Friday, November 14, 2008

Meet Ossetian Gunmen in Perevi

We drove on a winding rode along a river up in Imeretian villages. There was this village Jria and we saw Georgian police standing there. Soon EU monitoring mission guys arrived. This is now the last village, one of the last ones along the new 'border', by which Ossetian militia stand. We passed Jria and drove up towards Perevi. This village, with Georgian population, is now occupied by some Ossetian gunmen. We saw green tent in front on a hilly part of the road. Before the tent, on the road, we saw some people in uniforms. We stopped the car and just walked towards them.

There were three of them. They were wearing military uniforms. They were holding 'kalashnikovs'. Two of them were sitting at a just-put-out fire and the other one, a blond guy, was standing behind them. It was a strange feeling. I do not want to consider them as my enemies. I think considering someone as an enemy is a radical solution of a conflict (or a dead-lock of a solution). Even after this war, I want to feel cool towards the Ossetian gunmen now appearing only meters away.

Moving towards them I had no fear but for a moment I had some kind of physical feeling. If I had not experienced fear previously, I might not have guessed that in fact this was a feeling of fear, which occurred in my body, but not in my mind.

As we walked, my friend told me to ask them, how long more they intend to stay. I thought this would be a very straightforward question that could cause aggression. Maybe for the very first time, I wanted to be extremely careful with questions.

Now we stood in front of them, these gunmen, and just the remains of fire was in front of us. We said hello. They seemed calm and replied calmly on everything we would ask. We asked when they had arrived. They said it two-three days ago. I asked where they were from. The blond guy was most active in responding us. But he smiled on this question. I asked if they were from Tskhinvali. First he said yes, then he said they were from Tskhinvali as well as from the villages of South Ossetia. When I felt they were not aggressive as I had feared in a way, I asked them until when they intended to stay there, in Perevi. The blond guy said he did not know, it could be even a year. We asked them to let us in Perevi. They almost laughed and said no.

This was their 'check-point'. Next to this put-off fire there were small stones laid on the road. The stones were laid in a zig-zag arrangement, making a vehicle to slow down. These stones and their arrangement seemed the most absurd element in this situation of somehow newly created borderline as a result of war in August in Georgia.

We did not talk much. There was still some kind of cautious from our side. But I felt I wanted to sit next to them on the benches arranged around the fire and chat. Then three other gunman came down from behind them. As now there were six of them, all in guns and named as enemies of the country I live in, it felt uncomfortable. We left.

No comments: