Today in the morning, while leaving South Ossetia, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent was a witness of an attack of a SU-25 strike fighter, which shelled a Russian tank column in the area of Dzhava village. One armoured troop-carrier was damaged. The aircrafts also tried to blow up the bridge in the area of Gufta village; however they missed the target and struck apartment houses.
Tanks and other military machines were seen along the whole Vladikavkaz-Tskhinval highway.
It has become known that as a result of the massed night bombardment the city of Tskhinval was practically completely ruined. The city residents, remaining now in the number of about 30,000, spent the last two days in cellars of their houses. However, they are now unsafe even in the cellars. There are cases when from cellar roofs collapse from mine explosions.
Dozens of apartment houses and office buildings, including the Government House, "Children's World" Department Store, the University and the Republic's Hospital, have been destroyed and burnt down in the capital of South Ossetia. Nobody knows the exact number of casualties and wounded persons, but the count is in dozens.
Several Ossetian villages in the pre-border part with Georgia, including Dmenis and Tsunar, were practically wiped out. It is also known that the Georgian village Avnevi, near which the Georgian party had built a large fortification structure, was damaged a lot.
Yesterday, on August 7, a massive bombardment of the city of Tskhinval started from morning from all types of heavy armoury, and from grenade and mine launchers. The shelling of Tskhinval was quite unexpected, since the day before President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili appeared at local TV, promised to unilaterally ceasefire and expressed his readiness to start negotiations.
At the moment of the newly commenced aggravation, the lady "Caucasian Knot" correspondent was 18 kilometres off Tskhinval in Rustau village located in submontane region. Earlier, in the course of Georgian-Ossetian conflict, Rustau and other remote villages had never been shelled. Therefore, when at 1:30 a.m. Moscow time on August 8 first explosions were heard in the village, the residents failed to understand at once that their village was the target.
The intensive shelling of the submontane villages lasted for two hours. Explosions were so strong that house walls trembled. Residents hid in their cellars; some people went down into ravines. Fortunately, there were no victims. Several houses collapsed; almost everywhere the blast wave broke window glasses.
During the whole time when the mountain villages of South Ossetia were shelled by Georgia, not a single shot was made in response. The villages found themselves in fact unprotected.
Talking to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, residents of Rustau have supported the idea that another Georgia's military provocation was an attempt to squeeze the Ossetian population out of the region.
"They want to exhaust us with war and force us back to be a part of Georgia or abandon our native land. They will fail in both. South Ossetia has two roads - one is towards independence, the other is towards death. There's no third alternative," said Felix Pliev, a member of the Union of Writers of the Republic of South Ossetia.
"My two sons are members of the National Guards of South Ossetia. They're in the battlefront, and I'm anxious about them," said Valery Kokoev, 59. He has emphasized that the only thing desired by himself, his family and the whole nation is peace.
Alexander Kasoev recollects the history of Georgian-Ossetian relations: "In due time, our ancestors had saved Georgians from enthralment by Turks and Persians. However, during the last centenary only they have three times subjected our nation to genocide. How can we re-enter Georgia, if there's no guarantee that in the future another inadequate Georgian leader won't subject us to destruction?"
Boris Dzhabiev, a builder of 40, has named the war "fratricidal". "There're mixed marriages of Georgian and Ossetians. Their children hesitate whose party they'd support. This war has already sown such hatred between our nations that excludes any future closeness like before."
As to the reasons of the present aggravation, Boris Chochiev, vice-premier of the Republic and co-chair of the South-Ossetian part of the Mixed Control Commission (MCC), appeared on local TV and expressed the idea that the overall objective is to squeeze Russia out of the region. "We were offered to sit down to the negotiation table in the bilateral format, without Russia, but we refused. And bombardments started immediately after," he said.
We remind you that today at night large-scale battle actions burst out between Georgian and South-Ossetian troops.
The sharp aggravation of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict began in the evening on August 1. Dwelling districts of Tskhinval and neighbouring villages were subjected to bombardments. The parties are accusing each other of escalating the intensity. On August 2, evacuation of peaceful residents started from South Ossetia to Russia.