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27 Apr, 2009 04:53

Life after war in South Ossetia

South Ossetia is bouncing back, trying to restore destroyed homes, and healing its psychological wounds. However, many residents fear the current peace won't last long.

Seventy per cent of capital Tskhinval is still in ruins, following the war with Georgia. But, life is going on. Eight months since the war ended, this destruction still reminds the locals of Georgian aggression – and it is no surprise that even children here have only one subject to focus on.

12-year old Serezha Kachmazov, like many of his friends, stayed in a basement during the shelling. On hearing the sound, he burst out laughing.

“What was I supposed to do?" he said. "Cry? No, I am a man… I will not cry, because I am a man.”

Olga Mikhailidi, his teacher, says it was a psychological reaction from the stress of the situation. He was laughing instead of crying, she says – and this behavior still happens with him. The teacher says children have become aggressive since the war.

“We were making a snowman in the winter, and I saw how children began to destroy it. That’s how destructive energy comes out… It's all horrible and scary, of course,” says the teacher.

Natalia Suprunova is the only practicing psychologist in South Ossetia. Her working place is in the tent, which she has to share with some other departments of the ministry she works in. Natalia talks about the residents’ disorders she comes across daily.

“Memory loss, speech disorders… After the war they don’t sleep well, have become very aggressive. Many of them have experienced things that others don’t experience in their lifetime,” Suprunova said.

Timur Tskhovrebov, a local resident, has shown the RT team the place where he hit a Georgian tank last August. He says his life was constantly in danger, and he is happy to be alive. His country was in a state of war with Georgia for twenty years, he says, and finally took the victory.

“If we had lost, I would have died. I paid a high price, and knowing that this was not in vain really helps me. I am still in euphoria, despite all the trouble,” said the man.

People here continue to suffer from the aftermath of the war. Many of them keep their papers at hand, should they need to make a quick escape. The society is divided into two parts, the psychologists say: those who hope for peace and those who believe there will be a repeat of Georgian aggression. But one thing is for sure – the consequences will last a while, the doctors say.