Georgia, Russia: Blogger From Poti Recounts the Bombing

Global Voices Online
Sunday, August 10, 2008

See Global Voices special coverage page on the South Ossetia crisis.

Here is LJ user pepsikolka's account (RUS) of what it felt like when the Russian planes were bombing Poti, her native city (more posts by this blogger have been translated here):

How it all was.

We worried much because of Ossetia, condemned the war and argued, and all of us, everyone who works [for our company], all those who surround me - no one has ever said that it was good that [Georgia] had entered Ossetia, everyone was sorry and upset.

In the evening, on the way back from work, some colleagues were saying that they were taking the children out of the city, what if they start bombing Poti, since it is, after all, a strategically important city, and I protested, saying that this will never happen, that if Russians do decide to help Ossetia (it wasn't yet clear at that point), they'll help the Ossetian people and that would be it.

Around midnight I heard some roaring, ran up to the window and saw shaft of fire, explosions at the port and heard a deafening noise. I didn't even have the time to get scared, I just knew that if a cistern with oil at the terminal gets hit, there'll be fire and an explosion, so I grabbed the phone, called Tengo, Vika answered, screaming - Samira, the port is being bombed. Mama with Alina and our niece were running aimlessly around the apartment, the explosions continued, and we ran downstairs. There were people in the street, they were crying and everyone looked terribly alarmed.

I don't really understand, but some explosions and gunfire sounds continued. Someone was running and screaming that [we should all] leave, as we are close to the port, and we all ran. Planes were flying, there were some lights, and it seemed as if they were being shot at from the ground, I don't know, there was roaring in the sky and one could see the light of either missiles or I don't know what.

We took shelter [inside one building], there were screams all around, women and children were crying.

There was no phone connection, and before that they had turned TV off.

We didn't understand anything about what happened.

Clearly, no one was expecting this.

We went to my sister, to the area that's far off from the port, Mos'ka was sobbing, very frightened, she was born in 1994 and didn't know how we were running in 1992, during the storming of the city of Poti by the Georgian army [and pushing out supporters of Zviad Gamsakhurdia], and her sister Katerina was being born, and we were asking the evacuating Russian army for help. Military doctors did end up delivering Kat'ka at the hospital.

But that was a long time ago.

Now Mos'ka was crying, and so were other children in the courtyard.

They were not bombing anymore, but people were still afraid to enter the buildings.

We began moving towards our house. Next to every building, there were crowds of people who were afraid to go up to their apartments.

A woman nearby was talking on the phone, and suddenly she gave out a heartrending scream, people grew loud, and I felt fear at a subconscious level. I told my sister not to speak Russian. [The woman] was in a state of temporary insanity, mama asked what happened in Georgian, they said that Senaki was bombed, there were the mobilized [men] there, and [the woman's] brother was killed.

We ran home, started calling [family and friends].

It turned out that a bomb hit our terminal, my colleague, a friend, who was working a night shift, got injured with shrapnel, broken ribs, his lungs and head were hurt, too. The reservoirs were not damaged, only the foam station, and a substation at the port. At the port, seven people were killed, I guess, and some were injured. The guy who worked for the Odessa-Poti ferry agent company was killed. They also brought the killed ones from Senaki, the reservists were let go from there, another of our colleagues was injured by the bomb.

People were so frightened that no one was discussing politics, everyone tried to get closer to one another, some people were crossing themselves and whispering prayers.

I was thinking only about one thing, that we should all stick together.

In the morning, we were running away again, because one of the bombs hadn't exploded and they brought in sappers to disarm it.

I was looking out of the window and saw people with bags who were running away, driving away in cars to villages, to Adzharia. My friend Lenka has rented a room in Kobuleti and is staying there with her family.

The city is empty, most stores are closed.

Tengo didn't leave anywhere, we run to see each other from time to time.

Poti hasn't been bombed anymore, we heard some gunshots yesterday, but don't know what it was. I can't even imagine what it's like for those poor people in Tskhinvali.

No one needs this damn war.

I'm not a politician and I don't have politicians in my circle who think that this is how it should be. I do not distinguish between Ossetians, Georgians and Russians. My friend's grandmother is Ossetian, we are Russian, but we have Georgian relatives, son-in-law is a Ukrainian, who the hell cares, the main thing is for this to be over as soon as possible and that no one else dies.

Those of you who write that here, you Georgians are getting what you deserve.

Deserve what? What for? Are we guilty of anything?

Are Georgians some monsters, don't they have the same blood running in their veins as anyone else? Old people are crying and it's unbearable to watch it. And no one has ever told me that all this is because of you, Russians. Not a single person, not once. I admit that there are people who may say this. But I haven't encountered them. Some people in LJ say that if you, the Kuznetsovs, are Russians, why don't you escape to Russia? When people were running away in the 1990s, we stayed, because there was uncertainty both here and there. My mama had chosen the uncertainty here. Because she was born and grew up here, we were all born here, sometime in the 1930s my grandmother, a child then, was put on a train and told that there was no hunger in Georgia, that there was [corn] there. It is our country now, we hold Georgian passports and we are the ordinary Georgian citizens. That's why I feel like tearing myself in two, when I stand on Georgian soil and the Russian planes are flying over me, and I can't imagine that these two countries are fighting against each other.

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