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

Aug 14, 2008

Personal stories, eyewitnesses (translated)

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.

Lali Jaoshvili, Kekhvi

I left three days ago. There was terrible shooting. We arrived to village Eredvi and it was also attacked. We were trying to get out of there with a car and save ourselves. Some were leaving by foot. We did not care about bringing anything with us from home. My husband remained in the forest. We all sobbed for him because thought that he died but apparently he hid and then fell into a ditch and survived.

Afterwards my mother-in-law died and my son received psychological shock from watching these horrible things. He hid in the forest and refused to come with us. That's how he is now.

First there was shellfire and afterwards the tanks came in.

All the villages and the houses are destroyed.

One Russian told us to leave immediately because they would build a new town there.

Manana from Nikozi
Before the latest events started a bomb hit village Nikozi. There was destruction but we survived. The following two days were peaceful.

Afterwards when the shooting started we left everything behind, left our cattle tied up and ran away. There was shellfire.

I don't know the condition of my house at present, my mother stayed there and I can't get in touch with her, she does not have a telephone. We are five in the family and all of us left with the exception of her. My sister was hiding in the basement for two days.

We arrived to Gori which was also bombed and had to run away from there, Russian were bombing us. The bomb hit a house next to us and everyone left.

We were told that the invaders are robbing the houses and taking everything with them, and that they are Osetians. Our villages are adjacent to each other. I was working in Tskhinvali and we did not have a conflict, no one warned us that there would be a war.

Woman from Tskhinvali:

Five of our families left. Once I was an internally displaced. Don't know where to go and what to do. I lived in the middle of Tskhinvali. Afterwards I moved to the village. When the villages got bombed we left. I buried two people and arrived here yesterday. I was carrying the corpse for three days trying to get it to the village to burry it. At the end I buried it on the road. He was my uncle. The shell cut off his leg and he died in the hospital from bleeding. Our neighbor's 18 year old son was killed. They buried him but almost got killed there.


Woman from Tskhinvali region

The Kazakhs torture everyone. My father did not leave together with us and who knows what's happening to him now. We left by foot and slept overnight on the highway at the entrance of Tbilisi. We got a message that the whole village was burnt after we left. They are burning everything now, all Georgian villages.


A man from village Zubaani :

I was walking in Zubaani where I got a car and moved towards Eredvi. On the way we were bombed twice. I jumped out of the car and went village by village. I came to Korda on foot at 12 p.m. Many people died in Eredvi. I hadn't taken anything just a pocket torch to have a light at night. Valley is fully destroyed, houses are burnt. It makes no difference whether it is my own house or not. All my family is here. I have not any information if anybody is still left there..

Tamar Apstiauri, age 28:
I live in the village of Megvrikisi, Gori region. I left on Sunday, my husband – on Monday. When our Army started to leave and we were about being bombed, we had no other choice. Surely it was better to join my children, then to die. So we left without taking anything from the house. My children had left before. I have three children and when we were coming, it seemed I would not be able to see them again. I was looking up, fearing that something would fall on me. Only things that I managed to take were the clothes of the kids, nothing else.
We left on the car of my neighbour. He rushed in our house and told we needed to leave. He said, "Don't you see what is happening with us?". When we saw the smoke above Eredvi, we decided that if we did not leave, we would die. That is why we escaped. Our village is situated right at the location of peacekeepers near Ergneti. So to say, we are caught in teeth of Ossetians.
We travelled safely. Obviously they had not started to move in this direction. My husband also managed to escape yesterday.
When I left, my house was not damaged, though I don't know about its condition now. At that moment, the village was also not burnt down so far.

Eka Metreveli, age 35:
I fled from village Kemerti of Liakhvi gorge in the evening of August 9. Me and my spouse sent kids beforehand. And we left in the evening of 9th with our own car.
The village was bombed from jets and probably by tanks as well.

From the beginning, it all started when they shelled a car of the head of administration, guys blew up, my cousin was in that explosion. Then there were explosions every night and situation was tense.

Before we left, two shells hit our house. It destroyed a sleeping room and a bathroom. I do not know in what condition is the house now, but as I have heard, it is burned. We were not able to bring anything with us. Me and my spouse stayed in the basement of a relative and when we decided to leave, we did not even enter the house, we just ran away immediately.

We drove through the side road and exactly when we passed village Eredvi, they dropped a bomb and the explosion lifted a car nearby in the air. The houses were also destroyed then.

What we need now is support of people and peace!

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