Sunday, August 10, 2008
See Global Voices special coverage page on the South Ossetia crisis.
Blogging from Poti, a Georgian port city whose "oil terminal, port facilities and a nearby railroad junction" were attacked by Russian fighter jets shortly after midnight Saturday, 27-year-old LJ user pepsikolka, an ethnic Russian citizen of Georgia, posted these hurried reports (RUS) on Aug. 8 and 9:
Aug. 8, 2008 - 1:23 PM
My colleagues have been drafted, some of them early in the morning, I'm shocked, can't understand what's going on and where to look for the truth - Georgian channels say one thing, Russian say something else, what's going to happen???
Aug. 9, 2008 - 12:50 AM:
The port has been bombed, we're sitting in the street, scared, they say some people have been wounded. Pray for us.
[...] That's ours [Russians] who are bombing you, right?
Oh God. I don't know, but that's what they are saying.
Aug. 9, 2008 - 1:07 AM:
They are done bombing the port, we're out in the street, God save us.
Aug. 9, 2008 - 11:48 AM:
It was quiet during the night, but no one went to bed. There's no TV, we're reading the news from our phones. Scary. My friend, a colleague, has been wounded, and there are the dead ones, seven people from the port, they say, and there are also the dead among those mobilized after the bombing. I've no reason to lie, and those commenters who have doubts just don't know anything about me, I am Russian myself, and that's why I'm writing about facts here, so that you knew, we are alive, but scared. I want peace and this is all.
Aug. 9, 2008 - 2:20 PM:
[...] The city is nearly empty, I've stayed, [because] I've got my pets, and mama doesn't want to go anywhere. We are home. There's not a single drop of gasoline in the city. Panic. Ships are honking often. [...]
[...] You were the ones who got yourselves involved in the slaughter, you trust your [Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili] and his circle, and here's what you get. Of course, I don't believe that everyone is as much of a bastard as your [Saakashvili] is, but you'll sure answer for the thousands of dead Ossetians. Watch your asses since you've got no souls anymore.
Do you understand what you are saying and to whom?
I didn't want to get into it, as I feel I'll get a full load for it, but still, I'll say it - why do you assume that we support Saakashvili and do not condemn what's been done in Tskhinvali? Here're the people sitting here, some of them support [Saakashvili], others don't, but the bomb sees no difference between those who supported him and those who didn't.
(A more detailed post by LJ user pepsikolka, written on Aug. 10, will be translated later tonight.)
Oleg Panfilov - LJ user oleg_panfilov, director of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations - happened to be spending his vacation in Georgia. He posted this comment (RUS) about air strikes on the Georgian town of Gori, carried out by the Russian forces on Saturday morning:
A few hours after I had passed Gori, the "peacekeepers' fighter jets" hit the town. One plane was downed - one pilot died, the other was arrested and is being interrogated.
It's hard to understand what they are trying to achieve by hitting [outside of] South Ossetia, but it looks like Russia is becoming more and more like the Soviet Union...
If someone in the Kremlin hopes that this will split Georgia and the Georgian society, they are deeply mistaken - all the opposition leaders announced their support for [Mikheil Saakashvili]. Even [Irakli Okruashvili], the [dismissed former] minister of defense, said he was ready to go to South Ossetia as an ordinary soldier.
There is no panic in Tbilisi, but many friends are calling me, incredulous - they [knew Russia was capable of a lot], but [to act like this]... [...]
A day earlier, on Aug. 8, LJ user tanelorn asked a question (RUS) about the situation in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, in the tbiliseli LJ community, set up for "all those who consider [Tbilisi their native city]:
Are things quiet in Tbilisi? How does it all reflect on the life in the city?
Here are some responses:
It was quiet during the day, although, of course, people do worry. They are listening to all newscasts on all available channels - Russian and Georgian. And in between the news, we were watching the opening of the Olympics. They say they were catching people right in the street and sending them to draft centers. But I won't risk asserting that this is actually so...
My brother called me and said that they'd announced mobilization. He went to sign up, there were many like him there, who came by themselves.
I don't think it has [affected life in the city] in any way. Of course, it was somewhat strange to see how in small open-air cafes they were playing news on TV instead of [pop music] videos. And, of course, those families that had their boys drafted are worried. Otherwise, nothing special.
28-year-old Tbilisi-based LJ user shupaka wrote (RUS) about an unpleasant sense of déjà vu, brought about by the announcement of mobilization of the troops in Georgia; the current situation has reminded her of the conflicts that Georgia had found itself in in the early 1990s:
...and one more observation, totally silly: the word "mobilization" inspires the same disgust in me as it did when I was a child. Doesn't matter if you're 13 or 28.
North Ossetia-based LJ user alan-tskhurbaev wrote (RUS) about a mobilization of a different kind, supposedly taking place in South Ossetia now:
[North Ossetian] volunteers in [South Ossetia].
There are many of them. And I have to admit that I was mistaken, thinking that in case of a war only a few would show up. A friend has just returned from the border [...], says many people are crowding there, arriving in their own cars. They are letting everyone in, at their own risk. At least one car goes through every few minutes, he says. He even said that some guys went there in their new BMW X5. Ossetians have not deserted each other. Turns out that in peaceful times we dislike each other, act arrogantly towards some, make fun of others. But as soon as a war begins (and Ossetians have probably lost count of all their wars by now) - we are together. [...]
Elsewhere in the Russophone blogosphere, there seems to be plenty of confusion about what's actually going on in South Ossetia and Georgia now. Take, for example, this post from last night (RUS) in the ru_politics LJ community, by LJ user er_v, and some of the comments it generated:
Can anyone tell me whether there are Russian troops in [Tskhinvali] or not?
Judging by everything, no.
Judging by what?
There are, don't worry.
[Judging] by many things: the lack of pictures, the demands of the Russian journalists to allow them safe passage out of Tskhinval...
No, but if we took Tskhinvali, they would definitely show it on the news. [...]
We already took it. Then Georgians took something, too. Then we were pushing them out. Judging by everything, it will continue like this for a long time.
And the Roksky Pass [on the Trans-Caucasus Highway] has been blown up, too :)
Regarding the alleged destruction of the Roksky Pass, LJ user som, a Russia-based Georgian, posted this item (RUS) last night:
ON SATURDAY EVENING, AUGUST 9, GEORGIAN TROOPS BLEW UP ROKSKY PASS, THROUGH WHICH HUMAN PERSONNEL AND MILITARY EQUIPMENT WERE BEING SENT FROM RUSSIA TO THE FIGHTING ZONE IN TSKHINVALI REGION.
Some two hours and about 50 comments later, however, LJ user som admitted (RUS) that there had been no confirmation of this report and that this could be part of the "information war."