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Georgia, Russia: Tbilisi Reports

See Global Voices special coverage page on the South Ossetia crisis.

Below are a few posts from bloggers who are currently in Tbilisi, Georgia.

LJ user merienn wrote this (RUS) from Tbilisi on Aug. 11 and 12:

Aug. 11, 2008 – 10:46 AM:

At 6 AM today, Marina called, scared to death: there was an explosion, and their windows were nearly smashed over at Gldani. Turned out the radars […] that serve the international airport were being bombed.

Yesterday, Khelvachauri, a suburb of Batumi, was bombed, Sandro is staying there with grandfather and grandmother and doesn't want to go to the village to my parents.

Khatuna and I were walking with kids [at the park], it's almost empty, and we took them to McDonalds’ – banned in peaceful times, it seems so attractive in the time of war.

Yesterday, crowds of people were marching all over the city with flags, chanting “Sakartvelo” – Mishka didn't understand what was going on.

- There's war now, and we are being bombed, and these people are demanding to stop all this.
– And who's doing the bombing? – Mishka the Ant asked, [his eyes huge with surprise].

I didn't tell him who was bombing us.

- Let them throw these bombs on themselves, I hate them, – Mishka got angry in a funny way.

Just a week ago we were chatting about some sweet trifles – where they do French manicure better, and where I put that swimming suit, and how to train your husband to hang his wet towel on the rope.

Now we are breaking our heads, [trying to figure out] how to get to Batumi with kids and avoid being shot at, where a safer place to take shelter is, who said what the UN Security Council, whether it is true that people got killed in Poti.

There's no panic. […] There was shock on the first day, and then it started feeling as if we've been living like this for a hundred years. Crowds of people are donating blood. We knew that this is how it would be. […]

We are not leaving anywhere. [Because] all they do is wait for us all to leave.

***

Aug. 11, 2008 – 11:54 AM:

[…] There is no Russophobia whatsoever – I've already said more than once that we have very clear boundaries separating the notions of the Russian state and the relations between the peoples. […]

I'll pack a backpack, just in case – warm clothes, water, documents. Refugees have taught us so – the rest doesn't matter.

Though it is unclear where we'll be forced to go – there's not a single place in my country that's inaccessible for the brave fighter jets.

They bombed Gori once more. Bombed Kakhetia.

Sites hosted in Georgia have been hacked, there's no opportunity to access Russian sites, so LJ remains my only platform to keep in touch with the world. […]

***

Aug. 11, 2008 – 07:00 PM:

[…] We've decided not to go yet because it is dangerous. At home, the walls [of a house] help. […]

Value all that you have. Value the fact that you are alive and healthy, that you can watch a movie instead of the news, that you can buy a ticket and go anyplace you like. […]

***

Aug. 12, 2008 – 01:38 AM:

I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow morning. Maybe tanks will enter the city. Mishka is asleep, my little boy, he kept turning around, asking: They aren't bombing Batumi, are they? He misses his brother. I shouldn't have told him yesterday. Though this way he is prepared, at least.

All hope for Sarkozy, maybe he'll convince them – but this is unlikely, too, no one is going to back out at this point – they'll be eating us hot.

Tbilisi-based LJ user dzvirpaso wrote this (RUS) on Aug. 11:

I've just called Ukraine's consul in Georgia, I know him well. He said that he and his family (wife and two children) are here. He said that those who wanted to leave were leaving, but assured me that the situation was stable. I asked whether he thinks if it would be better to leave or not, and he replied that there's no need to at this point, that everything is stable and will soon be over. If something happens, he will definitely call me.

LJ user oleg_panfilov reports (RUS) on the situation in Tbilisi this night:

I've just had a ride around the city – everything is quiet and calm. People are discussing the situation on the phones and that's why it's been impossible to reach friends in the past two or three hours. Some people manage to get through [to my number], ask me what to do, and then the phone goes silent again.

There is panic, of course, but for now only in conversations and discussions. Though there are those who've decided to leave already – mainly to Eastern Georgia, towards Azerbaijan.

I can't get rid of the thought that these people do not want to greet the occupational troops with flowers and wine – even though there's such an effort being done for them, all the demands for Saakashvili to escape… […]

In another post, oleg_panfilov adds (RUS):

[…] Tomorrow there'll be plenty of politics.

Forgot to write that Eka Zguladze, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Georgia, has confirmed to me that tomorrow, in the middle of the day, presidents of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Ukraine are expected to arrive in Tbilisi.

37 comments

  • […] things seem to be quiet in Tbilisi for now, North Ossetian blogger Alan Tskhurbaev – LJ user alan_tskhurbaev wrote this on Aug. 11 […]

  • Andrea Thompson

    I am an American. I have a very close friend in Tbilisi and I am in constant communication. I was talking to him online and then he typed that he heard bombs and so I called him on the phone and he was in the bathroom, hiding and terrified, he lives east of the river and is near where the airport was bombed. I have sent what I hope is enough money for him to leave but hope that I am not sending him into his death by giving him means to escape the city. He wants to get to Telavi, but I do not know if it is possible…the Russians are getting closer to the capitol and I fear that they are intending to take Georgia. I believe that the Russians have been arming and training the people of the break away areas for a long time and I also believe that the Russians provoked these people to fight Georgia. Russia has been waiting for Georgia to fight the breakaway areas so that they will have what they call a “legitamat” excuse to take back the land of Georgia that they lost. Russia seems to be opportunists that play on the freedoms of those who are weak.

  • Serge

    What Georgian expected in this situation?May be flowers?They are modern fascists,who killed civilians,kids,elderly people in South Ossetia.Western “so called” free media,show georgian`s point of view and not even single reportage about people from Ossetia.Why Saakashvili talks to georgians in English,may be he forgot native language?Why tv,radio,newspapers do not tell story when geogrian tank run over elderly woman with her kids?Why tv don`t tell story when georgians sealed in church around 30 civilians and set fire,burned them alive?Where is the story when georgians killed wounded family in their home?I hate that many georgians who do not support criminal Saakashvili`s regime, have to suffer because of him.

  • It has been odd to see conflicting reports in the Western press about how this situation sarted.

  • Stefan

    And who do you suppose is telling the stories of elderly people and children being run over by Georgian tanks and civilians being burned alive in sealed churches? Pravda?

    There is an obvious propaganda war being fought here, on both sides, and rousing statements and ‘facts’ should all be treated as such until international observers or some other party can verify them, if the opportunity ever comes about.

    I don’t think Georgia is blameless here but let’s not forget that all else aside, Russia has invaded a sovereign country after doing things like shooting down Georgian aircraft over Georgian airspace, and then lying about it even when it was caught on camera and verified by the UN.

  • Anonymous

    There are no stories about such things because it is a war zone and to the out side world all we have to make up our opinions is what they tell us. If peace is reached then some of those things might come out but don’t forget that not only Georgia could be an aggressor but is also clearly a victim. Russia has no right in entering the country or even bombing it for that matter. Georgia and South Ossetia have been the ones in dispute. If it had been purely South Ossetian Troops moving into Georgia then ok that’s what a war is but the fact that Russia has entered Georgia when they have tried to call for a cease fire shows that there are ulterior motives other than “peace keeping” and if Russia had been peace keeping then why not follow with requests to the UN to step in. All you hear is Russia defending their actions and condemning those of Georgia. They are not requesting outside help. Even if they knew it would be denied they should try because it was not just Russia who apposed Georgian acceptance to NATO but Germany and France were also weary of the unresolved issues of South Ossetia and Abkahazia.

  • When my I arrived in Tbilisi last year after the Russian embargo on Geogian wines and Georgians had been kicked out of Russia, I was amazed to see very patriotic (and very anti-Russia) Georgians differentiating between the actions of a government and its ethnic people in Georgia. I was really heartened to read Merienn’s comment that there is no Russophobia at the moment in Tbilisi. I truly hope that it stays that way.

    I’ve also been in touch by email and sms with friends in Tbilisi. They are all staying, for now.

    It’s been hard to find updated and accurate news, but I’m not optimistic in this ending quickly.

  • Ivan

    Georgians killed so many citizens of Osetia (most of them were Russians) that any neighbor now is damning Saakashvilly! Now Abkhasians are ready to kick Georgians ass for this attack!
    Is there really no reporters in S Osetia??? A bull shit! They may not tell the truth by western news! Becaose if they will – everybody watch at falsity, elastic conscience and violence of georgians troops! Russian`s and former soviet`s mass media can show the real picture of that events! Ask for any Osetian or Abkhasian or Armenian or other Caucasian! Nobody supports Georgia… Why is that…? Because nobody approve georgians actions and “US+NATO+Georgian” regime…

  • Serge

    USA did a huge mistakes to bomb Yugoslavia,establish fascists regime in Georgia,bring to power criminals in Ukraine like Yuschenko and prime minister Timoshenko, starting war in Iraq.Why USA troops in Iraq if weapon of mass distraction was not found?Why USA bombed Yugoslavia,killing civilians and destroy infrastructure?Why USA kept silence when Saakashvili killed prime minister Jvania and destroyed opposition?What USA and NATO troops doing in Ukraine and Georgia?What about Osama?Looks like nobody wants to catch him.
    USA needs war in Europe like never before because very bad economic situation which getting worse very fast,dollar is falling down,inflation,small businesses closing,real estate crisis.China and Russia are biggest creditors of USA.What will happen if China and Russia will decide to pull out their money from US?The only hope that Barak Obama will be the next President of USA,I think he has a change US for better,otherwise with candidate McCain world will be involved in World War III.

  • Kai

    Whether the Georgian military have committed atrocities against Osetia or not, it cannot be denied that the conflict was originally between a soverign state (Georgia) and a region within attempting to breakaway (S Osetia). While there are a large number of people within S Osetia whom have strong ties to Russia and may also hold Russian passports, the move by Russia to advance military forces into another country’s sovereign territory cannot be seen as a legal action in any interpretation of the UN charter, or by any agreed international norms of conduct between states. This is really true when Russia has went outside the zone of conflict of Osetia, and attacked civilian targets in Tbilisi.
    With the cease-fire now in effect, the decision is now up to Russia upon how it wants to end the conflict, lets just hope there’s no more blood.

    …funny, I cant help wondering if Russia would of been audacious enough to defy international law if there wasn’t a trend in defying it set by the US over the years.

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