Pankisi valley is a valley region in Georgia, in the upper reaches of River Alazani. It has got its disrepute in recent two decades. In 1990-s and early 2000-s, when Russia was fighting with rebels from Chechen, hundreds of Chechen soldiers and civilians crossed the Georgian border. Some of them took refuge in Pankisi valley. Simultaneously, Georgian military started a cleaning operation of militants.
Peaceful life for local civilians is highly important. All of them are trying to get rid of terrorism stigma. Most residents are Kists — Muslims with ethnic and linguistic roots of Chechen. Having survived the wars in Chechen and knowing without doubt what it is like, these people want to go back to normal civil life more than anything else. Moreover, locals are concerned that reputation of the region is deterring business and investors, which is a necessity for the valley. Agriculture is really poor in a mountain region and the level of unemployment is really high. Visa facilitation with the European Union has led locals to migrate from the region and the country. Peaceful life of the region faces a lot of problems there.
Some people lost relatives or friends in war fights, others are afraid of government over-reaction on extremist treat. However, mostly people think that Pankisi region is underestimated and they hope the view on the valley will change.
This series of photo shows life in Pankisi valley from the local point of view, their routine and, of course, traditions and customs.