Living on the Shifting Border of Georgia and Russia – The New York Times
14 February, 2018
Living on the Shifting Border of Georgia and Russia – The New York Times
Complicated relationship between Russia and Georgia is often spotlighted by international media. World’s leading newspaper, The New York Times devotes an article to the people who live on the shifting border of the two countries.

At the beginning of the article, the author Remy Tumin stresses the fact that breakaway region of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) is recognized by the United States and NATO as Georgian territory, but a Russian stronghold for the last 30 years.
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Nino showing her house, which
burnt down during the 2008 Russian-Georgian war.
Her family cannot afford to rebuild it. Zardiaantkari village,2017


“There are two kinds of people along the border, people who fight every day along the creeping border and people who have lost everything,” Georgian photographer Tako Robakidze told Nytimes. Tako grew up in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and documented the crisis in “Creeping Borders,” a new project. As Georgian photographer noted, for the people who live on the shifting border it is absolutely possible to wake up in the morning and find out their land or house in occupied territory.

As Nytimes reports, The Republic of South Ossetia is a self-proclaimed breakaway state backed and controlled by Moscow. “The mountainous region declared independence from Georgia in 1990, but it wasn’t until Russia invaded in August 2008 and recognized South Ossetia’s statehood that tensions began to rise, leading to a five-day war between Russia and Georgia” – the article reads.
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Locals celebrating the day of the Archangel in the village of Berushieti. 2017

It should be mentioned that the de facto border is recognized only by Russia and three other countries.

“Since 2008, more than 300,000 Georgians have been displaced from their homes. In 2011, Russia fortified the borders, putting fences and barbed wire across wide swaths of the region. Now, Georgians cannot come within 200 meters of the border or risk being kidnapped, detained and fined” – the magazine informs its readers.
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Marina was a school teacher in the village of Kemerti, which is now an occupied territory. 2017

“They can’t go near the border because they’re afraid of detention,” Georgian photographer Tako Robakidze told New York Times. “There are no more pastures because the land is occupied; they can’t have as many cows as they used to have.”

For more than a year, Ms. Robakidze visited villages across the region, where almost everyone has a similar tragic story. As she recalls, when talking with people who are in camps, they note that there was constant war in the area for the whole period. None of them could imagine something like this to happen, that they would leave their houses and never go back.
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Along the border, agriculture is the main source of income for families

Agriculture is the main field for developing the whole region, and this is the only way for the most local people to support their families. But, unfortunately, the fields have dried out. And when water is available, the valve is controlled by Russians.

“They work the land they still have, this is how most of the people support their family,” Ms. Robakidze said. “Without their land, they will have nothing.”
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Almost all of the water tanks are on occupied territory

Ms. Robakidze is working on an accompanying documentary for her project, and shared excerpts from her interviews with the villagers.

“No agreement matters, no kind of paper can stop a man who seeks war,” one woman told her. “When they say the war lasted five days, it was not five days of war for us. What awaits us? Are we going to remain in this messy scene? What do they want from us?”
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A woman at her destroyed house in the village of Zardiaantkari

Another interview was with an 80-year-old man who has been living in Georgia his entire. One day, he found out his house in occupied territory.

“I am told not to cross the fence, where should I go from here, I don’t know how to leave?” the man told her. “They said this territory is theirs and I told them, ‘I am 80-year-old man and I have been a citizen for Georgia for 80 years, and now I have to become a citizen of Russia?’”
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Mari's family had to flee from its homeland and is now living at the Karaleti I.D.P. Settlement

At the end of the article, the author notes that once Russians and Georgians had a good relationship. They used to celebrate holidays together and have mixed families. But the situation changed since then.

“Now they find small joys in any kind of celebration or holiday” – The New York Times reports.
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Peach trees in the village of Adzvi. 2017

Georgian photographer Tako Robakidze described the real situation on the Shifting Border of Georgia and Russia in just a few words: “You cannot predict what will happen,” Ms. Robakidze said, “they do not know what will be tomorrow.”

Read full article at nytimes.com

Related stories:

The New York Times on establishing the internet in Tusheti, Georgia’s remote highland

Georgian photographer depicts the creeping borders in her country

Russia's illegal borderization on Georgian territory continues! - What EUMM says

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