Kosuke Okahara

A man looks at the black sea.
A kid plays at the small amusement park.
Women sitting in the town of Tkvarcheli’s gas station
An old man sleeps in front of TV while the program shows the politics of Abkhazia.
Alkhas one of many war veterans in Abkhazia play with his AK-47 in the mountain. Since they all gone through the war 20 years ago, a lot of people in Abkhazia has guns and rifles.
As Abkhazia’s independence day is approaching, there is a war footage being broadcasted on Abkhaz TV. During the war with Georgia, Many men participated the war including boys under 18 years old.
In the military school, the newly recruited soldiers study in the class. Sukhumi.
People gather at the monastery of Novy Afon. Only this monastery try to be independent even from Russian orthodox church and there is a conflict with other churches in Abkhazia.
A man sleeping in the church at the monastery of Novy Afon.
A coat hung in the abandoned closet in the destroyed village near Tkvarcheli. The village was destroyed during the war in 1992 and 1993.
An abandoned coach in Tkvarchei. Tkvarcheli used to be one of the most important coal mine in Abkhazia.
An abandoned ropeway in Tkvarchei. Tkvarcheli used to be one of the most important coal mine in Abkhazia.
A horse stands in front of the abandoned and collapsed building in the village near Tkvarcheli.
Alik Zantariya, 53 years old who works as a guardian at the still-functioning electric substation in Tkvarcheli. The main building has been destroyed during the war in 1992 and 1993.
Djarnaz Beniya, former trainer of Denis Tsargush, an Abkhaz wrestler who won silver medal at London Olympic Games, sitting in his office.
Young wrestlers from Gudauta, one of the most fertile regions of producing the best wrestlers in Abkhazia, train at the sports center in Gudauta.
A young wrestler trains at the sports center in Gudauta, one of the fertile regions of producing the best wreslers in Abkhazia.
18 years old Abkhaz girls after the graduation of the highschool in Tkvarcheli, a cole mine town where used to be one of the most important towns in Soviet era.
Young pregnant women in the hospital of Sukhumi, waiting for their day of delivery. Although the statistic in Abkhazia is not precise, here was 1645 newborn babies in 2012.
A young Abkhaz soldier and his girl friend spend time in the beach of Sukhumi. Sukhumi,

 

In Sochi’s shadow

– Abkhazia, a country that doesn’t exist –

“Our dream is to compete in the Olympic Games as Abkhazians,” Djarnaz Beniya told me.

Beniya, a wrestling trainer who coached Denis Tsargush to a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympic Games, is a resident of Abkhazia, a breakaway territory from Georgia whose border is less than 10 miles from Sochi Olympic Park in Russia.

Abkhazia fought a war with Georgia in 1992 and 1993; it declared independence after that and fought again with Georgian troops in 2008, forcing the last of them out.

Today, Russia has a strong presence in Abkhazia, which has had a “special relationship” with Russia’s security services for decades. Only Russia and a handful of other countries have recognized the independence of this economically depressed former Soviet republic.

Not only does most of the rest of world not recognize Abkhazia as an independent country,neither does the International Olympic Committee; any athletes from Abkhazia would have to compete as Russians, although none are going to the games.

When I visited them, some students at Abkhazia State University told me that they are proud of being Abkhazians but they also know the future of the country is uncertain.

“I love the country, and I am proud of my country, but I know the situation is a deadlock now,” one student said. “It is our generation who have to find their own path for the country.”