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How to Georgianize an Ossetian?2011-08-09 11:38
Clear Field operation the Georgian troops launched in 2008 was aimed at clearing the territory of South Ossetia of Ossetians. This was Georgia's idea to solve the ancient conflict with the nation whose folk culture is full of stories about troubles they have been facing on the land Georgians consider as theirs. Eviction of Ossetians once failed though two decades before Tbilisi was successful in other parts of the country. Dozens of thousands of Ossetians were then forced to leave Georgia's regions.
Ossetians used to inhabit various parts of Georgia. They were not numerous only in western regions and in Ajaria. In the center, in the east and in the capital huge Ossetians communities were formed historically. Their share in the total population of Georgia is not significant, perhaps, but in certain districts where communities settled, they were a majority. It was true for a number of central districts of Georgia. Ossetians call this territory Trialeti Ossetia. Nearly forty thousand Ossetians used to live there. They were most numerous in Borjomi gorge, in Khashur and Kareli districts.
Now, if you come to Bakuriani, a popular holiday resort, and take a trip around nearby villages, you will surely see empty houses and desolate land lots. This is where Ossetians used to live. Not all their houses are empty. Some are occupied by Georgians - locals and refugees.
Naturally, nobody discussed compensation for lost properties. This issue has never even been raised.
The story of the collapse of the Ossetian community in Georgia is strikingly similar to what was happening to representatives of other ethnic minorities in early 1990s. Only Armenians and Azeris haven't been "squeezed" out: they were too numerous, the new Georgian statehood failed to digest them. Ossetians were not so many. They were unlucky to live inside the country without exits to borders and, consequently, a chance for an external support.
In 1991 Georgian president Zviad Gamsahurdia offered a choice: either they become Ossetians by taking Georgian surnames and rejecting their Ossetian origins in writing, or they leave.
Then, however, the president changed his mind asking his troops (criminal groups) to accelerate the process and organize an ethnic cleansing of Ossetians in central districts.