- Title: GEORGIA: Injured Georgian soldiers allege mistreatment in Russian captivity
- Date: 20th August 2008
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Georgian) SOLDIER DAVID ASLANMAZISHVILI SAYING: "As usual we were in our defensive positions. And no one from our side moved from our positions until we had the order from above. They were bombing us and it was happening often during the night for several minutes at a stretch, and they were bombing us during the day as well, but we never left our positions until we were ordered to do so"
- Embargoed: 4th September 2008 13:00
- Location: Georgia
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: International Relations,Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA90OW9RNL2IWAZ7NLNQN9N05YX
- Story Text: At the Vaziani army base near Tbilisi, soldiers conducted a drill on the parade ground in the sultry August heat on Wednesday (August 20).
Georgia's 28,000-strong armed forces have now withdrawn to their normal bases under the French-brokered peace plan.
But the soldiers are defiant in the face of defeat, and talked of stubbornly defending their positions during Russian bombardments.
"As usual we were in our defensive positions. And no one from our side moved from our positions until we had the order from above. They were bombing us and it was happening often during the night for several minutes at a stretch, and they were bombing us during the day as well, but we never left our positions until we were ordered to do so," Aslanmazishvili, 23, of the 4th infantry brigade, said proudly.
But there was frustration and disappointment too in his tone.
And other soldiers say they were badly mistreated while in Russian captivity.
David Malachini thinks he is lucky to be alive after being held hostage for 10 days in South Ossetia. But he says he is ready to go and fight again for Georgia once his wounds have healed.
Malachini is one of 15 Georgians exchanged for five Russian servicemen on Tuesday in a prisoner swap in central Georgia.
The twenty-six-year old said he would be happy to fight again if needed, as he lay in a hospital bed on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi, hooked up to an intravenous drip.
Malachini was injured in the leg in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali last week during heavy Russian aerial bombardment of Georgian forces.
With a dozen or so other soldiers he was taken captive. They were moved from cellar to cellar, and Malachini still does not know whether their captors were Russians or South Ossetians. He says he received no medical treatment and was sometimes beaten.
"They were treating us badly. They gave us no help at all. On the contrary, they were beating us,"he said.
Malachini had been part of a Georgian operation to recapture the rebel, Moscow-backed province of South Ossetia on Aug. 7-8.
The attack triggered a huge Russian counter-offensive into Georgia, the largest such military deployment by Moscow beyond its own borders since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Completely outnumbered and outgunned, Georgia's small, U.S.- trained and equipped army retreated, leaving Russian forces in control of swathes of its territory. Moscow says it will pull back all its forces to pre-conflict positions by Friday, after signing up to a peace plan brokered by France.
Russia says Georgia, a mountainous ex-Soviet republic of 4.5 million people, now stands no chance of recovering control of South Ossetia or of Abkhazia, a second breakaway province by the Black Sea also backed by Moscow.
Many analysts back this view.
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