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Eight human settlements in South Ossetia have been wiped off from the face of the earth. According to eyewitness Ms Ilona Djioyeva, a resident of the village of Dmenes, “Georgian military aircraft have conducted a bombing strike on civilians’ houses and then the village was entered by soldiers who shot up old people, women and children”.
“We managed to get to the positions of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and they helped us to get to a safe place. Georgian shot down escaping people; the wounded were finished by headshots. Only a few people survived. Russian soldiers helped us to get out of there.
Now my mother, sister and me are going to our relatives in the Mozdok region, which is in North Ossetia. We don’t know anything about my brother. He works in Tskhinval militia”, the 19-year-old girl student told.
Old Town of III-rd century AD Destroyed in Tzhinval
So-called Old Town of the 3rd century AD has been destroyed due to the hostilities in the capital of South Ossetia.
It was confirmed today by Ms Ludmila Gaboyeva, Director of the North Ossetia Historical and Cultural Monument Preservation Center.
"Old Town situated in the eastern part of Tzhinval has been completely smashed, and unfortunately it is beyond restoration”, she said to ITAR-TASS speaking on the results of the work performed by a special board set to assess the damage inflicted to historical and cultural monuments, after she returned from South Ossetia.
According to Gaboyeva, Old Town was already partially damaged in 1990-1992. She said: “Recently the Government of South Ossetia wanted to declare this quarter a historical reserved park, however today we nothing to declare a historical park. It is a great loss. An only monument, which more or less survived, is Sabatzmind Fortress (XV-XVIII centuries) and several ancient housed, which are reparable”.
The Director of the North Ossetia Historical and Cultural Monument Preservation Center emphasized that local experts will conduct a detailed survey of all monuments in the nearest future, and then Russian architects and restorers will start working in the Republic.
Ryan Grist, Head of the OSCE Tskhinval Field Office: “The entire city full of civilians was under artillery fire”
Ryan Grist, British citizen, Head of the OSCE Tskhinvali Field Office, witnessed the attack of the Georgian troops on Tskhinval.
– Please, tell us what did you witness during the attack on the city of Tskhinval?
– I want to say that I was here for several days, and I am absolutely confident that the objectives of this attack included not only military facilities. The firing was in the outskirts of the city and inside the city. The entire city was under fire. I know that the war started last Thursday , and since the moment it started I was in contact with my friends and colleagues.
I know it absolutely exactly that the city was shelled from heavy guns positioned near the Georgian city of Gori. I don’t know and I cannot tell you now if the city was shelled from any other places. I know it exactly that the entire city was under fire from the positions located in the southern outskirts of the South Ossetian capital.
I also know that my colleagues here inside the city were stationed very far from any military facilities, but yet they were regularly shelled. I don’t know, may be everything started due to a provocation. Now nobody may know the truth. It was dark, nobody could see anything, and moreover now nobody can prove anything already. But it is not important. The important is that I know that the entire city full of civilians was under artillery fire. It is absolutely intolerable that a peaceful city full of civilians would be shelled.
– You are leaving the Republic of South Ossetia today, and we’d like to hope that you will tell the European community about our tragedy.
– I will just tell them the truth that I saw. Of course I will tell the truth from any accessible rostrums. As a human-being I will just tell them the truth and my personal perception of the events.
Georgians Burnt Church with Old Men Inside in South Ossetian Village
According to an Ossetian Radio and TV publication, a Holy Mother church was burnt to ashes in the South Ossetian village of Khetagurovo captured by Georgian units.
The destruction of this holy temple itself is a crime. This unique Orthodox Christian church of the X century was a historical monument of South Ossetia, one of its spiritual centers.
According to South Ossetian mass media, a group of old men seeking shelter inside the church was burnt together with the church. Besides, Georgian militaries kidnapped a large group of young women in the village of Khetagurovo and took them to an undisclosed location. Today their fate is unknown.
Statements of Eyewitnesses: Khubulov Sarmat Yemzarovich, born in 1990, painter
I was in Tskhinval on August 7. There were seven of us including my grandmother, grandfather, aunt, two small sisters and nephew. We all went to sleep because Saakashvili said that he stoped firing. We were asleep, and suddenly shells started exploding.
One mortar shell hit our balcony. We immediately run to our basement, I took ID documents and warm cloths. In two hours the shelling was seized. I went upstairs to sleep. We already used to the fact that they seize fire relatively soon. I was asleep when they started rocket-firing from Grads, and I returned to the basement – already for 4 days.
The Lenin Street was in flames. In the morning about 9 o’clock the city was entered by Georgian tanks. We saw 4 tanks in our Tabolov Street; they fired directly at our block of flats. While they turned we looked out of our basement. They noticed us and started firing at the gate.
Then they disembarked from the tanks, broke open an adjoining market, bar Asel, took beer, embarked on their tanks and started signing Georgian songs. Thereafter they took a look into our basement but did not descend and went away. Later somebody said (Alexander, out neighbor from the Street of Heroes) that several of them spoke Ossetian, they said: "Don’t be scared. We are Ossetians." There were women and children in an adjoining basement near the bakery. There a woman heard the Ossetian speech and looked out, they immediately threw a grenade into the basement.
In the same evening a man was driving a car in our street. A farther wanted to evacuate his child. Due to unknown reason he decelerated at a crossroad of the Isak and Hero Streets, and a tank fired at the car from behind. And the tankmen definitely knew that it was a father with a small child. Our neighbors also saw this event. The whole city knows about it.
Besides, I saw Negroes with my own eyes. It happened at a stand-down: I run to my mother to the railway station as she lives nearby. The fire started again. I had to stay there, because tanks were already moving towards us. We were in the basement – several militaries, friend, neighbor and 4 other guys. When the tanks approached rather close, Slava, a friend of mine, killed both of them with his grenade launcher!
The tanks stopped in front of the Fire Depot, they turned their guns to the hotel and fired because they knew that there were people in basements there. They did not see us. My friend Slava went out and killed both tanks.
Later it became a bit quieter. Russians were already on the Zar road. I run home, took some water and brought it to my friends. I found my relatives and phoned to my uncle, it happened that he was in the basement of the City Militia Station. He came on the fourth day, hungry and thirsty.
He said that there was a vehicle near the Station and he would give us a ride. He rode seven of us by his "Niva" car to the hotel. Later in Tbet we gave a lift to one woman. Beforehand the people were said that they would be evacuated, but the evacuation failed, and the people were in a panic. Somebody left via Tbet, others – via Kvernet. We went via Tbet.
As soon as we reached the Zar road, we got under fire. Two cars – "Volga" and UAZ that started earlier were burnt on the road. My uncle looked into the UAZ and said that there was nobody there. When I saw Volga, its roof was torn out, and passengers have burnt to ashes, only spots of blood remained in several places. We returned to our car, hardly bypassed the destroyed cars and went further. We were followed by a car with its headlights on, and it was shelled.
Then my uncle shouted to that driver to switch off the lights, and the shelling stopped immediately.
We have reached Djava and from there to Vladikavkaz to my aunt. Tomorrow on August 15, I will return to the city because my grandfather is still there. Our house has been almost completely destroyed, but I cannot stay here.
Refugees describe horror
Refugees from South Ossetia on Sunday described running for their lives as they were being shelled and had to leave their homes and family members. They talked of hiding in the woods, being mocked by Georgian soldiers and passing the dead on the roadside.
Marina Dudayeva, a woman in her early 20s, fled from the South Ossetia capital of Tskhinvali wearing only her bed clothes and a pair of plastic slippers. She found refuge in the Russian region of North Ossetia, just across the border from South Ossetia.
Dudayeva said she doesn't know what happened to her relatives left behind, including her 19-year-old brother. "We can't contact them," she told the Associated Press.
Zema Kulumbegova, 43, a part-time English teacher, said she, her husband and two children took shelter in the wine cellar of their two-story home in Tskhinvali when the shooting started last week. Kulumbegova said a rocket hit their neighbor's house and started a fire.
"It's amazing we weren't all killed," she said.
Her husband, a teacher and craftsman, refused to leave, as did her 90-year-old father. He told her that he wanted to spend the last days of his life at home.
So she gathered her three girls — Ina, 14, Lina, 12, and Marina, 11 — and called a relative to pick them up in his car. They spent the day in a nearby village, watching the fighting grow closer. Finally, she said, Georgian tanks started firing into nearby houses. At last they reached a village where buses were waiting to take refugees north across the steep Caucasus Mountains and into Russia.
Kulumbegova said her father survived, but like many other South Ossetians has become bitter toward Georgians. "He always talked of the Georgians as 'our brothers,' " she said. "Now he doesn't say that any more."
USA Today, August 10, 2008
A group of S.Ossetian children was burnt alive inside two refugee’s minibuses
Brutal massacre of S. Ossetian civilians by Georgian army during the first days of military operation was nothing but an extreme point of man-hatred. A few examples of acts of genocide are given below.
The road from regional hub Znaur to the village of Dzhava is covered with corpses of S. Ossetian civilians - including women, elders and children. It’s still impossible to bury the dead as all moving objects in that area immediately come under fire of Georgian snipers and artillery.
Tkhsinval, August 8, 2008. According to eyewitnesses a group of S. Ossetian children was burnt alive inside two refugee’s minibuses which headed to Vladikavkaz.
The Khetagurovo massacre - another tragedy of Zharsk province. All young ladies of Khetagurovo village were kidnapped and driven away in unknown direction. Other villagers - men, women and elders were blocked in the building of local church and set on fire. Children were murdered separately. Georgians chopped children’s heads off in presence of their parents. Kidnapped girls have been raped and tortured, their genitals disfigured.
Evidence told by victims of Georgian aggression, August 9, 2008
Bykoyeva Nelly Ivanovna, born in 1958 Mamsurov Steet, 5/21, Deputy Principal, State Lyceum of Arts:
We spent three days in our basement from the 7th till 9th of August. There was no even water in the basement, and the shelling was so heavy that we could not go out up to our floor to take a bottle of water… We were lucky that nobody of us had infants; all were grownups, 22-year old girls, they endured everything… But the developments of these days were incomparable with the shootings of the passed 17 years. It was something incredible… At the time of such bombardment I caught my breath for horror, I don’t know, may be military men used to it but for us, civilians – women, old men, children it was so awful that it seemed the inside will break. I don’t know how it is possible to fire at a city with Grad rockets, with large-caliber shells, I am not a military but I know that certain shells so-called cannon-shots or alike are banned. So is it possible to fire shells at a peaceful city like this?!
It’s a terror. There were two direct hits in our house, lots of fragments, nothing intact remained in our block, all glasses were broken, all walls were damaged… Fortunately, nobody was killed in our block, at least among those who were inside the basement. But the boys who went to fight… Who would tell their fate? We are not still in contact with all our neighbors, we phone each other, ask each other: are there any news about our boys?… We know nothing about an old couple, our neighbors - the Tibilovs: Nana Tembolovna and Gheras, her husband. Where are they now? They were in our basement too.
The escape was incredible… There were no vehicles, no organized evacuation. Each of us run away as he could, asked friends… in principle I would not go away. But when we were told that Georgians twice battled through into the city… Before I left they already entered our yard. Imagine, they just came on foot, disembarked from their tanks and just went in the streets on foot. At hush we heard somebody going, one of the girls with us said: “It’s our boys!” She run out of the shelter to ask what is going on in the city… She was lucky that the soldier has just passed our door, and she looked out, saw his back and whipped into the gate. If he had seen her, he would have turn back and I don’t know what he would have done to her. That time we already knew that they entered basements and threw grenades, and as we heard, they took young girls hostages… All of us were women, but for this old man Tibilov Ghiras. And three young girls - my daughter and two neighbors. So as soon as we knew about the hostages, we took a chance, crowded into a car of our neighbor Valera Kabulov, all seven of us with the girls, and went away.
I would not wish such trip even on my enemy! We were riding down the Ostrovskty Street, and shells exploded alternately either in from of us or behind us. Valera was driving zigzag. Even aircraft attacked us before we reached the Zar road… We went down the Kusret road, suddenly a bomb exploded hundred meters in front of us. Fragments were flying. We reached the Kvernet Hill, and a bullet punched our gas tank. And we even did not notice… The gas drained out. The car stopped in an open place. They started firing at us and we escaped to the forest. We felt that they would not leave us alone there too, Valera told us to go downwards. We went down the road expecting that may be somebody would lift some of us… We stopped cars. But nobody had gas, and all cars were full… We were lucky that one vehicle was semi-full, and the driver gave us a lift to Djava.
We were in the vehicle together with Marina Kochyeva, head physician of the Sanitary Epidemic Station. They said their car was hit with a shell. When the shelling started, her daughter escaped to the bush. And she is young, only 26. She said that when she jumped into the bush she thought only about on thing – to die in a proper pose, she was sitting with her legs tucked and arms folded… Can you imagine it?! (crying)
Thus he hardly reached Djava, and from there by passing cars…
The city is in such awful condition… No one intact house… No one! Can you imagine it? Only ruins in the Ostrovsky Street… It is worse than Stalingrad!
"Team for Documenting Statements of Witnesses about Hostilities in South Ossetia", August 2008, Vladikavkaz
Irina Tedeyeva (24), 5th year student of the South Ossetian State University, Economy:
On the night of the assault I stayed with my sister Fatima (25) at our girl-friend’s house in the outskirts of Tskhinval practically near the Zar road. Initially there was shooting. Then we saw Grad rockets flying. We immediately went down to our basement. There were about ten girls there. Frankly, we were scared.
Thank God, we remained alive. But if I had known that the attack of Georgians will be like that I would have stayed there with my relatives and friends. If they die I will die too. Word of honor, Georgians are real beasts! I saw them killing two my boy-friends - one of them, 19 years old, was killed by a sniper. Another, Azamat, knocked down a Georgian tank but the second one killed him… When we were inside the basement, and Georgian tanks were still in the city, two girls came running to us, they were shocked. They made an effort to leave the city by a vehicle. They were fired at near Tbet. They did not remember how they had succeeded in getting out of the car and escaping in the forest. The car was crashed by a tank. Several women came runing to us from an adjacent house. One of them told that she had seen through a small hole a Georgian with a grenade launcher entering their yard. “He shot at flats and laughed – he laughed so joyfully!” the girl said. She was white in horror!
Georgians knew the city well, they understood well that they fired at living quarters. They had their spies who indicated the targets. I believe it when they said that Georgians were drugged – when our boys captured a Georgian they bet him up so much that an ordinary man would die, but this Georgian stoop up in five minutes as if nothing had happened. The boys were surprised it looked that he didn’t feel the pain.
Now the most important is not to loose our victory. I do not know what Russia waits for, why it hasn’t yet recognized our independence. If all these victims are not enough, what else is it necessary? Tskhinval is my city with my people. I love it and I am ready to sacrifice myself for it.
Ms Ludmila Tedeyeva (68), resident of House #89, Telman Street:
We spent three days in our basement and had no chance to bring some water. They fired direct pointing at us, all flats were destroyed. Didn’t they see that there were only civilians there? If our Russian brothers hadn’t come, we all would have been dead. We will stay here, we will not go anywhere. They said, the city would be restored…
Testimony about the events of the night on August 8, 2008
Eduard (70), Khetagurovo:
They attacked surprisingly. Initially we heard shots then saw their tanks. I did not believe my eyes. We were inside our houses, in the rooms, then we run to the garden to hide. But where is the place there to hide? I haven’t left before because there was nobody to take care of the household. I will stay at home and I will not leave my house. (The house was destroyed) The population of our village was 600 people, now a few people reside here. When Georgians started firing, many people run to escape. So many of them were wounded and killed…
Sophia (74), Eduard’s sister. Khetagurovo:
I am from the Lelingorsk District. I was going to my relatives in Tskhinval on the eve of the assault. I had to stay with my brother. I lied in the garden. I am a teacher, 40 years of experience. And such an awful happening at my age! What they did here, it was incredible! Shooting everywhere. When I heard that Russians were coming, I was so happy!
Olga Tuayeva (70), Khetagurovo:
Georgians didn’t warn that they would attack. They entered surprisingly and immediately started firing. Five tanks several times went across the village. They fired directly at houses. The tanks were followed by infantry men. When shelling started all my neighbors escaped, and I lied facedown in the garden and they failed to find me - they thought that I was killed. We were afraid to be in our basement, the basements may be buried under debris. So we were seeking shelter in houses and gardens. Now I also have to go away, I am afraid to stay here alone. I will go to my relatives in Vladikavkas. I saw killed people. Nobody fired at them (at Georgians) from here, nobody. I was scared very much. When tanks entered I thought they were our tanks and got happy, be they started firing at houses.
Amiran Kabanov (about 50), Khetagurovo:
There were 350 households here, now only 16 people. Georgians did not warn on the assault. The village was entered by about 400 people (Georgian militaries). They broke in the houses looking for arms and uniform. They shouted: Where are combatants? They thought that there were more combatants than in Tskhinval! In fact nobody was here, only we and women. We asked them: Why do you destroy the houses? Georgians said, don’t care about the houses, the state will build new ones! They wanted to block the Zar road and Roki tunnel to isolate South Ossetia from Russia. It is difficult to say how many people were killed. Many people buried their relatives in their yards , for example, my neighbor woman, she was killed by a fragment (showing the yard). Seven bodies have been just buried (we are speaking on August 12, 2008). I saw a woman who was shot dead, she tried to catch a hen which was frightened. A Georgian soldier shot at her back, and neighbors buried her in the harden.
Kickolay Djussoyev (54), Khetagurovo:
I live in this house (a two storey block of flats). Nobody warned us. All three days of the shelling I was inside the basement. I hard a Georgian speech, put on my medal “Veteran of Labor”, I was awarded with it in Tbilisi , and I put it on so that they would not kill me…. What they were doing! Explosions and explosions. They fired from mortars and tanks at people… If I had had a machinegun, I would have fired at them!… I live here from the cradle and I will not go anywhere – it is my Homeland. I will spend this winter in the basement.
Alan (about 55), Tbet:
Georgians did not warned anybody. They entered the village on tanks. They fired in all directions, at all and each. Nobody knows how many people were killed and wounded. As soon as the shooting started the people run to the forest. They shot at the escaping people. We heard screams. We do not know who survived, and what is the fate of other eople. We were in our basement, in the farthest corner, because if they had seen us they would have killed us. We were afraid that they will throw a grenade. In the outskirts they burnt several vehicles and shot the people dead (in two cars they killed the Gagloyevs – Eduard and his wife Tibilova-Gagloyeva Zalina (about 55), Gagloyev Taimuraz (46) and his son Azamat (18 or 19) who tried to leave Tskhinval). About 150 people lived here, now - only five.