27 November 2008, 18:41

Lokshina: people are still leaving South Ossetia for Georgia

The population of the Akhalgori (Leningori) District of South Ossetia, frightened by Ossetian civil guardsmen, continues leaving for Georgia, while the enclave Georgian villages are completely burnt down. This was reported to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent by Tatiana Lokshina, representative of the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

According to Ms Lokshina, who has recently visited Akhalgori and Georgian villages in South Ossetia, the HRW had fixed two incidents, when local residents were beaten by Ossetian civil. A 80-year-old resident of Kanchaveti, who refused to give his sheep to Ossetian civil guardsmen, died in November, two weeks after he was beaten. Another old man of 83, a resident of Korint, was beaten for having a calendar with Saakashvili portrait on the wall of his house. The old man has survived but his arm was broken.

The main fear of residents of Akhalgori (Leningori) is that the authorities of South Ossetia will soon block the only highway that links the district with Tbilisi. "We have no details, but even in the Akhalgori administration we were told that the road can be blocked," said Tatiana Lokshina. "Should it happen, Akhalgori will be cut off from the rest of the world: there is no normal road to Tskhinvali; and one needs a big car and a lot of time to get there by impassable road. They promise to have a good road finished by next spring." However, even with a road, Georgians will feel quite unsafe in Tskhinvali, Tatiana Lokshina thinks.

The Georgian population is gradually leaving Akhalgori in fear of the aggression of the Ossetian home guard. Local residents confess in conversations that they are scared with so plenty of people with sub-machine guns in the streets. According to Lokshina, civil guardsmen behaved extremely rudely. "All the civil guardsmen we met were drunk," the human rights activist asserts.

The information that Georgian schools are closed proved false, Ms Lokshina said: in the district capital of Leningori both Georgian schools and one Russian are working. Teachers of one of the schools said that before the war they had 236 pupils, now 136. Mandatory lessons of the Ossetian language have been introduced, but number of hours for the Georgian language remains as before.

Anatoly Margiev, administration head of Akhalgori, has reported that the district now has 8836 residents against 13,000 before the war. Local residents assert that 70 percent of the population left the district.

Author: Anastasia Kirilenko, CK correspondent;

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