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Map of South Ossetia, showing the location of Tskhinvali (Tskhinval)
Tskhinvali (also spelled Cchinvali or Cxinvali; , ; , Tskhinval or Ch'reba; ), is the capital of South Ossetiamarker, a disputed region which has been recognized as an independent Republic by Russiamarker, Venezuelamarker and Nicaraguamarker, and is regarded by Georgiamarker as part of the Shida Kartlimarker region within Georgian sovereign territory under the Russian occupation.

It is located on the Great Liakhvi Rivermarker approximately 100 km (62 miles) northwest of the Georgian capital Tbilisimarker.


The name of Tskhinvali is derived from the Georgian Krtskhinvali ( ), literally meaning "the land of hornbeams", which is the historical name of the city. From 1934 to 1961, the city was named Staliniri ( ), after Joseph Stalin. Modern Ossetians call the city Tskhinval (leaving off the final "i", which is a nominative case ending in Georgian); the other Ossetian (unofficial) name of the city is Chreba.


The area around the present-day Tskhinvali was first populated back in the Bronze Age. The unearthed settlements and archaeological artifacts from that time are unique in that they reflect influences from both Iberian (east Georgia) and Colchian (west Georgia) cultures with possible Sarmatian elements.
A vintage photo of Tskhinval' by D.
Rudnev, 1886.
The monument to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.

Tskhinvali was first chronicled by Georgian sources in 1398 as a village in Kartli (central Georgia) though a later account credits the 3rd century AD Georgian king Asphagur of Iberia with its foundation as a fortress. By the early 18th century, Tskhinvali was a small "royal town" populated chiefly by monastic serfs. Tskhinvali was annexed to the Russian Empiremarker along with the rest of eastern Georgia in 1801. Located on a trade route which linked North Caucasus to Tbilisi and Gorimarker, Tskhinvali gradually developed into a commercial town with a mixed Jewish, Georgian, Armenian and Ossetian population. In the 1910s, its censused population was 5,033 with 42.3% Jews, 33% Georgians, 13.4% Armenians and 11% Ossetians.

The town saw clashes between Georgian People's Guard and pro-Bolshevik Ossetian peasants during the 1918-20 period, when Georgia gained brief independencemarker from Russia. Sovietmarker rule was established by the invading Red Army in March 1921, and a year later, in 1922, Tskhinvali was made a capital of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblastmarker within the Georgian SSR. Subsequently, the town became largely Ossetian due to intense urbanization and Soviet Korenizatsiya ("nativization") policy which induced an inflow of the Ossetians from the nearby rural areas into Tskhinvali. It was essentially an industrial center, with lumber mills and manufacturing plants, and had also several cultural and educational institutions such as a venerated Pedagogical Institute (currently Tskhinvali State University) and a drama theatre. According to the last Soviet census (in 1989), Tskhinvali had a population of 42,934.

During the acute phase of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, Tskhinvali was a scene of ethnic tensions and ensuing armed confrontation between Georgian and Ossetian forces. The 1992 Sochimarker ceasefire accord left Tskhinvali in the hands of Ossetians.

2008 South Ossetian War

Tskhinvali was shelled by the central Georgian government on 8 August 2008 with BM-21 "Grad" mobile artillery rocket systems in an attempt to regain control over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. Many civilians were killed, while the majority of the population left the town and fled into North Ossetia-Alaniamarker. After the bombings, the Georgian army invaded the city in an attempt to gain control of the capital. The Russian army responded on the following day by moving its own forces into the city and counterattacking the Georgian army. On 10 August Georgian forces pulled out of Tskhinvali that was captured by the Russian army after intense fighting. The town was heavily damaged during the battle. The Jewish Quarter - one of the town's unique neighborhoods was also reported to be destroyed. Andrey Illarionov, who visited the town in October 2008, reported that Jewish Quarter indeed was in ruins, he also observed that the ruins were overgrown with shrubs and trees, which indicates that the destruction took place during 1991–1992 South Ossetia War. However, Mark Ames, who was covering the Ossetian side of the story for The Nation, stated that Tskhinvali's main residential district, nicknamed Shanghai because of its population density (it’s where most of the city’s high-rise apartment blocks are located), and the old Jewish Quarter, were completely destroyed.


Currently, Tskhinvali functions as the capital of South Ossetiamarker. Before the 2008 war it had a population of approximately 30,000. The town remained significantly impoverished in the absence of a permanent political settlement between the two sides in the past two decades.

The city contains several monuments of medieval Georgian architecture, with the Kavti Church of St. George being the oldest one dating back to the 8th-10th centuries, as well as Ossetian buildings.

On August 21, 2008 a world-famous Russian conductor and director of the Mariinsky Theatremarker, of Ossetian origin, Valery Gergiev conducted a concert near the ruined building of South Ossetian parliament in memory of the victims of the war in South Ossetia.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Tskhinvali is twinned with the following cities:


Image:A rally in Tskhinvali after the war.jpg|A rally in Tskhinvali after the warFile:Obezd Prezidenta 3.JPG|Reconstruction in Tskhinvali after the warFile:Obezd Prezidenta 5.JPG|President Eduard Kokoity inspecting reconstruction work in August, 2009File:Palm Sunday procession in Tskhinvali.jpg|Palm Sunday procession in April, 2009File:Palm Sunday procession in Tskhinvali 2.jpg|Palm Sunday 2009File:Palm Sunday procession in Tskhinvali 3.jpg|Palm Sunday 2009File:Concert in Tskhinvali-2.jpg|Concert in Tshkinvali after the warFile:Fasad universitetskogo obshchezhitiya.JPG|University of Tshkinvali dormitoryFile:Zdanie shkoly no2.Chinval.JPG|School Number 2


  4. Abkhazia, S.Ossetia Formally Declared Occupied Territory. Civil Georgia. 2008-08-28.
  5. Словарь географических названий
  6. ИСТОРИЯ ЦАРСТВА ГРУЗИНСКОГО ("History of the Georgian Kingdom"), Вахушти Багратиони. Retrieved from on 24.08.2008
  7. The Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (UK) (2007) "Georgia: a toponymic note concerning South Ossetia"
  8. Ситуация в Южной Осетии и Грузии

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