Unadmitted republic where clannish regime cancels elections, overthrowns and keeps under arrest the legally chosen president, breaks up political meetings, blocks the boarders, arrests and beats oppositionists, trying to keep the power no matter how high the cost is – how does it feel to come here?
Anyone who comes to Tskhinvali for work should obtain accreditation. The customs officers work hard here. They check each bus, but checking one bus goes faster than checking one journalist without accreditation. Central Election Commission is not going to make the same mistakes as during the December elections. They said one vote was priced at 1000 rubles (33 USD), but nobody told who was willing to buy the votes. However police of South Ossetia denies this information, of course.
“Thank you, Russia!”
Roksky tunnel is a symbolic place, it’s not only the boarder between the countries, it’s the boarder between the worlds. You feel it physically. On one side is some kind of state: with traffic laws, necessity to fasten belts, notice at the customs “Do not offer gifts!”, boarder control, cars examination… the feeling that it works, maybe no so good, but still it does.
On the other side… even no traffic rules… customs is not even mentioned… No state at all. But strong, centuries-old traditions of the Caucasian community.
Everything works only at the level of personal relations and generally accepted standards of behaviour. And only they do not let the powerless republic fall into endless chaos.
Two worlds, two systems, opposite to each other.
Both states, however, give all chances to their citizens for realization any suicidal ideas. Care about safety on roads is like liberal stupidity. Wreaths and tombstones are everywhere.
There are some power structures despite the absence of any state institutions. Their main task is not keeping people safe, of course. They protect power from the angry people. And without state the clannish power acts simply and unpretentiously.
Tamarasheni – a Georgian eclave that has been almost fully ruined. Here and there one may see signs “Occupied”, some kind of privatizing… What happens here is sometimes strange, for example on the place of a former Georgian movie theatre they built .. a swimming pool. What can be more necessary in a ruined city than a pool?
Roads in Tskhinvali is a mystery too. Recently one could see high quality asphalt coating but only in three years these nice roads were totally spoiled. The coating fully degraded. In rainy weather the city resembles a huge swamp. However they still try to change the situation.
Building of the university is under renovation now. “Stop! Mines!” The composition looks like an alien ship. Two different worlds close to each other: future and past.
The feeling of surrealism is rising when you notice bombast of the authorities. Near the central square you can see a new monument to Pushkin. And a quotation: “Is it anything new to argue with Europe? Has a Russian forgotten what victory means?” And something about the orators who will always find a place for graves in the fields of Russia…
Sacrilege from those who sent boys to fight for their political ambitions, who escaped the battlefield upon hearing the first shots, left their city and people…
Another bombast monument to Denis Vetchinov on the place where he died. Some quotes about debt of honour, motherland. But how did Denis appear in this place? Following someone’s stupid order who sent one battalion with no cover and reconnaissance to the city occupied by enemies. 4 years ago, exactly on this place, Ossetian citizen soldiers were burning a corpse of a Georgian soldier who killed Vetchinov. Not out of hatred, just because it was hot, and corpses decomposed.
Any war is evil.
First they send their soldiers to die and then they erect monuments in their honour…
Dozens of people died here, everything remained untouched after the battle.
Peacemakers barracks, November 2011
However the feeling of war is leaving this city. Less and less things remind of it. Yes, military equipment and people in uniforms are still in the streets; and yes – the boarder with Georgia is blocked with South Wave (“Yuzhny Val”). And the main sight of the city is a Russian military base, so rich and big.
But new cafes appear, shops, a computer centre, a sports store… And the city where people were killed doesn’t seem to be unusual anymore. And all the absurd around is not so evident. Life is flowing, but eyes of people … do not stare into future…
Rotting captured equipment
People have changed indeed. During the war they were afraid but still believed in victory. There is such a state when you treat life and death in the same way, with indifference. And when you understand that death is more probable you accept this and do not feel sorry anymore. And thus you even feel some excitement and resolution that distinguish a soldier from not a soldier. The city was not in panic even when the authorities escaped. People used to talk about Constitution all the time, now they don’t. It was important, they wanted to choose, and choose honestly. Now it’s gone. Nobody speaks about Constitution, people just want give a vote for anyone and make it final. It’s another time in history when power won its people.
Passport of South Ossetia
Cars with voters from Vladikavkaz
Emergencies Ministry base
South Ossetia is ready to be a part of Russia. Most citizens of the republic think it would be the best. As an option the republic is ready to remain independant. But what they do not want at any price: to become the empire colony.