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Gone from Gori, but still in the villages

By David Matsaberidze
Wednesday, August 27
The situation in Georgia remains tense, as the Russians do not wish to leave the territories it agreed to vacate when it signed the ceasefire document of Sarkozy, and continue devastating the country and abrogating the rights of the Georgian population. Humanitarian aid is distributed and normal life has resumed in Gori and on other territories, although the situation in the Georgian villages of the South Ossetia is alarming. Even Moscow has seen a demonstration condemning Russia’s action in Georgia.

In Gori, markets and supermarkets have reopened as well as public offices, banks and businesses. The city receives consignments of humanitarian aid every day. The public accommodation office and city patrol are working again. However, the surrounding villages are seeing unbearable conditions. The local Georgian population has been forced to leave their homes as separatist troops are now oppressing them too.

The residents of the village of Meghvrekisi left on August 26 and have arrived in Gori. They declare that the situation has greatly worsened in Georgian villages. Georgians are robbed and killed, their property is taken and their houses burnt down. Most of the residents of the village are older people. The Representative of the President of Georgia in Shida Kartli region, Lado Vardzelashvili, has met with the most recent refugees and promised them temporary accommodation.

The situation remains tense in Samegrelo as well. Looting and plundering have become common occurrences. According to the latest information, after plundering the administrative offices Russian occupiers have begun plundering business premises as well. On the night of August 25 drunken Russian soldiers raided the Nikora meat-product factory with an armored vehicle. The enterprise is located near the Russian checkpoint. They forced the guard to open the store and took away all they could. The drunken soldiers were very aggressive. Currently company assessors are calculating the damage.

The occupiers have reinforced their positions in Samegrelo. Local authorities report that they are deploying additional military hardware around the illegal checkpoints. The aggressors remain in Chkhorotsku, Tsalenjikha, Senaki-Chkhorotsku and on the Khobi-Zugdidi Highway. Russians are digging trenches along the Poti-Zugdidi and Pakhulani-Lia sectors of the highway as well. They maintain positions on the strategic heights and install weapons and place barbed wire in several places in the occupied territories. The aggressors have damaged the fiber connection cable, causing problems for the internet service and banking operations.

In Tbilisi IDPs from Didi Liaxvi Gorge forcibly entered the building of the Centre of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. The situation was normalized by police mediation. IDPs were demanding shelter as “since August 8 they have lived in the open air.” As the Director of the Centre, Mako Khoferia, told Interpressnews, “there are no free places in the centre and 40 persons are already accommodated.” The Refugees declare that they do not have anywhere else to go and will stay in the building.

Russian civil society has started to react to the recent developments in Georgian-Russian relations. Human Rights NGOs are concerned at the presence of Russian troops in Georgia. Over 400 protestors assembled in the streets of the Russian capital, at the Alexander Griboyedov monument, voicing anti-war slogans. The protestors said that the presence of Russian troops in Georgia creates a serious risk that the conflict will escalate. The demonstration, which was organized by the Moscow Helsinki Group, was sanctioned and ended without incident.