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Fighting in Georgia Ruins Villages, Alters Landscape

August 20, 2008 at 6:20 PM EST

TRANSCRIPT

NEIL CONNERY, Independent Television News: This is a journey into Georgia’s war zone. We’re heading for villages cut off from the outside world by the fighting, determined to find out what really happened here.

This is the deserted village of Tudnzi (ph). We find a terrified and distraught woman reliving the horror unleashed here.

GEORGIAN RESIDENT (through translator): There was a young man sitting in front of the shop over there. The Ossetians just pointed their gun at him and shot him.

NEIL CONNERY: Nearby, three refugees tell me they’ve spent four days walking from South Ossetia. They fled when their village was attacked and don’t know what’s happened to their families. Tamara is blind. Mara wonders how they will all survive.

“In our village,” Alexander tells me, “they killed a lot of people. Many tried to flee, but they were shot, as well.”

Laita Tunashavili (ph) shows me the burned-out remains of her home, torched by South Ossetian militias. Her family were lucky to survive.

Throughout our journey, we’re hearing the same story, that South Ossetian militias came into these villages, torching people from their homes. It was a brutal and systematic campaign.

In the village of Kvyani (ph), we’re taken to a house where one of those killed lies beneath a blanket. Vano tells me the victim was shot by the militia. He says so many have suffered here.

GEORGIAN RESIDENT (through translator): There was a dead body lying on the road for six days. I saw how they shot that guy in the face. I don’t know how I survived this while the fighting was going on.

NEIL CONNERY: Every village in this border area is like this. It’s a ghost town, completely devoid of life. This is a desolate place to be.

Near the edge of South Ossetia, there was no sign of any imminent withdrawal of Russian forces, despite Moscow signing a cease-fire agreement. For those whose lives have been ripped apart, like Mara, Tamara, and Alexander, the struggle for survival continues on their road to nowhere.