News / Europe

    Russia-Georgia Relations Remain Frozen Three Years After Shooting War

    A column of Russian armored vehicles on its way to the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali in the Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia, August 9, 2008 file photo
    A column of Russian armored vehicles on its way to the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali in the Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia, August 9, 2008 file photo

    Multimedia

    James Brooke

    Three years after the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, the temporary ceasefire lines between the two look increasingly like permanent borders.

    In the heart of the Caucasus mountains, this ancient Georgian watch tower is useful once again. From the top, Adam Bartnicki, a European military monitor, studies military movements on the South Ossetian side of a ceasefire line.

    Through powerful binoculars he sees two new Russian bases nearing completion. “In the area of our responsibility we have maybe nine or 12 Russian Federation border guards' bases. They are like mushrooms,” said Bartnicki.

    With their barracks, high fences and security lights, the new bases are home to 5,000 Russian military personnel stationed in South Ossetia - more than 10 times the number before the war.

    Nearby, Lia Chlachidze is one of the few civilians remaining in the border village, Ergeneti, Georgia.  She lives among the abandoned grape arbors and charred ruins of 140 Georgian farmhouses burned during the five-day war.

    “My parents are buried in the occupied territory," she said. "Who knows how many years will pass before I'm able to visit them. It's a human tragedy. I can't talk about it without crying."

    Once a thriving market town, Ergeneti is now the end of the road for Georgia. At the heavily guarded police check point, the boundary is only crossed by stray dogs.

    Georgian refugees from surrounding villages, are seen at the central square in the town of Gori, northwest of the capital Tbilisi, Georgia, August 26, 2008
    Georgian refugees from surrounding villages, are seen at the central square in the town of Gori, northwest of the capital Tbilisi, Georgia, August 26, 2008

    To the south, at a refugee camp in Gori, Nanuli Pervashvili bakes rolls for her family of four. She fled her apartment in South Ossetia, when the fighting started. “We left empty handed,” said Pervashvili.

    Nearby, five Georgian men gather for a game of backgammon - on a weekday morning. Shalva Erbakidze said they cannot return home. "We don't work. They won't hire our people. Because we are refugees,” he said.

    In Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, debate rages again among Georgians as the August 8th war anniversary approaches.

    Opposition politician Nino Burjanadze says Georgia’s government will be celebrating a defeat on Monday.

    “Last year I raised a question to the government: We celebrated the 8th of August with fireworks and with concerts. I asked, "What did we celebrate? What are we celebrating for?" If we really won something, why does nobody in Georgia know about that including me?,” he said.

    In response,  Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tornike Gordadze  says that the government celebrates defeating the Kremlin’s attempt to install a friendly, authoritarian government in Georgia.

    “We have survived. It was a very serious attempt to destroy our statehood," he said. "And the very objective of this war was not the occupation of these two regions, which still remain occupied today as 20 percent of the Georgian territory. But the objective was to destroy the current government and the current regime, to change the regime in Georgia.

    One week before the anniversary, United States Marines wound up training exercises for Georgian soldiers. Officially, it was to prepare the Georgians for duty in Afghanistan. But many see these well publicized joint training exercises as a message that the West is watching the Russian military with more than binoculars.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora