Foresaken Land: Abkhazia

Abkhazia is a disputed region on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus.

In my family archives there are a lot of vacation photographs of my grandparents, who spent their vacations there. This prosperous subtropical oasis and seaside resort was destroyed by civil war during the collapse of the  Soviet Union, and then broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s.

Although European Union, OSCE and NATO recognize Abkhazia as a part of the territory of Georgia, Abkhazia considers itself an independent state, called the Republic of Abkhazia or Apsny. Only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Tuvalu and Nauru have recognized its independence. 

Every year people celebrate the anniversary of state independence with a military parade marches, although their country doesn't exist on world political maps and an Abkhazian passport is invalid abroad. In September 2013, Abkhazia celebrated the 20th anniversary of the self-proclaimed independence. In these 20 years several generations have already changed, but for many of  those who survived the war few decades ago, this land is an unstoppable reminder of their collapsed dreams. Today's Abkhazia still doesn't know how to overcome the high level of poverty, criminality, ethnic friction, dependence on Russian donations and their 20-year-old isolation.

Abkhazia shares a common border with the Russian resort of Sochi, where the Olympic Winter Games will be held in February 2014. Many Abkhazian residents are looking forward to the Games with a hope that foreigners will finally visit their country. It remains to be seen if anyone will notice.

— Olga Ingurazova