The War in August, 2008. Three years later. The eyewitnesses are telling. Alla Dzhioeva

Thu, 04/08/2011 - 13:19

August, 2008 - for ever in our hearts and thoughts!

It’s said, that time is the best doctor and it sorts things out. Do not believe it, time only gives the chance to feel deeper the past, to realize fervently that all what have happened was not a dream. Twenty years in the conditions of wartime - not only a dimension of time, - but no any Ossetian will forget it. The war in 2008… These several days at the beginning of August have touched deeply the destiny of everyone who has remained in South Ossetia, having left persistent wounds and bitterness of irreplaceable losses. To arrange purgatory to the whole nation at the beginning of the 21th century only because they are the Ossetians, as well as any other people who have a right to decide their destiny to be free- it is above understanding of any normal man. But, unfortunately, it has happened, and one cannot forget it. Yes, in summer 2008 the Georgian neo-fascists strained the situation to unimaginable limits around South Ossetia.

Foreboding of war was hovering in the air and everyone felt approaching of something terrible. But what has happened later could expect only the units. As the ordinary citizen of Ossetia, observing the panic actions and people telling about the approaching danger, in order not more strain the situation, I was calming down, how much it was possible, my neighbours, acquaintances and strangers, for the approaching trouble had united all of us. On August, 6 the cannonade of the military actions was heard in the suburbs of Tskhinval. It was known, that the village Khetagurovo in Tskhinvalskiy region had been occupied by the Georgian militarized formations. There was the post of the civil guardsmen from Tskhinval over the village; among them was also my neighbour whom I was calling, as it seemed to me then, each half an hour, but later on it turned out that each five-ten minutes. He informed me that the village was being "ploughed" by the Georgian tanks, but any movement towards the city was not fixed yet: he warned us to leave the town, because the things were in a bad way. I, as well as my neighbours at Sanakoev street (Shankhai district in Tskhinval) certainly, were in horror, but we were not going to leave anywhere, considering, the devil is not so terrible as he is painted. O, how we have been mistaken!.. That day, I have gone to the dressmaker at Mamsurov Street with my mother, to make an order of suit tailoring. The scared eyes of the dressmaker, an elderly woman, are still before my eyes: «Tell, my dear, whether the war will start?». I have naturally burst out laughing and have responded: «Certainly, not, it’s impossible anybody will dare to launch the war during the Olympic Games». How ridiculous it was to consider, that our nearest neighbours are the people living according to the standards of the civilized world... On the night of August the city bombardment started. Trouble unites people, so, we, having called our neighbor’s daughter-in-law - whose husband was at the fighting post and still believing in best, have spent the whole night, hoping that the horror will come to the end by dawn. The next morning has brought terrible news. Tskhinval was occupied; the damned enemy was penetrating into our peaceful town. All the remained neighbours jumped out on the street, trying to realize what was occurring. At daybreak the young man living on the next street Vadim Gussalov has passed our house. Having seen me, he cried out: «What are you standing here under bombardment; the georgians are at the end of your street» (our district borders on the Georgian village Nikozi, whence the Georgian fascists` tanks have penetrated into the town). The same day Vadim Gussalov has perished - the bullet of the enemy hit him when he was repulsing the fire next to his house. He could not surrender to the enemy and allow them to burst into his house where he had lived happily with his family, bringing up his little son. The night from seventh to eighth of August was more terrible. The vicious appeals of the President of Georgia Saakashvili to cease-fire and peace dialogue in the conditions of incessant bombardment sounded as mockery at the whole nation. It became clear to everyone-it was war and that was a reality. We, several families, have gathered on the ground floor of the house which slightly reminded the refuge, there were children and elderly women with us. Only God and the remained citizens of the occupied Tskhinval knew what one could feel, when explosions of the missiles threw houses in air, and clatter of the destroyed windows and the demolished walls reminded of the horrible fantasy world. We could not believe in the reality. In the intervals between bombardments, all of us ran out of the shelter and examined their houses, whether they had been demolished or not. Our actions were unconscious, for the brain refused to perceive the reality. The guys- the civil guardsmen of our district remained at their positions over Shankhai, but the forces were unequal, against armored warfare of the enemy – the guys with automatic machines and manual machine guns. Among them was also my neighbour Crym Dzagoev (nowadays the late), the former military pilot in resignation, the regular officer of the Soviet army; thanks to his maneuvers and efficient instructions, no one guy has suffered. In the very first days they have captured seven enemies; among them were as foreigners, not the Georgians, and also the Ossetian –speaking ones. One of them turned out to be the Ossetian-Khubaev. He has told, that cultivating his field he did not even realize, how he was jostled into the tank and delivered in Tskhinval, The morning of August, 8 did not bring good news. We were in shock at the sight of the killed and wounded civil population. Bombardment of the town did not stop, but was increasing more and more. I could not be idle and started to call my friends and acquaintances hoping to know any information. But the phones were «inaccessible». One had to do something and I started to call my relatives and friends, living in Vladikavkaz. My colleague in the South-Ossetian State University, Khansiat Kodalaeva, who was keeping in touch with me, has informed me that the extraordinary session of the UN Security Council did not assume responsibility for resolving the situation, our despair increased. The information has filtered that unapproved meetings of the Tskhinval citizens, appealing to Russia and all progressive mankind for aid, are conducted in North Ossetia. But Europe and the western countries were deaf to entreaties of the Ossetians appealing for help. And only Russia has defended Ossetia: its valorous sons at all times battled at all fronts shoulder to shoulder. The incessant cannonade of bombardment on August, 8 gave to understand, that we would have a horrible night. And the air raids of the Georgian Air Forces at the lowest height enraged by their impunity. Having been hitherto in the unreliable shelters and houses, the part of our street now has gathered in more reliable basement shelter of the house. But who could remain sitting at the place. Small interval of calm - was a signal to get out to the street, running from house to house, whether everybody was alive, and the remained were unhurt. Our neighbors` children, an orphan Gena Dzhabiev (4 years), whose father had been killed by the Georgian policemen, and Barsag Pliev (2 years), with widely opened eyes full of horror were observing what was going on and unconscious fear filled the hearts of the infants. Without leaving their crude cellar and thinking that night is endless, Gena was asking me the only question: «Alla, as soon as the morning comes, will we leave?». This question ran into my mind as the persistent memory. One could not imagine, as no one was hungry and thirsty. Forcing people to drink at least a drop, I, myself, could not take a sip as if my throat had been blocked. Dialing up all the familiar and unfamiliar phone numbers, I have got through my cousin; fortunately she tuned out to be in Vladikavkaz at the meeting at the government building. She was in hysterics asking all journalists for help and giving them my phone number. Since August, 8 my phone was ringing incessantly. When bombardment began, we went down into the cellar, and communication service was not more available. The charge of the battery was also exhausted, but the lads arranged the power generator. The phone money came to an end, too, but my friends in Moscow filled up my account not to lose the contact. The inhabitants of our street are grateful to all journalists who established contacts with me and gave us hope which often left us. The first of them was the journalist from North Ossetia - Irina Gilaretti who all those nights and days, at any time was in contact and informed, informed us… Through Gilaretti, the dean of the journalism faculty of the North-Ossetian State University Zynaida Khasanbekovna Tedtoeva, having learnt that I, her former student, immensely grateful to her, was in the occupied Tskhinval, has roused all central Russian channels and press-services of the military organizations, asking them for help. In those fatal and terrible days I got into contact with the press-service of the North Caucasian military district whose employees responded to my calls at any time. Unfortunately, the chronology of events is confused by the moments, but at some instant, the employee of the press-service, immediately having reacted to my call at any time, asked me with joy: «you are alive, we have the information that nobody has remain alive in the town». It was the moment when the ground was slipping from under the feet and hysteria has got the best of reason. «The town is full of people, women, old men and children in the cellars of each house! », - I was crying heart over the phone. On the other end of a wire they asked us to be calm and wait for the help which would come very soon: «Hold on, we beg to hold on one more night take care of yourself and the help will come!», - those were the words on the other end of the wire. August, 9 was a decisive day. Roar and wail of the enemy air raids and bombardments mixed with the cry also entreaties for help of the people whose houses had been burnt down completely before their eyes. At daybreak an aged man living on the next street has run and asked to help his neighbour whose house was burning, the master of the house could not extinguish the fire because his leg had been torn off by a shell. At some instant, the heartrending shout was spread in the air: «Elina, my daughter, Elina!». The shell hit the house where in a pit for car repair the mistress of the house Raya Tskhovrebova, her daughter Kadzhaeva Elina (by the way, the head of the family and his son too- are also the victims of the twenty years' Georgian aggression), their neighbour Dzhagaeva Tatyana and her brother were hiding from the bombardment. Except for the last one, the first three have burnt in the explosion. Despite the incessant bombardment, their neighbours have pulled out them from the burning house and have brought in a safe place. They used all the improvised means to help them. Elina, the favorite of all neighbours, the beauty and kindness itself, has been burnt more than others. Crym Dzagoev, acting professionally, some times brought her round, and another neighbour-Sergei Valiev - processed her face, praying: «My God, let her beautiful face not to be burnt, she should not die!». But alas, the death is ruthless - she has died. Her mother with the severest burns has lived a bit more than her daughters, the next day she was taken out to Vladikavkaz, and then – to the Moscow clinic, but it was not possible to rescue her. The charred ruins of the peacemakers’ military unit around our district have not left any hopes of survival at some moment. The thought has come that only God could rescue our people and I asked all those being outside of that slaughter-house to pray for us. The help has come. The valorous 58th Russian army has come to rescue the defenders and inhabitants of Tskhinval. Morning of August, 10 was rather quiet, the clean-up operation of the remained enemy soldiers and officers have started. I can`t express my gratitude to my students of the journalism faculty oа the North-Ossetian State University for their humanity and courage- they are real patriots of Ossetia. Some of them have been in Tskhinval and kept contact with me; when they asked me about the results of the war, I always responded to them: «Everything will be OK, only do not leave your shelters» though I, myself, hardly believed in my words. One of them, at the same time working as the nurse in the Republican somatic hospital, called me in despair: «Alla Alekseevna, I am in the hospital cellar, there are so much victims here, we can`t help them, what will be further on?». One could not help constraining his tears and asking: «Why should my people suffer so much?!» On August, 10 we took out our burnt neighbour Tatyana Dzhagaeva to a safe place, and then we went to Vladikavkaz, considering that we would not have a desire to return to the destroyed Tskhinval soon. But the next morning, on August, 11 the film crew of the Russian NTV television channel led by Alexander Kalinin wanted to leave to South Ossetia searching for someone, who would help them on the road. Without hesitation I was on my way to Tskhinval...Yes, God has heard our prayers. Yes, at the cost of so many lives, yes, each scrap of our long-suffering earth was painted by innocent blood of our freedom-loving and valorous fellow countrymen. The help has come. Yes, it has come. If only it had come earlier, without those four horrible and blood-washed days, each Ossetian, who had waited the long-expected, bought by blood and lives of our fellow citizens, independence, would have been so happy. Honour and praise to each citizen and to the inhabitant of South Ossetia who at that fatal time have survived and who have perished, who have not been frightened by burdens and hardships of the post-war years and remained in their native Ossetia to raise it from the ruins. All of us are the heroes of our time!