Marina Beridze, 40, Gori
I came yesterday evening, as the result of disorder I left my house. The war had just begun. There were massive bombing, but still everything was all right with my house, the houses of my neighbors were bombed. It was not difficult to come out. We came by minibus. On the way they were bombing everything. The tanks were standing there. There were exploded cars all over. Nothing happened with us on our way, we came here peacefully.
Before we left there were burning post office, military hospital and generally everything around. I have noticed the airplanes as well. They were Russian’s, people talked about it and also the image, the emblem of Russians, I know how does it look like. They were constantly bombing Gori.
At that time my house was in order, now I don’t know what had happened with it. When the bomb fell, some people were wounded, they were residents of Gori. This story started 4-5 days ago. It took me 10 hours to reach the refugee camp. Yes, I reached the camp peacefully, but it’s impossible to live there, it’s useless for living.
I don’t know if my relatives are still there? They were going to leave, but where are they now, I don’t know. I’m scared, what will happen with us? The government promised to help us and we hope for that.
Address for Gori: 2. Tsmindatskali str.
Camp: Tbilisi, Digmis Masivi 4th quarter, school #130
Khaduri Luiza, aed 38
Village Beloti, Small Liakhva
We arrived yesterday; we have been walking all the way (about 30 klm.). We had been calling Gamgoba but no transport was provided. We had also failed to contact our relatives. This is why we had to walk. Some of our people are yet walking. We have no information about them, where they are or how they are.
Ossetians raided the village. They shoot, they broke in and threatened to burn and kill us all if we would not leave. Then they ordered to tell about their threat to everybody. Then they gathered us by the church and threatened to kill us if we would not leave.
While we were there in the gather-place by church we saw houses burning. They themselves told us: “We have an order to demolish all around” and they bombed every area where they would see anyone in a uniform. We left and approached Tirdznisi only in the midnight. We stayed in the empty houses until dawn.
We had no accident while walking. To be frank, when we came to the Russian check point and asked whether anything was happening they said all was fine. They said that they ordered not to harm civilians.
No soldier or official insulted or harmed us. Every shop and every house is burnt in our village. The bombed areas are absolutely demolished. Kokoiti ordered not to harm our village as it was his village. But despite it they attacked and forced us to leave.
All started about a week ago. The conflict started as the Ossetians blocked the roads and did not let us transport groceries.
I try to calm down. We went over a lot. We are scared. My father and mother in law stayed there. We have no information about them. When Ossetians broke in they took phones from all of us. They broke telephone cards. Only I could hide my phone and we could contact the city only from my phone. But we fail contacting them now and we have no information how they are.
Camp- School no.130, Digmis Masivi, 4th quarter.
Young man, Village Achabeti, 12.08.2008
We left at about, do not remember, what time. It was either Thursday or Friday. When we were leaving, the aviation was bombing bypassing road, where a number of people died. My friends were following me when they witnessed an air raid that practically ripped in half several women. It was an unimaginable barbarity. Later on Sanakoev’s forces left without warning people. The only hope was our police. They visited the Georgian families and warned on the threat. After that in two hours the gorge was bombarded again and the death toll was high. Village Eredvi was next – it was bombed with a very high death toll.
Now we try to call there and we are still in communication with the gorge. We learned that the Ossetians took away my friend’s grandfather and father’s sister. I think everyone realizes what is going to be their end – The Ossetians are going to cut their throats at the tomb of their own relatives. As It happened in the past… Revenge… For example, my relative was taken away and put into BTR (armored vehicle). His house was burned down.
At the stadium of lower Achabeti, there are some Russian tanks. There are a lot of tanks. Some father and son are still in this village, locked, they can not leave. But they managed to record everything on tape. They are still in Eredvi and recording all the brutalities committed by militaries. What shall I say more? In the village Eredvi dead women and children are lying on the highway. I leave next to the bridge, where some dead man is lying on the ground. The body’s smell is horrible. There are many people like this.
One man, in Tamarasheni, he was sick in the bad. Fuel was poured on him and later on lit on fire in his own bed. The house was razed down. What else? – They kill people and later on destroy their bodies.
This was done by Chechens, Russians, more often by Cossacks (Russian volunteers). There was some information that the Russians were doing even worse things. There was a case when some people, who only managed to leave the territory in the very last moment, were stopped by Chechens. The Chechens told our folks that the way Chechens were treated in Chechnya, Georgian should expect the same thing here. According to them a completely civilian city was razed down by Russians and Chechens advised us to leave as soon as possible not taking anything. There were three young guys (Chechens). Thanks to them that they let us go.
There are talks that there are a number of civilians dead in the village of Kheiti. My neighbor, young boy, could not leave the place on time. He is still in the village. They are hiding in Kvemo Ubani, can not leave their hideout. There is a number of bad information but this information is not public yet. I am not sure whether we ever return there.
The heroism of our soldiers was truly remarkable. Before Russians rolled in Tskhinvali, the Georgian militaries were very successful there. The folks applauded them and wove flags. I personally was among them.
I personally said that we had to go to Tskhinvali, but this was a big provocation. When we entered Tskhinvali, our militaries were bombed right away. My two cousins were at the very front, my brother in law is also in the army. He left the city at 5 AM after all our folks left. He did not want to leave but there was no other way. Later on they stayed in Gori. Then there was a military skirmish. But the fight was limited to aviation and tanks. We did not use our rifles. We were overwhelmed by Russia’s superiority in air power. They committed a lot of brutalities razing down houses, gardens. Nothing is there.
There was information that helicopters were hovering over village Kurta. Village Kekhvi has gone. The Russians demolished schools. They also bombed Kekhvi secondary school, demolished village Kurta school. Achabeti school was lit to fire and razed to the ground. There are still some people inside. They have mini-generators in the underground shelters and so they are able to charge their telephones.
There was an unimaginable brutality, what I personally witnessed. We hid under the bridge when the artillery bombarded us from mortars. All the trees fall down. One can not express by words about the tragedy that I witnessed there. Later we left. Village Eredvi followed us. Air Forces were bombarding the refugees. I must still point out our military forces – they are real heroes. I did not know that they could have fought so bravely in Tskhinvali. They successfully imposed control over the city and noone could believe this that our forces were able to be so successful. The whole Europe saw how successful our army was, but Russia is big. 58th Army was fighting us. Java was bombed as well. The soldiers never laid arms, literally fought till the very end. But you understand that, we would not have been able to do anything against Russians.
When Russian air force started bombardment, the whole gorge left their homesteads. I left the gorge earlier. The information is still coming. We planned to stay there till very end, even made underground tranches. But we did not have rifles. There were spots over our village occupied by Ossetians and these spots were successfully taken under Georgia’s control. However, later on there came aviation. Initially we thought it was a Georgian aviation.
My father’s sister is in Gori and I know that a lot of people died there as well. European Council is silent. Pregnant women and children were killed in front of us. This is unimaginable brutality and so it can not continue. Chechens were telling us that Russians did the same what they did in Chechnya, however they also indicated that such military weapons were not used there – there has not been such brutality. Russians robbed the houses and then set houses at fire. Why you demolish it? Go and live there…
The folks were running along the river Liakhvi. And there were some tanks on the other side of the river that were shooting the civilians! Tanks were shooting civilians!!!
There was a lot of shooting before our militaries entered Tskhinvali. My parents were shivering, crying. They took a refuge in underground shelters. Everything was destroyed. I still can not figure out how we survived. After that our forces entered Tskhinvali. Had not they entered, we would have been dead. Russians were shooting at civilians not only by rifles, but also by mortars.
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…
Naira Zanebidze, Age 49, resident of Gori Region, Village Satskheneti