pankisi region, Georgian/Chechen border, dec 2002
Description: Said, doesn't speak much about losing his eye, he only says he'd give the other eye too, if it will help Chechnya.
During some period , Chechens have been using the Georgian area of the Pankisi valley as a fall back base for their war inside Chechnya, training recrutes and medical assistance were all possible because the Georgian government was not able to control the area.
Since a few month's things have chanced, because Russian pressure forced the Georgian Government to take steps with Russia's assistance.
After this decision life has totally changed for the remaining Chechens, many fighters have left into Chechnya, others hide and the thousands of refugees from Chechnya who are still there, experience the Russian/Georgian cooperation the hard way, but with remarkable strength they live on.
Man are being arrested and questioned , if they show up at checkpoints, and road blocks seal the valley from Georgia as well as Chechnya.
Georgian locals are close with Chechen culture and don't want to cooperate with Russian secret police, who they see as their common enemy, but the many soldiers from Tbilisi are in control of the area.
Credit: EDDY VAN WESSEL