Florian Bachmeier – Abhazia, land of mortals



Apsny, the given name in the old language of the people living in this little stretch of land, between the northern shore of the Black Sea and the snow covered peaks of the southwestern Caucasus, is transcribed like that, land of mortals, or more popular, land of souls. And life is still fragile here, with memories on war, death and forced exiles still fresh and omnipresent. A frozen conflict, a disputed region, specially the district of Gali, the borderland with Georgia, populated mostly by Mingrelians, ethnic Georgians, living still with fear and in precarious conditions. Approximately 45.000 people fled from there at the outbreak of the Georgian-Abkhaz war in 1992 and returned in the years after the conflict to their homes, living under constant observation, with restricted rights in an underdeveloped, war-affected and poverty-struck region. After the fall of Sukhumi to Abkhaz Militia and their north-caucasian allies, outraged by rumors and reported killings of Abkhazian by Georgian military, many thousands of ethnic Georgians were executed and killed, 50.000 people abandoned the city fleeing to Georgia. War, war crimes and extreme cruelty left deep scares in society. Living in a place that does not exist on political maps, every individual struggles day after day with lack of perspectives and broken dreams.
After more than 20 years of isolation, all hope is reduced to personal achievements on a small scale, to make the best out of a situation as a pawn in a time of new political tensions between Europe and Russia, at the same time protectors and jailers.