In the morning of August 2 by ten in the morning they did not come. We waited for them, waited. And it was almost twelve o'clock in the afternoon. I started calling South Ossetia to congratulate our paratroopers. And they say to me: “On the night from first to second, Georgians — snipers and mortar gunners — fired upon Tskhinval, six people died, more than ten were wounded. So we are not up to the holiday. ” I understood why their representatives were not with us. At night, when they were informed about the shelling, they all urgently left for Tskhinval.
We have already remembered the dead, drank for the holiday. Therefore, I didn’t say anything about the shelling to the guys - but they were all in a samurai mood and would have gone on foot to Tskhinval without stopping. I just said to my asset: "We are meeting tomorrow, we need to discuss some issue."
On the third of August, I told them what had happened on the night from the first to the second of August and that the Ministry of Interior of South Ossetia was asking for help from people. The guys answer me: “You, commander, go to the place and figure it out yourself: who they need, how many people. We will need then three or four days: for someone to quit their job, for someone to arrange their own vacation, for someone to complete household chores. ”
On the night of August 4 and 5, I and five other paratroopers left for Tskhinval. We arrived at five in the morning. The leadership of the republic assigned us to the Ossetian battalion fighters who stood in Khetagurovo. This is the first settlement on the way from the Georgian positions to Tskhinval. It is shaped like a horseshoe and is surrounded on the perimeter by Georgian villages.
On the sixth of August there were two strongest shelling of Khetagurovo. I sent an SMS message to the Chairman of the Union of Paratroopers of Russia, Colonel-General Vladislav Alekseevich Achalov. He immediately called me back. Just went fight. I even picked up the phone in the direction that he himself heard what was happening.
The problem at that time was that against our hand grenade launchers and small weapons the Georgians had mortars, infantry fighting vehicles, that is, heavy weapons. Forces because of this, we were unequal with them.
The village of Khetagurovo itself is located on a high-rise. And on another high-rise about a kilometer, if in a straight line, the Georgians built a fortified area. There they buried BMP-2 in the caponiers, made long-term firing points. They also had mortars and heavy machine guns there.
Ossetian fighters were dispersed at checkpoints, which are located between Khetagurovo and Georgian villages. But the Georgians were mostly firing at the village itself. There were a lot of inhabitants in it, because they basically had nowhere to go. I have already spoken about the shape of the village in the form of a horseshoe. In Tskhinval it was possible to leave only along the Zar road, the section of which was well fired from the Georgian villages.
The goal of the Georgians was obvious: to inflict maximum losses on the civilian population, so that people would panic and start fleeing the village. The fact is that Khetagurovo was, as the military usually says, a tank-dangerous direction. It is through Khetagurovo Georgians Tanks and then entered into Tskhinval. And shelling is a fire preparation before a tank attack. Only usually in such cases, fire is fought at the enemy’s combat positions and their defensive structures. And here the Georgians leveled the village itself with the civilians.
Achalov says to me: “Go to Tskhinval to the Minister of Defense of South Ossetia, tell us about the situation and explain what is missing for organizing the defense. I, for my part, will go out to the First Deputy Minister of Defense of Russia, who previously commanded the Airborne Forces, and talk about the situation. ”
The first shelling lasted two and a half hours. After talking with Achalov, I turned to the commander of the Ossetian battalion. He gave me a car with a driver, and I went to Tskhinval to the Minister of Defense, Major General Vasily Vasilyevich Lunev, and told him about the situation. And he answers me: “I sent a request two months ago, where it should be, just for heavy weapons. But for now, silence. ” I also told him about the conversation with Achalov. And he told me: “It is inconvenient to act somehow over the head of my leadership.” And I sit and think to myself: “You, brother, the war begins, and you think about the chain of command”. But I didn't say anything out loud - he is still a general, I can't talk to him like that.
On that day, just during a meeting of the security forces of South Ossetia in Tskhinval, where I was present, there was the second strong shelling of Khetagurovo. Therefore, on the night of August 7, the South Ossetian Defense Ministry sent three T-55 tanks and two infantry combat vehicles to Khetagurovo. By the way, all the armored forces of South Ossetia at that time consisted of five T-55 tanks of the 1955 model of the year. And these three tanks began an artillery duel with Georgian fortified skyscrapers, from where they fired at Khetagurovo.
Says tankman Vladimir V .:
- In Khetagurovo we arrived in the morning of August 7. We were given the task of destroying the Georgian fortified area, which was located on a high-rise building near Khetagurovo. In 2004, the Georgians beat off this high-rise. And over the next four years, this fortified region “drank all the blood” from those who were in Khatugurovo: from there, shelling of the village itself and the positions of our fighters around it constantly went.
We discovered the Georgian positions in advance and knew that the Georgians had a tank, infantry fighting vehicles and "bassoons" (anti-tank missile systems. - Ed.). We decided to use the so-called “tactics of jump” against the Georgians. This is quite a risky venture, but it has produced results. The bottom line is this: our infantry fighting vehicle leaves the shelter for an open place, opens fire on Georgian positions and moves back as quickly as possible. The Georgians, of course, answer: they hit the place from where the BMP fired. But she is no longer there, she has departed. And at this moment we mark their firing points. Then our tank goes straight, makes several shots and also moves back.
The fight turned out to be transient, lasted no more than an hour. We had to go out on direct fire three times. In the tank I had a full ammunition - forty-one projectile. We fired quite intensively, and I fired all the shells, except fifteen armor-piercing. They shoot in this situation was useless: after all, it's just iron bars.
According to the results, we can say that we shot out successfully, almost every shot found its target. Georgian tank, BMP and almost all those who were on the high-rise, were destroyed. After the war, I climbed to this height, and then I talked with the residents of the surrounding villages. They said that after this battle, about forty Georgians were left to lie here.
Yes, one more thing is interesting. Then, precisely on the seventh of August, television journalists from one of the Russian channels worked in Khetagurovo. The battle began, and they were shooting with television cameras, and at the same time we were still assigned tasks: turn the tower there, turn it here ... I had to get out of the tank and send them far away. And just at that moment, a shell is torn right next to the TV people. The place is swampy there, so the correspondent was covered with mud from head to toe ... We thought that he, for sure, came to an end, because the gap was very close. We run up - and he is all dirty, his eyes blink. But - not a single scratch! ..
When the battle was over, the connection was almost completely lost: the Georgians began to jam her. And sometimes the connection appeared again. But, as it turned out, just at this very moment the Georgians recorded our negotiations.
Our shells are over, there was no place to fill the tanks, so we had to leave Khetagurovo to Tskhinval. And at four o'clock in the morning of the 8th of August, Georgian troops already entered Khetagurovo. Our tanks, on the same day, transferred even further, to Java. After all, the Russian troops, who had already begun to approach Tskhinval, in the heat of battle could well have confused the Ossetian tanks with the Georgian ones.
Alexander Yanovich Slanov reports:
“The stronghold in the high-rise managed to destroy.” But then the Georgians began to shoot at Khetagurovo from 152-millimeter self-propelled guns (self-propelled artillery. - Ed.). These installations were in the neighboring Georgian villages at a distance of no more than five kilometers. Two and a half or three long-suffering Khetagurovo Georgians from these "saushek" ironed for about an hour.
Our T-55 tanks are very old. And their lifespan was almost fully developed, and their ammunition was also old. And in general, after the intensive battle, our shells are almost gone. Therefore, our tank crews could no longer fully continue the artillery duel with Georgian self-propelled guns.
In Tskhinval, on the afternoon of the seventh of August, it became known that Saakashvilli was on television and announced a truce. Our attitude to his speech was twofold. It seems that he officially announced a truce, in fact, this is a serious statement, so, at least, it should be. Therefore, we still had hope for peace.
I left Khetagurovo to meet with the Minister of the Interior in order to discuss the issue for which I ended up here - the recruitment of riot police. My friend, who came to Khetagurovo to pick me up, took me from there. The minister said that he was going to negotiate with the Georgians. Then he says: “Tomorrow, come at ten o'clock, we'll talk more with you.” Then there were already problems with gasoline. A friend suggested to me: “Come on, you will spend the night with me, so as not to drive the car back and forth. And tomorrow, after talking with the minister, I will take you to Khetagurovo. ”
At half past eleven on the night of August 7, the first mines and shells flew to Tskhinval, and then the city began to work. Many people in the city were already asleep at that time. Someone else was watching TV, someone was late with dinner. And here begins a massive artillery fire on the sleeping, essentially, city. Worked very methodically and in an organized way. CITES will produce a volley, begin to reload - at this time beat 152-millimeter SAU and 120-millimeter mortars. Everything was thought out.
But tanks could enter Tskhinval practically only through Khetagurovo. Our fighters, who were mostly scattered around checkpoints, were ordered to retreat to Java along the Zar road. It hurt the forces were unequal. Hand grenade launchers, which were ours, hit only six hundred and fifty meters. And the tank has a direct shot range of almost two kilometers. Therefore, the Georgians, whose tanks entered Khetagurovo at four o'clock in the morning, the village, one might say, simply unrolled the caterpillars as they wanted ...
On the morning of August 8, “rooks” appeared over Tskhinval (SU-25, a front bomber. - Ed.). They flew very low, it was clear that they were camouflage. The people thought it was the “rooks” of the Russian people, people ran out into the streets - they wave their hands, greet them. And Georgian aircraft at this time turned around and hit the civilian population with rockets.
By two o'clock the Georgians occupied more than half of Tskhinval. There was resistance all over the city. Some of our fighters managed to move away, while others remained in the rear of the Georgians. As they advanced through the city, their artillery carried fire to those areas that had not yet been captured so that they would not strike at their own. I myself was at this time in the area of Tekstilshchiki. On it the fire of hail practically did not stop. Minutes for three intensity subsided, although at this time shells from SAU and mines flew all the same. And then again began to work hail.
I can say for sure that the residents of Tskhinvali held together very closely. They helped each other, hid in their basements those who had no basements. There was no particular panic either. But there was an absolute understanding: hope is only for Russia. Everyone was waiting: well, when will the Russian troops finally appear?
At around three o'clock in the afternoon of the eighth of August, Russian military commanders went on the radio. We began to request ours by their call sign: "Where are you, go to the position." They answer: “Good. Will there be any help? ” Answer: "Yes, there will be help." But, as far as I know, by that time the Russian troops had not entered the territory of South Ossetia.
Our fighters from the Ministry of Defense of South Ossetia, the Interior Ministry, the KGB, the militia regrouped and attacked the Georgians. In the city, having hand grenade launchers, it is already possible to fight with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers. Remember how many of our tanks were shot down at the time of the storming of Grozny. I don’t know how many units of Georgian armored vehicles were shot down. But the figure sounded: about twenty-five. On the streets there are many dead Georgians. When they were attacked, they began to run into houses, hide ...
I was near the radio station, which worked on the wave, where our field commanders conducted negotiations among themselves. They asked each other about the situation in the area of responsibility, coordinated actions. And through their talks, it became clear that by eight o'clock in the evening Tskhinval had been practically cleared. About nine o'clock two BMPs were shot down and two more BMPs were captured. Besides, the villages near Tskhinval were also cleaned.
Shelling continued all night from eighth to ninth. Again, dozens of hailstones, self-propelled guns and mortars hit the city again. On the morning of August 9, their attack aircraft again bombed the city. On the morning of August 9, closer to the dinner, Anatoly Konstantinovich Barankevich went on the air. Previously, he was the Minister of Defense of South Ossetia, then became secretary of the Security Council. He himself was also in Tskhinval on the eighth of August, personally knocked out a tank. He requested the call of the field commanders. Those reported to him the situation. The negotiations were, of course, conditional codes. Barankevich, in turn, was visited by a representative of the Russian troops, his call sign was “Strelok” (the call sign was changed. - Ed.).
Our commanders reported to Barankevich that they were observing a large accumulation of Georgian infantry and about one hundred and fifty armored vehicles. They called the coordinates. Barankevich gave these coordinates to Strelka and said: “Guys, cover them while they are in the area of waiting or concentrating.” They replied: "We understand you, now we will cover with artillery." An hour and a half or two hours passed, but the Russian troops didn’t open fire on the gathering of Georgian manpower and equipment ...
I myself was all in the same area Tekstilshchiki. He was constantly upstairs, but somewhere for dinner he went down to the basement, where the radio station was located, to listen to the latest news. Women cry. I ask: "What happened?". They answer: “The commanders on the radio report that the grenade rounds are almost over. From the district, which is popularly called Shanghai, Georgian troops began to enter the city again. ”
Resistance to the Georgians was still, our guys rested to the last. But already had problems with ammunition, especially with rocket-propelled grenades. Without this, how to fight tanks? I heard the field commanders interrogate each other about what was left of them, and discussed how to keep the defense going. And the situation has reached the point that the Georgians have already begun stripping in the areas through which they entered Tskhinval. As far as I know, twelve thousand Georgian infantrymen and about one hundred and fifty armored vehicles entered that day. There were still no Russian troops in Tskhinval.
Then, in this critical situation, the decision was made: as long as there is an opportunity, to break through and take out the women who were in the basements to Java. There are two Zar roads: one is old, the other is new, a bypass. The women and I went to the old Zar road, I was on it for the first time in my life.
When we climbed the mountain, the view of Tskhinval opened. He looked like Stalingrad. There were several Russian infantry fighting vehicles on the road, but they did not enter the city ... Further along the road, Georgian villages met. There we were fired at by the Georgian BMP-2. I did not immediately notice her, she was camouflaged. Our BMP is all painted khaki. God bless this Georgian - ֪ BMP operator - because he didn’t get into us. We are on a white old gazelle barely crawling up the hill. He turned four rounds, and they lay right next to the gazelle. He shot from the bottom up, but the distance in a straight line was only about three hundred or four hundred meters which meant he could have been blown apart. I don’t know: whether he didn’t want to hit us, or he somehow didn’t take the target.
We jumped over the mountain and began to descend. Here we were shot at from a PC (Kalashnikov machine gun. - Ed.). It's good that we went under the slope, and they, it seems, only at the last moment we noticed. They gave a long line to the tracer, but according to us, thank God, they did not hit either.
Then we drove up to some village, where Russian tanks were already equipped with active armor, with guards badges on the hatches. We saw how wounded Russian soldiers were loaded into "Urals". Then we jumped out of the old Zar road to a new one. And our “sushki” were already there, at regular intervals - “Tunguski” (an anti-aircraft missile-gun complex for fighting air targets. - Ed.). And when we descended along the serpentine road to Java, we saw Russian tanks, armored vehicles marching towards us ... And at that moment we felt that victory would be ours.
The most terrible thing in all this nightmare was the doubt that the Russian leadership in general would decide on the deployment of troops. When I went down to the basement, the women cried because more than half of the city Georgians took. Stripping began, information appeared about the destruction of the civilian population. And women with crying asked: “Where is Russia, did she really leave us?” But Russia, thank God, did not abandon them in trouble.