Uzunkol valleys, Western Caucasus mountains, Karachay-Cherkessia

Uzunkol valleys – situated in Western Caucasus mountains, is formed by the confluence of Myrdy river (6km ) and Kichkinekol river (4km ). 

Uzunkol is located in Karachaevsky district of Karachay-Cherkessia, not far from Elbrus mountain which is the highest peak in Europe.

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Beautiful decay – Sukhumi, Abkhazia/ Georgia

Sukhumi – capital of Abkhazia, sitting on the shores of the Black Sea (142 km from Sochi).

Sukhumi became popular for being an exotic subtropical resort city. However the collapse of the Soviet Union, the war that followed and the international isolation of the small republic in the last 20 years have lead to significant decay of the once flourishing resort, like the neighboring Gagra resort town.

Certain spots have been recently renovated with the purpose of turning it into a tourist attraction during (and after) the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

* Abkhazia is a disputed region, officially part of Georgia but under Russian military control. More on Abkhazia conflict here Russia-Georgia war *

 

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Sukhumi massacre

During the war, on september 27th 1993, opposition forces broke the ceasefire agreement initiated by the United Nations and rounded up Georgian civilians in Sukhumi, who were executed. Many civilians had remained in the capital due to the ceasefire agreement; the number of  september 27th massacre victims was 1200.

Georgian civilians were massacred throughout Abkhazia in what has been officially classified as “ethnic cleansing” by OSCE. Georgian civilians evacuated towns in Abkhazia and left by foot to the Georgian border; many died on the way to the border due to the harsh conditions. More details here Russia – Georgia conflict.

Russia Georgia war Abkhazia Sukhumi massacre genocide Caucasus war

Civilians evacuating Sukhumi

Russia Georgia war Abkhazia Sukhumi attack North Caucasus war

Civilians evacuating Sukhumi last minute

Civilians Caught in Battle During Georgian Civil War

Russia Georgia war Abkhazia Sukhumi massacre genocide North Caucasus war

Streets of Sukhumi after the massacre

Russia Georgia war Abkhazia Sukhumi massacre genocide North Caucasus wars

Russia Georgia war Abkhazia Sukhumi massacre genocide North Caucasus conflict

Russia Georgia war Abkhazia Sukhumi massacre genocide North Caucasus conflicts

Russia Georgia war Abkhazia Sukhumi massacre genocide North Caucasus wars 1

Streets of Sukhumi after the massacre

Sukhumi hospital

Sukhumi hospital

Government House of Abkhazia Sukhumi Georgia North Caucasus

Government building

Adyghe people traditional costume (Circassian men, women)

adyghe traditional costume men Kabardino-Balkaria Karachay-Cherkessia

Adyghe people (Circassians) are people of the historical  Circassia. In the XXth century, the Soviet authorities divided the historic region into different republics  – Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia. The Soviet authorities also divided the unitary Circassian ethnicity into different categories: Kabardins (Kabardino-Balkaria), Cherkess (Karachay-Cherkessia), Adyghe (Adygea republic).

A significant part of the Adyghe population was killed during the Russian-Circassian war, and other Circassians were displaced to the Middle-East following forced migration.

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Below is a rare first-hand outlook on the Circassians, as seen by a British traveler in the 1830’s (before the expulsion of Circassians from the Caucasus).

Click on link Tales of travellers; A view of the world (published in 1838)

Extract

“The Circassians, who dwell in the mountain valleys, are a martial people, trained from infancy in the midst of arms and early habituated to systematic plunder, their exploits in which confer renown. The sole pursuit of the Circassians is predatory war against their neighbors: hence their courage, though individually unquenchable, and formidable in masses, is undisciplined. 

The warlike qualities are kept alive, moreover, by the incidents attending the political division of Circassians into distinct tribes, jealous of, and often at variance with, each other, which produces feuds, inroads, reprisals, all of which are esteemed honorable. Slaves are one of the principal objects of their barter-trade with the Turks. […]

The nation is now considered to consist of 10 principal states or tribes, compromising a population of about 2 millions. These tribes, though not bound by any federal policy, but existing in a state of mutual repulsion, sacrifice all feuds and jealousies, and unite as in one common cause, when the independence of their country is threatened from without.”

The “warlike quality” and the deadly feuds between tribes were a common feature of Caucasus population, being also found among Chechens, Ingush, Georgians etc.

Chechens and Ingush had their unique solid Nakh towers, which were built specifically  as a refuge not only from invaders, but also from their fellow tribesmen during their deadly feuds.

wedding-costumes circassia

Rural slavery was common among Circassians. After the Russian expulsion, Circassian women were sold as sex slaves by Circassian men to the Ottoman empire, when the term of “Circassian beauties” was born.

Read more on the subject in a rare 1856 article Horrible Traffic in Circassian Women—Infanticide in Turkey,” New York Daily Times, August 6, 1856

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Costumes were made of fabrics woolen and animal skin. More sophisticated fabrics appeared after year 1900.

Fiagdon river, Central Caucasus mountains (North Ossetia)

Gagra beautiful ghost city – Abkhazia

* Abkhazia is a disputed region, officially part of Georgia but under Russian military control. The state is recognized by Russia and a handful of small countries. More on Abkhazia conflict here *

Gagra is a coastal resort city on the Black sea coastline, situated below thick forests running up the foothills of the Gagra Mountains (of the Great Caucasus mountains). It is located 60 km from Sochi, spot of the 2014 Olympic Games.

In 1989, Abkhazia had a population of 525.000. people – with 48% Georgians, 17% Abkhazians and other minorities (Russians, Armenians, Greeks).

In 1991, following the collapse of Soviet Union and the independence declaration of Georgia – Abkhazians, backed by Russian forces, fought to separate Abkhazia from Georgia. During the 1991-1994 war – up to 15.000 Georgians were “ethnically cleansed” (read more CNN.com)  and 200.000-250.000 were permanently displaced.  Armenians, Greeks, Russians and moderate Abkhaz were also killed.

As a consequence, numerous villages and towns in Abkhazia were virtually emptied of its population (including Gagra), leaving behind “ghost cities”.