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Tbilisi August, 2008.

Posted by lahar9jhadav on August 12, 2008

Report from Tbilisi: Georgia Under Full Attack

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Tamuna Kekenadze: On Saturday morning, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili requested the Parliament to endorse his decision on declaring martial law on the entire territory of Georgia. The Parliament has approved the presidential decree immediately.

Georgia is currently under heavy attack from the Russian Federation for its attempt to fight back against the aggression of South Ossetian separatist armed groupings which are backed by volunteer armed groups from Russia, and Russian military aircrafts, which have heavily bombed the Georgian territory for two days from South Ossetia to the Black Sea, killing civilians. Clearly, Georgia is in the state of war. Georgian government is being punished by one of the world’s largest superpowers for protecting Georgian citizens and trying to renew the constitutional order within the internationally recognized borders of their country.

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The latest developments of warfare moving out of the conflict zone on Friday have severely affected the civilian population. Russian jets have bombarded cities, targeting Georgia’s economic infrastructure, military bases in Gori (80km from Tbilisi) and Tbilisi, Senaki, the country’s largest Black Sea port Poti, and the main road connecting the southern part of Georgia with the east and the airport. Bombing continues throughout Georgian territory, including the Upper Abkhazia. Lots of civilians have been killed and injured. The military base of “Vaziani” which was bombed by Russia on Friday night actually is located within the administrative borders of the Georgian capital.

Despite that the Georgian armed forces control the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali and most of the surrounding villages, except the Roki tunnel. This tunnel is of a strategic importance because it cuts through the Greater Caucasus Mountains, joining North Ossetia in the Russian Federation to South Ossetia. This tunnel was used on Friday by Russians to move in additional heavy military equipment and illegally let the armed groups of volunteers into the Georgian territory. Today the Russian military continues to enter Georgia through this tunnel.

The Georgian government is forced to fight not only on the ground but also virtually. Late on Friday evening Georgian government websites came under a cyber attack. A similar thing happened to Estonians a year ago when they were trying to resolve conflicting issues with Russia. Not only government but also mass media websites ceased to work due to this and still have not recovered. It has been done with one purpose – to cause chaos in the country, people not being able to follow the news, government not being able to communicate and post statements.

However, despite the disjointed communication the civilian population of Georgia has managed to remain calm and is showing its will to protect the country. On Friday President Saakashvili called for mobilization of reservists and the registration points saw large numbers of men also signing up voluntarily. Last night the inhabitants of Tbilisi, following the intense bombings, came together for a peaceful demonstration in front of the Russian embassy. They pledged for peace and asked Russia to stop the offensive but their calls remained unheard. Representatives of NGOs , artists, academics etc have started creating “Peace Councils” throughout Georgian cities , this way expressing their readiness to support Georgian government in this difficult times.

Tamuna Kekenadze lives in Tbilisi, Georgia, and serves as deputy head of New Generation – New Initiative (nGnI), which fosters democratic elections, furthers the NATO integration process as well as the active involvement of youth in civil processes.

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