A month passes since Georgia’s attacks on South Ossetia: the plight of locals
Russian human rights officials on foreign NGOs downplaying Ossetian casualties:
The international observers have been very passive in their investigation of the South Ossetian crisis. Most of them took a position of non-interference while the others showed a one-sided approach, convenient only to the Georgian side. They ignored facts like mass killings, war crimes, the devastation of Tskhinval, the attempt to rub the whole republic from the face of Earth. I don’t know how they calculated that 40 people had been killed. Neither us, nor the South Ossetian authorities have seen any representatives of Human Rights Watch there. When we were in Tskhuinval we saw a demolished city with bodies lying in the rubble. There were hundreds of victims.
Investigators collected more than 4,000 statements from people who claim they were victims of physical, material and moral attack as a result of the Georgian assault on South Ossetia.
Georgian citizens living in towns on the border with South Ossetia were caught in the conflict and suffered equally. Their houses were similarly ravaged and their lives were similarly devastated, albeit their woe was internationally acknowledged.
Russian human rights officials on Georgian civilian victims:
Of course, the international observers must pay attention to the situation in Georgia. There were victims amongst civilians there. But there were no mass executions like in South Ossetia. That was just the reaction of Russian peacekeeping forces on the war crimes of the Georgian army. The Russian soldiers aimed at Georgian firing points and military bases. This is war and some civilian buildings were destroyed, people were injured. We know of several deaths among Georgian civilians. But it doesn’t mean that the human rights organizations don’t have to assist in protecting the rights of Georgian citizens affected by the war or to help in repairing their homes.
In Gori, the damage to buildings testifies to the bombings and combat. Those that fled the city during the war have begun to come back. It is estimated that 130,000 people were displaced inside Georgia during the conflict. According to the UN High Commission for Refuges, a further 50,000 will not be able to return to their homes. Those that have returned are fearful and feel abandoned.
“It’s dangerous of course, if the Ossetian militia come through, what can we do about it ?’‘ We can’t do anything,’‘ said Georgian resident Tristan Kasabishvili.
South Ossetian resident Zalina Kokieva said: “When we heard the Georgians arriving, the only thing I thought was how to die as fast as possible without suffering a lot,’‘ she said.
South Ossetian resident Dimitri Chorebov said: “The European Union is shameful. They speak about unity with Georgia. How can they force me to live with my enemies who want to kill me?” he said.
During the war an estimated 34,000 Ossetians left the region and moved to Russia. Some 6,500 are yet to return.