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"There Was So Much Blood" Salon 08.12.08!1!3

"There Was So Much Blood" Salon 08.12.08!1!3

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Published by John Hudson
Dispatch from Georgia
Dispatch from Georgia

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Published by: John Hudson on May 13, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Reuters/Gleb Garanich
A Georgian refugee cries in Gori, about 50miles from Tbilisi, Aug. 11, 2008.
"There was so much blood spilled"
A Russian invasion has left besieged Georgians angryat their government -- and at the Bush administration-- for failing to defend them.
By John Hudson, Nana Naskidashvili
 Aug. 12, 2008 | TBILISI, Georgia -- Vaso Chlukhadze, 25, is one of hundreds of war refugees gatheredoutside the mayor's office in Tbilisi,Georgia. Chlukhadze has been waiting two days for a place to sleep.He fled South Ossetia after beingforced from his home by Russian airraids. War has quickly escalated inthis region since late last week, withGeorgia agitating for greater controlof disputed territory in theCaucasus, and Russia goingaggressively on the attack with warplanes, tanks and troops. Like many here directly in the middle of it andsuffering the consequences,Chlukhadze blames GeorgianPresident Mikheil Saakashvili for the violence that left his family homeless."The [Georgian] government wasn't right. If they don't have enough force they shouldn't behave like this," he said.If Vladimir Putin's aim is regime change in Georgia, as American officials claim, it may already be working. Many of the weary-eyed refugees were too angry to speak to journalists.But they are bitterly angry with their government. "Kill Saakashvili," a few hissed.Four days into the conflict, the consequences of war are spreading quickly. In Tbilisi,refugees stand pleading outside government buildings, begging for food and shelter.Residents wake at night to the sound of bombs. Wounded soldiers flood Tbilisi hospitals.Doubts about the government's integrity are rising.
Indeed, the violence and chaos are eroding support for a president who was already waningin popularity. There still appears to be an urge among a majority here to rally around thegovernment and the country. It makes sense: They are at war and now are being occupied, with the Russian takeover of several Georgian cities. But with the rising deaths and numberof refugees, negative sentiment towards Saakashvili appears to be greater than ever before. At a hospital in Tbilisi hundreds of soldiers are recovering. Some complained of a lack of food and water, and poor planning in the field. At times, they weren't sure who the enemy  was. Twenty-two-year-old Vaja Lanchava lies limp in his bed. His bloody limbs shrouded ingauze, he says, in broken whispers, that the Georgian fighters never had a chance againstthe Russians."There was so much blood spilled and for what outcome?" said Lasha Lanchava, thesoldier's older brother. "He fought and was wounded for what result?"There is also great anger here at the West. The sense is that Europe won't intervene, because of dependency on Russian gas and oil. And many feel betrayed by America,especially with the Bush administration having been a vocal supporter of independentGeorgia. "As for now, I have no faith in the European Union or the United States," saysGiorge Abesadze, 25, a resident of Tbilisi. "I only have faith in myself, Georgia and theGeorgian people. Georgians have always been alone in the world." A few say America is MIA because it's fighting the wrong war in Iraq. "Things shouldn't haveturned out like this," says Gia Jibladze, 48, a poet. "Do you think we can depend on America's help? Of course we can't." Uncertainty and fear are palpable: "How long canTbilisi stand?" Jibladze added. What started as a battle to regain control of South Ossetia – a tiny breakaway region backed by Russia -- quickly escalated into what appears to be all-out war. The Russians' retaliation was far more ferocious than anyone expected. Russian forces have bombed a key port, blocked supplies from entering the country and taken control deep inside Georgianterritory.Temur Iakobashvili, minister of reintegration issues, said Russia has been planning theattack for a long time. "Russia dragged us into this war." But some Georgians affected by thefighting also blame poor leadership."We have an idiot president," said Marika, 40, a physician, who wouldn't disclose hersurname. "He ruined our country and that's his idiotic politics." She said her co-workershave no idea if their relatives in South Ossetia are dead or alive.Outside the mayor's office, 18-year-old Diana Khetaguri described the bombings in SouthOssetia. "I felt like the bomb fell right on our house," she said. "It had this horrible light -- itlit up everything."Khetaguri's house was destroyed on Friday. Her black leather sandals revealed pink toenailscaked with dirt. She and her family fled to a nearby village that was also destroyed by Russian air raids. With no money and no possessions, she waits to register for shelter.Choking back tears, she lamented the state of her country. "Nearly everyone can see whatkind of government we have," she said. "They shouldn't have let this happen."Still, the Russian attacks on Georgian soil have also rallied nationalistic support around

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