Georgian town is largely desserted after Russian air attack

Army's main staging post, Gori, is largely deserted after thousands of residents flee from Russian air attack

Gori, the Georgian town close to the border with South Ossetia, was largely deserted last night after thousands of residents fled from Russian air attack.

"The town and many nearby villages are too dangerous. [People] are sleeping in the open," Saba Tsitsikashvili, editor of Kartlis Khma, a local paper, said in a phone interview. "There are also many wounded in the villages. They need help. No one knows how many are dead."

Gori is the Georgian army's main staging post on the way to and from the frontline. Russian bombers had been heard every night since the crisis escalated, Tsitsikashvili said, and were in the air again last night, in spite of a ceasefire on the Georgian side, he added.

In Tibilisi, the Georgian capital, people were angry at what they saw as a Russian invasion aimed at undermining the country's sovereignty and bringing it to heel.

"What is happening is not because of the separatist regions, which have been a headache for Georgia for over a decade now, but because of democracy in Georgia," said Giorgi, a 30-year-old lawyer. "Russia hates democracy, it's always been an authoritarian state and always will be. This Russian aggression is a fight against democracy, and the world must defend democracy."

"Russia has always wanted to see Georgia on its knees, but it will never achieve that," vowed Emzari, a 45-year-old technician. "I hope that Russia will retreat. I hope it will break its neck here in the Caucasus."

Hundreds gathered for a second day of anti-Russian protests in the central Rose Revolution Square after a text-message campaign. "Let's stand together against Russian aggression and occupation, and cheer our troops!" the message read.

Many people were also disillusioned by what they considered the feeble reaction of the west - particularly the United States, Georgia's main international ally. Many complained that Georgia had sent 2,000 troops to fight in Iraq, but when Georgia came under attack, Washington could only offer words in return.

"We've been hearing all these years that we've got strong and powerful friends across the ocean but it turned out these stories were just a bluff," said unemployed Valiko, 57.

"We may be stupid, we may have made mistakes, but will the US and Europe really let Russia get away with attacking another country?" demanded 26-year-old student Vakhtang.

Contributors

Matthew Collin in Tbilisi and Jonathan Steele

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Armed Cossacks pour in to fight Georgians

Volunteer fighters from Russia mobilise to enter conflict in Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia

Tom Parfitt in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia

08, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
Amid promise of peace, Georgians live in terror

Russian militia accused of an orgy of looting, burning, murdering and rape

Luke Harding in Gori

13, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

Caucasus war: South Ossetia holds civilian Georgians hostage

131 hostages being held in the interior ministry headquarters in Tskhinvali, says South Ossetia's prosecutor general

Tom Parfitt in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia

17, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
Kremlin targets Georgians after spy row
Georgians living in Russia felt the Kremlin's wrath yesterday as it retaliated against its neighbour following the spying row between the two countries last week.

Tom Parfitt in Moscow

05, Oct, 2006 @10:32 AM

This is no pipeline war but an assault on Russian influence

Georgia is key transit country for oil to travel from Baku in Azerbaijan to the Turkish port of Ceyhan

Jonathan Steele

10, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

Georgians in Russia live in fear after crackdown, says envoy
Georgia's ambassador to Moscow yesterday struck out at the Kremlin, saying Georgians living in Russia were 'hiding at home in fear' after a Kremlin-backed campaign of intimidation.

Tom Parfitt in Moscow

11, Oct, 2006 @11:11 PM

Article image
Georgians call for snap elections in second night of protests
Unrest sparked by anger at ruling party and Russian MP addressing parliament

Shaun Walker in Tbilisi

21, Jun, 2019 @4:59 PM

Article image
South Ossetia on our minds … the Georgians who fell foul of Eurovision

Controversy at Eurovision as Georgia's anti-Putin song becomes international hit after being banned

Alexandra Topping

10, May, 2009 @10:31 PM

Article image
Georgians deported amid spying row with Russia
A plane carrying 132 Georgians, detained by Russia since a spying row began between the two states last week, flew out of Moscow for Tbilisi today.

Paul Willis and agencies

06, Oct, 2006 @5:18 PM

Defiant Cheney vows Georgia will join Nato

US challenge to Russia's 'illegitimate' invasion coincides with collapse of pro-western Ukrainian coalition

Julian Borger, diplomatic editor and Luke Harding in Moscow

04, Sep, 2008 @11:01 PM