Georgia, Russia: The War's Virtual Dimension

Global Voices Online
Saturday, August 16, 2008

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

Like most other contemporary conflicts, the ongoing one in Georgia and South Ossetia has had a virtual dimension from its very start. Below are two bloggers' reflections on the wars raging outside the actual conflict zones.

LJ user basya - Ksenia Basilashvili, journalist with Radio Echo of Moscow and daughter of Russian actor Oleg Basilashvili - wrote this (RUS) about her family's origin and the coverage of the war by Russian and Western TV channels:

[...] When I hear [the word "Tskhinval"], I always think about my family's roots, about this faraway land - what should I call it? And I imagine the soil warmed up by the sun, a hot [lavash flatbread] right out of the oven, red pungent homemade wine... I think of how my humble grandfather packed and left for Moscow, and how he received education there and ended up heading the [College of Communications]. [...]

I'm watching [the Russian state-owned RTR's Vesti news show and Channel 1]. The dead, the injured, refugees, ruined buildings, pale children and old people in the basements.

I'm watching BBC and CNN - the dead, the injured, refugees, ruined buildings, pale children and old people in the basements.

Death and misery.

There is no difference between the pictures. Only [the former] are showing Tskhinval, and [the latter] are showing [Gori], [the former] are presenting this slaughter of civilians as "the aggression of Georgia against South Ossetia," while [the latter are presenting it as] "the aggression of Russia against Georgia." It's as if the TV channels have taken position in the trenches and know for sure what's going on. As if they know who the enemy, the devil, is. For us it's Georgia, for them it's Russia. And the truth is somewhere near...

Would be good to mix CNN and Vesti in one glass, it would make a great news channel, with the views of two, three, four sides [of the conflict].

I don't want to discuss here why they were at one point giving out [Russian passports to South Ossetians], who was the first one to start it all, who gave the orders, who is guilty. Who are the good ones and the bad ones.

Now it does not matter at all anymore. Because while the political and informational wars are taking place, over there - in South Ossetia, in Georgia - people are dying and suffering. [...]

Here's one of the comments (RUS) to this post:


Ksenia, please tell me, have you spent more than five minutes watching CNN and BBC? Haven't you seen a BBC interview with [Russia's foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov] and a CNN interview with [Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN], and regular live reports from Moscow on the position of [PM Vladimir Putin and president Dmitry Medvedev] on both channels? [...] Because you are not the first one of those who seem normal and bright to me, who are writing this, and I'm already beginning to wonder if I'm perhaps hallucinating - or do I have some different CNN and BBC broadcasting at my home?

LJ user pepsikolka - Samira Kuznetsova, a resident of [Poti], whose other posts have been featured on Global Voices here and here - wrote this (RUS) about her recent experience at the Russian-language social networking portal, ("Classmates"):

There used to be a nice, peaceful, kind group at site, [devoted to the city of Poti]. Tengo and I were posting lots of pictures there, and others weren't lazy, too. We interacted, joked, shared memories of the past. There was not a single day that I didn't write something in this group.

We were united by our city. Some people still live in it, for others it's the city of their childhood, where they spent their happiest years [...].

I was taking a special pleasure in [photographing] a window on the third floor of the "jeans house," the so-called Pentagon neighborhood, a willow tree on the Rioni river and the old swimming pool in our school's courtyard.

Adult people were happy as kids.

- Here, here I used to walk with my girlfriend.
- And here we used to go fishing.
- And on this bench we played lotto.
- Oy, here's my window, I used to sit for hours in front of it, waiting for mama to return from work.
- Samira, take a picture of this and that.
- Oy, the Pioneers' House and a puddle as big as 20 years years ago.

Now there is war at this forum. A wall of misunderstanding, reproaches, accusations, abuse, and people are deserting it like refugees. Today, an acquaintance of mine has written me to say that she's leaving the group. As if there was no love and nostalgia yesterday. Today it's a battlefield.


My former neighbor is screaming that we are NATO's servants. And she hates us for that.

And she used to teach me to play the piano. [...]

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