I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Winston Churchill

Aug 15, 2008

Personal stories and tragedies

Ms. Manana Kobaladze, 46

I can't recall exactly the date, we left about three days ago.

We are refugees from Tskhinvali, we have been refugees for twenty years. We had lived in the village of Satskheneti, Tskhinvali region. Then we lost all of it, nothing remained. I had a house in another village, we moved there. I have a husband and 2 sons, who joined me.

Together we started to adjust to the new life, bought everything anew, small livestock, cattle. These check-points were installed here during that previous conflict. They used not to let us go in or go out, but used to cast us out. The situation was awful there, no Georgian was given a chance to have a normal living.

When the bombing started recently, we tried to escape in what we were dressed. We haven't even the most elementary, spoon to eat something, though we have nothing to eat also. As the bombing was launched from above, we were hiding in the basements for 4-5 days.

My sons managed somehow to get us out of there; we sat in someone's car and escaped like that. We reached Gori just in the moment when the industrial complex district and the army unit was being shelled and we ran to a shop and hid in its basement. We were hardly saved.

They were firing different things; they were firing from above, bombing. We could not see the soldiers, as the shells were being fired and everybody was scattered around, we could not identify anyone.

They were bombing from above and we could not get out. Now they have entered with their tanks there and burn down the houses, set fire to anything.

When we left there still was a village, but afterwards they burnt each and every house; people who left behind, are said to be shot. I don't know. The fact is that it is impossible to contact them on the phone.

Our house was being robbed first and then burnt. Of course, I haven't seen it, I know it from what others say. What they are doing elsewhere, they would do the same there.

I don't know, dear, we were being bombed, we were being harassed; they shared what they were going to do with men and with Georgian women and that finally all of us would be killed.

Ossetians were active, running around, Russians were standing still, yes, they were standing, they did not do anything to help us.

We have been coming for two days. All my relatives lived there, but we cannot contact anyone. They might have eluded.

I have been having high blood pressure these two days. What could I feel, I almost went crazy out of the stress. To become a refugee twice…


#95, Tsereteli Ave. Hotel at Sport Complex "Maneji"

August 13, 2008
Naira Zanebidze, Age 49, resident of Gori Region, Village Satskheneti

We arrived to Tbilisi three days ago( August 10, 2008). our village was bombed by aeroplabes. We could not go out of our houses.
When the openning of Peace Corridor was announced we walked all they way out on our own. We covered all the way out through Erdevi on foot. The Peace Corridor was opened ethnically Osetians as well. While the corridor remained there were no shootings so we - me, my husband and young population escaped from our village. Only old people did not leave the village Satskheneti, approximately 15 people stayed there.
At the beginning of bombing our house was not destroyed only windows were broken , since the bomb fell very close to it.
This was going on in the whole village, not only near my house! We had our personal vehicle and 15 people left the place all together in one car.
I did not see soldiers, but we heard that they were in the forest. The Airplanes were circling in the air above our heads and bombing us.
In two hours after we abandoned our houses the military forces landed. Should not appear the airplanes we would not leave our place!
We were already used to shooting around since there were ethnically Ossetia's settled all around us. We remained at our place as long as we could survive. We had only two hours of luck to escape and stay alive.
We, my husband and I, did not much care for the sound of airplanes above our home. But then sound of something coming closer felt as directed exactly on us. Firstly we though that it was sound of shooting, but when it exploded very close to our house we realized that it was a real bomb. There was even not a single soldier near us to protect , we were on our own, listening to the sound of exploding bombs! That night our neighborhood gathered and passed night all together. Then by our personal vehicles we moved to Tbilisi. It took us three-four hours to arrive here. We went directly to the City Administration and there were taken care of and placed to the Hotel. If not reaching the administration we would be still without any shelter.
Now were all nervous, we hear news that our were houses were robbed and then burnt down! A boy that escaped from neighboring village told us that the "Peacekeeper's" loaded all our household stuff onto large vehicles and then through explosives to burn down our houses! We have information form eyewitnesses that several of our neighbors were killed. We are in shock and are not able to handle ourselves .

Maya Terashvili, Age 26.
It's been three days I am in Tbilisi. Before arriving here I used to live in the village Satskhene that is in Patara Liaxvi Gorge.
The War began, airplanes flew all around and bomb all over, the cannonade was comming from different weapons.
Children and women were driven out of village by local bus. It was very hard to espace. The airplanes were all the time around us.
When city of Gory was reached we were bombed. We jumped out of our bus and concealed ourselves from bombs in the basements of houses. It was very hard to survive. We saw airplanes above us, throwing down bombs. There was no sign of soldiers or something like that.
At that time the houses were not destroyed very much. The window panes at houses were broken, because of bombarding at residential construstions.
At the moment I have no idea in what condition is my house. I was told that it's been torn down! But only after seeing that with my own eyes I'll believe in it ! There was a Post of Osetians near us. It was something like a "border"! In case of any little misunderstanding Ossetinas used to start shooting towards Georgians! They were always the first ones, of course!
There were many women and children with me escaping to Tbilisi. The way till Gory took three hours. In total it took approximately six hours to reach Tbilisi. We left so many relatives there, old people, grandparents. From my family only me and my child , only women and children left the village to survive. How we are? How could be our condition described? - Terribly bad. We do not know what shall happen next. Will we ever return back to our houses?

Simon from the village of Nikozi, Gori region:

I left yesterday. They fired shells from helicopters and pursuit planes. What firing it was by Russians! They led an air attack. The Georgian villages were shelled: Upper Nikozi and Lower Nikozi. I reached my home crawling all the way. My mother was staying there. I could not get her out. She walks via two crutches. She is 82 years old and she is still there. The only thing I could do was that I gave her my cell phone and instructed how to use it. Until now I managed to contact her. Supposedly the battery is dead now; there is no electricity to charge it. I cannot contact her anymore. I have no idea what is going on there. The houses are burnt and demolished. No one is there. Almost 95% has left. People died. People died before my leaving and after it. People that could not be taken out are buried by their relatives in their own yards. Now the village is empty, neither Ossetians, nor Georgians remained there. Maybe ten or fifteen elderly people are present. No army is standing there.

There is Nikozi diocesan Church in our village. Yesterday, when I came there, found the bishop Isaia and his congregation praying. The shelling started just at that moment. The monastery was also bombed. The Bishop had to take his congregation out of there. We were going along the gates on foot. I asked my mother to follow us slowly, on foot. She decided she could not go. Then I kissed her and left, saying, "Mother, come what may."

We passed several villages on foot. The Bishop contacted the priest Andria, who came for us with a minibus from Gori. Only the bishop Isaia and the priest Antoni left behind, saying "We cannot leave now" and they went back under fire and this disaster. They are there even today. We left. I could imagine anything, but shelling the Orthodox Church.

We left Gori on a minibus. The people were coming on foot. The army was still there. When we were passing by, we saw how they were being bombed. However, our minibus escaped without damage. There was nothing sacred for them, neither church, nor anything – everything was shelled.

We were hiding under the threes. It is hard to hide away from a shell. Even previously they used to shell us. Everybody is helping. The faster we are back, the better, though going back… well, we can go back, but how will we manage to live there? Ossetians are all around. From the edge of my house, their village starts. There is even no boundary between our villages. There is even no 100 meters distance between them. We will be subjected to permanent suppression there; they will do with us whatever they wish. These last years the people managed to reconcile. So we were living peacefully.

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