Khevsureti

Shatili Khevsureti medieval Georgia Caucasus mountains

Khevsureti is a historic region located in eastern Georgia on the border with Chechnya.

An ethnographic hypothesis claims the highlanders of Khevsureti are descendants of the last European crusaders. On the other hand, the towers and crypts of Anatori and Kistani have an obvious resemblance to Vainakh architecture from neighboring Chechnya.

The Khevsurs were traditional warriors and were regarded as guardians of the borders. They are adherent to Christianity, although they maintain significant pagan traditions as well.

Dagestan coastline – Caspian Sea

Akhtynsky

 

Akhty Dagestan Caucasus mountains beautiful landscape

 

Akhtynsky is a district situated in southern Dagestan on the border with Azerbadjan. It is inhabited mostly by Lezgin people, the second largest ethnic group of Dagestan (after Avars).

*Northern Azerbaidjan and southern Dagestan represent the historic homeland of the Lezgin people. The arbitrary state and border divisions made by the Soviet Union divided the Lezgin community as well, and in certain cases it separated families.

Abkhazia ~ Paradise Lost

 

beach gagra Abkhazia paradise lost abandoned cities Georgia Russia

Much of the tourism industry consists of Russian soldiers and low-income retirees

 

If there is a place on earth that inspires more melancholy, reminiscence and regret than Abkhazia, I have yet to find it. A republic of sighs, home to 250.000 people who still mourn their dead as much as they plan their future.

This year marks the 23rd anniversary of Abkhazia’s first declaration of independence from Georgia. That initial gesture of July 23, 1992, was boycotted by the ethnic Georgians in government and ignored by the outside world. But soon enough, it began a cycle of attacks and reprisals, fueled by alcohol, old grudges, and the chaos of the Soviet collapse.

In the chaos that followed, up to 15.000. civilians were killed, most of them Georgians. The O.S.C.E. (Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe) recognized the massacre of Georgian civilians – the Sukhumi massacre becoming the most notorious. Abkhazia denies such events and avoids talks on this matter. Also, the presence of over 3.000 Russian peace-maintaining troops in the region makes it a sensitive issue for the international community.

Over 250.000 Georgians, Abkhazians and other ethnicities living in Abkhazia became refugees, reducing the population to half (the 1992 Census counted a population of over 500.000 ).

Georgia has blockaded all southern routes by sea and land, and so Abkhazia has to rely on the kindness of its neighbor and patron Russia, with whom it shares a land border.

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The Russian involvement in the conflict has supposedly been neutral all along, however in recent years Russia  started to claim territory from the state of Abkhazia.

A territorial dispute has recently worsened the relationship between Moscow and its committed ally in the South Caucasus, Georgia’s separatist republic of Abkhazia. Read more here Russia and Abkhazia dispute border delimitation (2011)

“We had a poor understanding of what was going on that day, August 26, when Russia recognized us,” Khashig says. 

“It was an emotional wave. Only later did we figure out that we were not getting what we wanted. Earlier, even though nobody recognized us, we were truly independent. Now, after recognizing Abkhazia, Russia is swallowing us.”

Read more here Abkhazia And The Perils Of ‘Independence’

During the Sochi Olympics, Russia expanded its borders into Abkhazia. A so-called “temporary border”, it is unsure if this measure will be reverted. NATO raps Russia for expanding border into Georgia

 

 Photography by Yuri Kozyrev – 2011

 

And finally, a reminder of Abkhazia’s beauties…

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Egikal – Nakh settlements of Assa gorge (Ingushetia)

North Caucasus Ingushetia Egikal Tsey Loam Caucasus mountains Nakh Vainakh beautiful scenery

North Caucasus Ingushetia Egikal Tsey Loam Caucasus mountains Nakh

Egikal (Egik-aul) is a medieval Nakh settlement erected between the XII-XVIII centuries near Tsey Loam mountain in Assa gorge, Ingushetia.

*aul is the name given to villages/ settlements by Caucasian people

Assa gorge has numerous Nakh settlements since the region represented a political and economic center.

Map showcasing medieval settlements along Assa gorge

Map showcasing medieval settlements along Assa gorge (Egikal in the middle)

Egikal suffered great damage after the 1944 deportation of Ingush people, when its inhabitants were deported and the village was destroyed (it underwent partial recent restoration for tourism purposes).

The ruins carry pagan symbols , as the Nakh people (Chechen, Ingush) shared pagan beliefs before the conversion to Islam. There are numerous crypts and sanctuaries along the gorge.

Mount Kazbek – highest mountains in Europe

Mount Kazbek is a dormant volcano mountain, which at at 5.033 meters (16.400 feet) has one of the highest peaks in the Caucasus and in Europe.

It is located in Georgia and North Ossetia.

Shkhara is also one of the highest mountains (5.200 meters – 17.000 feet) – click on photo to view gallery

view to Shkhara mountains Georgia North Caucasus mountains

Sulak river – beauty and hydropower (Dagestan)

 

Sulak river stretches for 169 km from Georgia to the Caspian Sea in western Dagestan. Sulak canyon has a depth of 700-1500 meters and 5 hydroeletric power plants.

Russia is the world’s 5th hydroelectric power producer. Dagestan has almost all of the hydroelectric power resources in North Caucasus.


Sulak supplies electricity to Makhachkala – the capital city, which is 60 km (38 miles) from Sulak. Supply to many Dagestani villages is troublesome, and the situation extends to Makhachkala  itself (see here). Electricity is usually distributed to Russia’s biggest company RusHydro (state-owned), which exports it to countries like China.