Ossetian elderly live in ruins and pain over loss of children

Many homes in South Ossetia still bear the scars of last year's war. For the elderly the past 12 months have been a challenge, coping with family losses while living in the rubble of Tskhinval.

Kaurbek Chuachiev’s two sons were killed by Georgian soldiers and his wife passed away because she couldn’t bear the pain. He was paralyzed and has spent last few years in Tskhinval’s only retirement home, which also became a target of Georgian aggression.

“They wanted to kill us at first, but I told them, ‘Look at us – we’re dying anyway.’ I guess that’s why they let us alone,” he said.

Kaurbek was among the 22 residents when Georgia launched its attack. Their retirement home is located on the outskirts of the city and was among the first buildings along the invaders’ route.

For several days the streets around were filled with Georgian tanks and soldiers. As the residents struggled to survive using the little supplies they had, Georgian troops continued firing at surrounding buildings, blocking all entrances to the retirement home.

Inessa Dzukkaeva, a nurse, risked her life in order to bring food and water to the retirement home residents. As violence spread around the city, she recalls looking out the window and witnessing an intensely disturbing incident.

“A pregnant woman was running across the street – she was shot by Georgians before she could reach safety,” she said. “Later, her unborn child was laid next to its mother’s body.”

Holes from shots can be found almost on every wall and in every room. Sometimes bullets hit even the residents’ beds and they say it was amazing no one was killed.

“The Georgians thought our land was theirs and did whatever they wanted,” Grigory Abaev, a local resident, said. “If it wasn’t for Russia, this whole building would have been a bloody mess. Thank you.”

Despite the devastation caused by Georgian attacks, the staff of this retirement home agreed to help two Georgian pensioners seeking help during the conflict.