Life in Georgia is slowly returning as refugees from the Russian military occupation return and re-populate towns and villages that have been deserted for 10 days. They find much of Gori ruined, especially any official or military location.
Civil service offices have been ransacked, and even the maps on the walls have had south Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia’s two breakaway regions, ripped out.
For two weeks only Russian soldiers and uniforms walked the streets. But now people are getting back to daily life. The market was open again and full of produce from the surrounding fields. But many are burdened by the terrible memories of conflict, their gaze met all around by bullet holes and shattered glass.
And some fear this is not the end of it. One elderly man said: “There’s no-one left in my village of Kurta. They’ve just flattened the village, and they said Kurta will be part of Russia. I’m really worried about this”.
A younger man showed similar concern: “The most important challenge now is to retake control of the villages under our jurisdiction before the conflict, bring our citizens home, and rebuild.”
Reconstruction will take time, and may yet take place under the watchful eyes of the Russians, now camped just down the road.