Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, August 24, 2008; Page A17
RUSTAVI, Georgia, Aug. 23 -- Georgian civilians captured and recently freed by Russian and South Ossetian forces on Saturday described beatings, forced labor and miserable living conditions in prison.
Georgian officials said that 79 Georgian civilians have been released over the past few days but that at least 75 civilians, almost all of them young men, remain in captivity in Tskhinvali, capital of the separatist territory of South Ossetia.
The former prisoners, half a dozen of whom were interviewed at a school serving as temporary housing in this industrial city, said they were seized from their homes or as they fled advancing Russian and South Ossetian forces. Some said they were held for as many as 12 days at a jail in Tskhinvali.
The detainees, many of them elderly fruit farmers from villages along Georgia's northern border, said male inmates were forced to clean streets and bury the war dead, and occasionally endured beatings that left them with bruises and welts. More than 100 men and women were packed into a cell with a single toilet, they said.
"I thought they would kill us. I was very much afraid," said Manuna Gogidze, 48... Read more.