For many in Georgia, Russia’s annexation Crimea is reigniting fears about separatism rooted in ethnic conflict and Kremlin meddling. But now Georgians aren’t just worrying about the breakaway entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, they also are concerned about the loyalty of the predominantly ethnic-Armenian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti.
The last time 76-year-old Venera Oshoridze saw her son, Kakha, was September 15, 1993.
A pensive 20-year-old who loved his friends, his mother’s fried potatoes, and dreamed of going to college, Kakha volunteered to fight in the Abkhaz war just days before Tbilisi lost the battle for Sokhumi on September 27, 1993.
In 1972, legend has it, Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky insisted on featuring bottles of Borjomi mineral water in his science-fiction classic Solaris to emphasize that the beverage, a Soviet cultural icon, would exist far into the future. He was right.
In the Georgian village of Ergneti, many still look at the South Ossetian peace process down the barrel of a gun. But villagers and the Georgian government hope that, one day, progress will be measured by growing trade at the local market.
Hundreds of spectators drop their jaws and look up to watch a man suspended from the ceiling by his arms. His wife, suspended above him, steps on his head, then his back, and twirls him like a pinwheel as they slowly float down to the center of the ring.
Twenty-year-old Issac Nyengue, a defender from Cameroon, a football hotbed in Africa, was looking for a little payday and a chance to gain valuable experience in what he thought was a professional European league. So he seized on an opportunity to go the South Caucasus country of Georgia, which aspires to host the 2020 European Football Championships.
During the Soviet era, international athletic competition was often seen as an extension of politics. Fans exuded a similar vibe during a recent rugby contest between the Georgian and Russian national teams in Tbilisi.
More than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, women in many parts of Georgia have become more outspoken on gender issues. But in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, a three-kilometer-wide, 30-kilometer-long valley that borders Russia, change is complicated.
It might not be Tbilisi’s oldest legitimate profession, but, arguably, it is its most idiosyncratic. And there are signs it may be dying out, for few people are interested in becoming masseurs in Abanotubani, Tbilisi’s legendary bathhouse district.
As would any farmer with 750 hectares of land to cultivate, 68-year-old Piet Kemp likes to talk crops with the locals. But Kemp usually needs a Georgian translator to do his talking. A continent away from his native South Africa, Kemp now runs a corn business in the southern Georgian region of Kvemo-Kartli, not far from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.