Memoirs of 28 years ago: a miracle survivor of the Zar tragedy

Tue, 19/05/2020 - 14:58

28 years have passed since the day of one of the most monstrous tragedies in the history of South Ossetia – the Zar. Tragedy. On May 20, 1992 33 people: women, children and the elderly were shot by Georgian neo-fascists on the Zar road. It was called the "road of life," it became the road of death.

In the 90s, a road was laid through the Zar forest, through which people could go to Dzau district, North Ossetia from Tskhinval and other districts of the Republic. Through it, to the besieged South Ossetia, were being delivered life support products, medicines. Before the war, the road connecting the capital of the Republic with Dzau district, and further with North Ossetia, ran through the villages where the Georgian population lived in large numbers, and from the beginning of the aggression they periodically blocked it. How many lives were ruined by Georgians on the Tskhinval-Dzau highway is another topic ...

Ill-fated "luck" 

There are many tragic dates in the recent history of South Ossetia, but the Zar tragedy takes first place in the number of innocent people shot. Like the monstrous cynicism of crime. The convoy of refugees who were forced to leave their homes due to shelling from Georgia and tried to escape, the beasts in human guise still overtook them ...

“On this day, my brother and I came to the station to somehow get to Dzau. As such, official inter-district transport was no longer there. Together with us was a friend of my brother Leonid (Lenya) Kokoev. We were at the station for a long time. We were waiting. There were no cars, and there were many people who wanted to leave. But suddenly a tilt truck drove up, and people immediately rushed to it, everyone tried to get into the car body, if only he was lucky and could leave,” recalls Vitaly Pukhaev, who himself was driving in that car.

The car was crowded with refugees. People probably thought to themselves that, finally, they were lucky, and they could leave the war zone and begin a new, quiet life ...

The thoughts about the upcoming calm life were periodically interrupted. On the way, the car broke down several times, and the driver meekly repaired it. And then we continued the way.

“There were a lot of people wishing to go to North Ossetia. Mostly children, women and the elderly. About 50 meters remained to the place where this tragedy occurred, and the truck broke down again. Its repairing took about thirty minutes, and then we moved forward. We drove a few tens of meters, when began a massive shelling from the forest. People sitting next to me began to tumble out of the car, others remained in it. The truck’s body began to fill up with blood ...”, said Vitaly Pukhaev, sighing heavily. He utters every word with difficulty, probably a terrible picture of 28 years ago appears before his eyes and the faces of 33 innocent victims in a freeze frame, one after another come to life in memory.

“I lost consciousness, and came to my senses, already being under many dead, bloodied bodies. But the shooting continued. I realized that I was wounded, and began to call my brother: “Vadik! Vadik!” At my voice, the Georgians started throwing grenades into dead bodies, and maybe among them there were also living ones under which I was, and one grenade exploded right next to me. I lost consciousness again. I don’t know how much time has passed, but my brother found me and pulled me out from under the bodies. We ran towards the Zar forest, reached the water and continued along the river. We passed 150 meters, passed five wounds made themselves felt, and the blood did not stop. I had no strength, and I fell down,” said Pukhaev.

Death bypassed

Fate at that time was favorable to the Pukhaev brothers, God saved their lives. He continued his story, and again a pause and a heavy sigh ... “My brother dragged me on my back. The whole body hurt, blood flowed down the clothes torn from the grenade, I periodically lost consciousness. The pain grew stronger and stronger, I could no longer lie on my brother’s back. I asked him to put me on the ground and take a rest. By that time, it was dark, we were both very tired and we had to spend the night in the forest. I asked him to leave me in the forest, and to go to the village, bring people and carry me on a stretcher,” the eyewitness to the tragedy is recalling.

Recalling a friend

Early in the morning, his brother followed the advice of Vitaly Pukhaev, and there was no other way out. He left him near the river, and went to the village of Zar. Vitaly was very thirsty, and crawled to the river. He could not return to the place where his brother left him. As it turned out later, directly above that place were the posts of the Georgian fascists.

According to the story of his brother Vitaly, he came to the village of Zar, then went to the city and, together with riot police, came to his aid.

“But they didn’t find me. I remained in the forest, on the bank of the river seriously wounded one more night. I saw that two Georgians were coming to me, one had a carbine, the other had an ax. They found me, took me hostage to the village of Kekhvi. I stayed there for four days, and after they exchanged me for a hostage - a Georgian. Thus, I stayed alive ...”, said Vitaliy.


Every year he comes to the place of the tragedy in order to pay tribute to the memory of his friend Leonid Kokoev, whose name is inscribed on the memorial monument erected in 2007 at the place of the tragedy, and his other fellow travelers who became victims of the Georgian fascism.


Сrime without statute of limitations

Genocide is a form of collective violence, actions committed with the intention of destroying, in whole or in part, any national, ethnic, racial, religious or other historically established cultural and ethnic group as such by: killing members of this group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of such a group; measures designed to prevent childbearing in such a group; forcibly transferring children from one human group to another; deliberate creation of living conditions designed for the complete or partial physical destruction of this group. Since 1948, genocide is recognized by the UN as an international crime. This explanation is given to the term by Wikipedia. Behind the dry, well-known phrases - the tragedy of the people. The Zar tragedy is another fact of the genocide of the Ossetian people.

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