Abkhazia is an unrecognised republic between Russia and Georgia. Most of the world would consider it a part of Georgia – but Abkhazia staked its claim for independence during the 1992-93 Abkhaz War. Russia’s support for the breakaway state was one of the factors involved in the Russian-Georgian conflicts of the 1990s and today Abkhazia survives as what they call a ‘Post-Soviet Frozen Conflict Zone.’ The war here is far from over, and an uneasy ceasefire rests over the Georgian-Abkhaz border; which is guarded now by Russian soldiers, tanks and snipers.
Heading into Abkhazia I didn’t know what to expect. The UK government website, on its travel advice page, had coloured the whole region in red and advised strongly against any travel to Abkhazia.
Well, the heavily militarised border was exactly as I’d imagined it… but what I didn’t expect, after that, was to find myself in a sleepy seaside town full of palm trees and tropical beaux-arts architecture.
The following collection of images come from Sukhum, the Abkhaz capital – and before the end of this month, I’ll write an article to go with them.