Georgian Diaspora in Kazakhstan
25 July, 2013
Georgian Diaspora in Kazakhstan
Inteview with Zviad Apkhazava, Head of Diaspora

Zviad Apkhazava comes from Sokhumi. Since 1985 he lives in Astana, Kazakhstan. We found it quite interesting to meet with this successful Georgian man who happens to be the Head of the Georgian Diaspora in Astana and at the same time, he is a man of business.
Z.A: I arrived here in 1985. I studied here. Later, I worked on railway for 23 years. Then we founded a society of Georgian Diaspora and
named it “Kolkheti”. Now in Astana there are around 60 Georgian families. Roughly speaking, there are around 1000 legal Georgians in the country, but those who come and leave are much more. We have communications with all Diasporas residing in various Kazakh cities. We meet frequently. President Nazarbayev pays a lot of attention to it that all its citizens are equal. We do not feel that we are oppressed. Now we are in business too... (smiles)
G.J: What kind of business?
Z:A: We have the restaurant “Bagrationi” (the place, where we met). But Georgian restaurant is not the only one here. It was the President’s wish to have multinational restaurants in the center and there are some Italian, Uzbek and other restaurants besides ours. We also have a sport-bar.
G.J: How do you live here?
Z.A: Nobody was paying any attention to us earlier. But during Saakashvili’s rule, the Sunday school was opened here and a lot of immigrant Georgian kids learned their mother tongue. There was a great support in education too as our graduates were admitted to the Georgian universities at our homeland without any exams. As a result, 15 families have returned to Georgia. I also wish to come back. My family is already there. We hope that under present Georgian administration, the attention to us wills be maintained. People here are really nice, hospitable and respectful. They resemble us thanks to their traditions: marriage, engagement etc. They have particular respect for the Caucasians and even more for Georgians.
G.J: Which dishes are most popular?
Z.A: Khachapuri and Khinkali. Our restaurant is very popular here. Respectable people visit us and leave our restaurant with a sense of content. We have Georgian singers from Tbilisi. We - Georgians – often have reunions, at the birthdays, weddings, and even without them because we inspire one another.
G.J: What about other Georgians – what is their main occupation here?
Z.A: They do small business. But there are some Georgians doing big business too. For instance, Nika Sirbiladze is the director of a big factory. Apart from this restaurant, we have a holding and we produce soft drinks. We also sow wheat. This country has a great potential in many directions. Many thousands of hectares are cultivated here.
G.J: Do you help unemployed Georgians here and in Georgia?
Z.A: Yes. I have recruited 12 Georgians and they work here in my restaurant. We also invest in Georgia in the field of construction.
G.J: What are your requests?
Z.A: We are very grateful. We do not have many claims. We are sure that Bidzina Ivanishvili will do more for the Diasporas. We like it here very much but we want to come back as the future is not clear for our children even though President Nazarbayev is really open for us. Still, in the governmental sector, there might be some problems, and no one knows what will happen after this president. Everyone wants him to rule as long as possible.
My daughter and son are in Georgia and I also want to go back. As for the business, people say that there was more pressure during Saakashvili’s rule, but the change of power is always painful and therefore, business activities are hampered for the time being.
We thanked Mr. Zviad Apkhazava for being a cordial host at the Georgian restaurant as well as for the wonderful live concert of Georgian trio, which performed Georgian and Kazakh songs; one more proof that our nations are great friends and will stay friends in future.

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