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Dreams | Alika, Tskhinval [ENG]

Alika, 50 Years Old, Tskhinval 

I was a student in school when they entered Tskhinval on Christmas. People were saying how there were amnestied prisoners accompanying Georgian police (07.01.1991). On the 7th, the roads were already closed. Then the unrest began. This slogan left the most bitter impression on me: Curse the woman who carries an Ossetian in her womb. 

My Georgian teachers, classmates, and neighbors changed a bit in their relationship to us. Many got up and sneaked out before the 7th of January. Some say that they were warned by Georgians. Wait, they are going to liberate Tskhinval from Ossetians, and then you can go back, they were told. They didn’t even take their belongings. No one warned us though. When the houses burned in Javashi and Tliakhani, we heard that they had burned a father and son alive in their own home. These are the kinds of things that were happening.

They took my 90 year old Papa as a hostage for two months. Other old folks too, our village kin. We had Georgian captives, and then we would exchange prisoners. 

In 2004 I was already in the army, and I even realized back then that war was unavoidable. When you are in the military, and you see things happen, you realize it’s not coincidental. Back then, they didn’t come into Tskhinval, but they shot at us with mortars. Of course, we shot back. [In 2004, the June - August clashes claimed 26 victims. N.B.].  

In 2008, the 2nd of August, we came under heavy gunfire. On the 6th of August, six of our men were dead. On the 7th, rocket bombings started. We were all home. We were hiding out in the basement with our neighbors. Then my brothers and I picked up our guns and left. 

In that war, our dead mostly were killed on the road. One family was going to Tbeti, and they ran into a Georgian tank column on the road. Only the woman survived, who got out of the car and threw her arms in the air yelling, Don’t shoot! 

One car was hit with some anti-tank missile. The woman sitting in the front seat was thrown up a few meters in the air, but her husband and kids were burned alive on the spot. Only the woman survived. Exactly nine months later, she gave birth, didn’t know she was pregnant. She’s raising that kid now. What price I had to pay for this gift, she says. I don’t like talking about the war, I am speaking about this for the first time.

Twelve years have passed, and what are we fighting for? 

I get so mad when some claim that they are defending their homeland and country. At the time, you don’t think about your homeland, but only think about your family and yourself. Who believes in that patriotic nonsense? You gotta have a whole lot of luck to survive. 

I definitely got lucky there, but afterwards, we were all tossed away together. Those who fought, most of them are taxi drivers or security, now. On the other hand, those who fled the war, those people have high positions. I don’t think there is a future with Georgians. In one century, they lied to us twice, what am I supposed to think? 

I don’t have contact with my Georgian classmates and neighbors. It’s hard enough to stay connected from here, but I also noticed that some of them were avoiding me. In the 80s, I had a neighbor, we were friends, he taught me to play the guitar. After the war, he returned, and though I hadn’t done anything wrong, he wouldn’t look me in the eye. 

You know what aggravated me then? Pavliashvili’s song, “Homeland – homeland”. Our Georgian neighbors, when the unrest started, they would turn up the song and open the windows, like they were forcing us to listen to it. Besides, I love Georgian songs, cartoons, films, but I don’t want the sentiment of Soso Pavliashvili! I wanted what we fought for – we wanted independence. Now I don't even know who we are. 

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For me, I think joining North Ossetia will be a guarantee of peace. I am not saying this to spite Georgians, I am saying it for my own peace. I don’t consider anyone my enemy until they show up armed, it doesn’t matter if they are Ossetian or Georgian. You think I like every Ossetian? I always say, don’t point out the differences, this is how it all started – differentiating Ossetians from Georgians. Everyone should be judged concretely. When we get together now, they always talk about the nightmares. Those who fought, they dream about back then. I haven't seen a single nightmare, it seems like I left all of that in the war. 

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From the Series, “Recalling Memories - South Ossetia 1991/2008”
Interview: Tamar Mearakhishvili 
Text: Nino Lomadze
Photo: Vladimir Svartsevich / Anastasia Svartsevich from the archives