6 Apr 2015

Snapshots of a Soviet Ghost Town

Within a disputed territory on the Eastern coast of the Black Sea, spread across a valley often hidden in fog, lies the industrial town of Tkvarcheli, where the Soviet era still lives on like an evil spirit that haunts the streets.
Tkvarcheli was built in the early 1940’s Stalinist period to supply coal to the Soviet industrial machine. It was a town built to last. Today the country in which the town resides, the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, is only recognised by five other countries, including the usual suspects, Russia, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The majority of the world’s governments do not consider Abkhazia as an independent state but as part of Georgia’s territory. During the independence war in the early 90’s, Tkvarcheli was captured by Georgian forces. For more than a year, the Georgian army tried to ‘starve the town into submission’ until Abkhaz forces aided by the Russians stepped in. The decline of the Soviet era had seen the town’s population cut in half from 40,000 people. After the war, very few residents could even make a living in the doomed industrial town and by 2008, the population was down to less than 5,000 inhabitants.














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