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

  • Greg

    Point of view from the US…..It is one thing for Mother Russia to assist a region that wishes to “break away” from a neighboring country and ally with them. It is entirely another thing for them to continue to pursue the deposition of a sovereign country’s leader (openly announced at the UN by the Russian ambassador)!
    Russia is growing emboldened by the rapid increase in revenue from its oil sales and is “feeling its oats” and is trying to re-establish itself as a DOMINANT country throughout the region. Ukraine is next!!! With regards to previous postings, ALL countries (US/Russia (USSR)/China/Japan/Great Britain et al) are guilty of violating “international law” with regards to meddling in international affairs and the affairs of the governments of foreign countries. Therefore, each aggression should be dealt with accordingly. However, since the UN is a eunuch body, then there is no venue to judge foreign nations (esp. the ones with veto power in the UN security council). As far as who the new leader of the US might be and his impact on the world at large, Obama is scary because is “compassion” and propensity to “talk things out” and wanting to have us al “just get along” is a juvenile outlook to world politics and will only embolden countries like Iran, North Korea, China, Russia to push their weight around without any checks and balances.
    What we have here people is a complete imbalance, or at the very least, a perceived imbalance of power and countries are feeling “froggy” (they feel they can jump whenever they wish) without consequences

  • Anonymous

    Personally as an American, I stand beside the Georgian people in this situation. Russia has had a track record over almost the past 100 years of committing atrocities upon other countries (let alone their own people). Their history is full of mass murder on scales of hundreds of thousands at a time dating back to the Revolution that brought Lennon to power, Stalin in the 1940s – 1950s, Afghan War in the 1980’s and now Georgia whom only crime was to want acceptance into NATO.

    Personally I wish there was a way to volunteer to fight along side them. As Saakashvili stated, Democracy is stronger than any bomb, tank or artillery shell that the Russians could throw at them.

  • Mr. Sumner

    As the previous bloggers have stated before, I myself an African American stand with the people from Georgia as they go through this dark period. I want to send my prayers and blessings and hope that this cease-fire agreement will take hold and create immediate peace between both nations, although death and animosity still lingers in the air. I also want to as a young African American, apologize for the feeling of betrayal and neglect for our response through these troubling times. You know people talk about Russia’s history and “track record” on how it treats fellow man along with there own people. Some would say that Russia has a dark past. Might I add though…..DONT WE ALL! The American Government has no right to talk about someone and there history to human rights, when then this country till this day is racially divided and socially torn between different religious, racial, economical, and political parties. You can’t for once talk down on Russia for there past when The United States has such a dark history. A history of intrusion, false accusations, hate, and unjust to there own Americans as well as other nations. I for one have seen it first hand. How can the American government talk to another nations leader in a chastising manner about nuclear weapons and the US government is the one who opened up Pandora’s box. I mean we don’t even acknowledge the event that took place on Aug. 6th 1945. Even when there are still survivors alive this present day. To all those Georgians that have the feeling of betrayal done by the U.S, I apologize on my country’s behalf. For my whole life and from my experiences and the visions that are embedded in my mind, along with the stories of unjust and demoralizing events that have taken place. I understand the betrayal that you feel, and my prayers and blessings go out to The people of Georgia, Russia, Iraq, and Darfur. The American Gov. has failed us all. We are all equal, no matter ethnicity or your religious background. The respect we must have for one another is automatically mutual, which is something that the Americans who have been miss-guiding us don’t understand. One love to all, and may all who read sleep in peace without fear.

  • All these stories was told by South Ossetia`s people,but here, in US we probably never ever will hear the truth,because for last years people of US were foolish by mass media about real situation in Ossetia,Afghanistan and Iraq.Did you notice that there is no reportage and interview from ossetian`s people?Why?
    Why people do not have information about real situation in Iraq?American citizens,young,healthy,full of life people, come home in a caskets.What they died for?But don`t tell me about establishing democracy in Iraq,that`s a bull shit.Even people who came home from Iraq alive, committing suicide in huge numbers.
    P.S.By the way Stalin(Djugashvili),who killed millions people in Russia was georgian.

  • Evetything I see clear now – is that americam people know nothing about this conflict… But most of them just want to blame Russia by any chance, using any not proven reason…
    The negation of facts – is right an americans pisition…

    standart phrase: “I am an American, and haven’t been outside of the states…” – absurd! How can you tell us something if you even don`t know what happens in your country??? just to repeat nonsense???

    Greg wrote: “Obama is scary because is “compassion” and propensity to “talk things out” and wanting to have us al “just get along” is a juvenile outlook to world politics and will only embolden countries like Iran, North Korea, China, Russia to push their weight around without any checks and balances…” – Greg youre right. America must dominate everywhere… Afganisran, Iran, Iraq, Serbia, Yugoslavia, South Korea, China, Cuba, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Georgia… everywhere – this is the only way YOU (Americans) can be satisfied… )))
    USA – is aiming to become worli gendarme bulldog that says to everybody how to live properly in theirs own territory… PROPERLY – means according to the “right USA`s recommendation”. Hey! Stup teaching us! Just try to live without interfering in other countries! Keep your so called “democracy implandation” over the world! Stop “cloning” the same people as you (because Americans is NOT the best pattern for cloning). All the people are different and nobody must oppose to that!

  • […] Here, for example, they’ve gathered some posts by bloggers in Tbilisi, Georgia. […]

  • david

    Just to tell everyone: anything that goes beyond and is out of reach of ordinary peoples mind is the policy with its hidden pitfalls, ins and outs and not much of them is clear to understand. What is happening wright now or something that has already affected our lives in the past is what we can take with us to pass it thourgh the comming generations, which to my believe will be living in different world. The lives of victims taken by tragedy in South Osetia will be long remembarance for Osetians and no one can or have a brutal right to convince them that these people died because of separatis regime was rulling in Osetia. What matters is that the world today has nothing more to offer other than to start hostility for making nations even so small as Osetia to believe that they are a part of this world (Serbia, Irak are clear examples). May be more prudent is to start thinking of the consequences long before stepping towards a clear aggression for which ever reason it can be judged by politicians. Consequences are what stays for long life in the minds of people, that can not be ruled by anyone even by most smart politicians in the world interpreting the invasion or aggression or shoottng bombs over the sleeping city as something that helps to restore territorial integrity. It is a boolshit, if you will and seek to live in piece with others it is no time for war of anykind, piece even brough by war is like a water that can be kept but it runs from you once it finds a way to go.

  • Lada

    Tbilisi started to receive calls from people in Gori, Zugdidi and Poti (mostly Gori) telling the horrible stories of crimes being commited by Russian army in these cities. Massive looting, concentration camps, genocide of Georgian civilian population, people being killed and kidnapped just because they are Georgians, houses burned, goods taken away… People cry and ask for help. Nobody can help because of the Medvedev’s ‘order’ to eliminate everybody on the first sign of resistance. While with one hand having signed the ceasefire agreement, with the other Russia is destroying Georgian population. The world is letting second Chechnya happen. How can Russian government dare to talk about genocide of Ossetian people when only a third of them lived in South Ossetia during the last 15 years. The reast live in Georgia proper or in Russia. The ones in Georgia live peacefully like regular Georgian citizens never being discriminated or otherwise mistreated on ehtnic basis. My boyfriend is Ossetian living and working in Tbilisi. Never was he treated badly by anyone. Those who chose to stay in South Ossetia and become Russian citizens (illegaly by the way) are only a small part of eithnic Ossetians living in Georgia – most of them fled to Russia now and are there alive. What genocide is Russia talking about? The figure of 2,000 dead includes Russian occupational military, their soldiers who are not welcomed here. Who now are killing Georgian women and men. It’s our land!!!!! People wake up and say your word until it’s too late!!!!

  • Peter

    We had no choice
    Leaders in the Caucasus must stop flexing military muscle and develop the grounds for lasting peace
    All comments (15)

    * Mikhail Gorbachev
    * The Guardian,
    * Wednesday August 13 2008
    * Article history

    The past week’s events in South Ossetia are bound to shock and pain anyone. Already, thousands of people have died, tens of thousands have been turned into refugees, and towns and villages lie in ruins. Nothing can justify this loss of life and destruction. It is a warning to all.

    The roots of this tragedy lie in the decision of Georgia’s separatist leaders in 1991 to abolish South Ossetian autonomy. Each time successive Georgian leaders tried to impose their will by force – both in South Ossetia and in Abkhazia, where the issues of autonomy are similar – it only made the situation worse.

    Nevertheless, it was still possible to find a political solution. Clearly, the only way to solve the South Ossetian problem on that basis is through peaceful means. The Georgian leadership flouted this key principle.

    What happened on the night of August 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against “small, defenceless Georgia” is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity.

    The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force. Georgian armed forces were trained by hundreds of US instructors, and its sophisticated military equipment was bought in a number of countries. This, coupled with the promise of Nato membership, emboldened Georgian leaders.

    Now that the military assault has been routed, both the Georgian government and its supporters should rethink their position. When the problems of South Ossetia and Abkhazia first flared up, I proposed that they be settled through a federation that would grant broad autonomy to the two republics. This idea was dismissed, particularly by the Georgians. Attitudes gradually shifted, but after last week it will be much more difficult to strike a deal even on such a basis.

    Small nations of the Caucasus do have a history of living together. It has been demonstrated that a lasting peace is possible, that tolerance and cooperation can create conditions for normal life and development. Nothing is more important. The region’s political leaders need to realise this. Instead of flexing military muscle, they should devote their efforts to building the groundwork for durable peace.

    Over the past few days, some western nations have taken positions, particularly in the UN security council, that have been far from balanced. As a result, the security council was not able to act effectively from the very start of this conflict. By declaring the Caucasus, a region that is thousands of miles from the American continent, a sphere of its “national interest”, the US made a serious blunder. Of course, peace in the Caucasus is in everyone’s interest. But it is simply common sense to recognise that Russia is rooted there by common geography and centuries of history. Russia is not seeking territorial expansion, but it has legitimate interests in this region.

    The international community’s long-term aim could be to create a sub-regional system of security and cooperation that would make any provocation, and the very possibility of crises such as this one, impossible. Building this type of system would be challenging and could only be accomplished with the cooperation of the region’s countries themselves. Nations outside the region could perhaps help, too – but only if they take a fair and objective stance. A lesson from recent events is that geopolitical games are dangerous anywhere, not just in the Caucasus.

    · Mikhail Gorbachev was the last president of the Soviet Union; he was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1990

    © Washington Post

  • Ian Mortimer

    In response to Stefan
    Stephan i hope you are not someone who supports the American government actions in any way (ie war in Iraq, Afghanistan or their support of tyrants in South America)
    Otherwise your accusations of Russian lies would smack of extreme hypocracy. The American authorities wrote the
    book on lying to start wars and have funded more fascist murdering states in South America than Is posible to mention here. Now it looks like they are doing the same thing in Europe.
    We are not stupid! The proven lies that The US used to start the war in Iraq ( leading to the deaths of a million people) are still fresh in our minds. So, if you are a supporter of the US government please give it a few more years before you start moralizing about the actions of others around the world. At least then it will only make our stomachs churn rather than making us physically sick.
    Ofcourse not everything Russia has said will be true, but they are being outlied on a massive scale by the Georgian govt. and western media for whom it does not seem to matter that Georgia started this conflict or the fact that around 2000 people (many Russian) were killed when they bombed South Osetia.
    Not everything that Russia does is wrong. They, along with every other country in the world have the right to defend themselves when attacked.
    And for those who have sympathy for Saakashvilli, just remember this is a man who sent police out to beat up and tear gas 50,000 of his own people who were conducting a peaceful demo against him (look it up Nov 2007). He throws people who oppse him in jail and has been repeatedly accused of corruption by fellow politicians in Georgia. He is not a nice man.

    (Oh, and Stefan apologies in advance if you are not a supporter US policies around the world)

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