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Zerti - main road, east view
Main road in Zerti. Photo: ESI

The village of Zerti belongs to the northern region of Shida Qartli, located 5 km from the de facto border with the breakaway region of South Ossetia and 15 km from Gori.

In 2002, the statistical office counted 2,706 people living in Zerti. However, in August 2008the people of Zerti fled their village in the face of back-and-forth Russian troop movements between Gori and South Ossetia.

'There are no more than a 100 men left in the village now' said Giorgi on 20 August 2008.

Giorgi is the son of Lela G. and Gia T. He had to flee his village with his mother and brother due to the recent events in South Ossetia and Gori. His father Gia, however, stayed behind.

As Giorgi describes:

'Russians have not entered Zerti before we left, but there were Russian military planes and helicopters flying over us… also some bombs were thrown in land plots and gardens located around Zerti, burning them.'

The consequences of being so close to the 'de facto' border with South Ossetia were felt in Zerti even before the events of August 2008. Economically, Russia's embargo on Georgian agricultural products had an immediate effect on the incomes of Zerti's farmers, who were selling their produce in both South Ossetia and Russia.

During Soviet times, the collective farm in Zerti played a big role economically, employing around 700 people. In addition, a poultry farm in the nearby village of Mejviriskhevi provided employment for another 60 people from Zerti. Work on the farms

October 2008

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29 October 2008, 00:00