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Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Saturday, 9 August 2008 16:28 UK

Georgian expats pray for peace in their homeland

Georgian protest in London

Hundreds of Georgians living in the UK staged a peaceful but passionate protest near the Russian Embassy in west London as serious fighting continued in their homeland.

They were shocked and saddened by the full-scale conflict which has erupted between their troops and Russia in the breakaway region of South Ossetia and central Georgia.

Armed with posters and Georgian flags, they were unanimous in their calls for the international community to intervene.

MAIA SIDAMONIDZE, 24, SALES MANAGER
Maia Sidamonidze

It is not a war between Georgia and South Ossetia.

Russia has created this situation. It is worse than the civil war in 1992 - they are bombing our cities in Georgia.

The Russians are trying to invade our country. Their peacekeepers in South Ossetia have been involved in provocation in order to the start the war on us. There have been shootings and kidnappings in our territory.

I do not think the Russians thought it would be broadcast everywhere. We want democracy, a peaceful life, to develop our country and be normal.

We need international support. If we let the Russians do this to us, they will do the same to other countries.

JABA NEMSADZA, 28, CARPENTER
Jaba Nemsadza

Georgia is a tiny country between Europe and Asia and there is big Russian interest because of the oil and gas pipeline.

People will say that we started the war but we had no choice.

The South Ossetian separatists are backed by Russia and the Russians said they moved in to defend their peacekeepers. We tried to strike a deal with the separatists.

The Russians knew they could do anything while the eyes of the world was on Beijing.

We want negotiations. Russia is killing a young democracy.

KETI KALANDADZE, 48, COMMUNITY ARTS WORKER
Keti Kalandadze

Our government has to give the chance to all the peaceful measures if it is possible. We are not going to win a war with Russia.

But in South Ossetia there are Georgians who asked their president to come and help.

Innocent people are dying on both sides. We want the UN and international community to interfere so there will be peace.

IVA DAVITAIA, 31, STUDENT
Iva Davitaia
I followed the development of events and I believe the president had no choice but to attack.

The South Ossetian regime is bombing our civilians. We were trying to negotiate to avoid full-scale military operations.

The South Ossetian regime and Russia are one and the same.

It is not an ethnic conflict in South Ossetia. We respect their right to autonomy, staying within Georgia.

Our country is a very small nation but a very proud one. We are trying to support our people, our soldiers and our values.

NATO JAVAKHISHVILI, 31,STUDENT
Nato Javakhishvili

My parents are in Tbilisi, my father is 78. I spoke to my mother and she said there was panic about food shortages.

It is really bad and I think the Russians just want to replace the pro-Western government by force.

There is no hatred between Georgians and South Ossetians - there are lots of mixed families. We have been living together for centuries and we are not going to divide the country.

This conflict is artificial - if the Russians were not there we will have peace.

DAVID MAGRADZE, 32, STUDENT
David Magradze

There is no-one in Georgia who wants this war.

The moment Russia leaves Georgian soil, there will not be another bullet fired.

The reason we have this trouble is partly because there was a big failure of Europe - Georgia was supposed to get membership of Nato but Germany and France blocked this.

Russia does not want Georgia to join Nato and the more unstable Georgia is, the more difficult the road to membership.




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