Deserted Georgian villages in South Ossetia

Rusiko Amirejibi-Mullen r.amirejibi-mullen at
Tue Sep 9 17:56:53 UTC 2008

South Ossetia's abandoned villages

By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, South Ossetia

Until a month ago, South Ossetia was a patchwork of picturesque  
villages, some Ossetian, many also Georgian.

But, in the aftermath of last month's war, the Georgian population  
fled, and now the Ossetians are making sure they will never return.
I have come to a village about 10km (six miles) north of the capital  
Tskhinvali, a very pretty little place just at the foot of the  

There are large houses, surrounded by ample gardens filled with  
orchards of pear-trees, heavy with fruit.

There are tomatoes ripening in the vegetable garden and cabbages,  
roses and grapevines growing up the side of the house.

The strange thing about this village is that it is completely deserted.

A month ago, it was filled with hundreds of Georgian families. Now,  
everybody has gone and every single house, bar none, has been  
systematically burned, looted, and in some cases, even bulldozed.

Along the village's main road, the casual destruction continues -  
Ossetian children throw rocks at a Georgian shop window and two young  
boys are carrying off what looked like weights from a gym.


Behind them, some Ossetian pensioners pull handcarts loaded with wood  
and metal looted from Georgian homes.

There is no embarrassment in this village about what is being done.

  Georgians are cruel and evil people. They want our land. They want  
to take this place away from us, to destroy our entire nation
South Ossetian woman

"God forbid that the Georgians ever return," one old pensioner says.

"They're beasts. They killed my neighbour and her little baby. They  
are too dangerous to have living here next to us."

This sentiment is shared by every single Ossetian I meet. There are  
few high-rise buildings in Tskhinvali, the capital of the  
self-declared Republic of South Ossetia.

The sides of the few old, Soviet-style apartment blocks are peppered  
with bullet holes.

There are also some very large black, gaping holes - the result of  
Georgian artillery fire on the night of 7 August, when the military  
moved in to try and take this town.

By most accounts it was a terrifying night for the city's population,  
beginning with shelling and followed by wild and indiscriminate  
machine gunfire.

A group of women sitting outside one of the blocks describe how they  
fled to the basement with their children when the shelling began.

"Georgians are cruel and evil people," one says. "They want our land.  
They want to take this place away from us, to destroy our entire  

Though the woman's anger is perhaps understandable, South Ossetian and  
Russian claims that Georgia was planning a genocide now seem wildly  

Even Russia has now backed down on its initial claim that 2,000  
Ossetians died in the Georgian assault.

The biggest losers from this war appear to be the Georgian villagers  
who have lost everything and now have little prospect of ever  
returning home.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/09/09 16:02:55 GMT

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