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Widespread Looting and Robbery as Russian Troops Move into Kaspi

gori081608.jpgThanks to a lawyer colleague of mine, I have been put into contact via telephone with a high-ranking official from the Georgian government, who has shared some firsthand reports from the ground. The official reports that a contingent of the Russian armored division stationed in Gori has moved on to occupy the nearby town of Kaspi, leaving in its wake hundreds of robberies and looting of stores. This report is consistent with other news reports of the expanded occupation of new Georgian towns, accompanied by theft and looting – and in some cases forced labor, which is the first apparent evidence of humiliation or abuse. According to my source, the details of many of these robberies would lead one to believe there is a psychological motivation. After raiding a warehouse near Gori, he says, dozens of Russian soldiers put on Georgian Army uniforms to gain access to homes, where robberies included everything from high-value domestic goods such as dishwashers, microwaves, and televisions, down to more confusing thefts – everything from toothbrushes to clothing to soap. Many of the Georgian casualties were also found to have been stripped of their boots, he says. It was a very sad conversation, but I was not inclined to doubt any of his claims.