Every month Yuriy embarks on a 17-hour drive from Donetsk to Tbilisi, crossing the tense borders between the Ukrainian war zone and Georgia. He presents an array of identification papers – a Ukrainian passport, a Russian passport and Ukrainian separatist-issued documents – to get through the various checkpoints.
He has been hauling his belongings and home furnishings – tiles, wallpaper and even a tandoor oven – from Ukraine to get ready for his new life in Georgia. A retired coal miner, Yuriy used his savings to build a house just outside Tbilisi, far from the chaos of eastern Ukraine.
Still a work-in-progress, the two-story house features four bedrooms and a sauna. A rugged, heavyset man, Yuriy labors up the stairs to show the best part – an enviable view of a massive water reservoir. “But you should really come back after I get this thing going,” he said, winking conspiratorially and pointing at a moonshine contraption down in the garden.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist and a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.