I ask my driver about the “bandits” who hide out in the mountains and attack the police. “The bandits are in Moscow,” he replies. “The boys in the woods are just regular guys. They don’t touch us. They’re against Russia.”
Less than an hour’s drive to the north is Tskhinvali, where fighting began after Georgian forces took the city following a night of heavy bombardment. Most houses had broken windows and were either pockmarked by bullets or gutted by shelling.