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The roads and kitchen gardens of Khetagurovo, in South Ossetia (Georgia) are marked with large craters created by artillery shells.  Many of the craters are close together.  A Wall Street Journal reporter visited this village and talk to its people to help him understand the tremendous resentment toward the Georgian government here and why they see the Russians as their protectors.

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday August 23-20 4, 2008, page A6,

Khetagurovo, Georgia--- Grigory Niemi yet says his father Piatt tour, was standing in front of his two-story house in this tiny Ossetian village when shrapnel from a Georgian shell for part of his head off, killing him instantly.  His father's blood still stains the sidewalk outside.

Locals say an elderly woman named Tamara Mamiyeva (no relation) was burnt to death when another Georgian shell ignited a fierce fire in her home, opposite the Mamiyev’s.  The squat brick house where she lived is now a blackened husk.

As the world wonders why Russia and the tiny pro-Russian statelet of South Ossetia are so sure the fierce blows Moscow dealt Georgia this month were proportionate, the devastation wrought in this village offers important clues.  A visit to Khetagurovo, just 5 miles from Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, turned up evidence of indiscriminate shelling of civilian targets and accounts of the kidnapping of noncombatants.  Some of the survivors stories were independently confirmed; others couldn't be.

Locals say eight villagers were killed in a Georgian attack that began on August 7 and triggered a massive response from Russia.  That number could not be independently confirmed, but several freshly dug graves were found in Khetagurovo’s cemetery, set in the grounds of a handsome 12th century stone church.  The churchyard is littered with Georgian soldiers’ empty ration packs, Georgian cigarette packets, and shell casings.

Originally posted to nodular on Sun Aug 24, 2008 at 02:43 PM PDT.

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