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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid