Cuttino's Georgian Life

A journal of my Peace Corps service in the Republic of Georgia, 2006-2008.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gori's Tragedy

This has been a very difficult few days. After a few days of intense fighting in South Ossetia, Russia invaded sovereign Georgian territory, including my former site, Gori. Apparently the mandate of Russian "peacekeepers" included bombing civilian targets outside of the conflict zone. I know for a fact that one of Biliki's children was killed in Sunday's bombardment. Today, despite a "ceasefire" Russian troops have surrounded Gori and have allowed Ossetian militants to loot and burn the city. I know a few people who remained to protect their property and homes, but I don't know how they are doing.

Peace Corps has completely pulled out of the country. All of the new trainees were sent home almost immediately and the remaining volunteers are safe in Armenia. I finished Peace Corps a week before the war began. The most frightening aspect of all this is how quickly the situation spiraled out of control. When I left the country two days before hostilities there was no indication that this would happen.

A few people have asked about my opinion of this situation, and I can give it now that I am a private citizen. As I see it, no side is innocent in this conflict. The Georgians were reckless to initiate the conflict in South Ossetia. The siege of Tskhinvali (the South Ossetian capital) was brutal and probably unnecessary. If the Russian statistics are true, the death toll of the battle will be around 2,000. Of course, the Russian response has been totally disproportionate and totally out of line with any international norms. The Russian regime has proven itself to be a brutal, oppressive 19th century-style power. The West owes it to Georgia and all emerging democracies to stand up to Putin and Medvedev.

In the meantime, the innocent civilians of Ossetia and Georgia are caught up in the crossfire. These people have been my friends and family for two years and it is heartbreaking to see what is happening to them. Fifteen years of progress is in jeopardy. I can only hope that there is something left of Gori when the dust settles.

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More information:
BBC - Violence Flares in Georgian Town
New Republic - How the West Botched Georgia
NY Times - Georgia Says Accord Broken as Russia Occupies City
EurasiaNet - Russian "Imperialist Boots" Stomp on Georgia
EurasiaNet - Georgia: Scene of the Outbreak of Cold War II?

2 Comments:

  • At 12:29 AM, Blogger TSWorld said…

    Russian facts are incorrect. As I read on one site, which I believe was Russian, Russian Human Watch reported the death toll after attack on Tskhinvali and it is tens of people and NOT thousands and Russia was alleging.

     
  • At 1:03 PM, Blogger sopppunnaa said…

    Thank you for this post, but I couldn't understand half of this because you've used many complicated English words.
    I'm from Gori, I was outside of the city when this everything happened but everybody knows the history of Georgia and our map, Russians and Ossetians just wanted to eat one of the beautiful part of Georgia, in 1990 they called that region "The republic of South Osetia" themselves, before it was "Shida Qartli" of course this fact was perfect for Russia, easier to take control over the region and in 2008 they did it and now a lot of my Georgian friends who lived there even can't visit their houses, because they don't have Russian documents. Fuck, in Georgian teritory Georgians can't move without Russians' permissions!!!

     

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