Den etniske rensningen i Sør-Ossetia og landsbyene utenfor er ikke på nivå med Kosovo og Bosnia. Men volden er ikke mindre brutal når den først treffer. Sabrina Tavernise har reist rundt og sett på ødeleggelsene.
Når man opplever at naboen blir drept har det virkning på hele nabolaget. Det er dessuten ikke levelig mange steder: det finnes ikke mat og sikkerheten er dårlig. Det bor 3.800 mennesker i landsbyen Tkviavi. 11 ble drept av sørossetisk milts.
Still, the victims seemed marked by their ethnicity in a vicious, if short, war — itself fought over competing claims to the same patches of ground by different groups. Villages had been burned and houses broken; unburied bodies lay rotting; fresh graves were dug in gardens and basements.
Much remains unknown. Because journalists have only limited access to Russian-controlled areas, most of the victims interviewed have been ethnic Georgians. The only access for foreign journalists to the Russian-controlled areas has been with Russian minders, impeding efforts to assess the severity of the damage in the north.
On Tuesday, a photographer on a Russian tour of the northern area saw what appeared to be a concerted effort to raze some of the villages.
Homes were ripped apart. Sections of courtyard walls lay crushed next to the road. Dozens of men dressed in mismatched fatigues stood on the main road, watching an orange backhoe tear the facade off of a burned stone house.
Slik for sørosseterne frem, i noen tilfeller kjente folk igjen hvilke landsbyer de kom fra:
Shamil Okropiridze, in his 60s, was shot as he opened his front gate to look at a commotion outside, said Zurab Razmadze, a resident. His corpse went unburied for days, and his yard still smelled sour from the rot.
Koba Chashashvili, 38, was also shot on sight. Mr. Ramadze tried burying him in the yard, but looters were everywhere, so he quietly buried him in a basement.
Another victim, Nudar Batauri, appeared to have lived for a while.
On Tuesday there was still a rag clutched in his left hand, as if he had tried to stanch the bleeding before dying. Someone had dragged his body to the outdoor washroom and covered it with a beach towel.
Mye minner om Bosnia, selv om dimensjonene er mindre. For de som rammes er sjokket det samme. Å se hus bli brent er forferdelig i seg selv. Det er selve eksistensen som går opp i flammer.
Det etniske hatet forgifter sinnet.
Timur Kiguradze, a 22-year-old journalist who was wounded by Ossetian soldiers on Aug. 8 outside Tskhinvali, said he felt nervous in the hospital there when wounded Ossetian soldiers discovered that he was Georgian. Tskhinvali was nearly empty of Ossetians on Aug. 9, he said, but the Georgians never took the city completely, and the next day, Russian troops rolled in.
«They said, why are you being treated?» Mr. Kiguradze recalled. «They should take you out and shoot you.»
En ossetisk kvinne som vil hjelpe en georgisk gammel kone, får beskjed om å gå ut av bilen hun har fått skyss med.
En annen kvinne, Nina, som får mat av russiske soldater, får beskjed om å komme seg unna. -Det er andre enn oss som er på vei hit, sier de.