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Notes on Tskhinval ruins2010-08-13 18:02
The post-war Tskhinval welcomed Russians like brothers, with open arms and a grateful heart. For almost twenty years, people have been living in permanent expectation of an attack from Georgia, which has twice tried to forcibly bring the autonomy abolished by Georgian authorities back under control. The traces of the last attack on the Ossetians produced a dismal impression, which was described by a Stavropol correspondent Oleg Ponomarev who came to Tskhinval with the humanitarian aid column three days before South Ossetia's independence was recognized.
"Java is the last large Ossetian village on the way to the conflict zone. It has not been ruined. We are talking to local residents. Interrupting each other, the people tell us how terrified they were in those several days. They call us brothers. The inscription "Thank you, Russia!" can be seen around.
The picture gets brutal. There is not a house untouched in some of the villages. Broken gas pipelines and electric power lines; the ruins resemble Stalingrad or Grozny in the last days of the conflict. One cannot imagine that anyone could survive here.
We move past the villages located at a short distance from each other and arrive in Tskhinval being morally "prepared" to anything we will see. Devastation hits the eye immediately. We make a stop at ESM (Emergency Situations Ministry) headquarters. Local residents explain that this is the least touched spot in the town. Peacekeeping outposts are set up in the southern outskirts of Tskhinval. Some squares have been mined; the way there is closed.
Indeed, the private houses where our column stopped look more or less safe, except for numerous bullet marking covering the walls. Multi-storeyed buildings can be seen well from here but they have been turned into shambles.
Two trucks with flour from Budennovsk were sent to Tskhinval bakery; the third one (with flour, fruit and vegetables) is left at the headquarters to be unloaded.
We follow the ESM car to the bakery. This is one of the few enterprises that continued operating even in the "hottest" days of the conflict. We are looking around. The heart is sinking at the sight of burnt houses, charred bus-stops, black holes instead of windows, crushed brick and ashes. We feel scared...
We approach the abandoned Georgian armor. The distorted but still dreadful heaps of metal. Never again will they fire at people.