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.
Borjomi, the beverage, has indeed outlived the Soviet Union. But the eponymous town of 16,000 is down at the heels. Even after Moscow this spring scrapped a seven-year embargo and allowed the salty drink back into Russia, once Borjomi’s largest market, few signs exist of an improvement in the fortunes of the sleepy mountain hamlet itself.
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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi. Justyna Mielnikiewicz is a freelance photojournalist also based in Tbilisi.