "We must understand that Georgia began a hard  
and long fight for the liberation of its lands. And in this fight we  
must act together with our partners."

Irina Gagloyeva, a spokesman for the South Ossetian government, said  
that Perevi was not controlled by Tskhinvali before the war, but that  
it had become necessary to protect it because Georgians "are trying to  
create tension here." She said its residents were friendly to South  
Ossetia, and "have more than once applied for citizenship" in the  

But Georgians in Perevi said they were frightened. The school has shut  
down, and most of the women and children have left. Alik Dzhokhadze,  
24, said he and his friends were toasting the withdrawal of Russians  
when Ossetian soldiers entered the village, shooting in the air.  
Dzhokhadze said he had been hiding in his house for two days.

Lomauridze Zina, 48, had watched many of her neighbors leave the  
village and gathered for comfort with several families who remain. She  
said she did not want to leave for fear that her house would be robbed.

Violence has been reported from both sides in recent days. Last  
Thursday, the South Ossetian authorities reported that a villager,  
Oleg Gigolayev, was fatally shot by a sniper from the Georgian side of  
the line. The Georgian authorities denied any involvement.

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list