21 August 2008

Russians Trying to Starve Georgians Out of Homes: Escalation of Violence Possible

In the face of a Russian default on its signed ceasefire agreement, ordinary Georgians are contemplating an extended insurgency campaign. Many are without food and basic supplies, due to Russian chokepoints throughout the country.
The Russian armored fighting vehicles that are blocking routes in and out of Gori are slowing the flow of humanitarian aid and stifling trade, he said...Travel is controlled by Russian soldiers; a McClatchy Newspapers reporter was turned back at checkpoints and had to slip in via a footbridge.

"If they stay, we won't get enough supplies and the war will start again," said Taturashvili, who works for the local power company. "People will take their guns and go to the forests."

While there are no signs of insurgency, it's clear that tempers are rising and nerves are fraying in Gori, an important waypoint on the country's main east-west corridor. The city sits near a route to South Ossetia, the breakaway region that Georgia tried to take earlier this month before being thrashed by Russian tanks and jets. The way to South Ossetia - where the Red Cross was allowed access only on Wednesday - is guarded by Russian armored vehicles and machine gun bunkers fashioned from concrete blocks.

On Thursday, Gori's streets were mostly empty of cars; at the sound of an approaching engine, people turned their heads quickly to see whether it was a Russian truck. Dozens of people at a downtown square shouted and pushed their way to the window of an aid-distribution station.

"We're all running out of food," said Nana Nazadze, who was watching two old women scream at each other. "I ran out yesterday; my neighbor gave me some sausage."

Lamara Tinikashvili motioned in the direction of a Russian checkpoint down the road: "They're allowing aid in, but it's not being given to us."

After speaking, Nazadze implored a reporter, "Please be careful about where you use my name or the Russians will get me." _Source
Small amounts of food are getting past Russian checkpoints, but no one knows how long that will last.

Russian-sponsored Ossetian terrorists and paramilitaries continue seizing ground and driving Georgians off their land.
Here in the town of Akhalgori, only a 45-minute drive from the capital Tbilisi, the red, white and yellow flag of Ossetian separatists flew Thursday over a police station and local administration building seized by the rebels....Russian forces were camped on the main road into town, with at least four armoured personnel carriers and a dozen troops stationed at two checkpoints. _Source

Russia is tightening control of large parts of occupied Georgia.
The continuing Russian presence in Gori appears to be hampering humanitarian aid efforts. The International Committee of the Red Cross describes the situation in and around Gori as difficult. "There have been more people outside today … mostly old people. They’ve been asking for food and medicine," said Jessica Barry, the ICRC spokeswoman in Tbilisi...The dangers around Gori are not limited to food shortages. Human Rights Watch on August 21 charged that Russia used cluster bombs to the north of Gori during the fighting with Georgia. Many submunitions, or clusters, did not explode, thus leaving large areas strewn with "hundreds" of unexploded ordnance. _Source


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