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12 Jul, 2007 01:00

Georgia and South Ossetia: propaganda war goes on

The conflict between Georgia and its breakaway republic of South Ossetia is now in a quiet stage. There have been has no incidents in the conflict zone for the past few days, but the propaganda war between the two sides has not stopped for a moment.

The Georgian breakaway republic of South Ossetia proclaimed independence in 1991, and Georgia sent its troops, sparking a violent conflict. The fighting stopped only when CIS peacekeepers entered the republic in 1992. Since then, there’ve been hundreds of small incidents, but the peacekeeping forces manage to prevent significant loss of life.

People in South Ossetia have become accustomed to the sound of fighting. But apart from gunfire and grenade blasts, there’s another battle going on: the propaganda war between Georgia and South Ossetia. No matter if it’s a water supply dispute, or another shooting at the checkpoint, there are conflicting reports coming from both sides.

Georgia is to blame says this official in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia.

“They cultivate the image of Georgians as the only ”normal“ ethnic group. Saying that it’s because Georgians are closer to the West. I don’t know what they mean by ”normal“ in this case. But there’s definitely a propaganda war going on,” Mikhail Minzaev, South Ossetian Interior Ministry Representative, said.

But the Georgians also accuse their counterparts of unfair propaganda.

“This situation has existed for some time. They use any mechanisms. They announce pretty strange things in the press, but I don’t think we should pay any attention to it,” Ruslan Abashidze, Georgian Minister on Conflict Resolution, replied. 

Meanwhile life in Tskhinvali, which has been practically under siege for the past 15 years, is taking its own direction. In between shootings children play in the school playground, the market is open and doctors perform operations. People are just trying to live a normal life.  

“Bullets and lies, they are almost equally dangerous. Especially when there’s this disinformation coming from the Georgian side – it’s very painful,” Fatima Margieva, Hotel Administrator from Tskhinvali, says.

The conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia shows no signs of ending and difficult times are still ahead for both sides.