ABKHAZIA

There is an old legend the Abkhaz people like to tell to the visitors: when God gave each nation its place under the sun, the Abkhaz was too busy taking care of his guests so he came in late and there was no land left for him. But God remembered the great hospitality of the Abkhaz, so he gifted him the only place left where God himself wanted to live - the small region on the shores of the Black Sea.

Unfortunately the real life is only a distorted reflection of this legend. Abkhazia, once one of the most beloved touristic regions of the Russian Empire and later of the Soviet Union, is really a lost place on the world map. Officially still a part of Georgia, separated after the civil war of 1992, it’s a state recognized only by Russia and just a couple of other countries.

The small stripe of land between the sea and mighty mountains of Caucasus, only a fifth of the size of the Netherlands, it is long forgotten by the global media circus as well as by international politics. Without any real industry, infrastructure or educational power it survives on occasional nostalgic tourism from ex-USSR citizens, foreign Abkhaz diaspora and scarce Russian alimony.

The story „Abkhazia“ is a portrait of the country that is caught in a two decade long sleep without any signs of waking up in sight. It researches the everyday life of people who try to exist within this uncertainty, within a system that doesn’t have a future and doesn’t seek one.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Sukhum, 17/05/2016. The National Dance Ensemble „Caucasus„ before a performance.
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Abkhazia, Sukhum, 17/05/2016. The National Dance Ensemble „Caucasus„ before a performance.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Image from the ABKHAZIA photography project
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Abkhazia,Sukhum, 09/09/2015. "New District" in Sukhum. This neighborhood was most frequently bombed during the Georgian-Abkhazian war 1992/93.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Image from the ABKHAZIA photography project
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Abkhazia, Bzyb Village, 14/05/2016. On my way to the lake Ritsa, I passed through the Village Bzyb and noticed the sign "Zoo at home". An unattached lion licking his lips and a woman with a child - that what I saw when I opened the door. "Don't worry, the lion has just eaten!" - told me the man, the owner of this zoo. By paying a small entrance fee for the animals feed you can also see some other animals and birds.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Image from the ABKHAZIA photography project
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Abkhazia, 08/2018. Postcards with the images from "Abkhazia" project were spread among the locals and tourists in Abkhazia to give them an opportunity to write their message to the world.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Sukhum, 11/05/2016 Aditsa Tsikytania, a socialite, fashion blogger, and lawyer in her living room.
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Abkhazia, Sukhum, 11/05/2016 Aditsa Tsikytania, a socialite, fashion blogger, and lawyer in her living room.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Upper Eshera, 22/07/2019. In the Upper Eshera.
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Abkhazia, Upper Eshera, 22/07/2019. In the Upper Eshera.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Image from the ABKHAZIA photography project
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Abkhazia, Duripsch village, 09/05/2016. Etluhov Islam (38) is celebrating his victory in the horse racing. Important horse racing and national sports such as horse-football take place twice a year in Abkhazia: on May 9th (also known as a Victory Day in the USSR that celebrates the end of the WWII) and September 30th (Georgian-Abkhazian war).

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Image from the ABKHAZIA photography project
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Abkhazia, Sukhum, 08/01/2016. Sukhumi’s Monkey Nursery was renowned in Soviet times for training monkey astronauts (eight from here made space flights in the 1980s) and as a medical research centre. Now it has only around 300 African and Asian monkeys in sad, smelly cages. Still, it‘s a popular tourist attraction.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Image from the ABKHAZIA photography project
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Abkhazia, Sukhum, 03/01/2016.It has been almost 8 years since the last big snowfall in Sukhum. Everybody was outside making a "snowman", playing snowballs or just walking through the snow. The girl on the picture is making a part of a big snowman.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Eshera, 07/07/2017. Potatoes are stored on a floor in order for them to stay dry.
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Abkhazia, Eshera, 07/07/2017. Potatoes are stored on a floor in order for them to stay dry.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Ochamchire, 18/07/2018. The woman is enjoying the hot spring in Ochamchire.
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Abkhazia, Ochamchire, 18/07/2018. The woman is enjoying the hot spring in Ochamchire.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Pskhu, 05/09/2015. Children playing in the village Pskhu. The majority of the inhabitants of Pskhu are Russians.
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Abkhazia, Pskhu, 05/09/2015. Children playing in the village Pskhu. The majority of the inhabitants of Pskhu are Russians.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Pskhu, 05/09/2015.The road to the village Pskhu. In the summer of 1942, Wehrmacht occupied the village.
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Abkhazia, Pskhu, 05/09/2015.The road to the village Pskhu. In the summer of 1942, Wehrmacht occupied the village.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Image from the ABKHAZIA photography project
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Abkhazia, 08/2018. Postcards with the images from "Abkhazia" project were spread among the locals and tourists in Abkhazia to give them an opportunity to write their message to the world.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Sukhum, 25/01/2016. Portrait of hegumen Ignatij, St. John Chrysostom's Monastery in Kamani village.
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Abkhazia, Sukhum, 25/01/2016. Portrait of hegumen Ignatij, St. John Chrysostom's Monastery in Kamani village.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Tkvarchel, 19/07/2019. The waterfall “The Giant”.
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Abkhazia, Tkvarchel, 19/07/2019. The waterfall “The Giant”.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Sukhum, 10/05/2016. Beauty salon „New Fantasy“.
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Abkhazia, Sukhum, 10/05/2016. Beauty salon „New Fantasy“.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Adzyubzha, 19/07/2019. Watermelons loading.
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Abkhazia, Adzyubzha, 19/07/2019. Watermelons loading.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Image from the ABKHAZIA photography project
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Abkhazia, Sukhum, 03/07/2017. The bear sitting in a chair. He was caught during a hunt and now stays at a home as a domestic animal until the time he becomes dangerous again. After that will be brought to a zoo. By paying a small fee tourists can take photos with the bear.

© Ksenia Kuleshova - Abkhazia, Sukhum, 04/07/2017. Children spend their free time on the beach.
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Abkhazia, Sukhum, 04/07/2017. Children spend their free time on the beach.