“Gruesome tales of systematic murder” “The villages of Kurta, Chala and Eredvi are full of corpses.”


(close to Poti, Georgia)

Mother Russia?


Luke Harding in Gori
August 16, 2008

EARLIER this week, Nugzari Jashavili was walking across fields to his house in the Georgian village of Tkviavi. About 50 metres away, he spotted gunmen approaching his neighbour Gela Chikladze.

“They grabbed him round the shoulder and slit his throat,” Mr Jashavili said. “There were five of them. They had arrived from South Ossetia in a jeep. They were going across the village from house to house.”

Mr Jashavili, 65, said he hid in a cornfield. He watched the Chechen and Ossetian irregulars take his furniture and 100-watt generator. Further down the road, he said, they shot his cousin Koba. They also executed another man, Shamila Okropridze.

The irregulars had come from the Russian-controlled South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, eight kilometres away. According to the villagers’ accounts, the militias, with the apparent support of the Russian army, began a campaign of ethnic cleansing, killing teenage boys, stealing vehicles, looting and burning.

There is no way to independently verify these accounts.

Russia’s President, Dmitry Medvedev, had just announced a ceasefire and a putative end to Moscow’s war with Georgia. But fleeing villagers say the Russian-backed militias were exacting revenge on Georgians on both sides of the South Ossetian border north of Gori.

“There are bodies everywhere. I saw hundreds of dead. There are people lying in the streets,” Elene Maisuradze, 73, said. “The villages of Kurta, Chala and Eredvi are full of corpses.”

She fled from Tkviavi after gunmen arrived at her home. “They said in Russian: ‘Where are the boys and where is your car?’ I didn’t understand. One of them was Ossetian and he translated. I told them I’d sold my car and they went away. But then some others turned up.

“They asked me where my basement was, and shot it up. I was crying. They said: ‘Kill her, kill her.’ My neighbour is a Russian woman and she told them: ‘Don’t do this.’ They fired into the ground instead and said, ‘F— [the Georgian President, Mikheil] Saakashvili.’ ”

It took time for these accounts to emerge, the two days it took for Mrs Maisuradze, Mr Jashavili and others to reach Gori on foot. They say they survived by eating peaches, apples and plums; one old woman died on the way.

They arrived at the edge of the city on Thursday morning, at the same time as the Georgian military. Georgian forces were supposed to take back control of Gori. In reality, the Russian army is refusing to leave, blockading the town with dozens of tanks.

“My husband died 14 years ago. I wished I had died soon after him,” Mrs Maisuradze said. “I had my childhood during World War II. Now I’m so old and I’m in a war again.”

One Response to ““Gruesome tales of systematic murder” “The villages of Kurta, Chala and Eredvi are full of corpses.””

  1. rosettasister Says:

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