“We are a brand associated with the war”


"Мы — бренд, связанный с войной"

South Ossetia after the war with Georgia: refugees, poverty, the lives of ethnic Georgians and hope for Russia

Ten years ago, on 8 August 2008, started third after the Soviet collapse, the Georgian–South Ossetian conflict. According to the official Tbilisi, about 2 a.m. the South Ossetian army attacked several Georgian villages near the capital of South Ossetia in response to Georgian armed forces began a bombardment of the city. According to the version of the Ossetian side, Georgia first began bombing, but the Republic was forced to defend himself.

The war lasted five days. From the very beginning on the side of South Ossetia by the Russian army. By August 12, the shooting stopped. Russian and South Ossetian troops managed to expel Georgian troops from the territory of the Republic and occupy Akhalgori district Georgian province of Mtskheta-Mtianeti.

According to various sources, victims of the conflict were from 1,000 to 4,000.

After the war, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and de facto took the Republic to the custody in Tskhinvali went to the Russian advisers, the economy of the Republic began to receive subsidies from the budget of the Russian Federation.

In ten years, Russia has allocated for the reconstruction and development of South Ossetia more than 76 billion rubles. The budget of the Republic on 90% consists of the Russian Treasury.

South Ossetia is Russia full political loyalty. Twice, there was held a referendum on joining Russia: more than 90% of the inhabitants expressed “for”. However, Russia has to accept the Republic in its composition is not in a hurry.

Correspondents of “New” has gone to South Ossetia to see how, ten years after the war living in the Republic, frozen between Georgia, independence, and Russia.


Tskhinvali. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

— Is there any resentment on Georgia? — taxi driver Alan thinks for a second. — You know, all different. I Georgians are normal, after all we have a lot of even intermarriage with them. But sometimes, sometimes I hear Georgian speech, and right nasty it becomes. Everything inside burns. I have a friend, a young girl, she has two children. The husband died in the war. She didn’t want to ask if there are any grievances against Georgia?

Alan about his participation in the war is not telling. He was a professional taxi driver. Taxi driver earns during the holidays.

Actually, I’m official, he admits. — Work in the same office. But salaries are small. Ordinary employees — 10-12 thousand [rubles], the mid — level 20s. The child in school will not collect. So we have…

Work as a taxi driver in South Ossetia — a profitable business. To take people from the airport of Vladikavkaz and take them to Tskhinvali — 3 000 rubles. During the day some time to do four flights there and back. For a country where the average salary is around 10-15 thousand, and the profit is excellent.

— But that’s one I missed, — continues Alan. — I have a number of the [South]Ossetian. And the car with Ossetian number cannot be sold: no one is going to bother with customs clearance. Even in Russia no one will buy! Only in the Republic the buyer to search for, and then go and wait for… the population is small, there is no money.

After a half an hour after leaving the airport in front of us rises the Russian border post.

— Now go through it, drive through the tunnel, and all — South Ossetia! — smiling Alan.

However, to pass the post is a daunting task.

First, we 10 minutes waiting for the queue to drive up to the screening area before us only two cars, but each check carefully. Then the guard in the booth with tinted glass, stares at my passport, consults with the other guards, and concludes: “you still Have some ID?”

By happy coincidence, the backpack is travel.

Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

— You now also will talk, — the man in the booth takes both my passport and asked to leave the inspection zone. In a few minutes, a man appears, dressed in the civilian world. He takes me to a separate building, a few times asked why I’m going to South Ossetia, if I have friends over there, and when I’m going to go back after that still gives the nod: “good luck”.

In five minutes on a checkpoint in South Ossetia, local border guard briefly looks at my passport, smiles and opens the gate. “Flowers, my Ossetia”, — reads the inscription on a retaining wall for PPC.

At the entrance to Tskhinval Alan shows up on a bare field on the edge of which stands a small Church.

— There were four Georgian villages, he said. — When the war began, their inhabitants fled to Georgia. They thought that I will be back from day to day their troops will crush us. Failed. Their homes burned, and then razed to the ground. And not to say that ten years ago people lived here.

Well… the Church is a silent witness, — I noticed.

The Church is untouchable. The Church is Holy, — cuts off Alan. — They are here, on this field, actually three.

Tskhinvali encounters interspersed with new buildings and destroyed buildings.

— This is all out war — sigh taxi driver. — Did not have time to recover. Some homes already and no one to recover.

Escape quest

Destroyed by shells in 2008 the cars of the refugees from Tskhinvali. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

On crossing of streets October and Moscow notice the checkpoint shot and an employee of the local interior Ministry. Three days ago from a temporary detention facility of Tskhinvali escaped arrested for kidnapping Andrew Kabisov, known in the country named “Hutan” (Ossetian “plough”).

Kabisov, according to the official version of the Ministry of interior, “dug in IVS and climbed out.” In the pictures taken by the media, it is seen that in the brick wall of the insulator — a big hole. Local journalists suggest that “Guten” just dismantled part of the wall.

Actually Andrew Kabisov is not considered in our Republic some criminal authority, — says one of interlocutors of “New” familiar with the situation. The real criminal world in South Ossetia there. But in itself the crime situation in recent years is deteriorating. Was a lot of domestic criminal cases. And in the last three years.

— What is the explanation? — I am interested in.

— Clear understanding there. Power in the Republic was replaced a year ago, and problems began way before that. The standard of living? No. He have always been not very high.

Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

Anyway, Andrew Kabisov Republican security forces are searching for hard methods. For example, according to the website “Echo of the Caucasus”, a cousin of the fugitive Sergey Dzagoev, working as a dentist, was beaten on the job, and then taken for questioning, where, according to relatives, put a gun to my head. Dzagoev turned out, the location Kabisov did not know, and in the end let him go.

The evening of the same day SWAT raided the cafe “Moscow”, where the rest of the inhabitants of Tskhinvali, Sergey Chochiev and Vasily Tedeev. The latter, according to security officials, wore transfer in Tskhinvali IVS. Men were also beaten, Tedeev lost consciousness. However, it was later revealed that Tedeev was wearing transmission Kabisova.

The opposition

The political situation in South Ossetia is the same as criminal: serious politicians here like there — all to subjugate the President of the Republic Anatoly Bibilov, who led in 2008, the “cleansing” of Tskhinvali by Georgian troops. But sometimes the opposition still rears its head.

From the stories of local residents conclude that the main opposition force in the Republic is the unregistered party “the Alanian Union.” In the past in the 2017 presidential election, its leader, the KGB officer Alan Gagloev, took third place from 10.17% of the votes.

Alan Gagloev. Politician, the leader of the party “Alanian Union.” Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

With Gagloeva meet me at the office “Alanian Union.”

— Rarely have to see that the KGB creates the opposition party — I noticed.

— Well, I will not serve. As soon as he announced his intention to go on elections, the problems started. It will make a severe reprimand for the fact that he had met with the President of the Republic and the speaker of Parliament, then put the decree to pass to service in the Leningor district. In General, I quit.

“Alanian Union” — not an opposition party in modern Eastern European understanding.

In South Ossetia there are no parties Pro-European orientation. All political forces in varying degrees rely on cooperation with Russia.

— The current government during the General elections promised that the Republic will join Russia, — said Gagloev. — And did so several times. The first in 2014 and the parliamentary elections. [Ruling party] “United Ossetia” then said that if they get a majority, that South Ossetia will join Russia. The people believed them. The result you see. “United Ossetia” explained that the join does not work, because it prevents the Executive branch. In April 2017 presidential elections were held. The ruling party candidate Anatoly Bibilov also promised that if he wins, the Republic will become part of the Russian Federation. And it made sense: before the “United Ossetia” prevents the Executive branch, now — no. But nothing again has happened!

Anatoly Bibilov failed to join Russia explained: “South Ossetia should be part of the Russian Federation, which is our historical Motherland. <…> But now that we have a “DNR” and “LNR”, which are actually in the same situation, once South Ossetia and when we are the only country that has recognized them and helps them, from our side, this step, I believe, would be a betrayal”.

I don’t know what kind of aid to South Ossetia has “DNR” and “LNR”, which would not have been able to provide a part of Russia, says Alan Gagloev. — These words of the President only needed to justify broken promises. Or even just populism: there is always another side — is Russia ready to accept us?

Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

Opposition Gagloeva, according to him, is that he does not intend only to promise people joining Russia, but also willing to bring the case to the end.

Rights as an independent subject or by joining North Ossetia? — I ask.

Is details for it. — If two of the Republic, where to move the capital… the main thing — to come to Russia.

However, to register the party Gagloeva not give.

— We have passed all the necessary stages have established a district office, we held a meeting of party supporters in districts held a General Congress in Tskhinval. Each stage was attended by the employees of the Ministry of justice of the Republic. When all procedures have been followed, we filed an application to register the party, but the Ministry of justice we were denied. Referred to some internal documents that have never been published, and with which we refuse to meet.

According to Alana Gagloeva, the refusal to register his party is associated with the position of speaker of the Parliament of South Ossetia Peter Gassieva, which in September 2017 in an interview with the Russian news Agency Sputnik (the structure of the FSUE MIA “Russia today”) said: “I would like to have the minimum number of parties. The number of those parties who are registered now exceeds all reasonable limits. That is, a number of people (53,000) 15 parties — it’s just a mess”.

The main difference between the South Ossetian opposition from the South Ossetian government — economic program.

a disgrace”.

The main difference between the South Ossetian opposition from the South Ossetian government — economic program.

Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

— In our view, the money which the Republic receives from Russia, it is advisable to invest in the development of agriculture. Due to it, the Republic can really get out of poverty. We have excellent conditions for livestock, you can grow vegetables, fruits and export them outside the country. But the current regime is investing money in repairing streets, 70 million rubles allocated for the purchase of meters for water… I think if we had our own production, we would be at your own expense is all done.

The economy is on the “Red Cross”

The economy of South Ossetia is indeed highly dependent on Russia. Even the most optimistic statements, the Republic earns only 40% of its budget.

Zalina Gabaeva helped to develop the investment program of development of South Ossetia.

— We have a well developed pharmacy business, trade of food, in recent years began to appear a lot of beauty salons. But there is a critical lack of production, she says. — There is meat but meat is brought there from the Rostov, there are three companies bottling mineral water, and water is exported to Russia.

Gabueva says that the economy of South Ossetia a lot of promising, but not occupied niches.


Zalina Gabaeva. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

For example, tourism. Now all of a pension in the Republic are in demand. And those that are just opening, too. If you prefer to go to South Ossetia is, but they do not have enough infrastructure. Even housing, not to mention the ski slopes, for example. There is another point that plays in our favor. South Ossetia is, of course, the brand. But we — the brand associated with the war. And therefore the potential clients can attend any fears.

According to Garaevoy, another unoccupied economic niche in South Ossetia agricultural production.

— There are a few farmers who grow tomatoes and grapes, but they do not even cover the domestic needs of the Republic, — she said.

Business development in South Ossetia prevent available credit.

— We have to get a loan, you need to have either two guarantors who will give orders on bail of wages, or — to put up their own property. You understand, salaries in South Ossetia is low. So great credit to take them it is impossible: well, 300 000, for example, will take. But to start a business, this is not a serious amount. And their property people are just afraid to lay.

According to Garaevoy, after the war of 2008 a significant help to the economy of the Republic provided by international organizations: OSCE and Red Cross.

— “Red Cross” were distributed to people cows, tractors, its representatives walked the families and asked what they need to get out of poverty. And provide the necessary. I think they saved some of our villages from extinction. Now, unfortunately, the economic program of the “red cross” folded. They just continue to pay little money to people who already have nothing can do.

Diploma recognition

Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

Walking around Tskhinvali, surprised by the contrasts: the bullet-riddled houses are interspersed with buildings quite plausible. On the streets of Moscow notice beige with panoramic Windows in the hull. Assumption: the government building. It turns out that no South Ossetian state University.

Classes in this building is not, — says the senior lecturer Irina kelekhsayeva. — It opens only in the coming academic year. Before that we lived in a former dormitory.

According to Kelehsaeva in University this year (the only one in South Ossetia) is waiting for the influx of students.

— Russia is finally beginning to recognize our diplomas, — says Irina. — And before that many children, especially talented, he went to study in Russia.

Students from South Ossetia could join the Russian universities according to the limits provided by the Rossotrudnichestvo.

— In the last 2-3 years the number of limits has been greatly reduced. Our Minister of education said that this is due to the fact that the limits are not in demand, that is, our children for them to learn just do not go. I understand that children have to offer the specialty for which they do not want to learn, and the cities where they do not want to learn. There is an assumption that the reduction in limits due to their redistribution in favor of Crimea, “DNR” and “LNR”, — said Kelekhsaev.

— But there is also private right — I noticed. — To go to Moscow, come in Moscow state University, apply for…

Irina Kelekhsayeva. Teacher in the South Ossetian University in Tskhinval. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

It doesn’t concern us, — retorted Irina. — We have no exam, and in Russian University now can proceed only on the exam or limits. Through friends it is really possible to place the child in the Russian state exam, which may render our Ministry of education. But for the most part this road is closed. And children in the same Moscow, St. Petersburg or Volgograd need to contain. And when salary of an ordinary citizen — 10-15 thousand…

Okay. Learn people here. But the Republic is recognized only partially, continue to emphasize me. — It is hardly the diplomas listed above Russia. Where graduates seek work?

— If you finish law, then you open the way in the power structure. We do, Republic power structures: the Ministry of internal Affairs, state guard, Ministry of defense, KGB.

— (continues) “the Boy in the form of” you can become quite. Economic education — do not know where to go…

Only in the South-Ossetian state University five faculties are train lawyers, historians, linguists, journalists, chemists, economists and engineers.

— But the medical faculty you have — I noticed. — So, the Republic lives on those doctors who were trained in the Soviet Union?

— No, on doctors our children are studying in Russia.

Irina starts talking about the labour market.

— Three months ago began a campaign to part-time workers: those who work in two or more organizations, offered to make a choice between them. Need, they say, to release the jobs to reduce the unemployment rate, and he’s quite high — 17%. The creative staff is still not concerned, that I did not touch, she says. But generally if I get in a University of 25 000 rubles. Still work part time at a radio plus 16 000. This is enough to live and to raise two children. And if I could do it on one bet?

Poor people

On the market in Tskhinval. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

In all our conversations with the residents of South Ossetia there were two themes: war and poverty.

At the town market selling vegetables, cheese and meat about 20 people. Decide to buy the vegetables for the salad.

The tomatoes we are 80 rubles, and cucumbers… the cucumbers I you don’t sell, you don’t like them — too big already — shrugged the clerk, a grandmother in her seventies. Then, after weighing the tomatoes, still gives a cucumber: “for Free take. He’s good, just big.”

Bow buy from another saleswoman. When asked to sell one bulb, it makes a surprised look, “Wait? Gift take.” The market where you offer something for free, it is surprising. The seller name is Elena. She says:

— During the war my house was hit by several shells. The roof was ripped off, holes in the walls. Ten years have passed, and our government only promise that will help. The roof, however, did. Part of the house I rebuilt myself, but the holes in the walls remained with them and live.

All repaired at their own expense does not work? — I ask.

— Where there is: a lot whether the market will gain? Sometimes for a whole day to earn 200 rubles.

The same income I called other vendors, selling vegetables from their plots. All I propose to take from them some stuff for free.

In the barracks for the refugees. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

However, this poverty face, walking along the Russian military unit. For the military in the Republic built several modern houses: the territory is fenced, it flowerbeds at the entrances — ramps. Directly behind these houses — the ruins, among which children play. Heading there now. Beyond the ruins is covered with cracks of the barracks, next to him, piled the branches, parked a few battered cars “the Zhiguli”.

Barrack — shelter for refugees. It is home to 15 families, a total of about 40 people.

We Ossetians fled here from Georgia, when the war began, says one of the residents of the barracks of the Maya. — We were put in this building and said that soon will give apartments or even houses. But in fact, nothing but promises, we have not received.

Of all the benefits of civilization in the barracks only light. And that tension is very weak, so the bulb is barely lit.

— The sewers we have, so go to the toilet in the booth that Maya shows to standing against Barack the toilet. Winter are heated by electric stoves, but they work slightly walk around the house in clothes. Here it is 20 degrees below zero. Someone in the room is the oven — they go to the forest to bring firewood. But the stove is still rare. The waters are not imported. In the wash basins in the room.

Go to the barracks. On the ground floor in a large hall in the twilight ride around on bicycles three children. They don’t speak Russian. The building it becomes clear that it was not intended to ensure that people lived here.

A children’s room. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

— Yes, there was some office — confirms my suspicions of the Maya. But they moved out because the building was in disrepair, and here we settled.

The accident rate of the building is obvious. In addition to cracks in the walls — a leaking roof. And the wind blows through the building.

The authorities of South Ossetia refugees, however, grateful: at least for the fact that their children have the opportunity to go to kindergarten and school. Offense at Georgia they don’t have many relatives.

The settlement of Georgians

Leningor. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

Leningor — a district on the border of South Ossetia and Georgia. Until 2008, the village was part of Ossetia, it won the war. Most of the population here are ethnic Georgians.

At the entrance to the village, striking the empty streets no one here. Roads dug.

Is us the water lay, — says local resident Tamara Mearkishvili. — It is said that in autumn all asphalted.

Tamara remembers the war with the words: “It here, in Leningor, in fact, was not.”

— I then worked as a Director of the house of children’s creativity, she says. — 8-9 August, when it all started, we in the village did not have any tanks or armed men. However, came several Georgian members of spetsnaz to guard the Governor of the province of Mtskheta-Mtianeti Caesar Chocheli. He’s been here. I came to the administration and ask whether you want to prepare for the fact that there will be troops if you need to evacuate, but I replied: “No.” While the officials slowly took out of Leningor property and livestock. Them eventually reached the people. Because of the war left most of the population. And if you noticed the empty streets — it’s not because the weekend and because so many of us here.

Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

Refugees from Leningor went to Georgia for the Georgian population it was a natural migration path.

— Russian troops appeared here on August 15. But they stood around the village, and he Leningor are not logged in. August 16, my daughter was in the service in the Church. Somewhere in the second half of the day in the Church ran the Director of emergency services. She shouted, “Go! Run”. We realized that we are Ossetians. Ran in the mountains, in the forest. From there, the saw is removed from the flagpole Georgian and Ossetian flag hang. I thought, “I’ll be Back or not back? Even if back — my house will not.” Many people who fled into the woods, was a mobile phone. We kept in touch with those who remained in the village. In the evening the light of our phones said the Ossetians. And sent us an armed group. We warned about this. We decided to get out of the forest. Back in the village, the first day he stayed at home, and on the second I ventured out into the street. Came to all the military and said: “I am Georgian, but asked me not to shoot.” And they normally took it. However, I was wearing black clothing, some of whose members were interested in, did not fight if my husband from the Georgian side, not whether he was killed or if I’m carrying it now in mourning.

After some time in Leningor arrived in force at the time the President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity.

He went home and asked people not to be afraid. Said that no one will touch us. And this word, in General, kept, — says Tamara.

The Village Of Leningor. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

In Leningor peaceful life has begun. But most Tamara in the new government.

— I have, as they say, a long tongue, — she laughs.

— Write on Facebook about the problems of the village: about dug up roads, that buses rarely go. And our government got tired of it: I brought two criminal cases.

The first case against Tamara associated with the alleged presence of her two passports: the South Ossetian and Georgian. The second case was filed for “libel”.

— I gave a review of “Radio Liberty”, which did not like the party “United Ossetia”.

In the criminal case the following is the text of the comment: “the Members of the regional branch of “United Ossetia” go on organizations. Three times was in the district hospital. Stick to the staff: “Where is home? Why this thing is here? Why is the table so much? There will soon be another way.” Then ask for some drugs without prescription and prescription. Behaving indecently, show that they are now the owners in the district.”

Tamara Mearkishvili, civic activist. The Village Of Leningor. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

According to investigators, these words Tamara has damaged the reputation of the ruling party. Investigators even interviewed the four members of the “United Ossetia”, which stated that the hospital did not go, and after reading this review they increased the pressure. A woman can now be sentenced to correctional labor.

— The funny thing is that they interviewed four people, and in our village the party is at least fifty. Where are the other 46? — asks Tamara. — And most importantly: all these people who testify against me then come and apologize. Say: “Sorry, we’ve been asked…”

Kako (Akaki). Father Of Tamara. Working as a gardener at a local hospital in the village of Leningor. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

Their activity in social networks, Mearkishvili does not stop. Says: “In the area we really have a mess. There is a hospital, but the birth do not take it. Surgery do not: go to Russia or Georgia.”

Check Tamara decide other residents.

— It’s true, says retired Nugzar fine, he previously worked in the administration of the village.

After the war we had taken only one birth. And surgery send to Vladikavkaz and Tbilisi. We, residents of Leningor, there are special permits — we can drive to Georgia.

Nukzar, fine, retired. Photo: Sergey Nazarov, especially for “New”

Already before departure from Leningori noticed three students sitting on a bench outside the bakery. Decide to ask about plans for the future. Two want to go to Georgia, and one in Russia.

And why wouldn’t you want to stay here, in South Ossetia? — I’m surprised.

— In Ossetia? — shrug guys. — What is there to do?

Strangers. Photo Sergey Nazarov, the people fled from the war from South Ossetia to Georgia


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