Archiver > UKR-CHERNIGOV > 2008-09 > 1221583744

From: Bob Bogash <>
Subject: [CHERN] Echos of the Past
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 09:49:04 -0700

Disturbing echos of Pogroms, Nazi's, and the Tsar, and living in the

Bob Bogash

Georgians flee as violence goes on

By Alex Rodriguez

Chicago Tribune

TKVIAVI, Georgia — When night falls on this half-destroyed farming
hamlet in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, the few locals who
are left slip out of their homes and quietly find a place to sleep in
nearby apple orchards and cornfields.

Gangs of pro-Moscow paramilitary fighters from South Ossetia just a few
miles to the north and from southern Russia haven't finished pillaging
Tkviavi, villagers say. And too many Georgians have been gunned down
inside their homes to make staying in their beds safe, they say.

"There's no law in this village, so at night they come to rob our
houses," says Matiko Papiashvili, 75, a Georgian woman hunched over on a
bench in Tkviavi's deserted center. "I can't remember a time when we've
been so afraid."

Five weeks after the brief but brutal conflict broke out between Russia
and Georgia over control of the Georgian separatist enclave of South
Ossetia, Georgians in Tkviavi and villages like it outside South Ossetia
have found themselves trapped in a netherworld of lawlessness.

Russian troops have set up checkpoints fortified with concrete
barricades and encampments ringed with razor wire on Georgian territory
beyond the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but
Georgians say those troops have done nothing to prevent South Ossetian
paramilitary fighters from embarking on a spree that left hundreds of
homes gutted and an unknown number of unarmed villagers slain.

By keeping Russian troops deployed on Georgian land outside the
separatist enclaves, the Kremlin says it has been maintaining a
"security zone" meant to keep Georgian troops out of South Ossetia and

Russian tanks and troops moved into Georgia last month after Georgian
forces launched an all-out assault to regain control of South Ossetia.

Russian leaders also have said their soldiers are needed to maintain
order and keep pro-Moscow Caucasus militias from attacking Georgian
villages. However, a recent visit through Georgian villages outside of
South Ossetia showed no sign of Russian patrols.

Allowing Georgian territory just outside South Ossetia to go unpatrolled
has proved to be disastrous for a region in which hatred between
Ossetians and Georgians runs deep.

Makvala Kharbadashvili, an Ossetian from the Georgian village of
Karaleti, said she asked Ossetian fighters who broke into her house in
mid-August why they were killing Georgian civilians and burning their homes.

"They said they would do the same to Georgians as Georgians did to their
houses and their children," Kharbadashvili said.

Karaleti's school remains closed because townspeople worry Ossetian
fighters mined the building.

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