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Spartaki | Temur, from Tskhinval

Temuri, 56 Years old. Today he lives in Dighomi, IDP settlement. 

In the evenings, in front of the theater, at the meeting place, we used to stand together. Well, the Ossetian hang out spot was not too far from us. They still stood apart from us, ten meters away. 

After April 9th, people became more restless. They didn’t like the national movement. There were a few fits, Russia is ours, we are still the Soviet Union. They started talking about the land, this isn’t Georgian land, it’s Alania. The last village of Racha is Iri, it’s right next to the so-called border, Kvaisi and Java. There was a huge hill. I remember it from childhood when I used to go to Java and Shovi to vacation. There were big letters, no matter where you looked from, you couldn't not see it, it was always lit, it said: Blossom My Ossetia. We used to make fun of it. Then the situation became more tense. Then a man spoke out in a rally. The only good Georgia is a dead Georgia, he directly said it. But he did get beaten up that night. 

When the police came in, they controlled the entrances in Tskhinvali and the entire region. The Ossetians felt threatened. They were slowly dispersing, but then in two months there was an order to remove the police. They left and the second wave started. It started and never ended. Four Georgians died there, five Ossetians died here, Ossetians attacked the police there. 

If you’re entering Tskhinvali from here, It’s all Georgian villages. There used to be a Georgian post, and over there, an Ossetian post. People used to travel back and forth, and then one time, Georgians detained an entire family in a Willys. Papa, his daughter-in-law and grandkids - two girls and two boys. It got complicated. A day or two earlier, a Georgian boy was killed in Tskhinvali. They didn’t know anything about it, they were going to their village, they were all Ossetians. They took grandfather out of his Willys. It’s the kind of situation where you can’t control everyone. How so? They had killed a close relative and...they will go and just shoot them down, they aren’t looking to see if there are children (Heaven forbid) present. He has to either kill him or take him hostage. It so happened that I was also there. We sent these people away in two hours. We even told them to tell others that we are these and these people, go home and simply tell others that we let you go. After two to three days, the guy came back. He had left his mother-in-law and grandkids. I said to them that Georgians treated me really well, and they were surprised. I couldn’t get them to understand anything, I’m not planning on returning there, I am staying in Tskhinvali, he said. 

I lost friends in war. There was one, one of a kind guy - Spartaki. He studied in the police academy. He left one night and said, I'm just gonna take a look at the house and be right back, he had everything closed up. Two left. They took a short cut to avoid the Ossetian post, but they still ran into them. A shootout ensued. He was shot in the shoulder. They took both of them hostage. We also had hostages back then. We said to them, we’ll trade out Spartaki for ten men. They lied and lied to us and then told us a week later that he had died from wounds at the hospital.They wouldn’t give his dead body back. Then there were more attacks on Tskhinvali. There were negotiations, Russian colonel of the peacekeeping force got involved. We told him that we will die to get him back dead or alive. They gave the body back ten days later. Tortured. With 64 wounds.His whole body was cut up with a knife. 

They released him after. There was an award on Spartaki’s head. He was a very very strong fighter. When his squad went out on the post, people used to shake in their boots. He couldn’t kill a chicken though. He was tall, 190cm high. 

But I still can’t understand why they wanted that war. One great man was teaching me medicine. My Temur, remember this, Son, I won’t be alive but this will take at least 50 years. We all laughed. What are you talking about Mr. Boris, we’re gonna return any day now, I said. But here we are and it’s been 30 years already.  


The name is changed per the request of the respondent.
From the Series, “Recalling Memories - South Ossetia 1991/2008”
Text: Nino Lomadze 

Transcription: Ana Surguladze
Photo: Vladimir Svartsevich / Anastasia Svartsevich from the archives

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